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Trayvon Martin, Kendrec McDade: Parallel Tragedies

Comparing the shooting of 19 yr old Kendrec McDade to that of 17 yr old Trayvon Martin:

  • Trayvon was just walking home when George Zimmerman called 911.  He told operators Trayvo n was either on drugs or planning to rob someone.
  • Kendrec was with a friend who snatched Oscar Carillo’s backpack containing a laptop.  Carillo told operators the two youths were armed.
  • George Zimmerman chased down Trayvon Martin, against the 911 operator’s instructions.
  • The police chased down Kendrec McDade, assuming he had a gun per the 911 caller’s assertions.
  • George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed.
  • Police shot and killed Kendrec McDade, who was unarmed.
  • George Zimmerman has not been charged for killing Trayvon Martin
  • Pasadena Police have not been charged for killing Kendrec McDade.

Posted in Police, Race Relations, Racism.

Is It Safe to ‘Help’ Voters Register in Florida?

Florida has enacted laws that make it difficult for organizations to run voter registration drives.  All “Third Party Voter Registration Organizations” must be registered with Florida’s Division of Elections.  And to make it worse, they have defined such organizations as “any person, entity, or organization that solicits or collects any voter registration application.”

The purpose is to discourage community organizations (including churches) from conducting registration drives.  As has been pointed out, the laws will disproportionately affect African Americans, Hispanics, college students, and persons with disabilities.  And of course, that is the point of the law.  Groups that have traditionally registered large numbers of minorities, students, women, and other groups that lean Democratic (ACORN, League of Women Voters, PIRG, etc.) have been attacked or intimidated into giving up on conducting drives.

The best way to be safe is to be careful about the type of ‘help’ you offer.  Don’t go up to strangers in the parking lot of your supermarket and offer them blank registration forms.  Don’t go to the post office and pick up a stack of registration forms to distribute at the next PTA meeting.  Don’t set up a voter registration table at your next Church dinner.

Here is a list of very practical ways that you can help people you know get registered and vote in Florida:

~Let your friends use your computer and printer to download a registration form.
~Help your friends look up the appropriate address to mail their form, or drive them to the local registrar location.
~Show friends how to check their registration status online  (
~Print copies of the Florida Voting Guide to give to friends and family  (
~Remind friends and family of upcoming deadlines and election dates
~Offer to drive family and friends to the DMV to obtain a driver’s license or state id.

Janice Mowrey
March 19, 2012

Additional references:

Posted in Politics, Voting Rights.

Want To See More Egypt-style Revolution in the Mideast? Why Gaddafi Must Be Stopped

We were all heartened by the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. We on the left were loud in proclaiming “We stand by the Egyptian people!” Well, what did we mean when we said we would stand by them? Did we mean, only so long as we didn’t have to get involved?

What if Mubarak had started massacring his people?  Would we still be standing by the people of Egypt?  Would we have been prepared to follow through on our promise of support?  Luckily the Egyptian people didn’t need our help.  Mubarak waited too long to try to suppress the protesters and the result was that he was forced to resign.

Gaddafi wasn’t going to make that mistake.  He has never hesitated to use force to get his way.  When the tide of revolution that was sweeping through the Mideast hit Libya, Gaddafi was ready for it.  His reaction to protests was swift and brutal.  He immediately set the army against the protesters, and in case the army wasn’t willing to turn on fellow citizens, he brought in mercenaries.

What Gaddafi is doing in Libya now is presenting a model to the other leaders in the Mideast, a model of how to quash a rebellion. He is sending a clear message to his counterparts in Yemen, Bahrain, etc. that if you don’t want to end up like Mubarak, you have to be ruthless in putting down rebellions.

So the UN strikes are about much more than just Gaddafi. They are about making it possible for the people of the Mideast – the people who we on the left were loudly celebrating and pledging our support to – are able to stand up to their oppressors.

Posted in War and Peace.

We Need to Talk – About Race

Barack Obama with his maternal grandparents.

I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton’s Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I’ve gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world’s poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners – an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

Excerpt from Sen. Barack Obama’s speech “A More Perfect Union”

We – America that is – have been saying for years that it’s time for America to have an open and frank discussion about the state of race relations.  We said it after the Los Angeles riots.  We said it during the Presidency of Bill Clinton, a Southern white man who knows that we are still a racist society.  And when Barack Obama was elected the first African American – more specifically, the first biracial American – President of the United States of America, we knew that he was the man to lead us in a constructive, civilized, and ultimately world-changing discussion.  White people would open up about their fears.  Black people would express their anger.  Everyone would breathe a sigh of relief at finally being able to vent, and we would all hug, and the healing would begin.


Posted in Race Relations.

What Our President Needs From Us Now; After the Mid-terms

Do you want to save Health Care Reform?  Do you want millionaire tax cuts to end?  An end to the war in Afghanistan?  The repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell?  Immigration reform? Green jobs?  To save Social Security?  To improve access to quality education?

There has been much written lately about what the President should do, now that the GOP has regained control of the house.  But what should WE be doing to help him move forward?  Many progressives seem to have decided that our job is to tell him what we want, and then sit back and wait for him to do it.

Do you really think the President can achieve all or most of his agenda with a GOP that is attacking his character – calling him an illegitimate President, a Socialist, a secret Muslim, a racist – while we progressives sit on our hands, waiting for him to do everything we think he promised us?


Posted in Politics, Racism.

Who Will Benefit from the Next American Economy?

Our country’s economy is still in crisis.  It’s understandable that financial worries take up a great deal of our emotional energy.  But as the economy recovers, will some of us be left behind?

The economic collapse has hit African American and Latino communities harder than white communities.  Homeowners of color received predatory loans at a higher rate than white homeowners, so the foreclosure crisis has hit families of color harder and has decimated entire neighborhoods.  When the economy bottomed out and State and City governments and big and small businesses laid off workers by the tens of thousands, African American and Latino men were the first to be let go.  As hiring has slowly restarted, African American and Latino men are the last to be hired.  The economic gap between white and non-white is greater today than it has been in decades.


Posted in Economic Justice.

We Are All Responsible

In March 2009 President Barack Obama appointed Van Jones as his Special Advisor for Green Jobs.  Fox News’ Glenn Beck immediately went after him.  Beck’s attacks were clearly racially motivated, coming at the same time that he accused the President of having “a deep seated hatred for white people.”  But we were disturbed by Van Jones’ reputed association with the 9/11 Truth movement, so we didn’t call his attackers out as racists.

In February 2009 Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama jumped on the birther bandwagon, saying that “he hadn’t seen a birth certificate” showing Barack Obama to be a U.S. citizen, despite the fact that the certificate has been available for viewing online since 2007.  In July 2009 Missouri Congressman Roy Blunt echoed those doubts.  In December 2009 Sarah Palin stated “the public is rightfully still making this an issue.”  In March 2010 a Harris Poll found that 25% of Americans believed that Barack Obama was “not born in the United States and so is not eligible to be president”.  The birther movement is clearly racially motivated, intended to cast doubt on the legitimacy of America’s first Black president.  But we dismissed the movement as a fringe element and called the birthers kooks and nut jobs, instead of calling them out as racists.


Posted in Politics.

Voter Suppression in the 21st Century

Anti "voter fraud" billboard.

The days of poll taxes and literacy tests are long gone.  But voter suppression is alive and well in the twenty-first century.  Here is a round up of the tactics the right wing has been employing to limit the impact of African American and Hispanic voters:

Fighting legislation that would make it easier to register to vote, or easier to cast your ballot.

Attacking non-partisan voter registration groups that work to register African American and Hispanic voters.

Purging voter rolls in districts with high percentages of African American or Hispanic voters (officials go through the voter rolls and invalidate voters whose phone numbers, addresses, etc. don’t match “official” data.)

Fighting changes to the state laws that disenfranchise ex-felons, while maintaining a corrupt, racist judicial system that is stacked against African American and Hispanic men.

Staging phone campaigns to call African American voters and lie to them that their polling place has changed or the date of the election has changed.


Posted in Politics, Voting Rights.

Why do Rich People Hate Paying Taxes?

Rich people in this country think they got rich by being smarter than you or me.  Money is proof of their superiority and these days, rich people are anywhere from 500 times to 5000 times superior to the rest of us.

Rich people are sure they are smarter than you or me because they understand that life is a competition, and money is how to keep score.  They think we are stupid or lazy, because we don’t understand the game.

Rich people are serious about winning the game.  If they worry about you and me, they will lose.  If they worry about the consequences of their actions, they will lose.  If they worry about leaving the world a better place for their children, they will lose.

But rich people have a problem; they are vastly outnumbered.  What would they do if you and I ever got together and united against them?  We might tax them, and use that money to keep each other healthy.  To educate our children.  To care for us in our old age.  To keep our neighborhoods clean and safe.  To build parks for our children to play in.  To put out fires in our homes, clean the lakes we drink from, and operate the transportation systems we rely on.  To tide us over when we lose our jobs, and to retrain us for new jobs.

Rich people will be damned if they let their money be spent on the rest of us.  If we want better schools, better jobs, better health care, cleaner neighborhoods and safe drinking water, well then we should work as hard and as smart as them, and buy those things for ourselves.  Rich people can’t help it if they are smarter than us.

To distract us from uniting against them, rich people will divide black against white, brown against black, citizen against immigrant, Christian against Muslim, middle class against poor, anyone against anyone else so long as it isn’t rich against not rich.  And so far, it has worked for them very well indeed.

Why do rich people hate paying taxes?  Because they don’t really like us.  Why do they get away with not paying their fair share?  Because they’re smarter than us.


October 16, 2010

Chicago IL

Posted in Economic Justice.

What our President Needs from Us Now

Almost two years ago, November 4 2008, I was in Chicago’s Grant Park on election night.  How can I describe what it felt like to be there when the Jumbotrons showed that Barack Obama had won the election and would be the next President?  Just remember how YOU felt.  Then imagine sharing that feeling with 70,000 other people.  It was physical, an overwhelming surge of joy, hope, and triumph.  I felt that I was at the center of the universe in that moment, and that the universe had changed.

But there are people in this country who can’t accept that a black man is the President of the United States of America.  There are people who have decided they will do whatever it takes to make sure that a black man does not become a successful President.

They will spend whatever it takes.  They will spread outlandish, racist lies about the President.  They have allowed our economy to stay in a recession.  Allowed unemployed Americans to go without money to pay the rent.  They want to reverse health care reform, and allow children to go without a decent education.  They have sacrificed their own integrity and allowed their party to be hijacked by extremists and nut jobs. They have placed a stranglehold on Hope and Change by blocking almost every piece of legislation that would create jobs, improve health care and education, reform immigration, and stop the anti-gay witch hunts in the military.

Next month’s elections will be a referendum on President Obama’s legacy.  If Republicans – especially Tea Party favorites – are elected in large numbers, it will be seen as a statement that Americans don’t believe in Hope and Change, that Americans don’t believe in Barack Obama.  It will be seen as a statement that a black man should not have been elected the President of the United States of America.

What does our President need from us right now?  He needs us to vote on November 2nd.  He needs us to talk to our friends about voting.  He needs us to send a message that Americans do believe in Change, that we do still have Hope, that we do love our President and that we are not afraid.  This will be the most important mid-term election in our lifetimes.  Barack Obama is not running for reelection this year.  But this election is all about him, and he needs all of us to vote.  Please take time in the next few weeks to find out who is running for office, where your polling place is, which of your friends needs help getting to the polls.  Let’s send a message that we believe in our President, that we support him, and that we are not going to let his legacy be destroyed.



9 Oct 2010

Chicago IL

Posted in Politics.