What would you do in Ferguson that a standard reporter wouldn’t?
I’d do a special on race, but I’d have no black people.
Well, that would be much more revealing.
Yes, that would be an event. Here’s the thing. When we talk about race relations in America or racial progress, it’s all nonsense. There are no race relations. White people were crazy. Now they’re not as crazy. To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before.
Right. It’s ridiculous.
So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, “Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.” It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. It just doesn’t. The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.
From the program description:
This year and next we will celebrate the anniversaries of major racial justice victories like the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. In this plenary, big thinkers will reflect on trends and strategies for the next half century.
With the Voting Rights Act itself under political assault, the conference’s final plenary feels more timely — and more needed — than ever. The discussion will feature:
- Ian Haney Lopez is a senior fellow at Demos, a progessive public policy organization. He is also the author of three books analyzing the ongoing effects of racism on the U.S. since the Civil Rights Era. His latest work, Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class, was published earlier this year.
- Van Jones was seen most recently as a co-host of CNN’s political roundtable show Crossfire. But for the past three years, he has led the progressive political group Rebuild The Dream, which he also founded. He was also the green jobs advisor for President Barack Obama’s administration and has written two New York Times best-sellers, Rebuild The Dream and The Green Collar Economy.
- Rinku Sen is both the publisher of Colorlines and the president of the Race Forward conference. Early on in her career, Ms. Magazine listed her as one of 21 feminists to watch in the 21st century, and in 2008, Utne Reader called her one of 50 visionaries changing the world. She has also published two books: Stir It Up: Lessons in Community Organizing and Advocacy and The Accidental American: Immigration and Citizenship in the Age of Globalization.
The conference’s final plenary begins at 4:30 p.m. EST, and can be seen below.
The second day of Facing Race kicks off at 10:15 a.m. EST with a plenary session describing current activist movements in the American South, a region many people still feel stopped being a hotbed of civic organizing during the Civil Rights Movement. The three speakers featured in this session have played active roles in forging a new legacy of activism for the region:
- Bishop Tonyia Rawls, founder and executive director of the Freedom Center for Social Justice, as well as a member of the governing board for the North Carolina Council of Churches and the founding pastor of the Freedom Temple Ministries and Sacred Souls Community Church. The Freedom Center launched a legal center focusing on the LGBTQ communities and an employment program helping the southern trans community — both the first of their kind for the region.
- Cristina Tzintzún is the executive director of Workers Defense Project/Proyecto Defensa Laboral. Besides being featured in national news outlets like USA Today and the New York Times, Tzintzún’s work has led to her winning the national Trabajadora Community Leader award from the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement. Last year, Southern Living Magazine named her one of its Heroes of the New South.
- Chokwe Antar Lumumba played a vital role in the development of the People’s Platform in Jackson, SC, where his father, longtime activist Chokwe Lumumba, was elected mayor in 2013 on a platform emphasizing community development and the elimination of the gender-based pay gap. Antar Lumumba’s drive to help his community was also instilled in him by his mother, Nubia Lumumba, and he went on to become the managing partner at Lumumba & Associates, a law firm following those principles, as well as a member of the leadership team for Free Christian Church Ministries.
From the program description:
For the many of us- people of color, immigrants communities, LGBTQ people – who populate and call this region home, we experience and understand “the South” as not only the place where race, power, and revolution is best understood but also where history and legacies give way to 21st century innovation for our movements. Our dynamic plenary speakers, spanning the Southern region, will offer their insight on some of the challenges and opportunities facing the region and our movements to achieve racial justice and equity. From the continuing legacy of youth organizing and direct action in Florida; the role of faith in building inclusive communities and organizing for social change in NC; the realities of shifting demographics and the opportunities for worker organizing in Texas; and implementing community centered methods to build real economic, political and community power in Jackson this plenary will highlight how the South continues to build on its history and towards freedom.
The plenary, as posted online, can be seen in the livestream below.
This year’s keynote session for Facing Race starts at 4:30 p.m. EST and will be a multi-generational affair featuring Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Toshi Reagon, and Tashawn Reagon.
From the program description:
Bernice Johnson Reagon, a scholar, singer/songleader, and activist for over half a century, has been a profound contributor to African American and American culture. Born in Southwest Georgia, her singing style and traditional repertoire are grounded in her experiences in church, school, and political activism. As a composer, she has created a narrative of her social and political activism through her songs and larger compositions. She performed as a member of the SNCC Freedom Singers during the sixties; founded an all women a capella ensemble, The Harambee Singers, during the Black Cultural Movement; and founded and led the internationally acclaimed Sweet Honey In The Rock for thirty years until retirement. Paralleling her work in music, Reagon is one of the leading authorities in African American Cultural History.
Her strongest musical collaborator is her daughter, Toshi Reagon. Described as “a one-woman celebration of all that’s dynamic, progressive and uplifting in American music,” Toshi is a composer, producer, founder, and leader of her own ensemble, Toshi Reagon and Big Lovely. Taking the stage at 17, singer, songwriter, guitarist Toshi Reagon moves audiences with her cross genre offerings of blues, rock, gospel, and incredible original songs. Collaboratively, these two socially conscious women artists have masterfully created two operas, “The Temptation of St Anthony” and “Zinnias: The Life of Clementine Hunter.”
Tashawn Nicole Reagon is a Sociology and Gender Studies major and an Intergroup Relations minor at Skidmore College. Tashawn has co-facilitated a two-credit, intergroup dialogue between students of color and white students on race, and interned in the Gender Rights and Equality Unit of the Ford Foundation, where she wrote a report entitled Student Activism for Gender Equity. Tashawn helped to establish the Justice Project at Saint Ann’s high school that examined issues of race and other identities.
The full session, as posted online, can be seen live below.
Facing Race 2014 kicks off at 10 a.m. EST on Friday morning with “This is How We Do It: Youth Led Racial Justice,” a plenary session featuring the following speakers:
- FM Supreme, a founding member of Black Youth Project 100 and founder of the Chicago International Youth Peace Movement.
- Ramiro Luna, an immigration activist who has taken part in more than 100 actions in support of immigrant rights, as well as a community organizer and a member of more than a dozen political campaigns.
- Sharon Davies, director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and a professor of law at Ohio State University.
- Jaime-Jin Lewis, the former executive director of the NYC-based advocacy group Border Crossers, where she trained more than 2,000 educators from over 900 schools around the country in how to discuss race with their students
- Key Jackson (1st Nation- Black and Makah), a community organizer who has worked with groups like Basic Rights Oregon and GSAFE Wisconsin, while also organizing electoral and legislative campaigns.
The panel description reads as follows:
A new generation of racial justice leaders are interrupting and innovating in the ways racial justice work is made relevant in our times. In various ways, young people are working creatively, intersectionally and courageously to set our nation on course for the racially just future we deserve. Who are some of the leaders guiding this next epoch? What models, tools, practices and cultural strategies are there to build a more just, inclusive foundation for their generation and the ones that follow? Join in this conversation amongst movement makers, as they share thoughts on what’s hot in racial justice now, and what’s on the come up in the years ahead.
The discussion, as posted online by Race Forward, can be seen below.
(Editor’s note: In light of recent events we’ve opted to repost this article as a an unfortunate refresher re: domestic violence and the NFL.)
By Guest Contributor David J. Leonard, cross-posted from The Feminist Wire
In the aftermath of the tragic murder of Kasandra Michelle Perkins, and the subsequent suicide of Jovan Belcher, much of the media and social media chatter have focused on Belcher. Indeed, Kasandra Michelle Perkins has been an afterthought in public conversations focused on questions regarding the Chiefs’ ability to play, concussions, masculinity, guns, and the culture of football in the aftermath of this tragedy. Over at the always brilliant Crunk Feminist Collective website, one member described the situation in sobering terms:
Headlines and news stories have focused on the tragedy from the lens of the perpetrator (including speculation of potential brain trauma, his involvement, as an undergraduate, in a Male Athletes Against Violence initiative, and his standing as an allstar athlete), in some ways dismissing or overshadowing the lens of the victim, who in headlines is simply referred to as “(his) girlfriend.”
Mike Lupica, at the NY Daily News, offered a similar criticism about our focus and misplaced priorities:
That is why the real tragedy here — the real victim — is a young woman named Kasandra Michelle Perkins, whom Belcher shot and killed before he ever parked his car at the Chiefs’ practice facility and put that gun to his head.
She was 22 and the mother of Belcher’s child, a child who is 3 months old, a child who will grow up in a world without parents. At about 10 minutes to 8, according to Kansas City police, Jovan Belcher put a gun on the mother of his child in a house on the 5400 block of Chrysler Ave. in Kansas City and started shooting and kept shooting. You want to mourn somebody? Start with her.
At one point, another officer is seen taking a cell phone and a pack of cigarettes from the 43-year-old Garner’s pants.
Even after the arrival of an EMT four minutes into the video, no medical aid is provided to Garner. He’s instead just loaded onto a stretcher and wheeled off.
Cops say he was pronounced dead a short time later after arriving at a Staten Island hospital.
NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, caught on another video putting Garner in a chokehold, is shown standing a few feet away and chatting amiably with a uniformed colleague.
Near the end of the clip, he gives a satiric wave to the person shooting the second video.
Pantaleo, an eight-year veteran, was placed on modified duty Saturday as cops and the Staten Island district attorney investigated the case.
Pantaleo was stripped of his gun and his shield and assigned to work desk duty. The police union immediately denounced the move as “knee-jerk” and “completely unwarranted.”
Image by Marcos Vasconcelos via Flickr Creative Commons
With Kanye West in seemingly another controversy this week following a mid-concert rant, it’s a good time to revisit Latoya’s look at the furor surrounding his 2011 single, “Monster.”
By Latoya Peterson
Kanye has officially overdosed on artistic symbolism.
After his 35 minute debut of "Runaway" in back in October 2010, it difficult to figure out how Kanye would top a video that incorporated references to modern performance art, ballet, couture, mythology, and Fellini.
And yet, I don't think anyone counted on Kanye deciding to deck the halls with dead white women in "Monster".