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 »

Opinion: Marc Lamont Hill, I Can’t ‘Afford’ a Donald Trump Presidency

Photo of Marc Lamont Hill via Hill's website; photo of Trump via Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Marc Lamont Hill via Hill’s website; photo of Donald Trump by Michael Vadon via Wikimedia Commons

Trailblazing Black gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin once said, “Let us be enraged about injustice, but let us not be destroyed by it.” In the midst of this presidential campaign, the Black community couldn’t be more enraged. Many rightfully feel as though neither major political candidate — Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump — will best serve the interests of the people. Some have taken it a step further by considering voting for a third-party candidate.

One of those individuals is Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, a powerhouse commentator and scholar on race and politics. But such a position is more dangerous for our community than he and others might imagine. Read more »

Why I’m Breaking Up With SEPTA, and Running to the Open Arms of … Amtrak

Scenes from an uncomfortable commute. Photos | Sabrina Vourvoulias

Scenes from an uncomfortably crowded commute. Photos | Sabrina Vourvoulias

For the past 15 years I’ve been a faithful SEPTA customer. I’ve used almost every kind of conveyance the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority provides — buses, subways, high-speed line, regional rail — for both my weekday commute and other travel within and without Philadelphia. I believe it is an incredibly important asset to the southeastern region of the state, and I have always supported increased state funding for it, but I can’t love it. In fact, I often hate SEPTA. Bear with me, I’ll explain.

First, the love. Read more »

12 Wonderfully Questionable Purchases That Prove You’re Really Into Electoral Politics

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What a crazy couple of week it’s been, right? First it was the RNC in Cleveland, and now there’s the DNC here in Philly. Such large-scale political events are inevitably horrifying and inspiring. There will be some who’ll be alienated by our two-party system entirely after the conventions, but the vast majority of us will continue to follow the electoral/political drama of 2016, which, given the candidates and the rhetoric, feels more like binge-watching a particularly sadistic season of House of Cards. For election-year junkies, there are plenty of ways to show that you’re really passionate about American electoral politics — and what’s more American than buying a lot of highly dubious crap? (Nothing. There is nothing more American than that.) Here are some recommended items to satisfy your capitalist jones between now and November.  Read more »

10 Pretty Amazing DNC Craigslist Hook-Up Attempts

iStockphoto.com | Sitade

iStockphoto.com | Sitade

We’re living in strange, uncertain times. Scott Baio has a job. Donald Trump is being mistaken for a presidential candidate. Dan McQuade is being mistaken for Brad Pitt. Philadelphians have declined to vandalize perfectly good property. In the immortal words of Peter Venkman, “Dogs and cats, living together, mass hysteria!”

One thing you can still count on? When on a business trip, Americans will troll for weird sex on Craigslist. Some things change, but some things, thankfully, stay the same. Here are some safe(ish) for work DNC Craigslist hook-up attempts.  Read more »

“This Is What Democracy Looks Like” — But Is the DNC Seeing It?

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I emerged from City Hall exit of the subway to the sound of Andean music and humid heat that aggressively wrapped itself around me, tight as a tourniquet. It was just after noon, and City Hall was bustling with protestors.

$15 minimum wage, climate change, TPP, socialism — the signs (and t-shirts) identified the groups as Bernie’s nation. People talked to passersby about people in America being one paycheck away from homelessness.

I had expected they’d be there, of course, but maybe not completely girding the venerable heart of Philadelphia. Most of them younger than me, many of them white — but by no means all. There was a big papier-mâché puppet of Berta Cáceres, the Honduran indigenous and environmental activist (and strong critic of Hillary Clinton’s actions during her stint as Secretary of State) killed in March of this year, as well as some signs held by Latinxs and African Americans for Bernie.

“This is what Democracy looks like.”

That was the chant of the largest grouping of protestors, one I struggled to transit through until a thoughtful young woman with an enormous backpack asked if I needed help, and opened the way for me. Nina Turner, a prominent Bernie supporter and CNN contributor, broke through the crowd at about the same time as I did. Like me, she seemed to be navigating Philadelphia’s streets not as a journalist, but as an observer of the mostly friendly, chaotic doings.

Not all friendly, of course.
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 »

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