Saturday, March 04, 2006

Adrian's Party tonight was great.
Its interesting to see how, what I shall call categorizations rule some peoples lives.
I saw Capote today. I am definitely going to have to write something about it. My first impressions of it are that, firstly, it is a beautifully made film Alas, it borders on boring, but there is something there that makes it rather intriguing and keeps you wanting to follow along in the film. There is also a lot of play going on in the film--playing with ideas and concepts of race with the two men on Death Row who are virtually white(as most white people are), but who have native blood and exist on the periphery of whiteness, in the place where most poor whites are located (and I would love to see how many poor whites and especially those who have been labeled "poor white trash" have a certain admixture of native, black, or otherwise colored blood. The construction of whiteness is defintely something that I am interesed in exploring--indeed something that needs to be explored, especially as to who got to fit into the categories and who didn't, how and to what extent. Also, I have to laud Hoffman for his portrayal of Capote--beautifully done! I think that the roles of both Capote and Harper Lee(Nell) should take home Oscars. Its quite interesting to think about how sexuality and regionality plays into concepts of whiteness as well. It is a great film. I would definitely see it again.
I love D.L. Hughley!

Friday, March 03, 2006

One Thing About Me

I am my grandmother's offspring and I am my Uncle Lawrence's nephew.

In Addendum

Uncle Mac alerted us to where Caroline Roper's grave is located.
I was thinking today of the time when there was a large gathering held at Uncle Mac's house when I was a little boy. I was completely awed by it with tens upon tens of relatives present-including Uncle Lawrence. Uncle Mac's house, he is dead now, is a beautiful brick home situated in the middle of a clearing just off of the road and I always felt comfortable there and enjoyed the good smells to be experienced there, like the scent of the burning wood in the huge fireplace in his living room. That particular day, I don't remember the occasion, but I remember that Uncle Mac slaughtered a hog(I'm so glad I didn't see it) and made a pit out in the middle of the yard wear it slowly roasted. I remember there was tons of food and lots of merriment being made. I can't remember what the occasion was. Uncle Mac, my grandmother's second cousin, was a humourous, red-boned man, not much in height, but very tall in stature.

He always spoke like a drunken Irishman(partially because he often was drunk)and did not like talking about the past, especially family stuff, which he called "digging up bones" (much due to the fact that there were definitely some bones to be dug up in his family, but that we won't get into). Uncle Mac was a delightful character--whimsical and always willing to tell the truth(although certain topics he did not breach--"digging up bones." He was also very industrious. He grew corn and raised hogs on his family's property up until he died at almost ninety.

You could tell Uncle Mac had plenty of white blood just by looking at him(and even more so by looking at his brothers--who could have passed for white any day of the week--or at least as Jews). Uncle Mac was also our family's connecting point to our white relatives. It was nothing on any given day for the old man Rawlinson to be at Uncle Mac's house or for Uncle Mac to be at his house, either place both high on moonshine. They addressed each other as cousins(and we acknowledge them as cousins as well) and the Rawlinsons have been quite open and forthcoming in sharing the records from their family with us including old slave rolls, etc.

Uncle Mac's mother was my great-grandmother's first cousin, Jeroma, both of them granddaughters of Caroline Roper and Greenberry Smith. His father was a mulatto named Jack. Uncle Mac was a magnificent man. He was a life-long member of our family church and an integral part of our extended relations. His death was very deeply felt.

Uncle Mac's brother, Uncle Wade, was also a great figure.he is now deceased. He and Uncle Lawrence used to have long, philosophical and historical discussions and debates. They were intellectual sparring partners. Uncle Wade was a historian as well, a graduate of Wayne State University(which he always heralded). I never had many significant discussions with Uncle Wade, but he did leave me many of his things when he died to which I am very grateful. I am very grateful that I did have the opportunity to talk with Uncle Lawrence a great deal. I have some beautiful relations and I am very glad to have them.

Bush Protests

Bush has been met on his visit to India and Pakistan with protests,a lot of it violent, by thousands in the streets.

Interesting News

Russia can always be counted on the act as a wonderful stickler in the side of U.S. foreign policy and today Vladimir Putin(whom I admit is a beautiful man) has invited Hamas to Moscow, a direct hit in the face to Condoleeza Rice and the Bush Administration's policies. Go Putin!
The senate's new Immigration reform bill is replete with racism and reads like this: You can stay in our country as long as you agree to work our lowest paying jobs with no guaranteed job security, but you can't have citizenship and you can't have the rights and privileges of the American citizenry. Indeed, Lindsay Graham of South Carolina outright said that he supported the bill because he liked to have the undocumented workers serve him on the golf course while he was playing. Oh Marie Antoinette?
I think there must be some serious money involved in this Dubai Port deal. Now, the Israelis are getting involved.The whole thing smells a bit rotten.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Another interesting point that Bernadine Dohrn brought up when she was here is that everything that we know about this administration we have learned through leaks. Thank god for subversion and subversives who have brought light to such horrendous acts such as COINTELPRO and the uncovering of Hurricane Katrina.
That George Bush knew about Katrina, not only before it happened, but before he was caught off playing singing cowboy with guitar in hand, is absolutely reprehensible. There should be a serious movement towards getting this man out of the white house, if not through impeachment then through some other means. From now on, a moment should never pass when there is not the sound of protest heard outside of the white house. We are the people and we have to demand justice.
This weekend over dinner someone said something that was quite interesting. Companies, take Ford for instance, used to make products--good working class products that would last forever. When they found that their profits wouldn't grow that way, they stopped making products as durable as they had been and, in the case of Ford, they started putting out newer brands every year in order to make the older versions obsolete. All for the sake of profit and money.

Bush was Warned about Katrina

By MARGARET EBRAHIM and JOHN SOLOMON, Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON - On the eve of Hurricane Katrina's fateful landfall, President Bush was confident. His homeland security chief appeared relaxed. Louisiana officials were heaping praise on the federal government.

And warnings of the coming destruction — breached or overrun levees, deaths at the New Orleans Superdome and overwhelming needs for post-storm rescues — were delivered in dramatic terms to all involved.

All of it was captured on videotape.

The Associated Press obtained the confidential government video and made it public Wednesday, offering Americans their own inside glimpse into the government's fateful final Katrina preparations after months of fingerpointing and political recriminations.

"My gut tells me ... this is a bad one and a big one," then-federal disaster chief Michael Brown told the final government-wide briefing the day before Katrina struck the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29.

The video prompted Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill to reiterate their calls for a new investigation into the federal response to Katrina. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said Thursday the video "points out the need for an independent commission" to review events surrounding the hurricane.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said the video "confirms what we have suspected all along, that this Administration did anything they can to hide what really happened." He said the administration "systematically misled the American people."

The Republican-controlled House and Senate have conducted separate investigations of the Katrina response. Democrats in the House, other than those from the affected states, refused to participate in the inquiry, insisting that an independent commission was needed.

In the Aug. 29 briefing, Bush didn't ask a single question but assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: "We are fully prepared."

But Sen. Mary Landrieu (news, bio, voting record), D-La., said the video shows that the administration failed to prepare adequately for the possible breach of the levees protecting New Orleans.

"This administration was told what Louisiana already knew: that our federally constructed levees could certainly fail," she said. "But these concerns, and others made by disaster relief experts, fell on deaf ears."

The footage — along with seven days of transcripts of briefings obtained by AP — show in excruciating detail that while federal officials anticipated the tragedy that unfolded in New Orleans and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, they were fatally slow to realize they had not mustered enough resources to deal with the unprecedented disaster.

A top hurricane expert voiced "grave concerns" about the levees and Brown, then the Federal Emergency Management Agency chief, told the president and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff that he feared there weren't enough disaster teams to help evacuees at the Superdome.

"I'm concerned about ... their ability to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe," Brown told his bosses the afternoon before Katrina made landfall.

The White House and Homeland Security Department urged the public Wednesday not to read too much into the footage.

"I hope people don't draw conclusions from the president getting a single briefing," Bush spokesman Trent Duffy said, citing a variety of orders and disaster declarations Bush signed before the storm made landfall. "He received multiple briefings from multiple officials, and he was completely engaged at all times."

Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said his department would not release the full set of videotaped briefings, saying most transcripts — though not the videotapes — from the sessions were provided to congressional investigators months ago.

"There's nothing new or insightful on these tapes," Knocke said. "We actively participated in the lessons-learned review and we continue to participate in the Senate's review and are working with them on their recommendation."

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, a critic of the administration's Katrina response, had a different take after watching the footage from an AP reporter's camera.

"I have kind a sinking feeling in my gut right now," Nagin said. "I was listening to what people were saying — they didn't know, so therefore it was an issue of a learning curve. You know, from this tape it looks like everybody was fully aware."

Some of the footage and transcripts from briefings Aug. 25-31 conflicts with the defenses that federal, state and local officials have made in trying to deflect blame and minimize the political fallout from the failed Katrina response:

• Homeland Security officials have said the "fog of war" blinded them early on to the magnitude of the disaster. But the video and transcripts show federal and local officials discussed threats clearly, reviewed long-made plans and understood Katrina would wreak devastation of historic proportions. "I'm sure it will be the top 10 or 15 when all is said and done," National Hurricane Center's Max Mayfield warned the day Katrina lashed the Gulf Coast.

"I don't buy the `fog of war' defense," Brown told the AP in an interview Wednesday. "It was a fog of bureaucracy."

• Bush declared four days after the storm, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees" that gushed deadly flood waters into New Orleans. He later clarified, saying officials believed, wrongly, after the storm passed that the levees had survived. But the transcripts and video show there was plenty of talk about that possibility even before the storm — and Bush was worried too.

White House deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Brown discussed fears of a levee breach the day the storm hit.

"I talked to the president twice today, once in Crawford and then again on Air Force One," Brown said. "He's obviously watching the television a lot, and he had some questions about the Dome, he's asking questions about reports of breaches."

• Louisiana officials angrily blamed the federal government for not being prepared but the transcripts shows they were still praising FEMA as the storm roared toward the Gulf Coast and even two days afterward. "I think a lot of the planning FEMA has done with us the past year has really paid off," Col. Jeff Smith, Louisiana's emergency preparedness deputy director, said during the Aug. 28 briefing.

It wasn't long before Smith and other state officials sounded overwhelmed.

"We appreciate everything that you all are doing for us, and all I would ask is that you realize that what's going on and the sense of urgency needs to be ratcheted up," Smith said Aug. 30.

Mississippi begged for more attention in that same briefing.

"We know that there are tens or hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana that need to be rescued, but we would just ask you, we desperately need to get our share of assets because we'll have people dying — not because of water coming up, but because we can't get them medical treatment in our affected counties," said a Mississippi state official whose name was not mentioned on the tape.

Video footage of the Aug. 28 briefing, the final one before Katrina struck, showed an intense Brown voicing concerns from the government's disaster operation center and imploring colleagues to do whatever was necessary to help victims.

"Go ahead and do it," Brown said. "I'll figure out some way to justify it. ... Just let them yell at me."

Bush appeared from a narrow, windowless room at his vacation ranch in Texas, with his elbows on a table. Hagin was sitting alongside him.

"I want to assure the folks at the state level that we are fully prepared to not only help you during the storm, but we will move in whatever resources and assets we have at our disposal after the storm," the president said.

A relaxed Chertoff, sporting a polo shirt, weighed in from Washington at Homeland Security's operations center. He would later fly to Atlanta, outside of Katrina's reach, for a bird flu event. Officials say he was frequently updated on the road about Katrina.

One snippet captures a missed opportunity on Aug. 28 for the government to have dispatched active-duty military troops to the region to augment the National Guard.

Chertoff: "Are there any DOD assets that might be available? Have we reached out to them?"

Brown: "We have DOD assets over here at EOC (emergency operations center). They are fully engaged. And we are having those discussions with them now."

Chertoff: "Good job."

In fact, active duty troops weren't dispatched until days after the storm. And many states' National Guards had yet to be deployed to the region despite offers of assistance, and it took days before the Pentagon deployed active-duty personnel to help overwhelmed Guardsmen.

The National Hurricane Center's Mayfield told the final briefing before Katrina struck that storm models predicted minimal flooding inside New Orleans during the hurricane but he expressed concerns that counterclockwise winds and storm surges afterward could cause the levees at Lake Pontchartrain to be overrun.

"I don't think any model can tell you with any confidence right now whether the levees will be topped or not but that is obviously a very, very grave concern," Mayfield told the briefing.

Other officials expressed concerns about the large number of New Orleans residents who had not evacuated.


Associated Press writers Ron Fournier and Lara Jakes Jordan contributed to this report.

On the Net:

Kudos to Cardinal Mahoney!

Kudos to Cardinal Mahoney for refusing to comply with federal policies seeking to entrap and criminalize undocumented immigrants in the United States!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Good News!

I finished my short story!
Of ths snippets of the Black State of the Union that I heard( I do planto hear all of it), I heard some very good things. Alas, I was quite pleased that Harry Belafonte and Walter Mosley were participating in that as well. Also, of course it is great that Cornel is ever present. Alas, one thing that I heard that I think needs to be given some attention is the suggestion that Black churches ought to lead the way in the acquisition of real property in the Black community.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Chicago Police union is upset because a street is being named after Fred Hampton. My response to them is, go straight to hell and don't stop for nothing.

Interesting Observation

As I was watching the Black State of the Union today, I heard someone say something that made me think of what Bernadine Dohrn said when she was here at Purdue. She said tha the one of the biggest obstacles to making progress in this new era of struggle for human and Civil Rights is the 1960s. That the legacy of that time period and the bar that established as an example blocks us from using our imaginations to come up with new ways and strategies for fighting opprression. I very much agree with this assessment. We need to come up with new ways to combat oppression. As Jimmy Baldwin said, "we can't hit those streets again, because they're waiting for us."

Me as a Writer

There is a story I have to tell and what I am doing now is trying to figure out how to tell it.

Monday, February 27, 2006

It has dawned on me that I spent a half a year, vicariously if you will, under the tutelage of Fess McDavid--as Autaugaville,even if he is dead, is his school. That makes me the third generation to be have recieved instruction under the legacy and influence(if not the person) of Fess McDavid.

What a Horrible Loss

Octavia Butler, the talented Black science fiction writer died today at the age of 58. What a horrible loss.

A Lesson in Songs

The two songs that I want to post today havebeen very influential in my life. I heard both of these starting at a very early age and they have instilled something in me that has has been with me throughout my entire life. "Lift Every Voice and Sing," is a song that we used to sing in church when I was a little boy, and not just during Black History Month. It was sung as benediction, and even as a young boy, the words to this song were a refrain that caused me to pay attention. I feel that all Black people should know this song.Indeed, both of these songs.

Lift every voice and sing, till earth and Heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet,
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered;
Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou Who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou Who hast by Thy might, led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee.
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee.
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land.

"To Be Young, Gifted and Black" is another song that has stuck with me and which was instilled in me when I was young. Even before I knew who Nina Simone was and her significance in the world and to the struggle for Black liberation and the liberation of all oppressed peoples, the words to this song inspired something in me. These beautiful words should be known by every Black child.

To be young, gifted and black,
Oh what a lovely precious dream
To be young, gifted and black,
Open your heart to what I mean

In the whole world you know
There are billion boys and girls
Who are young, gifted and black,
And that's a fact!

Young, gifted and black
We must begin to tell our young
There's a world waiting for you
This is a quest that's just begun

When you feel really low
Yeah, there's a great truth you should know
When you're young, gifted and black
Your soul's intact

Young, gifted and black
How I long to know the truth
There are times when I look back
And I am haunted by my youth

Oh but my joy of today
Is that we can all be proud to say
To be young, gifted and black
Is where it's at


Would someone like to sponsor me to go to a conference? More information will be provided.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

"There is no spiritual component to capitalism."-- Mark Llewellyn Biddle
Walter Mosley suggests that we need a Black voting block. I think we do too. Others can join as well.

Serious Question

Why does Smith-Barney, the brokerage firm, own a prison?

On Both Walter and Harry

Tonight Walter Mosley said some very inspiring things(so did Harry!--not to exclude him, but I wanted to focus on Walter's comments).He spoke of how most people, and most pressingly people of color, engage in the effort of narcotizing themselves in various ways---with drugs, with liquor, with food, as a means to not have to address the world we live in. I think this is very true. We need to move past our pain and become proactive once again in fighting our own apathy and in eradicating those structures that oppress us.Walter also said something that is very wise. He stated that "the only box to be in is inside of ourselves."

Harry Belafonte also made some beautiful and powerful comments tonight. He told the audience that right before King's death, King was speaking to him about their efforts to achieve integration. After much reflection, King told him "We(Black people) are integrating into a burning house." Meaning that America is on a fast track spiral and will ultimately cave in on itself. King's suggestion was that we must become, especially Black people, firemen.

Belafonte made a burning observation when he spoke of the "duality of the American Evolution." He pointed out the inconsistentcies in the United States and the development of their "American Dream," that while the people that settled here from Europe were escaping persecution and religious freedom, they were killing indigenous peoples, that while the so called founding fathers were fighting to stay free from King George they were enslaving Africans and Afro-Americans, that while they were seeking to compete in technological development and the space age, they maintained a system of segregation and oppression. These are definitely important contradictions to think about in the history of this country and the development of this failing experiment that we have today.

One of the most powerful and pressing things that he spoke of was the need for people in this country--and ESPECIALLY the oppressed--to think, act and live outside of the box. He said we should all be speaking with such truth that "people will question what level of insanity you are at, or if insanity doesn't apply then ponder as to what you have been smoking." THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE!! Harry Belafonte is a beautiful man and he has demanded of us all that we live "not to please those that control us inside of the box, but to live outside of the box and make those on the inside uncomfortable." God Bless Harry Belafonte. God Bless Walter Mosley.

Praise for Harry Belafonte

Harry Belafonte is the new Paul Robeson!
"Ain't nobody gonna free you but you."--Harry Belafonte's mother
"Cynicism will destroy us all."--Walter Mosley
We had a great media forum today. Tonight, I saw harry Belafonte and Walter Mosley in conversation on CSPAN! How inspiring!We should always have courage and speak truth to power! Truth will really set us free!

Mississippi Goddam

Protest Song
by Nina Simone

The name of this tune is mississippi goddam
And I mean every word of it

Alabama’s gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about mississippi goddam

Alabama’s gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about mississippi goddam

Can’t you see it
Can’t you feel it
It’s all in the air
I can’t stand the pressure much longer
Somebody say a prayer

Alabama’s gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about mississippi goddam

This is a show tune
But the show hasn’t been written for it, yet

Hound dogs on my trail
School children sitting in jail
Black cat cross my path
I think every day’s gonna be my last

Lord have mercy on this land of mine
We all gonna get it in due time
I don’t belong here
I don’t belong there
I’ve even stopped believing in prayer

Don’t tell me
I tell you
Me and my people just about due
I’ve been there so I know
They keep on saying go slow!

But that’s just the trouble
Do it slow
Washing the windows
Do it slow
Picking the cotton
Do it slow
You’re just plain rotten
Do it slow
You’re too damn lazy
Do it slow
The thinking’s crazy
Do it slow
Where am I going
What am I doing
I don’t know
I don’t know

Just try to do your very best
Stand up be counted with all the rest
For everybody knows about mississippi goddam

I made you thought I was kiddin’ didn’t we

Picket lines
School boy cots
They try to say it’s a communist plot
All I want is equality
For my sister my brother my people and me

Yes you lied to me all these years
You told me to wash and clean my ears
And talk real fine just like a lady
And you’d stop calling me sister sadie

Oh but this whole country is full of lies
You’re all gonna die and die like flies
I don’t trust you any more
You keep on saying go slow!
Go slow!

But that’s just the trouble
Do it slow
Do it slow
Mass participation
Do it slow
Do it slow
Do things gradually
Do it slow
But bring more tragedy
Do it slow
Why don’t you see it
Why don’t you feel it
I don’t know
I don’t know

You don’t have to live next to me
Just give me my equality
Everybody knows about mississippi
Everybody knows about alabama
Everybody knows about mississippi goddam

That’s it!
I wanted to elaborate further on CCDS. I very much have enjoyed and been inspired by participating in Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. The first meeting I attended, I was absolutely moved and I left there with a deeper sense of my purpose, of what needs to be done, and with agreater grasp of the beautiful humanity and soul of the progressive community in this country and in this world. God Bless CCDS and I am thankful that I have been able to participate.
I just saw some cow named Michelle Malkin on television denouncing an Asian woman on her campus(and she herself is asian) for "not following the rule" and complaining about racism. Ludicrous. Who is giving her a platform?