We Owe Mr. Trump a Big “Thank You”

Developer Donald Trump displays a copy of his net worth during his announcement that he will seek the Republican nomination for president, Tuesday, June 16, 2015, in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Developer Donald Trump displays a copy of his net worth during his announcement that he will seek the Republican nomination for president, Tuesday, June 16, 2015, in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Now, more than ever, I’m a huge fan of Donald Trump.

The guy’s having a tough week, to be sure, but as NBC cuts their ties with The Apprentice host and the GOP tries to avoid eye contact in the hallway, I’ve come around. While he left a little to be desired as a reality TV star and is just plain creepy as a Miss USA overlord, as a presidential candidate, I can finally understand his value.

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Whitewashing History

affleck confederate slaves

Recently it was revealed Boston-bred actor Ben Affleck asked the producers of the PBS genealogy show Finding Your Roots to omit the fact that his ancestors owned slaves from their broadcast about … his roots. For two seasons, the show has traced the family histories of public figures, something one might assume that Affleck knew when he signed on.

In April, when the story first came to light with the fallout of the Sony email hack, Affleck said that he was “embarrassed” and “didn’t want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves.”

The irony here, of course, is that Affleck’s white privilege allowed him to decide that because the slavery narrative was an inconvenience or an embarrassment to him, he could re-write his own history and do without it harm to his own image. I can’t figure out why anyone would care that his great-great-somebody owned a slave, or why, given his Boston affiliation, this wouldn’t already be readily assumed.

News flash, white people: Some white people owned slaves. Some of those white people may have been members of your family. This is not a reflection on you, nor is it a specific indictment against all white people. These are just facts. Read more »

No More Confederate Flag at Geno’s

 

Geno's Steaks

Photo | Jeff Fusco

A Confederate flag sticker on a motorcycle displayed at Geno’s Steaks was removed after a customer took his complaint public Monday.

Phil Dahl complained this week to Philly.com about the sticker — on a neon-orange motorcycle built for the shop’s late founder, Joey Vento, displayed across the street from from the steak shop. His complaint came after the Charleston massacre renewed national debate over the flag’s symbolism.

“I’ve walked passed this monstrosity for four years now, and I just can’t believe no one has said anything about it,” Dahl told the website. “Maybe that says something about our own perceptions and blind spots to these sorts of things.”

Geno Vento, Joey’s son and current owner of the shop, on Monday had the sticker scraped from the motorcycle’s battery cover, and the motorcycle rotated 180 degrees.

Geno Vento told Philly.com. “The offending image has been removed from the public view.” Read more »

A Miracle in Charleston

When the arguments about guns and race subside after last week’s Charleston massacre — and, inevitably, they will — there is one moment from the whole ugly affair that I expect to remember for a long, long time.

That moment came after the alleged shooter, Dylann Roof, had been captured and brought before a judge to hear the charges and have bail set. In a moment unlike any I’ve experienced in court, the judge then allowed family members of the victims to speak to Roof.

And what happened was kind of extraordinary. Read more »

In Charleston Church Shooting, America’s Founding Racism Rears its Ugly Head — Again

AP-Dylann-storm-roof-bond-hearing-940x540

The media are notorious for name-calling.

Let me be even clearer. The racist white media and their racist white viewers, listeners and readers are notorious for their racist name-calling and racist approval of such.

Wednesday night’s attack by a white man against black churchgoers was textbook terrorism, but we’re currently engaged in a furious debate over whether to call it such. Meanwhile, the 21-year-old sadistic terrorist Dylann Storm Roof has been described in an ABC news broadcast as “just a quiet kid…,” in Reuters as “quiet and soft-spoken,” in the Washington Post as a “quiet, shy boy… (who) didn’t get into trouble… (and) a son, nephew, and brother… (who merely) slipped toward his alleged horrific… visit to the church, and in The Wall Street Journal as a “bright boy from a middle-class… family.”

Bullshit. Pure racist bullshit.

After all, this is the very same person who has reportedly confessed to methodically shooting to death nine defenseless bible-studying black women and men at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Therefore, he’s no nice kid who merely went astray through no fault of his own. To say otherwise is racist hypocrisy.
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Blackness Isn’t Transferable

Dylann Roof, left. Rachel Dolezal, right. (Dolezal photo: AP)

Dylann Roof, left. Rachel Dolezal, right. (Dolezal photo: AP)

Today marks the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States — the day Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, with the news that slavery ended … some two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had legally, but not actually, freed slaves across the South.

On June 17, 2015, a terrorist named Dylann Roof walked into Charleston, South Carolina’s Emanuel AME Church, and opened fire, killing nine congregants he’d been praying with during the prior hour. Despite the end of the enslavement period and the current state of the Union, a Confederate flag still flies at full mast outside South Carolina’s state house, undisturbed.

All this, after two weeks of talking about an imposter. Read more »

Can You Drink Four Beers and Run a Mile? Find Out at the Brew Mile This Summer

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

If you’re a runner, you’re probably familiar with the concept of a beer mile, but for those who aren’t, it goes like this: Chug a beer, run a quarter of a mile, chug a beer, run a quarter of a mile, chug a beer, run a quarter of a mile and — you guessed it! — chug a beer, run a quarter of a mile. Oftentimes they’re pretty low-key affairs done with a group of running buddies at a track on a Saturday afternoon when no one’s expecting you to be productive. Because, well, all that beer.

To some people, this sounds like the best thing ever, and to others (like myself) it sounds like a vomit-inducing nightmare. But hey, to each his own. And if you’re in the first camp and you’ve never tried one before, here’s your chance: Brew Mile, essentially a beer mile on steroids, is coming to Philly’s XFinity Live on Friday, August 7th. And yes, there will be a gluten-free beer option, in case you were wondering.

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Alice Goffman’s Book on “Fugitive Life” in Philly Under Attack

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Last year, Alice Goffman published On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City, an adaptation of her dissertation at Princeton. For six years, while a student at Penn and at Princeton, Goffman immersed herself in a Philadelphia neighborhood that she writes is “a lower-income Black neighborhood not far from [Penn’s] campus.” The book is an ethnography of the lives of the young men (and a few women) she hung out with in the neighborhood. She changed names and calls it “6th Street,” to avoid identifying her subjects.

In the book, her subjects are profiled, beaten harassed and tracked by the Philadelphia Police. She writes of police stealing from suspects. She says she witnessed 24 different police raids, including one where she was handcuffed, and four instances of men from 6th Street released from police custody with bloody fingertips.

It was met with massive praise upon release. Goffman, the daughter of esteemed sociologist Erving Goffman and a Philadelphia native who went to the Baldwin School, had already won a major award for her dissertation. Malcolm Gladwell called it “exceptional … devastating.” Cornel West said it was “the best treatment I know of the wretched underside of neo-liberal capitalist America.” The New York Times said it was “a remarkable feat of reporting.”

Goffman, now a professor of sociology at University of Wisconsin-Madison, has recently come under criticism. An anonymous take-down has floated around in academic circles. Northwestern law professor Steven Lubet, in an essay in the online book review site The New Rambler, accused Goffman of being “an accomplice in the evident commission of a major felony,” as well as getting facts wrong about policing in Philadelphia. Read more »

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