Sunday, April 30, 2006

Immigration Indigestion

May 1st has been designated as a date for one of the largest immigration protests the nation has ever seen. Last month, we saw over 500,000 immigrants protest downtown and in the subsequent week thousands of young people walked out of class in support of the protests. So, if this is being billed as one of the largest, then wowee, it should be mind boggling... It's interesting to note that organizers of the protest have laid out rules of engagement for those wishing to participate. Rules like, asking permission to take off of your job... driving with your lights on during the day, and wearing a white t-shirt, or bandana or ribbon of solidarity for the movement.

A week or so ago, I watched incredulously as a predominantly African American group led by homeless activist Ted Hayes, made a stand against immigration.The violence that marred the protest could have (and maybe it did) ruined the credibility of Ted Hayes' Movement. True, a fight broke out and to my eye, it looks as if Ted instigated it, but one not too quick to judge, the incident prompted me to investigate the African American position on immigration. I do not see the prominent black politicians, civil rights groups or even the church speaking out on this issue. Ted Hayes wants us to bond with the Minuteman Project, taking an almost vigilante stance against the issue. He has formed the Crispus Attucks Brigade of the Minuteman Project saying that says that continued immigration is a threat to the lives and culture of blacks in America. Jobs will be lost, educational standards will decline even more and housing - his central position - will be even more scarce... (see a CBS News Report about the demonstration/fight here)

I was surprised when I saw recently installed President of the NAACP, Bruce Gordon stand in solidarity with the immigrants, holding sway on-stage at the massive rally in Los Angeles... But, what is the official stance from the NAACP? Are you saying that immigration reform is right or wrong? Is it in the best interest of your people to allow continued, unabated, illegal immigration? What about the claim that continued illegal immigration affects the job market - especially among black folk? You can read the NAACP's stance here.. It seems ambivalent, at best...

I met a guy once in a diner. He was a truck driver and we were watching the protests on television. I was marveling at the sense of unity the latino protestors had as was he, but his perspective was much different than mine. He told me how even though he owned his rig, the already low fees he has to accept as a result of bias and perhaps, discrimination are now threatend by the proposed "reform" of immigration. How so?, I asked. He explained that the latino can come over the border with his rig and charge as much as FOUR TIMES lower than his minimum. He cannot afford that... Just think - married, two children, house note, car note, groceries.. the essentials of life. He's got to command a certain amount per trip or not survive in the city at all... The immigrant can come over the border, live in a two bedroom house or apartment with 20 other folk, divide the necessities of life and therefore maintain a much lower standard of living and consquently charge less for the gig... He further explained that this was the reality for him.. not being racist or discriminatory, that's just how it is in the real world. He underscored this claim with the observation that because the latino driver can command such a low rate, the employer may be motivated to look the other way when the immigrant's rig is below industry standards (insurance, maintenance logs, etc).. So, he's missing out on jobs left and right... But he said even at that, he worries more about the guys who are single... No one to help them... they have to accept lower paying gigs in a market that demands higher rent, food, gas... the essentials of life...

When I was on the radio, co-host of a program called Front Page, I noticed how a huge number of callers complained about discrimination in the work place. Not by white folk, as is traditionally the fight, but by Latino folk. This was amazing to me. I perceived the problem to be at City and County Jobs. Where there has been a definite rise of Latino managers... I talked to a guy in my neighborhood once who had more than 20 years working for the County. He said that the problem is even larger than Latinos taking over. He described how although the Latinos take care of their own first (hiring, promoting, the language barrier), he said that even if he has the experience and job knowledge, even as he has taken the opportunities given him in his years at the County to better his education, increase his knowledge and expertise on the job.. when it comes time to take the test for advancement, the test favors those who can speak spanish, tagalog, cantonese and other languages... he says, "good grief!! I though this was America!! Now immigrants from all over the world are getting the jobs and promotions because they can speak not only my language which is American Standard English, but thier native language.. They have the advantage not because of education and job knowledge, but because they come from another country!! Plus they will accept the job for a lower rate than we will"

The immigration issue is not a new debate in the African American Community and perhaps in another blog I will point it out, but just in case you cannot wait, click here "Immigrant Indigestion": A. Philip Randolph, Radical and Restrictionist to examine A. Phillip Randolph's position on immigration between the world wars... the issues are the same....

We are sick with immigration indigestion

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Lessons of the Duke University Rape Case

I am learning something as I read and research the Duke University Rape Case. In case you are not up on this latest piece of tragedy in our nation, the lacrosse team of Duke University had a party, hired some strippers, one of the strippers accused three of the teammates of rape. DNA is inconclusive...but the charges are not going away... The case is significant because it is a glaring case study of race, class and sex. It has exposed the ugly wounds of racism and elistism in the college town of Durham, North Carolina. We don't know if the girl is telling the truth or not, but we do hope that the truth comes out real soon....

In the meantime, I am learning about the challenges that today's twenty-something black woman goes through. In the Duke case, the guys actions are, as some scholars and philosophers have described, a manifestation of how the white male views the black female. A being that is to be submissive and sexed over, because that's how they like it and the white male is going to display his racial superiority through dominant sex. It is a view that has been a part of this nation's history since the first slaves were brought over from Africa. But even at that, the present day urban entertainment culture displays the black woman as a overly sexed being, exuding sexuality - often x-rated sexuality - just as she goes aboiut her day. This x-rated sexuality is reflected as one walks around the 'hood and sees how young women carry themselves, how they talk to one another, how they dress. One doesn't have to go too far to see how this is coming about...The music videos have a distinct impact on the images of black women. And for most white folk, this is the only glimpse of black life they see.

I've learned that the 20-something black woman can meet a white guy, and more often than not, the guy will make a comment that totally reveals that he thinks this black woman is someone who walked right out of the video screen or off the ho' track... In some extreme cases - actually quite a few from what I have been able to observe - the white guy will walk right up to a girl in the club or at the concert and smack that booty... The black woman's beauty, the curves, her essence drives the white male wild.. so wild he says and does things that are totally contrary to what his family rasied him to do when it comes to the honor of a woman... Why? Because he sees all these videos and images of the black woman as some sexual trollop. And since this is all the exposure he is going to have regarding the black community, he thinks that this is how the sista wants to be treated....So in this age of ultra integration, on the college campus, or places where you'll see more and more assimilation into society, the 20-something woman has to endure the white male coming up to them, rubbing that booty, or after a gentlemanly introduction, making lewd comments because they actually think that's what the black woman does!!! I'm not making this up, y'all!! The Duke case has illuminated this on campuses across the country. (See MSNBC article Duke Case reopens wounds for black women)

I bet you think I'm going to place the blame for all this white on black misogynism at the feet of the "evil white man"... Nope, definitely not. The man is going to be the man is going to be the man. We've already learned from scholars that this behavior has been a part of our nation since the first slave ships arrived on our shores... Oh No.... It is the brothas that are to blame for this societal problem. I mean we are the ones who promote pimps and hos in the music. It is the black man who produces the videos. It is the black man who in his quest to reign supreme in the world of entertainment and provide everyone with a glimpse of the 'hood (you know-keepin' it real?), has presented a global view of women as ho's and brothas as gangstas and thugs. The black man made the pimp game a cool pop icon..... It is our music, videos and sometimes movies that has the world thinking that we are a degenirate people. It is the brothas who first disrespects his woman by promoting her as a sexual trollop, cheap, easy... A creature who is not to be treated with any form of respect or reverence. Folk see this and think that's how the woman should be dealt with. And to make matters worse, my brothas put this treatment on videos for everyone to see across the globe...

A friend of mine went to Turkey with her husband. She was telling me about how surprised the Turks were that she did not act or look like the black folk they see on video.... hmmmmmm. The global perspective of our people is that of gangstas, thugs, pimps and hos.... Brothas, you are the ones responsible for this...

As we talk about revolution, equality and social justice. The preservation of the family unit is nuclear to the survival of our people. The way we treat our women is a glaring weak link in the history of our people and the reason why we have a HUGE gender gap within our culture. Brothas, we are not staying with the mothers of our children. Sistas, you are not respecting the man, further castrating him in this society where he is already down. They think we are thugs, crooks pimps, and they are intimidated by us That's why we don't get the jobs...and when we come home, here you come further putting us down.... (All men are dogs - He ain't nothing)

Brothas in the industry, you are promoting our women alright, but as ho's and strippers (btw, why is the number one song in America called "I'm in love with a Stripper"?). How come we can't promote the beauty of the sista, the essence of her strength, her natural inclination towards spirituality... Can't we talk more eloquently about her God given curves and sexual essence? I mean she is the mother of the earth, the center of our existence.... can't we treat her like the queen that she is??? Sistas, can't you walk with more regality? Can you get over the neck bending, tongue wagging, finger pointing? Can you not buy into the ho mentality, thinking that you cannot get a man unless you conduct yourselves like the images on video?

Folk are going to think what they think.. There's a 400 year history of that, but we don't have to encourage that behavior by promoting our culture as something that it is not.

In the meantime, we have to help our young sistas gain and keep respect - from all males - especially the brothas..... It's getting dangerous out here......

Duke Rape Case: WIll the truth come out?

Today our eye is on Durham North Carolina, where a stripper is accusing members of the Duke University LaCrosse team of rape? She was hired to dance at a party they were giving and it ended up badly - she claims she was raped... DNA was taken, no match, but yet the case still proceeds... The story has uncovered the ugly face of race, class and sexism in this town where Duke University students are perceived as elitist, snobby and sometimes rowdy - especially the LaCrosse team. Some of the team's members have been arrested and/or reprimanded for charges ranging from public drunkeness to urination to disorderly conduct. The charges have prompted the University President to cancel the team's season and the coach to resign (even though he led them to the national championship last year).

Rush Limbaugh called the alleged victim a 'ho the other day on his nationally syndicated radio program. But further investigation will show that the dancer is a divorced mother of two, working at an escort service to feed her family and work her way through full time classes at nearby North Carolina Central University (a sista gotta do what a sista gotta do!!??),,,

Witnesses say that the girl was intoxicated. But the second dancer who was with her at the party and others say she was sober when she arrived at the party and was out of it when she left. Was she drugged? You know college kids all over the country use that GHB and Extasy and other designer drugs...(what ever happened to the ol' mack lines that get you the girl.. nowadays you gotta drug 'em?.. what's the world coming to?)

The accusations include the utterance of racial epithets by the guys at the party. The white guys got excited and aggressive, the accusers say. One of the guys yelled out "Hey b***, thank your grandpa for my cotton shirt"... Dag, why you gotta go there????
Black women; white men. A stripper; and a team party. Wealthy white athletes – probably from prep schools. The elitist atmosphere of Duke. A working girl from a historically black university (North Carolina Central). Race, class and sex.
Rev. Jesse Jackson points out that ""The history of white men and black women – the special fantasies and realities of exploitation – goes back to the nation’s beginning and the arrival of slaves from Africa. The patterns associated with this history arouse fears and evoke too many bad memories."
Durham, North Carolina is not some redneck township of the old south. The Mayor is black. The police chief is black. Most of the City Council members are black. It's realtively prosperous with high tech being one of the chief business sectors enjoying success in the area. The nation's largest black owned insurance company is headquartered there. There's two black banks. And like any other metropolitan area, there is poverty - disproportionately black. And Duke University (like USC here in Los Angeles) is a private school stocked with affluent, mostly white students located in a mostly black area...
Sure, the case has and will continue to generate race based protests, discussions and debates. But one has to consider that Duke is probably no different than other universities in the way black women are perceived. Rebecca Hall of the University of California at Berkely studies images of African American Women in culture and says "Just turn on a music video. The black woman is somebody who has excess sexuality. It's excess sexuality that white men think they are entitled to"
So... what happened? Is this another Tawanna Bradley case? Is sista pissed because the white guys in the party called her a ni****? Thus did she fabricate the story? Did the raw desire of the white man for the black woman especially in a sexually charged situation such as stripping frighten her to her core? Did these guys really rape her? If the team is exonerated, will she apologize? The DNA failing to match casts reasonable doubt on the case for me. I mean hasn't the advent of DNA resulted in the release of murderers and rapists even though they had served decades in prisons? Is the case being pursued because the DA wants justice or is it politically motivated. After all, he's up for election in May and his opponent is a black man in a town already racially divided... On the other hand, the team is already known for thier unruly behavior. Did they take liberties with a stripper as they got geeked up over her sexuality. Did they feel entitled to help themselves? Even strippers have rights - no means no means no...The case certainly uncovers thje fragile racial peace that has existed in this community for years... What will a finding of not guilty do to those efforts fighting for equal social justice...? Will a guilty verdict silence strengthen the cause of respect for women?

Duke University - Let's pray that the truth comes out..... soon!