Hey Donald Trump, African Americans Heard You Loud and Clear

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a roundtable meeting with the Republican Leadership Initiative in his offices at Trump Tower in New York, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a roundtable meeting with the Republican Leadership Initiative in his offices at Trump Tower in New York, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016.

Late last week, in his umpteenth “foot in mouth” moment, Donald J. Trump rhetorically asked African Americans a question that in my mind perfectly synthesized this election and Trump’s used car salesman pitch. “What do you have to lose by trying something new like Donald Trump?”  Read more »

Rendell: Disband Clinton Foundation (If Hillary Wins)

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Ed Rendell has been an enjoyable sideshow this campaign season: He’s essentially retired from politics — he’s not going to run for anything again — so he’s pretty much allowed to say whatever he wants. He can go off message. He can say “there are some things that Donald Trump talks about that do have a germ of reason or a germ of truth,” or mention on a radio show the FBI’s findings have damaged Clinton, or he can tell Buzzfeed the Democrats are $10 million short for the DNC. Rendell has commented several times to Buzzfeed, in fact! He is the world’s oldest millennial.

Today, Rendell is talking to the New York Daily News about the Clinton Foundation. Read more »

What Simone Manuel’s Gold Medal Comments Say About Race in America

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The #blacklivesmatter movement has been no stranger to controversy. In its short existence it has garnered a reputation for being anti-American, a race-baiting organization, and, most recently — tapping into the fear zeitgeist for many white Americans — a domestic sleeper cell of terrorists. Reaction to #blacklivesmatter has at times even transcended racial identity, with critics accusing it of being “uncoordinated,” “loud” and “ineffective,” or reducing its most visible torchbearers — the protestors who have clogged everything from highways to brunch spots, to city hall, to the DNC — with derisive claims that they are shiftless, unthinking, unemployed, idealistic people with lots of energy and little planning in much the same way that the country has discredited other system disruptors like the Bernie and Occupy camps.

It has also spawned another type of reaction too; the most popular combative rhetorical retorts to #blacklivesmatter have been across-the-aisle brand battle cries of #alllivesmatter or #bluelivesmatter. It’s made the conversation around it all feel like we’re wading into increasingly turbulent waters while one side yells “Marco!” and the other side yells “Polo!,” all resulting in a stalemate. That the conversation on race now feels inescapable for folks only begins the long road toward empathy about the everyday experience for many Black Americans who feel we’ve had no choice but to navigate this country’s implicit and explicit unequal racial codes. From schools, to employment, to voting, to police interactions, it’s always been a sink-or-swim experience for us, and given the racial animus here, it’s often felt more like sinking. To quote David Foster Wallace (out of context): “this is water.”

That’s what I thought about when 20-year-old Simone Manuel emerged from the pool — breaking the surface and making history when she not only set a new Olympic record in the women’s 100-meter freestyle swimming, but also became the first African-American female to win gold in an individual swimming event.  Read more »

Want Khizr Khan to Run for Office? Donate Here.

Khizr Khan, father of fallen US Army Capt. Humayun S. M. Khan and his wife Ghazala speak during the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Thursday, July 28, 2016.

Khizr Khan, whose son died serving the country, delivered a blistering speech about Donald Trump at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Khizr Khan, a Muslim-American gold-star father, has done more than almost anyone this year to prevent Donald Trump from becoming the country’s first orange dictator. And some Americans are so impressed with Khan that they want him to run for office.

On Wednesday, U.S. Army Vietnam veteran Tom Keefe nominated Khan to run for the Virginia General Assembly on Crowdpac.

Crowdpac is the Kickstarter of politics. On the website, you can nominate anyone you’d like to run for office, with or without their permission. Supporters can then pledge money to the nominee’s campaign, but their credit cards will be charged only if the nominee decides to run. Read more »

About Last Week: Two Particularly Telling Moments From Wisconsin Sheriff David Clarke’s RNC Speech

David Clarke, Sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wis., salutes after speaking during the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

David Clarke, Sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wis., salutes after speaking during the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Last Monday night, Wisconsin Sheriff David Clarke took the center stage at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Clarke has been on a tear of late. A known opponent of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, the previous night he battled CNN anchor Don Lemon on what he’s come to see as “rising anti-police rhetoric that I predicted two years ago” in the wake of events like Michael Brown and the subsequent Ferguson protests. On that night, Clarke was a relentless, rhetorical soldier, and Lemon was forced to not only go to commercial break, but to also try and steer (and calm) Clarke as he rambled across topics like “black on black crime,” police killings and Black Lives Matter while attempting to debunk the current narrative around disproportionate policing happening in black and brown communities.  Read more »

Brian Sims: Mike Pence’s Anti-LGBT Views Would Further Divide Us

Brian Sims, Mike Pence

Brian Sims, Mike Pence

This is an opinion piece by Pennsylvania Representative Brian Sims.

No Gays Allowed.”

Governor Mike Pence proudly signed into law legislation that allowed business to refuse service or discriminated against LGBT Americans. Yes — the Mike Pence who is Donald Trump’s running mate and the most extreme pick for vice president in a generation.

As Governor, Mike Pence used his leadership to alienate businesses and divide communities with his spiteful actions against the LGBT community when he spearheaded this discriminatory legislation. The law allowed people to continue spreading hatred, deny services and discriminate against LGBT Americans.  Read more »

What It Was Like to Watch the Turkish Coup Attempt Unfold

People gathered in Taksim Square in Istanbul to protest against the attempted coup, watch a pre-recorded video message by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, early Tuesday, July 19, 2016.

People gathered in Taksim Square in Istanbul to protest against the attempted coup, watch a pre-recorded video message by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, early Tuesday, July 19, 2016.

In the hours before Friday’s attempted coup, I was focused on how to keep moving forward with a manuscript, based on the dissertation I finished at the University of Pennsylvania’s department of Folklore and Folklife. Over the years I lived in Philadelphia, I called several neighborhoods of this city — most recently Bella Vista — home, and traveled back and forth to Turkey. In the hours following the coup attempts, dear friends and former professors reached out on electronic media, bridging our divide.  Read more »

Orlando and Charleston Were Hate-Fueled Attacks on Safe Spaces

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Left: Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Right: Nine ribbons in honor of the victims are shown in front of Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., Friday, June 17, 2016 on the anniversary of the killing of nine black parishioners during bible study.

In 1992, as a 14 year-old boy I saw Spike Lee’s Malcolm X at Princeton MarketFair’s movie theatre with my cousin Sean. Seeing the movie was an almost religious experience itself; I hadn’t known much about Malcolm at that point, and I had also never experienced an all-black movie experience at that point. I left elated but also guarded; Malcolm’s rise to influence and then subsequent assassination left me drained and weary. The movie closed with a legacy-affirming montage of blacks standing up and proclaiming “I am Malcolm X” — signaling the idea that what he was will be and will live on no matter what.

The movie was about the importance of being vigilant when you’re part of a hated group; that at any given moment something terrible could happen because your very existence was hated. This meant that harm could come at any place, at any time.

The movie provided insight into what this paranoia looked like during the 1960s: Think of the classic photo of Malcolm X standing in his living room window, or at church where Malcolm was ultimately murdered. As black folks forged toward justice, the need to have an eye on the prize meant that you also had to have an eye for any potential threat.

All of this was symbolized in the succinct advice given at one point in the film: Never sit with your back to the door. It was a reminder that there was always a gun scope’s reticle trained on you.

There’s been a trained reticle on marginalized populations for a long time now and one of the best ways that this trained eye has been maintained on them has been through the violent disruption of peaceful spaces. If you want to unnerve the heart, the psyche, the security and the community of a key group, there’s no better place to strike than the places that they hold most sacred. America has a long history with this type of domestic terrorism, and it’s been most uniquely applied to minority and oppressed groups. Sunday morning’s “Latin Night” mass murder at Pulse, a popular gay  club in Orlando, was the latest in the steady practice of destroying sanctuaries in the vein of America’s greatest emotion: hate.  Read more »

The Orlando Nightclub Shooter and the Agonizing Need to Know “Why”

Pulse nightclub following a fatal shooting Sunday, June 12, 2016, in Orlando, Fla.

Pulse nightclub following a fatal shooting Sunday, June 12, 2016, in Orlando, Fla.

We’d like it to be like Law & Order, or Criminal Minds, or CSI. On those shows, there’s always a clear motive. The boss killed his secretary so she wouldn’t tell his wife about their affair. The husband killed his wife to collect on the insurance money before the divorce went through. Even a serial killer does what he does because of that one uncle who molested him in the basement when he was 9.

The emphasis on a single, easily digestible motive is an obvious must for TV police procedurals: There’s only so much time in each episode to unspool the crime-and-punishment plot. It’s also the way the criminal justice system works. Jurors are TV watchers, after all. They need a story that holds together, is persuasive, makes sense.

A motive feels even more urgent after an inherently inexplicable event like the massacre in Orlando. Until we know why it happened, we’re stuck in the devastation. Once we have a motive, we can stop thinking about the terrified people who waited for their deaths, crouched in toilet stalls, and about the torn-apart hearts of the parents who lost their children. We can step away from the dislocating horror, the incomprehensibility, and return instead to the familiar:  Read more »

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