Tag Archives: South Carolina

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Art as Remembrance and Creative Resistance: John Sims’ Flag Funerals

By Guest Contributor John Sims

We live in troubled times. This story started many scores of years ago with the founding fathers, some of whom may have recognized the toxic contradictions that would poison the future of this great land. Our history reveals constant resistance to social justice and respect: the sabotage/abandonment of Reconstruction, the compromised Civil Rights Movement, thwarted Black Power, silenced affirmative action, with countless lynchings, injustices, and instances of police and state brutality along the way. We are in haunted times, where race and Blackness are debated and presented with sleight of hand, tricking our best minds to think we are in a post-Black/racial epoch. We are in war times: white supremacy, privilege and denial on one side, black poverty, mass incarceration, double-consciousness on the other. Welcome to an American Civil War that started long before General Lee was born.

The wounds of the Civil War continue to sting after 150 years, along the lines of geography, race, and regional heritage, compromising national healing and sometimes civility. In the late 1990s in South Carolina, tensions flared over the placement of the Confederate flag on the capitol dome. Mass demonstrations and counter-demonstrations across the South revealed deep rifts in the reading of the Civil War and its aftermath, how greatly divided we really are as a country, and how this war continues.

In war, flags are important signifiers that mark social, cultural and historical space. While some may believe the Confederate flag is about heritage and not hate, its history and present reality speak otherwise. This flag can never represent the rich diversity and dynamic heritage of Southern folk, where the African American experience has played a central role. To continue to fly this flag is more than passive-aggressive and disrespectful; it promotes visual terrorism. If Black people and sympathetic allies are not in constant resistance and protest of such symbols, we run the risk of sending the wrong signal: that everything is fine and that we don’t matter. So we protest.

If we cannot resolve the issue of the Confederate flag, something we can see and touch, how can we as a nation process the complex things we cannot see? There are cemeteries for Confederates soldiers; where are the national memorials to the victims of slavery, to descendants of African slaves who built the economy that made this country a world power? What can we make of the fact that in WWII, white American soldiers often treated Nazi prisoners of war better than their African American compatriots? The Confederate flag flying, the Fergusons, the Eric Gardners, and the Freddie Grays of America are forceful reminders of this nation’s consistent lack of respect for Black people. And where there is no respect, there is no justice, and there can be no peace.

“Recoloration Proclamation” and “#BuryBuryFlag Artist John Sims.

To mark both the 150th anniversary of the end of Civil War and the conclusion of Recoloration Proclamation (my fifteen-year multi-media art project concerned with the Confederate flag, visual terrorism and the ownership of Southern heritage), I organized The Confederate Flag: 13 Flag Funerals. This was a funeral/burial group performance in each of the 13 states represented by the 13 stars on the Confederate flag. These events, held on Memorial Day, May 25, 2015, were intended to create a space of ceremonial reflection on the desire for the death, burial, and perhaps the burning of all the Confederate flag represents: a symbol of terror, treason, supremacy, a bearer of the message that history is rewriteable, visual terrorism is sustainable and Black Lives Don’t Matter.

Then weeks later, South Carolina happened.

Contrary to much media reporting, this incident is far from unbelievable. It is a product of American racism. The time is now for the Confederate flag to come down in South Carolina, Mississippi, and other places where it flies high. The time is now for federal law prohibiting the use of the Confederate flag in state flags or on governmental property. The time is now to demand that taking the flag down be more than a mere consolation prize, for the time is now to address head on the foundational issues that undermine social justice and respect for all Americans.

The Confederate Flag: A Call to Burn and Bury. Courtesy John Sims.

The Confederate Flag: A Call to Burn and Bury. Courtesy John Sims.

So in response to Charleston as an artist and concerned citizen, I am extending the 13 Flag Funerals Memorial Day project to a countrywide call for the collective burning and burying of the Confederate flag on July 4th, 2015. I am asking all Americans to join together on Independence Day to demonstrate that this symbol of slavery, segregation, subjugation, and a lost war will not divide us further and that the this great American Civil War must come to an end.

John Sims is a multi-media political math artist who creates projects spanning the areas of mathematics, art, text, performance, and political-media activism.  #BurnBuryFlag


Watch It Again: President Obama’s Eulogy For Clementa Pinckney

Transcript courtesy http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2015/06/26/transcript-obama-delivers-eulogy-for-charleston-pastor-the-rev-clementa-pinckney/

Giving all praise and honor to God.

The Bible calls us to hope, to persevere and have faith in things not seen. They were still living by faith when they died, the scripture tells us.

They did not receive the things promised. They only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.

We are here today to remember a man of God who lived by faith, a man who believed in things not seen, a man who believed there were better days ahead off in the distance, a man of service, who persevered knowing full-well he would not receive all those things he was promised, because he believed his efforts would deliver a better life for those who followed, to Jennifer, his beloved wife, Eliana and Malana, his beautiful, wonderful daughters, to the Mother Emanuel family and the people of Charleston, the people of South Carolina.
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Injustice For All: Conservative Justices Takes Aim At POC Voters

By Arturo R. García

It took less than two hours for Texas lawmakers to prove the Supreme Court made a mistake on Tuesday.

It’s also important to emphasize that it was Texas lawmakers who pushed to become the first to enact a voter identification law after the high court struck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

“There is no doubt that these improvements are in large part because of the Voting Rights Act. The Act has proved immensely successful at redressing racial discrimination and integrating the voting process,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the 5-4 majority decision, which broke down along party lines. So the majority’s argument was that the VRA worked too well to be allowed to continue, despite being renewed by an overwhelming margin just seven years ago, for a 25-year extension.

“Congress approached the 2006 reauthorization of the VRA with great care and seriousness. The same cannot be said of the Court’s opinion today,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in the dissenting opinion. “The Court makes no genuine attempt to engage with the massive legislative record that Congress assembled. Instead, it relies on increases in voter registration and turnout as if that were the whole story.”
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The Racialicious Links Roundup 5.9.13

Twitter and Facebook exploded with posts like ‘Our culture is not for sale’ and ‘Keep your corporate hands off.’

By late afternoon Disney released a statement saying it would withdraw its “Día de los Muertos” trademark applications.

Gustavo Arellano, author of the syndicated column “Ask a Mexican,” said, “The Latino market is such that already there were calls for protest, boycotts and all that and Disney knows better than to poke at the so-called ‘sleeping giant.'”

This is the story of modern Southern politics. From the end of Reconstruction through the civil rights revolution, the South was an almost uniformly Democratic region. In 1936, for example, Franklin Roosevelt won more than 98 percent of the vote in South Carolina. Race wasn’t the only reason for the South’s shift toward the GOP, but it was the biggest single driver. In 1948, northern liberals inserted a civil rights plank into the national Democratic platform, prompting a walkout of Southern delegations – which then coalesced around the third party Dixiecrat candidacy of Strom Thurmond. An uneasy truce between national and Southern Democrats was reached after that election, but it was untenable. When LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the modern Southern GOP was born. Nationally, LBJ crushed Barry Goldwater in the fall of ’64, racking up more than 60 percent of the popular vote. But Goldwater carried five Southern states – winning 59 percent in South Carolina, 69 percent in Alabama and 87 percent in Mississippi.

It took a long time for the basic pattern established in ’64 to be reflected up and down the ballot, but today white Southerners are almost as loyal to the Republican Party as they once were to the Democrats. GOP presidential candidates customarily win more than 70 percent of the white vote in the South, success that in the past two decades has at last trickled down to the local and state legislative levels. This is particularly true in the Deep South, which encompasses South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Exit polling was intermittent last November, but in Mississippi Mitt Romney gobbled up 89 percent of the white vote; with Barack Obama winning 96 percent of the black vote, this translated into a 55-44 percent Romney win in the state.

In this environment, Democratic success in the Deep South is mostly limited to district-level races in majority black areas. A number of African-American Democrats represent the region in the U.S. House, with districts created and protected by the Voting Rights Act. But where white voters constitute majorities, affiliation with the Democratic Party is often the kiss of death for a candidate.

“So, you know, I figured it was a domestic-violence dispute,” Charles Ramsey told a reporterfor the ABC affiliate in Cleveland, explaining what happened after, as he put it, he “heard screaming. I’m eating McDonald’s. I see this girl going nuts trying to get out of the house.” Ramsey, and others who gathered, helped her break open the door, kicking it from the bottom. She told them her name, Amanda Berry. She had been kidnapped at the age of seventeen, ten years ago. There were two other women in the house, Gina Dejesus, who is now twenty-three, and Michelle Knight, now thirty, who had also been held for a decade. There was at least one small child.

Ramsey’s 911 call is transfixing. “Yeah hey bro,” it begins, “hey, check this out.” His intensity, the McDonald’s shout-out, his undoubtedly loose paraphrase of Berry’s account (“This motherfucker done kidnapped me and my daughter”), and also his competence (he does a better job with the essentials like the address than the 911 operator) make him one of those instantly compelling figures who, in the middle of an American tragedy, just start talking—and then we can’t stop listening. (See Ruslan TsarniAshley Smith.) But one phrase in particular, from the interview, is worth dwelling on: “I figured it was a domestic-violence dispute.” In many times and places, a line like that has been offered as an excuse for walking away, not for helping a woman break down your neighbor’s door.

This weekend, Cee found himself in the media again for allegedly soliciting sex from an undercover cop, with conflicting reports on whether the officer was male or female. Monday morning, Cee went on Hot 97 to discuss the controversy. For over 40 minutes, Cee endured a verbal witch-hunt from his radio colleagues. Interviewed by Ebro Darden, and seemingly less concerned with the illegal activity of prostitution, Darden dramatically and repeatedly demanded to know if Cee was gay — as if he were accusing the deejay of murder. To soften the blow, Darden added, “we’re going to crack some jokes because you’re our brother.” And to mock Cee a bit more, another deejay, Cipha Sounds, played the house anthem “Follow Me,” a song known for its popularity in gay clubs.

Listening to the program, I thought to myself: If Cee is gay, embarrassment and a demand for the truth are not helpful. Who would shout they are “here and queer” during an interview like the one on Hot 97?

Clearly mocking their “brother” in crisis, the hosts sprinkled a little “we don’t care if you’re gay” babble — but it seemed as if they did care, all while enjoying interrogating Mister Cee, soaking up the glow of their “exclusive interview.” Cee sounded desperate, confused and weakly attempted to explain himself personally and legally. It was sad to hear; but this is the culture of hip-hop.

As deadly clashes between Islamist activists and authorities continue to escalate religious tensions in Bangladesh, the country’s telecommunications authority is making moves to silence bloggers deemed anti-Muslim or anti-state.

Award-winning blogger Asif Mohiuddin and three other bloggers have become the latest target of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, according to online news site online news siteTimesworld24.com [bn]. The commission recently contacted Somewhereinblog.net, the largest blogging platform in Bangladesh, requesting that the four blogs be taken down from the site.

In a report on its website, Somewhereinblog.net officially acknowledged that it had removed the four blogs in line with the government request.

The Bangladesh government formed [bn] a nine-member committee on March 13, 2013 to track bloggers and Facebook users who made derogatory remarks about Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, a member of the committee, has requested information on a number of bloggers from different blogging platforms in an effort to ban certain writers considered insulting to Islam or anarchistic.

Race + Politics: Florida’s Invisible Latino Voters

By Arturo R. García

Courtesy ThinkProgress.org

While the national media’s been hovering over Mitt Romney’s awkward bromance with Donald Trump and his campaign’s inability to spell, it’s been neglecting something legitimately dangerous going on in Florida.

According to Think Progress, Governor Rick Scott has ordered his office to purge thousands of eligible voters from the rolls under suspicion of being “non-citizens.” The most likely to be targeted? Democrats, independent voters, and Latin@s. Isn’t that a shock?

Florida joins South Carolina, Michigan, and several other states moving to suppress voters–states with Republican leadership, it should be noted.

But what makes the Florida story even more disconcerting is the lack of response from Big Journalism. As TP’s Adam Peck writes:

The story of a sitting governor of a state with a history of presidential election shenanigans knowingly purging his own, eligible constituents from the voter rolls is the definition of major news, and yet remarkably, in the first five months of the year, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today have published a total of zero articles about Scott’s actions. The New York Times did slightly better, printing one story on page 16 of the Friday, May 18th edition. The article ran under the credulous headline: “Florida Steps Up Effort Against Illegal Voters.”

Peck also notes that Scott’s campaign resembles the infamous purge by then-Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris just months before the Bush/Gore election in 2000.