2-3-12 Links Roundup

A heterogeneous population representing multiple ethnic backgrounds and cultures, Hispanics are difficult to pigeonhole politically but have historically trended Democratic. But growing evidence suggests the potential for that to change, creating an opening for Republicans and a dilemma for Democrats.

“Republicans don’t need a large number of Hispanics. All they need to do is get a few points in each of these states and shave off that margin, and Democrats have a problem,” said Joe Velasquez of the American Latino Alliance PAC.

Velasquez’s group formed in mid-January and is putting together a muscular fundraising and campaign structure, bringing on the polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and Hispanic media guru James Aldrete. The super-PAC plans to support President Obama’s reelection and Democratic Senate candidates in seven states: Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Arizona, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico.

“We’re a very, very, very partisan Democratic operation,” Velasquez said. “We’re going to be heavy with the president.”

If that sounds familiar, it’s because it is. The monster beneath this rhetoric is the Welfare Queen, the fabled boogeywoman of the 1976 Reagan presidential campaign.

“She has eighty names, thirty addresses, twelve Social Security cards and is collecting veterans’ benefits on four nonexisting deceased husbands,” Reagan told enraptured crowds at stump speeches. “Her tax-free income alone is over $150,000.”

As the narrative developed, she was, of course, black. She was promiscuous and she was lazy. She was also a lie.

When reporters investigated this story, they found only one case that even remotely supported Reagan’s claim. The woman’s name was Linda Taylor, from the south side of Chicago. She had defrauded the state of only $8,000 and had only four aliases.

But facts be damned.

The withholding of state funds will also be applied retroactively between August 2011 and January 2012. That money — about $5 million — will be taken out of the district’s February allotment, said Ryan Ducharme, an Arizona Department of Education spokesman.

Should the district not bring the program into compliance, the district stands to lose about $14.4 million over the fiscal year, Ducharme said.

The district’s governing board can also appeal the decision in Superior Court. The board will discuss the matter in its next meeting on Tuesday, a district spokeswoman said.

Outside the cul-de-sac’s seven brandy-colored brick neocolonials, party conversation quickly turned to typical middle-class concerns, from the quality of area schools to guidelines for the local homeowners association. By the time the Otigbas cleaned up and helped the hired DJ pack his equipment, several of their new neighbors had made something else clear. Most planned to spend the coming decades living in Balk Hill.

“I found that refreshing,” said Otigba, 43. “When we moved here, I told my wife, ‘This is it. I’m never moving again.’ We were planting our roots.”

That was then. Today, the Otigbas and five of their six immediate neighbors are underwater on their mortgages, that is, they owe more than their homes are worth. The lawyer’s house sits vacant after a failed short sale. The engineer fears the house he shares with his family will become unaffordable when their mortgage resets in about a year. And having attempted once unsuccessfully to cut a new deal with their bank, the Otigbas are waiting to hear the results of a second effort. For months they’ve lived in fear that an official foreclosure notice will arrive with an order to vacate.

“I am like a tree that is on the verge of being uprooted by water,” Otigba said, then sighed. “When that happens, think of all the other parts of the ecosystem that are upset, the streambeds that overflow, the problems that follow. That’s what it is like here.”

“Upon entering,” Hassan told us, CNN let him know he’d have the chance to ask his “very important question in front of the entire world.” With a nervous quiver in his voice, Hassan went for it (video below):

How would a Republican administration help bring peace to Palestine and Israel when most candidates barely recognize the existence of Palestine or its people? As a Palestinian-American Republican, I’m here to tell you we do exist.

Awkward silence. The jarring discomfort between a discourse of intolerance on this very subject, and the presence of the object of such intolerance could only resolve itself in a tepid, sporadic, nearly embarrassed applause.

At intermission, I spoke to Darrell Rodenbaugh, president of PCT’s board of directors. My question was “Why do you have white kids playing black characters?”

“Well, should we deny these kids the opportunity to do a fun show?” he said. “We’d paid for the rights to the show six months in advance. We couldn’t cancel it.”

Didn’t any black kids audition? No, said Rodenbaugh, it’s hard to recruit black kids to PCT because there aren’t that many in Plano. (African-Americans make up less than 8 percent of the Plano, Texas, population of 259,841, according to the most recent census numbers.)

So why do a show with black characters in it if you know going in that you won’t have any black kids to play them? Rodenbaugh had several answers about how much the kids wanted to do Hairspray, how they weren’t going to bow to “political correctness” and how “the parents expect this.”

Excerpt: On The NYPD’s Increased Spying on Muslims

Courtesy New York Daily News

The report, drawn largely from information available in newspapers or sites like Wikipedia, was prepared for Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. It was written at a time of great tension between the U.S. and Iran. That tension over Iran’s nuclear ambition has increased again recently.

Police estimated the New York area Shiite population to be about 35,000, with Iranians making up about 8,500. The document also calls for canvassing the Palestinian community because there might be terrorists there.

“The Palestinian community, although not Shi’a, should also be assessed due to presence of Hamas members and sympathizers and the group’s relationship with the Iranian government,” analysts wrote.

The secret document stands in contrast to statements by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who said the NYPD never considers religion in its policing. Kelly has said police go only where investigative leads take them, but the document described no leads to justify expanded surveillance at Shiite mosques.

The document also renews debate over how the NYPD privately views Muslims. Kelly has faced calls for his resignation recently from some Muslim activists for participating in a video that says Muslims want to “infiltrate and dominate” the United States. The NYPD showed the video to nearly 1,500 officers during training.
- Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eileen Sullivan and Chris Hawley, Associated Press

Voices: Remembering Don Cornelius [Culturelicious]

When I looked at “Soul Train” host Don Cornelius back in the ‘70s, I didn’t see a pro-black entrepreneur who would become the “African American” Dick Clark.

I saw my dad. And his entire generation.
- Eric Deggans, Tampa Bay Times

Continue reading

R.I.P Don Cornelius (1936-2012)

By Arturo R. García

He was both the host and the ambassador for generations of artists, dancers, and music lovers. He was a journalist and an activist. And he was the conductor of “the hippest trip in America.”

Wednesday, everyone who ever listened to him wish viewers “love, peace, and soul” mourned the death of Don Cornelius, who was found in his home by police after apparently committing suicide.

Cornelius developed and hosted Soul Train, the kind of show that makes words like “influential” seem small. Soul Train ran for 35 years, making it the longest first-run syndicated show in history. But the show almost didn’t grow out of being a successful local program on WCIU-TV in Chicago.

Continue reading

Two Families, One Crime, And One Hard-Earned Right

By Guest Contributor RJ Young

Felecia Young remembered the day she walked into the Forrest County Courthouse in Hattiesburg, Miss. with her 11-year-old son, 9-year-old daughter, and mother on August 17, 1998.

The streets were barricaded. Buildings and streets showed the faces of police officers who were on site in case of a riot. An Aryan organization had threatened to demonstrate. But Young was determined to bear witness.

She and her children found seats in the balcony of the humid, packed courthouse.

“We sat in the balcony area, way up high,” Young said. “I don’t think I’d ever seen that area open, but they had to open it because there were so many people coming that there wasn’t any where to sit downstairs.”

Young is a black woman, born and raised in Hattiesburg. She attended high school there and graduated from the local college, the University of Southern Mississippi.

After serving six years in the Air Force, during which she visited or lived in 13 countries and earned the rank of captain before her commitment was fulfilled, she returned home, where she and her husband decided to raise their family. It was there where she became familiar with the Ku Klux Klan and its acts of violence. And the charismatic leader of the Klan’s Mississippi White Knights, Sam Bowers, was perhaps the most hateful person of them all.

At the courthouse, Young felt anxious, anticipatory, and inquisitive at beginnings of Bowers’ trial – his fifth trial, in fact, for the murder of Vernon Dahmer Sr. 22 years earlier. She wanted to take in the moment. Most of all, she wanted her children to see Bowers and to remember people like him are real. They exist.

“I wanted (my children) to have that historical perspective,” Young said. “A lot of people have sacrificed their lives so that you could have a better life than they had had.”

Continue reading

The Ghost Writer: Jourdon Anderson And His Letter From The Freedmen’s Book

By Arturo R. García

As Black History Month gets underway, a particular piece of history has attracted attention after being posted online.

The letter, dated Aug. 7 1865, was originally published in the New York Daily Tribune before being reprinted last month in The Freedmen’s Book, a free collection of letters produced as part of Project Gutenberg for public consumption. The Tribune, of course, was also the newspaper that first published Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents of A Slave Girl in serialized form, including this entry from 1963:

My mother was held as property by a maiden lady; when she marries, my younger sister was in her fourteenth year, whom they took into the family. She was as gentle as she was beautiful. Innocent and guileless child, the light of our desolate hearth! But oh, my heart bleeds to tell you of the misery and degradation she was forced to suffer in slavery. The monster who owned her had no humanity in his soul. The most sincere affection that his heart was capable of, could not make him faithful to his beautiful and wealthy bride the short time of three months, but every stratagem was used to seduce my sister. Mortified and tormented beyond endurance, this child came and threw herself on her mother’s bosom, the only place where she could seek refuge from her persecutor; and yet she could not protect her child that she bore into the world. On that bosom with bitter tears she told her troubles, and entreated her mother to save her.

And oh, Christian mothers! you that have daughters of your own, can you think of your sable sisters without offering a prayer to that God who created all in their behalf! My poor mother, naturally high-spirited, smarting under what she considered as the wrongs and outrages which her child had to bear, sought her master, entreating him to spare her child. Nothing could exceed his rage at this what he called impertinence. My mother was dragged to jail, there remained twenty-five days, with Negro traders to come in as they liked to examine her, as she was offered for sale. My sister was told that she must yield, or never expect to see her mother again.

Anderson’s letter to his former master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, resurfaced again Monday when it was posted on Letters of Note, an archival site that had already garnered attention from the likes of GQ Magazine in the past. And in the past 48 hours, the letter’s been mentioned on Yahoo, BoingBoing–which reported that both the Colonel and Jourdan’s existences had been confirmed–and other outlets.

Courtesy of The Freedmen’s Book, Jourdon Anderson’s letter is under the cut, in its entirety.
Continue reading