links for 2008-01-31

Mega Political Round Up – 1/30/08

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson

Alisa Valdes Rodriguez – Cuban Americans Should Support Barack

Obama is the only candidate in the race, either Democrat or Republican, who has a Cuba policy that makes any sense. He is the only candidate who is not afraid to state the obvious, which is this: The harsh U.S. economic embargo against Cuba, in place since Feb. 7, 1962, has not worked. We need a new path.

Too Sense – One of Us, All Of Us

When you attack a candidate on the base of his gender, race, or religious faith, you’re no longer attacking the candidate. You’re attacking all people who share that background, or in Romney’s case, anyone who simply doesn’t share Huckabee’s faith period. People react harshly because they know that the invoking those stereotypes in the public eye as an argument against a political candidate has the potential to affect not just votes, but their personal lives.

TPM Election Central – NY Times Endorses Hillary Clinton

Salon News – When Principles Aren’t Enough

John Edwards has run a principled campaign. He talks about poverty even though poor people can afford to give him little money and turn out to vote at low rates, especially in primaries. His “Back Home, Back Roads Barnstorm” campaign this week took him by bus from one small, rural area of South Carolina to the next, even though small cities like Lancaster, Seneca and Greenwood are not nearly as vote-rich as Greenville, Columbia or Charleston. Whatever else might be said of him, if Edwards suffers a crushing, third-place defeat on Saturday, nobody can say he abandoned his core campaign themes or target audiences. One could argue that his rhetoric, his stance on the issues, has slowed Clinton and Obama’s rush to the center, has increased their focus on economic issues.

NY Times – In Search of Reagan

Despite their valiant and transparent efforts, the 2008 G.O.P. candidates have been unable to recreate the alchemy that transformed Ronald Reagan from a 1940s B-movie actor into an icon of the Republican Party. It is not just that Messrs. Huckabee, McCain, Romney, Thompson and Giuliani lack Mr. Reagan’s charm. None has applied himself as long and as assiduously to marshaling ideas and developing a political base as Mr. Reagan did, honing an ideology that both fed on and nourished the growing conservative movement of his time.

Continue reading

Not Another Dance Movie!

by guest contributor Robb Garvey Thompson, originally published on Blackline

Black people love to dance, and everyone knows it. Don’t believe me? Watch any black awards show. You can have the most elite black people in the country, wearing the finest designers, sitting dignified, but once you add a Kanye West performance to the mix, you’ll find them grinding and dancing away on the floor. It’s almost as if we can’t help it.

You can also take a look at black films across the board. Almost every “black movie” features a scene where the actors “shuck and jive” to some dance-worthy tune, proving the stereotype true to all other races: that black people cannot resist a good beat.

Now I’m not saying that dancing is a bad stereotype. I mean we have worse (i.e: fried chicken, watermelon, hook-ups, rims, gold teeth, etc.), but I hate that it’s just expected that we just have to move to a good 808.

Black people attribute this “booty shaking gift” to when “we were in Africa,” and we danced around the fires naked and uncontrollably. Somehow, after being in the States for more that two centuries, we never lost site of our roots. Experts say that even after Kunta lost his foot, he still hopped on beat.

But I believe there is more to us as a people than “getting down.” So when I found out Offsping Entertainment was releasing the sequel to “Step Up,” a dance movie entitled “Step Up 2: The Streets,” I was instantly annoyed.

I mean how many black movies about dancing can I take? We have “Drumline,” “You Got Served,” “Stomp The Yard,” “Save the Last Dance” (1 and 2), “Honey,” the first “Step Up,” and now this.

I was in for a rude awakening.

I saw the trailer, but could not find one black person in it. The movie was whiter that my orientation at Columbia. I had thought just by the title alone, “Step Up 2: The Streets,” that they would have some “street people” in it. To my own surprise, I was appalled.

I instantly started questioning myself…These white people dance better than me…Who am I? Am I Black enough? Who will the world look to for the latest dance move?

I was suddenly calmed when I saw the list of black choreographers from the movie. I realized that the dancing stereotype isn’t so bad after all. Sure, nobody likes to be stereotyped…but what if the dancing thing is true? I mean, seriously, have you seen a black person not dance to “Thriller?”

Is the U.S. ready for a Canadian president?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

That headline makes no sense right? Well it does once you find out that some folks are using the term “Canadian” as code for “black.”

From Foreign Policy’s blog:

Earlier this month, an e-mail that had been circulating since 2003, written by a Houston assistant district attorney Mike Trent, resurfaced. The e-mail was short, only about 100 words, and was sent to the entire office. It started out by praising a junior prosecutor for a job well done. Then the message continued:

He overcame a subversively good defense by Matt Hennessey that had some Canadians on the jury feeling sorry for the defendant and forced them to do the right thing.”

If you’re wondering why Canadians were on a Texas jury when only U.S. citizens are allowed to serve, well, there weren’t any. Other members of the D.A.’s office who got the memo were wondering the same thing themselves. They looked at an online database of racial slurs and found that “Canadian” was a term used to mask more openly racist terms. Trent claims that he was unaware of the meaning, overheard someone saying that there were Canadians on the jury, took that literally, and just repeated it in his e-mail.

(via Shakesville via Jess)

links for 2008-01-30

The uncomprising journalistic standards of The New York Times

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Am I the only one who finds this Bill-Clinton-has-black-cred story in today’s New York Times ridiculous?

While the blogosphere and commentariat rang this weekend with angry declarations that he had crossed a line in his criticism of Barack Obama, many in Harlem seemed to mull it over, shrug their shoulders and say they understood, even if they didn’t quite agree.

“What Bill Clinton said — well, his wife is running for office,” said Tonya Burnett, who was waiting outside the building to visit a city housing office. “He’s got to represent just like she represented when he was running. I don’t think it’s such a big deal.”

To be sure, interviews conducted on a single day, in front of a single building, are apt to produce a narrow point of view. Yet the building, at 55 West 125th Street, is an important piece of real estate in Mr. Clinton’s world.

To be sure, interviewing a handful of people is largely meaningless, but we’ll still go with the headline blaring “In Harlem, Backing Up Bill Clinton.”

Just in case the story was too subtle, and you didn’t quite get the Bill-Clinton-is-blacker-than-Obama subtext, they chose to end the story on this note, emphasis mine:

Bruce Gordon, 47, had visited a notary inside the building. He said the criticisms might even sharpen Mr. Obama.

“These questions have to come up. If Obama gets the nomination, folks will ask, ‘So who are you?’ So far, he’s a nice white middle-class guy,” said Mr. Gordon, acknowledging the cheekiness of his remark with a cagey little smile. “You try to pull a black thing on Bill Clinton, he’s going to say, ‘Now wait a minute now.’ ”

The blackness olympics are on!

It’s almost as bad as the story earlier this month in the Times about how Latinos won’t vote for a black man. Cause you know, Latino and black are mutually exclusive categories. Not like there are any black Latinos, or anything.

Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez brilliantly broke down exactly what was wrong with that story:

The article quotes a random 20-year-old woman on the streets of Los Angeles as their only legitimate source for the headline screaming about Obama’s lack of support among Latinos, ostensibly because of his “blackness.” This is your source? Natasha Carrillo of East Los Angeles? Holy crap. Are you joking? Is this the best you can find? Why not go the CUNY, and talk to the Dominican and Puerto Rican studies experts there? Why send reporters to a freakin’ taco stand in East Los Angeles? I’ll tell you why: The story was written in the minds of the editors before it was reported; that’s why it WAS NEVER reported. It was made up. And because it was on the front of the NY Times, you are going to have pundits from coast to coast quoting it as the gospel truth, all because Natasha Carrillo, 20, of East Los Angeles, said so.

Ward Connerly fools you into dismantling affirmative action, again

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

The latest issue of Ms. Magazine, which hits newsstands today, has an interesting investigative report on Ward Connerly. It’s definitely worth a read.

(Those of you who have been with this blog since the Mixed Media Watch days may remember a regular feature we used to do called Ward Watch, in which we would affectionately refer to him “Moneybags”.)

Who’s Ward Connerly? Well, he’s a self-identified multiracial man who has made millions over the years by helping right-wing interests dismantle affirmative action.

Only he’s managed to do it by pretending to advance the rights of people of color. Like when he tried to fool multiracial organizations into supporting his initiative to do away with all racial classification (which would, not coincidentally, make it impossible to track racial discrimination).

Next week, on Super Tuesday, he’s trying to get anti-affirmative action ballot measures passed in five different states. Only in his usual sneaky way, he’s naming them “civil rights initiatives” to trick people into voting for them.

Don’t be fooled, people. Read on for excerpts from the Ms. Magazine piece:

Now, in what he is calling “Super Tuesday for Equal Rights,” Connerly is leading simultaneous efforts in five states to qualify ballot measures for the November election, each claiming to prohibit “discrimination” and “preferential treatment.” The deceptively named “civil rights initiatives” in Missouri, Colorado, Arizona, Nebraska and Oklahoma are really designed, like the California initiative, to ban affirmative action for women and minorities in public employment, public education and public contracting—although if Connerly has his way, the term “affirmative action” will never be referenced. What has never been widely reported in the coverage of Connerly’s campaigns are his ties to the large public-works contractors and construction-industry organizations that stand to benefit tremendously from eliminating programs that help level the playing field for women- and minority-owned businesses.

…An analysis of the two organizations’ IRS filings shows that between 1998 and 2006, Connerly and his business Connerly & Associates received a total of
$8.3 million—nearly half (46 percent) of the $18.5 million in total revenues reported in that period by the two nonprofits. In addition to salary and
benefits, Connerly receives expense accounts and fees for speaking, media interviews and consulting (see chart, page 38). In the last reported fiscal year,
2006, Connerly received $1.6 million— 66 percent of the $2.4 million in revenues his nonprofits generated that year.

…Connerly’s Civil Rights Initiative (CRI) campaigns use purposefully deceptive language to confuse some voters into repudiating policies they might otherwise support. Virtually all his campaigns purport to ban “discrimination and preference” on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin. Even those who read the language of his initiatives with caution will not necessarily recognize a ban on discrimination or preference as a vote to end affirmative
action.

…In fact, when the city of Houston changed the wording of a Connerly initiative in that city to pose a direct question to voters about whether affirmative-action policies should be banned, the initiative lost. But when elected officials and courts allowed him to use his deceptive language in California and Washington, the initiatives passed.