Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rosa Parks

I had thought I'd be writing about churches tonight but that was before I saw "Rosa Parks: 1913-2005" at The Common Ills before going to bed last night.

I'll note this from Democracy Now!:

Civil Rights Pioneer Rosa Parks 1913-2005
Civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks has died at the age of 92. It was 50 years ago this December that she refused to relinquish her seat to a white man aboard a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. She was arrested and convicted of violating the state's segregation laws. Her act of resistance led to a 13-month boycott of the Montgomery bus system that would spark the civil rights movement. The boycott would also help transform a 26-year-old preacher named Martin Luther King Junior to national prominence. In 1958 King wrote "no one can understand the action of Mrs. Parks unless he realizes that eventually the cup of endurance runs over, and the human personality cries out, 'I can take it no longer.''' Parks had been involved in the fight for freedom since the 1940s. She was active in the NAACP, helped raise money to defend the Scottsboro rape case and attended trainings at the Highlander Folk School of Tennessee. The Rev. Jesse Jackson said yesterday ''She sat down in order that we might stand up. Paradoxically, her imprisonment opened the doors for our long journey to freedom.'' Henry Louis Gates Jr called her "the Harriet Tubman of our time." After he was freed from jail Nelson Mandela recalled how Parks had inspired him and others in the South African struggle against apartheid. We'll have more on Rosa Parks in a few minutes.

Just a tip for white bloggers out there that are pushing a Democrat already for the 2008 race. The fact that Tuesday you noted no death today or noted a death today and it wasn't Rosa Parks didn't go unnoticed. In fact, one blogger who wrote that nothing has been the same since Paul Wellstone died resulted in 30 e-mails alone.

So when it's time to trot out and prop up their candidate, don't be surprised when you're wondering why "those blacks" aren't interested in hearing your lame opinion.

Rosa Parks died. Some of you blogged last night, some of you blogged this morning. Those who didn't note Parks death but chose to note the death, three years ago!, of Paul Wellstone or someone else, it was noted.

Though probably not noted the way they hoped.

Some of the e-mails are using terms like "racists" to describe these bloggers. I don't know if they're racist, I just know that they're stupid.

They can dig back three years to note Paul Wellstone but somehow miss that Rosa Parks died yesterday?

We get it. We see the "Whites Only" sign posted outside now.

Message received, as Ruth would say.

By the same token, we also noted who was there. That includes Democracy Now! which did an incredible job and reached into the Pacifica archives to find rare audio interviews with Rosa Parks. Delilah of A Scrivener's Lament is a name that got praised in e-mails. I'll give credit to John Nichols for noting Rosa Parks at The Nation.

I give no credit to a web site that provides links and at noon Tuesday had over 187 links on display but only one of the 187 was about Rosa Parks.

It sends a message.

So does a link to the hideous article entitled: "The Blue Tint of Indian Country; Democratic administrations have been kindest to Native Americans -- and come election time, Indians remember." The stereotypes are insulting the concept is patronizing and insulting. "We remember who took care of us."

African-Americans are supposed to play little children to the big Democratic Party too. Whites never seem to grasp how insulting they are when they use headlines like that.

So in the white white white world of the blogsphere today was a little whiter.

Now whether you call yourself "black," "Black," or "African-American" (I use the latter) or what, you've noticed that the death of John H. Johnson wasn't dealt with by most of the "left." That time they hid behind the fact that Peter Jennings had died. That was their excuse then.

What will the excuse for today be?

Back then they offered things like, "I didn't even know about John H. Johnson." Will they trot out the same excuse now?

Micah e-mailed me to tell me about a point Amy Goodman was making on WBAI today. It's basically, watch and see who devotes time to Rosa Parks and who doesn't. How your big media will give you 30 seconds top. I think that can be applied online too. Most shocking to me was how many didn't even see the point in giving her 30 seconds.

Who was Rosa Parks?

I can tell you who she was to me. I remember being told about her. I was looking at my mother and thinking that some man was making my mother get out of her seat and wanting to know why? My mother explained it was a white man.

I still didn't get it. That's because a lot had changed in the time since Rosa Parks took her brave stand. Yes, I was a little kid, but things had changed enough that I would even have to ask about it.

Rosa Parks was one of the trailblazers who fought fights that made things better. So much better that it can be hard to picture what it was like before the civil rights movement. You can try to put yourself in that time but you have to try hard.

Racism still exists. It's still around. It's not as open and in your face as it used to be. There's enough shame in society that the racists know they can't be as overt as they once could. But it's still around.

And it's there when someone feels that the most important thing to write about death wise is that Paul Wellstone died three years ago and not that Rosa Parks died yesterday.

The thing they don't grasp, trapped in their white white white white world, is that Rosa Parks' struggle is a struggle for everyone. It advanced the rights of one group, true. But with that advancement everyone came closer to being part of the human experience.

Listening to Democracy Now! today, I winced when I heard Rosa Parks speaking and she made a point of saying she wasn't sitting in the white section of the bus when she was asked to move. That's how far we've come. Today we think of what she did and we think that she refused to give her seat up to a man. At the time, she had to take pains to point out that she was in the black section.

But maybe we haven't come that far? The black section obviously still exists. That's why when a Johnson or Parks passes, it's not news. It's a story for black people. But when a Peter Jennings die, it's a story for everyone. That's the message that's sent out.

They are full of excuses online. "John H. Johnson? I didn't know he was big with your people!"
"Ossie Davis, uh. . .. " If the so-called left web wants to be inclusive, it needs to be inclusive.
Otherwise it's just empty talk.

I had huge hopes for this entry mid-day but I'm still angry. But as Three Cool Old Guys pointed out when I visited them tonight at the nursing home, I've got a right to be. We all have a right to be.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Prison and the economy

Here's something I heard on Democracy Now! that I wanted to share:

U.S. Prison Population 2.3 Million, Largest in World
And new Justice Department statistics show the U.S. prison population grew by nearly 2 percent last year to nearly 2.3 million. According to the International Center for Prison Studies in London, there are more people behind bars in the United States than in any other country. Federal prisons in this country are now at 40 percent over capacity.

As C.I. always says, we've got a Bully Boy economy. I guess it's no surprise that while everyone else is laying off, the prison system is booming. I have three grocery stores in my area. Two real close and the other's about two miles away. Everyone needs to eat, right? So that should be a pretty good business, pretty safe.

All three are big chains, national stores. Last week, one of them announced it was shutting down at the end of this week. Even though they do business, they're not doing enough now that the energy prices are going up. The other one close by is turning off lights two hours before they close. Not all the lights, just enough that it's semi-dark in there if you go shopping late. First time that happened, I thought they'd changed their hours and were about to close.

I was hurrying around and I bumped into a stocker who told me I still had plenty of time but because of the cost of electricity, the store wasn't using all the lights the last two hours. So the lights in the frozen food cases go off, some of the lights in the produce go off, it's like the store's about to close.

But we're supposed to be pretending that the economy is going great. It's not going great. You can see that all around you. Take the grocery store. Tomatoes keep rising, milk's gone up, coffee's gone up. So when I read or hear someone saying, "The economy is doing good" I know right away that he or she doesn't shop for their own groceries.

Here's the scary part, this is fall. When winter gets here and you factor in heating costs, things are just going to get worse.

In 2008, we'll have had eight years under the Bully Boy (barring an impeachment) and so far, it's like we've lived six of them in denial. We're in denial about the war, we're in denial about the outing of Valerie Plame (Bob Somerby's really in denial), we're in denial about the economy.

Some people are cleaning up, no question. But that's not most people. If you're Halliburton or you own a prison, you're probably doing great. If you're a working stiff trying to make ends meet, things ain't so hot.

Here's a section of the news review from The Third Estate Sunday Review:

C.I.: Thank you, Jess. And to clarify, Brian Conley is an un-embed reporter with Boston Indymedia who is now reporting on Iraq from Iraq at Alive in Baghdad. As bird flu continues to be in the news, we turn to Rebeca, of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, to help us track the latest developments.
Rebecca: C.I. Britain's The Independent reports that "Armed police are to guard stocks of drugs used to fight bird flu." Geoffrey Lean and Francis Elliott report on this as England experiences its first case of bird flu. The bird, a parrot imported from Suriname, has resulted in a call by the British government for the end of importing wild birds to Europe. The Suriname government denies that the parrot contracted bird flu while in Suriname.
C.I.: Rebecca, if you or I wanted to visit England and we had a dog, our pet would be held in quarantine. Was that the case with the parrot?
Rebecca: Yes, in fact the parrot died in quarantine. The parrot arrived in England September 16th and had been held in quarantine until its death along with other birds from Taiwan. Australia is proposing thermal screenings of airline passengers and any flight suspected of carrying someone with bird flu would be quarantined for up to six days. The government of China has announced that the discovery of any case of human-to-human transfer of bird, or avian, flu will resort in the closing of its borders. Sweden has reported their first case of bird flu, a duck who died Friday. In Ha Noi, six million vaccines that will be used on birds to prevent the bird flu arrived from China. Delaware Online, The News Journal, reports that the migratory patterns of birds lead scientists to belive that North American birds will mingle with birds from Asia and transmit bird flu.
C.I.: Thank you, Rebecca. We'll note that on Wednesday, Democracy Now! devoted the hour to a discussion with Mike Davis on the topic of the bird flu. Davis noted, among other things, that flu is endemic with birds but that bird flu, unlike others they carry, is actually killing the birds. With news of Iraq, we now go to Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix.
Cedric: Well the trial for Saddam Hussein began last week following the successful turnout for the referendum on the Iraq Constitution.
C.I.: But Cedric, the trial's now postponed until November, a lawyer's been killed and the referendum results are being closely examined due to questions of fraud as a result of some areas reporting that over 90% of the population voted?
Cedric: C.I., that is true, but don't say it too loudly. The Associated Press' Mariam Fam is pimping both events as milestones. Friday, in The New York Times, I-Saw-It-All-In-Falluja-But-Kept-My-Mouth-Shut Dexter Filkins wasted 22 paragraphs analyzing the election returnsthat are not yet verified.
C.I.: We should note the headline to that "award winning" reporting by Filkins which was, "Iraq's Sunnis Voted In Large Numbers This Time, Officials Say." "Officials say" being key to the headline, to the report and to all that's wrong with The Times.
Cedric: C.I., the press is having a tough time pimping the latest Operation Happy Talk phase. Fam and Filkins obviously want to let loose with the rah-rah reporting but the trouble this time is that serious questions exist and the days when Filkins could turn a slaughter into a video game and actually win a report for it appear to have passed. But still they press on, those brave embeds, thankful that Judith Miller exists to take the heat off all of them.
C.I.: Cedric, thank you for that perspective piece. With more news on Iraq, we now go to Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz and Mike of Mikey Likes It! All week long, they pair up to select information from Democracy Now! to spotlight at their respective sites. Readers of The Third Estate Sunday Review prefer them paired up for the news review. We started with Elaine last week, so let's start with Mike.

I included Rebecca's part because of the bird flu and with the topic of this post being the economy, I think that's needed. If we have an outbreak of bird flu, we'll see that it effects one group of people one way, and another group another. Why? Money. If you've got it to blow, you'll probably be sitting pretty. If you're struggling to make ends meet, you'll be out in the cold with the flu.