Showing posts with label #BrooksBlackboard. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #BrooksBlackboard. Show all posts

Friday, July 23, 2021

Book Review: We Do This 'til we FREE US

We Do This ‘til we Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice

By Mariame Kaba
Edited by Tamara K. Knopper
Foreword by Naomi Murakawa
Haymarket Books: 206 pages


Book Review words by Charles Brooks

In the last year during the aftermath of the George Floyd killing, the demand to defund the police pushed the discussion around policing in a way that just hasn’t been witnessed before. Police departments across the country were now under public pressure to review and cut spending priorities while reallocating dollars to community based interventions. The avalanche of poor reporting and misinformation caused confusion and misunderstanding around the defunding issue allowed the narrative to be redefined as well as coopted to conveniently fit within the liberal reformist narrative.  Then there’s the manufactured hysteria and heightened racial anxieties resulting from the backlash linking recent reports of rising violent crime to defunding the police.    

Is there a more perfect time for a book to step into this moment of confusion and crisis with a 
Mariame Kaba at an 2018 event. Credit madison365
blast of clarity?  Mariame Kaba does that with her book, We Do This ‘til we Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice.  As an organizer and activist, Kaba began her work with political prisoner defense campaigns, “And, particularly the MOVE Nine, Ramona Africa, and all the women who were either killed or were imprisoned, some of whom are still in prison today, over a mass terroristic police attack against Black people in the United States. Something that does not get talked about as a form of police violence. But it’s the ultimate form of state violence throwing bombs on a bunch of people in their homes. That really was a radicalizing event for me. And it helped me to start to think about state violence in a different way.” 

In this collection of 31 essays and media interviews, We Do This ‘til we Free Us outlines Kaba’s analysis and views within an abolitionist framework.  She describes prison-industrial complex (PIC) abolition as a political vision with a structural analysis of oppression and as a practical organizing strategy: “PIC abolition is a vision of a restructured society in a world where we have everything we need: food, shelter, education, health, art, beauty, clean water, and more things that are foundational to our personal and community safety.” 

 Kaba’s analysis covers the school to prison pipeline, sexual violence, restorative justice practices, state surveillance, and transformative justice.  We Do This ‘til we Free Us also includes Kaba’s insight around the campaigns for Marissa Alexander, Rekia Boyd, Cyntoia Brown, and Bresha Meadows, to name a few.  She rejects the idea of relying on the Department of Justice for “justice”, that police reform works as well as the idea that prison addresses the systemic causes of violence. Her analysis is informative as well as instructive as she
clearly outlines the abolitionist principles, the steps to securing freedom for the incarcerated, and provides guidelines to drive and support organizing work in the community. 

With the years of political experience/knowledge Kaba has in activism and organizing, she understands the challenges that folks are facing as they process what they hear and read about “defunding the police” in real time. She readily admits not having all the answers but there’s still the pursuit in her work to grapple with the question(s) at hand. Kaba talks about being openly conflicted about civilian review and challenges herself in a way that provides a pathway and a model to transformational change: “None of us has all of the answers, or we would have ended oppression already.  But if we keep building the world we want, trying new things and learning from our mistakes, new possibilities emerge.” 

We Do This ‘til we Free Us not only highlights but informs the need for self-review to reframe our thinking.  This is a paradigm shift when she speaks about thinking about a transformative society, what that looks like and how do we get there. Kaba writes, “First, when we set about trying to transform society, we must remember that we ourselves will also need to transform.  Our imagination of what a different world can be is limited. We are deeply entangled in the very systems we are organizing to change.” 

We Do This ‘til we Free Us is written in the abolitionist tradition that not only speaks to the compelling
Artist credit: Micah Bazant
need for a shift in thinking but the book is also grounded in self-determination. Throughout the book, Kaba discusses the transformative role the community has in determining accountability, transformative and restorative justice.  Here, Kaba writes about the essential role of community accountability and community work on a grassroots level -  collective organizing, participatory defense campaigns, mutual aid and community-based interventions.  As abolitionists, Kaba says the goal to dismantle and abolish the prison industrial complex is based on rendering the PIC obsolete by changing the conditions by which people live.  This is connected to a deeper premise based on the idea of building – building relationships, building community, and building a vision for the future. Kaba writes, “People like me who want to abolish prisons and police, however, have a vision of a different society, built on cooperation instead of individualism on mutual aid instead of self-preservation. What would the country look like if it had billions of extra dollars to spend on housing, food and education for all”? 


Related Posts: 


Further Reading:
Critical Resistance seeks to build an international movement to end the Prison Industrial Complex by challenging the belief that caging and controlling people makes us safe.

Project-NIA, is a grassroots organization that works to end the arrest, detention, and incarceration of children and young adults by promoting restorative and transformative justice practices.

Interrupting Criminalization: Research in Action is an initiative led by researchers Woods Ervin, Mariame Kaba, and Andrea J. Ritchie. The project aims to interrupt and end the growing criminalization and incarceration of women and LGBTQ people of color for criminalized acts related to public order, poverty, child welfare, drug use, survival and self-defense, including criminalization and incarceration of survivors of violence.






Saturday, May 22, 2021

POLICE REFORM COMES TO MARYLAND (PART II)

words by Charles Brooks 

Police reform in America is difficult because police unions, elected officials – Democrat and Republican – along with their largely white constituents seeks to maintain a racial order disguised as “law and order”. Opposition to police reform is seen in the public and political support for blue lives matter, and proposed anti-protest legislation across the nation that will clearly pit police officers on the front line against protesters deemed rioters.  We saw this during the seventies when the activist demand for community control over the police was met with the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights or LEOBOR – such as the one passed by Maryland in 1974. Passed into law at a time when politicians and the police, together basked in the spectacle of “law and order” – which meant, get tough on Black folk.

Jonathan Hutto and Rodney Green outlines the activism against police brutality in Social Movements Against Racist Police Brutality and Department of Justice Intervention in Prince George’s County, Maryland.  They point to 2001 Washington Post data revealing between 1990 and 2000, Prince George’s police shot and killed more citizens per officer than any of the 50 largest city and county law enforcement agencies in the country - 84 % Black. Hutto and Green describes activism against police brutality in Prince Georges County, and the critical emergence of The People’s Coalition for Police Accountability (PCPA).  In 2001, PCPA pressured Maryland state legislators to introduce legislation to repeal LEOBOR in the General Assembly. But opposition from the police union, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) eventually killed the proposed repeal measure in committee. The struggle for police reform in Maryland continued relentlessly in the twenty years afterward.

Throughout the Maryland General Assembly’s recent three-month state legislative session, the opposition became clear as several state legislators – Democrats and Republicans, along with the FOP had their own ideas about what police reform should look like. Throughout the combative session, opposing state legislators prioritized protecting police interests over the interests of the community.

Maryland became the latest state to enact extensive police reform measures only after state legislators successfully overrode Governor Hogan’s veto.  In fact, the most contentious measures during the legislative session were in fact, vetoed by the Republican Governor; repeal of the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBOR), the new use of force standard and body cameras. He also vetoed measures to expand public access to records in police disciplinary cases and limit the use of no-knock warrants. 

The new police reform legislation creates a new unit in the attorney general's office to investigate police-involved deaths, prevents law enforcement agencies from buying surplus military equipment, and allows Baltimore City voters to self-determine whether Baltimore City or Maryland should have full control of the Baltimore City Police Department.

The new legislation also requires body cameras to be in use by July 2025; limits no-knock warrants to just between 8 am and 7 pm; a new statewide standard will now be in place outlining when officers can use force with criminal penalties of up to 10 years in prison. The use of force must now be “necessary and proportional to prevent an imminent threat of physical injury" or achieve “a legitimate law enforcement objective.”  Police officers will now be required to intervene thus criminalizing those officers who don’t.

There’s also Anton’s Law - that provides the public to finally gain access to records previously fought to keep confidential under the guise of protecting the police. The public will be able to request disciplinary records and internal affairs complaints made against the police. And despite heavy opposition from Maryland’s FOP, complaints determined to be unsubstantiated, will now be available for public review as well.

The new police reform legislation ensures different policing but also brings into view the road ahead for police reform.  For one, legislation to remove police officers from schools and reallocate funding for needed school resources such as social workers failed. Furthermore, LEOBOR fell short on the question of community control.  It’s the Trial boards who are empowered with the final determination on disciplining acts of police misconduct while the boards’ lone public representative is relegated to a spectator – no say in determining an officer’s guilt.   “While the General Assembly repealed the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR), it failed to implement the most important element of police accountability – community oversight. Community oversight means that there is a community-controlled and operated entity that is external to the police department or state-imposed processes that has power to investigate, adjudicate, and impose discipline,” reads in part, a statement from the Maryland Coalition for Justice and Police Accountability (MCJPA). 

To truly transform policing in America, policing must include community control – where the community has a significant role in police matters, particularly around discipline.  Community control has been the demand made by Black activists since the sixties in response to the same police misconduct and brutality that often led to rebellious uprisings. The notion that the police can effectively investigate and discipline police defeats the very purpose of community control.  As the amplified voices of the community become more engaged with the entities of their communities – be it the police, education or healthcare - the path to self-determination, community control and a more inclusive participatory democracy becomes more visible and within reach.

See Part I of POLICE REFORM COMES TO MARYLAND

Please support and visit The Brooks Blackboard's websiteour INTEL page of political resources, articles & analysis, and our video library, the OPEN MIND page,.  

Please LIKE and FOLLOW our Facebook page.

Follow me on Twitter at @_CharlesBrooks   

Related Reading:

RETREATING FROM POLICE REFORM IN NYC

Are mandatory minimums the answer in Baltimore City

What really happened to Freddy Gray?


Additional Reading:


List of articles on Black Community Control from The Black Agenda Report




Saturday, January 16, 2021

The Pandemic Crisis and What Got Us Here...

We Still Here: Pandemic, Policing, Protest & Possibility
By Marc Lamont Hill
Edited by Frank Barat
Foreword by Keeanga Y. Taylor
Haymarket Books: 117 pages

Book Review by Charles Brooks

The world is different now.  The nation is different now. There is no returning back to normal.  The corona pandemic unleashed waves of misery, suffering and indescribable loss of jobs, healthcare, businesses, and life.  A public health crisis of unforeseen magnitude triggered a crisis in the national economy that set-in motion a series of events affecting the entire country in one way or another. In the midst of this pandemic, the nation witnessed regular working-class folks forced to shelter in place and social distance or compelled to work due to their “essential worker” status. We also witnessed their response to the broken systems, failed institutions and meaningless slogans that failed them, miserably. And then George Floyd was killed by the police sparking massive protests in the US and around the world.  The protests revealed there was more than just an appetite for activism but a deeper virulent hunger for radicalism when the people saw change but sought transformation instead.

Marc Lamont Hill writes a book that helps us to make sense about what is going on and what is needed to realize what he calls the abolitionist vision.  A vision sustained by the possibilities and hope for the future with what he describes as transformative solutions.  We Still Here explores the themes of pandemic, policing, protests and possibilities through a lens of a radicalism that links his analysis of white supremacy, racial capitalism and neoliberalism with race, class, and gender identities.

The book starts and end with essays by Hill; the first - his own personal journey navigating around Covid-19, his father and the protests, and the second, an essay on the abolitionist future.  In between, Hill is joined by French activist Frank Barat in a question/answer format where Barat asks a number of questions around the pandemic, policing, and the massive public uprising. 

Responding to questioning about social distancing and sheltering in place, Hill brings a race/class perspective as he makes the argument that “economic power enables social distance”. He describes the emergence of corona capitalism as an “aggressive articulation” of Naomi Klein’s thesis on disaster capitalism in her book, Shock Doctrine; The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Hill says, “Human crises are exploited by the by the powerful who coordinate with governments to create policies that enable them to profit during such moments.” Here, Hill frames his response around neoliberalism, racial capitalism and white supremacy outlining the poor financial health of hospitals, the contradictions of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) while individual/corporate wealth exploded. He argues the emergence of corona capitalism has expedited the consolidation of privatized power and uses Amazon as an example. Here, Hill talks about Amazon’s influence and ability to shape public policy and their unique position to maximize profits during the pandemic.

“In the United States, there has always a been a relationship between disposability and confinement. Our willingness to consign people to spaces of confinement is directly related to our assessment of their economic value.  This assessment is informed by the logics of White supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism,” says Hill.  His analysis of the pandemic includes what he describes as the spaces of confinement and the politics of disposability.  Hill focuses on the most vulnerable – the imprisoned, the jailed, nursing homes and immigrant detention facilities, highlighting the “callous sacrifice of life that informs attitudes and decisions that render them disposable.”  He also grapples with the use of language, making a critical – and political – distinction comparing the use of rebellion versus riot, and Black Lives Matter versus All Black Lives Matter. 

Although Hill explains the significance of All Black Lives Matter movement, he discussed more about what BLM is not compared to what it is, lamenting on his only concern – cooptation. He does make the argument that it would be a mistake to frame 2013 BLM and 2020 BLM as two different movements or even two iterations of the same movement.  But Hill didn’t extend his response to specify the appropriate frame in which to view 2020 BLM or make a clear distinction between BLM and Movement for Black Lives. This is where the books’ question/answer format limited Hill’s response because here, follow-up questions were needed to expand or clarify Hill’s analysis on BLM.  While this is subjective to the individual reader, the book’s core analysis nevertheless remains intact.

Hill discusses black politics as well as his critique of former president Obama, but Barat asks no questions about the 2020 presidential campaign.  In his opening essay, Hill indicates his focus being on the pandemic, this unprecedented period of immense crisis and despair that compels clarity and analysis.  Hill does exactly that with, We Still Here, “It’s not enough to respond to Donald Trump’s incompetence or the extraordinary grief that people are living with in a time of pandemic.  We must come to understand everything that brought us here.  This is what young organizers in the streets are demanding.  This is what everyone living in the time of pandemic, policing, protest, and possibility must reckon with.”

 

Related Posts:

Book Review: Black Detroit by Herb Boyd, A Conversation about Black Detroit in Black New York 

Book Review: Democracy in Black by Eddie Glaude, American Democracy, White Supremacy and Racism


Please support and visit The Brooks Blackboard's websiteour INTEL pageOPEN MIND page.

On social media, Please LIKE and FOLLOW our Facebook page.

and you can follow me on Twitter at @_CharlesBrooks   

Monday, January 4, 2021

Amid Warnings of Surging Worldwide Poverty, Planet's 500 Richest People Added $1.8 Trillion to Combined Wealth in 2020

Tesla CEO Elon Musk saw the greatest increase in personal wealth in 2020—reported to be the fastest wealth creation in history, according to Bloomberg.(Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Bloomberg's year-end report on the wealth of the world's billionaires shows that the richest 500 people on the planet added $1.8 trillion to their combined wealth in 2020, accumulating a total net worth of $7.6 trillion. 

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index recorded its largest annual gain in the list's history last year, with a 31% increase in the wealth of the richest people.

The historic hoarding of wealth came as the world confronted the coronavirus pandemic and its corresponding economic crisis, which the United Nations last month warned is a "tipping point" set to send more than 207 million additional people into extreme poverty in the next decade—bringing the number of people living in extreme poverty to one billion by 2030. 

Even in the richest country in the world, the United States, the rapidly widening gap between the richest and poorest people grew especially stark in 2020.

As Dan Price, an entrepreneur and advocate for fair wages, tweeted, the 500 richest people in the world amassed as much wealth in 2020 as "the poorest 165 million Americans have earned in their entire lives."

Nine of the top 10 richest people in the world live in the United States and own more than $1.5 trillion. Meanwhile, with more than half of U.S. adults living in households that lost income due to the pandemic, nearly 26 million Americans reported having insufficient food and other groceries in November—contributing to a rise in shop-lifting of essential goods including diapers and baby formula. About 12 million renters were expected to owe nearly $6,000 in back rent after the new year. 

Tesla CEO Elon Musk enjoyed an historic growth in wealth last year, becoming the second richest person in the world and knocking Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates down to third place. Musk's total net worth grew by $142 billion in 2020, to $170 billion—the fastest creation of personal wealth in history, according to Bloomberg. 

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is at the top of the list, with a net worth of $190 billion. Bezos added more than $75 billion to his wealth in 2020, as the public grew dependent on online shopping due to Covid-19 restrictions and concern for public health. 

While Bezos and a select few others in the U.S. have amassed historic gains in personal wealth in the last year, the federal government has yet to extend much in the way of meaningful assistance to struggling Americans. The Republican-led Senate on Friday continued to stonewall a vote on legislation that would send $2,000 checks to many American households.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) denounced the proposal as "socialism for rich people" even though the plan includes a phaseout structure and individuals making only up to $115,000 per year—not those in the highest tax brackets—would receive checks. 

"Surging billionaire wealth hits a painful nerve for the millions of people who have lost loved ones and experienced declines in their health, wealth, and livelihoods," Chuck Collins, director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies, told Bloomberg this week. "Worse, it undermines any sense that we are 'in this together'—the solidarity required to weather the difficult months ahead." 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Is Biden’s anti-Trump message enough to win over Black voters?

words by Charles Brooks   

The significance of the Black vote is on full display as both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris make their final case and last push for Black voters, particularly in the battleground states.  The path for Biden to reach the White House runs through these very same battleground states in Black America. The Biden-Harris team needs to reach those areas with large Black voters like Detroit in the battleground state of Michigan, Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, Milwaukee in Wisconsin and Cleveland in Ohio.  But the Democratic Party nominee is faced with the daunting task of having to reach the Black vote in numbers unseen since 2008 and 2012 when Barack Obama was elected. 

Right now – if you trust the polling numbers - five national polls have Biden ahead by at least 10 points over President Trump even though there’s been just a bit of slippage in these polls in the last month.    The polling in battleground states show a slightly different picture where Biden holds a steady but single-digit lead over Trump.    

While Black America clearly supports the Biden-Harris ticket, there’s still this stubborn lack of enthusiasm that has dogged Candidate Biden since the primaries. Again - if you trust and believe the polling, they point out these same challenges Biden has with Black voters under the age of 30.  The American University Black Swing Voter Project found Black support for Biden for this age group at 47%.  In another poll by CBS/BET found similar numbers in this age group with 42%.  But Biden’s issues for the Black vote doesn’t stop with the lack of voter enthusiasm. There’s still the age-old sentiment about the Black vote being taken for granted that Harris’ addition to the ticket apparently hasn’t resolved. We are seeing this issue particularly in those areas that are absolutely crucial to a Biden upset in Detroit, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee.  .  

The Biden-Harris campaign’s pursuit of the Black vote includes establishing outreach programs for Black voters like Shop Talk discussing the issues facing Black men, Make it Happen Mondays, where Black businesses and business owners discuss their needs; and there’s their Sister to Sister program dedicated to Black women.  In fact, the 2020 elections will mark the largest ad buy and paid outreach by the Democrats for Black media.  Kamau Marshall, the Director of Strategic Communications for the Biden campaign told Black Enterprise that it’s imperative to show Black Americans the damage Trump has caused to them during his first term. “No I think part of our job is to remind the Black community of this president’s incompetence resulting in a large number of deaths in the Black community related to the coronavirus and the economic effects of the virus for Black Americans. The man has also talked bad about Nelson Mandela and John Lewis and former President Obama, so what we have to do is show people who he is.”

But does the anti-Trump message provide enough motivation to generate the much-needed vote totals to serve Trump his eviction papers via ballot box? Why not highlight features of the Biden plan for Black America like the billions he wants to spend on affordable housing and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU)? Or his plan to forgive student loans and have free college tuition? What about the $1.3 trillion he wants to spend on infrastructure and jobs? Or his proposals to finally end the crack versus powder disparity, ending cash bail, or ending the use of private prisons? Despite a plan that covers areas such as healthcare, criminal justice, wealth/income inequality, education, housing/homeownership, voting rights and climate – their campaign message seems to be framed more around an anti-Trump message that includes a much-needed return of normalcy and civility to the White House. But is that enough?

Now in the throes of the last hours of the 2020 election, the Biden-Harris team is making a strong final push for Black voters with drive-in rallies in Flint and Detroit, Philadelphia, Cleveland, with former president Barack Obama joining Biden at a drive-in rally in Miami, Florida.  The Biden-Harris team also made several visits to Florida, with Harris making three visits herself to South Florida including, Miami Gardens  - the city with the largest Black population in Florida, as Biden made visits Fort Lauderdale and Tampa to rally Black voters. 

Well, come election night, we’ll see if their anti-Trump campaign message prove to be just enough to thrust Biden-Harris to the White House or will the aftershocks of defeat bring more contentious debate around the missed opportunities in 2020...and the lessons wasted from 2016. 

Further Reading:

Live Election Results, from the Guardian

Preliminary Exit Polling, from the New York Times

Preliminary Election Results, from CNN

The Black electorate could decide the 2020 election, from The Guardian


Related Posts

Will Trump’s racism crush his strategic appeals for Black voters?

Biden picks Kamala Harris - can she be the difference the Democrats need to win in November?

Who will Biden pick?

Will Biden take Black voters for granted?


Please support and visit The Brooks Blackboard's websiteour INTEL pageOPEN MIND page, and LIKE and FOLLOW our Facebook page.

Follow me on Twitter at @_CharlesBrooks   

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Will Trump’s racism crush his strategic appeals for Black voters?

words by Charles Brooks

 

Photo credit: Black Voices For Trump Facebook page

For the last four years, Trump has not only railed against the Democratic Party but Black America  as well.  He has attacked and offended many with insults and dangerous racist rhetoric.  His racial politics advances a racist narrative along with a public policy that’s equally damning and harmful. That’s why his 2020 re-election campaign’s paradoxical outreach to Black voters is so odd and rather peculiar but seemingly strategic.  

Candidate Trump promised a New Deal for Black America — With a Plan for Urban Renewal.   A “ten-point plan” addressing education via school choice , safe communities where safety is a “civil right”, and equal justice with promises to “apply the law fairly, equally and without prejudice.”  His 2016 New Deal also promised tax and financial reforms to create jobs, along with a $1 trillion infrastructure investment.

About a year ago, Trump launched “Black Voices for Trump" where Black folk highlight his “accomplishments” with Black America.  They hold campaign events across the country, pointing to Trump “wins” in funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), criminal justice reform via the First Step Act , low Black unemployment along with his anti-poverty program - Opportunity Zones. 

But Trump’s pursuit for Black voters doesn’t end there – there’s his newly released plan for Black America called, The Platinum Plan.  Here, he makes campaign promises of tax cuts, increases in education opportunities, lower healthcare costs, and criminal justice reform.  There’s also promises to deliver 3 million new jobs, create 500,000 new black owned businesses, and increase access to capital in Black communities by almost $500 billion.  He even wants to prosecute the Ku Klux Klan and ANTIFA as terrorist organizations, make lynching a national hate crime, and make Juneteenth a national holiday.

Although introduced as a plan for Black America, The Platinum Plan reads more like an executive summary than an actual plan. Reading through the “plan” you get the sense this was hastily crafted and hurriedly put together with vague language compelling far more questions than answers.  For example, the “plan” contains exactly 39 bullet points spread over two pages but only seven with any mention of cost allocations. Many of the remaining bullet points appear to be more goal oriented and aspirational.  

For example, the plan in part reads “Reach even greater levels of historic employment and wage growth for the Black Community set in 2019, so that anyone looking for a job gets one” or “examine barriers to employment” or “Increase activity in opportunity zones including benefits for local hires” or “Examine alternative ways to build credit including rent, utilities, and phone bills” or “Champion federal policy reforms to advance home ownership initiatives” or when it comes to the HBCUs, the plan states: “Continue to protect the vital role of Historically Black Colleges & Universities".  There’s more but I think you get the point. 

We have heard Trump’s repeated proclamations of being the best president for Blacks but given his propensity to mislead the facts or just plain lie – closer scrutiny actually shows a far different picture than the one he’s painting.  For one, his anti-poverty initiative, opportunity zones have come under increasing criticism where Black businesses and communities are not benefiting as claimed.  His “accomplishments” for HBCUs has invited scorn considering Trump’s absentee role as legislation worked through Congress.  The same absentee role he’s taking with the lynching bill that now just sits in the Senate’s dusty bin. While Black unemployment did fall to historically-low levels during the Trump presidency, the role of Trump’s economic policies is debatable considering the downward trend that began during the Obama administration.     

On criminal justice, Trump signed the First Step Act into law, yet funding, implementation and execution of the law remains problematic.  For Attorney General, Trump nominated Jeff Sessions described as a career racist and then Bill Barr, widely considered an “architect” of today’s mass incarceration policies.  They implemented new criminal justice policies as several initiatives established during the Obama presidency were now rolled back – gone.      

The truth is, Black folk supported Trump in 2016 and again in 2020. Since receiving 8% of the Black vote in 2016, Trump got a 10% approval rating amongst Blacks in 2017, 11% in 2018 and 10% in November 2019.  Trump even posted a high of 23% just months ago in February 2020.  In fact, there are now reports indicating an uptick in Black support for Trump.  And yet, despite Trump’s covert racism, his approval rating with Blacks stands at 14% .  This figure could prove significant enough to Trump’s reelection chances if the 14% holds and somehow translates into an increase of Black support at the polls beyond 8%.

Meanwhile – remember when Trump asked Black voters back in 2016, what the hell do you have to lose?  Well, four years later, there’s the loss of millions of jobs, businesses and healthcare due to his feeble response to the pandemic health crisis for one. There’s also the loss of harmful public policy, particularly around law and order.  Oh yea, there’s not only the loss of the public insults from the Trump bully pulpit but the incessant lies about what he has done for Black America. 


Further Reading:
Has Trump failed Black Americans, by Rashawn Ray and Keon L. Gilbert



Visit the Blacks for Trump page on Facebook here and see for yourself...

Further Reading on 2020 elections

Live Election Results, from the Guardian

Preliminary Exit Polling, from the New York Times

Preliminary Election Results, from CNN


Related Posts



Please support and visit The Brooks Blackboard's websiteour INTEL pageOPEN MIND page, and LIKE and FOLLOW our Facebook page.

Follow me on Twitter at @_CharlesBrooks   




Saturday, August 15, 2020

Biden picks Kamala Harris - can she be the difference the Democrats need to win in November?

words by Charles Brooks


After nearly 5 months of waiting, the suspense is finally over. On August 11th, Democratic Party nominee Joe Biden made history naming Kamala Harris, former 2020 presidential candidate and current US Senator (D-CA), as his Vice-President. 

The announcement unleashed a level of excitement and enthusiasm unseen since Barack Obama seized the White House back in 2008.  But in less than a week, Ms. Harris already came under attack as Trump’s team resurrected the racist conspiracy “birther” question around her eligibility for the VP post while social and mainstream media interrogates her racial identity and political ambition while publishing racist cartoon images and memes. 

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Who will Biden pick?

words by Charles Brooks

Update: On August 11th, Joe Biden picked Kamala Harris as his Vice-President.  Read the update on the Brooks Blackboard post here


Ever since Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic party nominee said he would nominate a woman as his vice-president, there’s been much anticipation around who he would pick as his running mate. In fact, not long after Biden made his announcement during the March 15th primary debate did he start to feel the pressure to pick a black woman as his vice-president that only intensified in the wake of the nationwide racial “reckoning” due to the police killing of George Floyd.     

Interestingly enough, polling results supports this - in a Yahoo!News/You Gov poll  62% responded it was the right decision for Biden to pledge VP woman pick – Blacks (83%), white (59%), and Latino (64%); 36% overall and 61% Blacks said it’s important to pick a woman of color. In another poll, the USA Today\Suffolk poll, 35% Democrats said it was "very important" to them that his running mate be a woman of color; and 37% said it was "somewhat important." Incredibly though, the polling shows 75% of whites said it was very or somewhat important to them compared to 60% for Blacks.   Rep. Clyburn (D-SC) affirms the importance when he told NBC News, "I really believe that we've reached a point in this country where African American women need to be rewarded for the loyalty that they've given to this party." 

Monday, June 1, 2020

Will Biden take Black voters for granted?




Racial controversies are typical to presidential election campaigns -  and the 2020 campaign has proved to be no different. Just days ago presumed Democratic Party nominee Joe Biden created his own racial controversy when he made a remark about the black vote during an interview during an livestreaming broadcast of the popular radio show, The Breakfast Club.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

TEACHER ACTIVISM TAKES ON RACIAL AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

words by Charles Brooks

TEACHER ACTIVISM TAKES ON RACIAL AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

Photo credit: Charles Edward Miller
You may have noticed in recent months that teachers across the nation have been engaged in the sort of activism that fiercely challenges the status quo with their renewed vision for public education.  The sleeping giant has been awakened in 2018 with 8 what’s officially called “work stoppages” in educational services affecting 379,000 workers.  Teachers drew a line in the sand as a wave of teacher strikes hit Arizona, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky, and Colorado.   The trend continued into 2019 with teachers engaging in various forms of protest activities with walkouts, rallies, and yes, strikes in school districts in Los Angeles, Oakland, Denver, and Virginia.  In fact, Mississippi took action to pre-empt a possible teacher strike with pay-raises for teachers and assistant teachers.   

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

AND STILL NO BLACK GOVERNORS...

words by Charles Brooks

AND STILL NO BLACK GOVERNORS


Photo credit: Onasill ~ Bill - 72m
 When the smoke cleared after the 2018 elections   finally ended – there are still zero black governors. The last African American elected to the governors’ mansion was Deval Patrick in Massachusetts, and that was ten years ago.  The challenge for black candidates for state wide offices like governor is building a campaign that also appeals beyond their local base to white moderate Democrats throughout the state. Nevertheless, the 2018 elections witnessed history in a sense in that not one but three blacks – including one woman - ran as the Democratic Party’s nominee for the Governor’s seat.  Although all three lost their elections, there’s some comfort to be taken from the elections results and exit poll data. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

ABRAMS NOT GOING AWAY QUIETLY

words by Charles Brooks

Photo Credit: Marco Verch
Although the much talked about blue wave managed to sweep in a number of black elected officials during the 2018 election cycle – the nation still has no black governors.

This year’s election cycle saw an unprecedented 3 blacks running for governor; Ben Jealous (Maryland), Stacey Abrams (Georgia) and Andrew Gillum (Florida) each won their respective primaries but lost in the general election.  The race in Maryland was settled on election night with Jealous pulling in 43.5% of the vote with over one million votes, but lost by over 270, 000 votes. The races in Florida and Georgia, however were too close to call on election night forcing Gillum to withdraw his concession while Abrams pointed to the thousands of uncounted votes left on the table and just flatly refused to concede her race.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Book Review: A Conversation about Black Detroit in Black New York


Black Detroit: A People’s History of Self-Determination
Herb Boyd
Amistad/HarperCollins: 432 pages

A Conversation about Black Detroit in Black New York                            

By Charles Brooks

Herb Boyd recently appeared at the revered City College of New York (CCNY) in Harlem, NY to talk about his latest book, Black Detroit: A People’s History of Self-Determination.  Published in 2017, Mr. Boyd has entered yet another book into the annals of black history with Black Detroit that covers slightly over 300 years - spread over 340 pages and 29 chapters.  A prolific author and journalist, Mr. Boyd has an incredible body of work that includes 25 books in addition to countless news articles published over the years with many news outlets. 

Mr. Boyd was joined by CCNY Professor L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy in a format that deviated from the typical stand and deliver to one that was more conversational and informal. For a little over an hour, their conversation covered a wide range of topics that included the book’s sub-title along with Detroit’s history, black press, music, economy, and radical black politics.


Listening to Mr. Boyd and Professor Lewis-McCoy engage in conversation with each other, you got the sense that Black Detroit was more than just capturing critical moments in time. Clearly, Black Detroit was about the people behind those moments but more importantly, their stories of self-determination.  Mr. Boyd makes note of this during the book’s introduction where he wrote: “Black Detroiters survived enslavement, white mobs, housing and job discrimination, and municipal indifference, and with each endeavor they chipped away at that age-old misery index.”  

Mr. Boyd first spoke about the conversations he had with his mother, Katherine – “a veritable walking historian with an encyclopedia of knowledge about Detroit.”  Utilizing his mother as a tremendous source of information, Mr. Boyd talked about the time they spent reminiscing about important dates, events, places and of course – the people who made Black Detroit what it was and is.  “I found myself going back to the old neighborhood – that’s pretty much what I knew I had to do to write about Black Detroit. To go back to these black neighborhoods and talk to some those individuals,” explained Mr. Boyd. But he also mentioned a connection – a special connection he made with the people that enabled him to write Black Detroit.

In response to questions from Professor Lewis-McCoy, Mr. Boyd went on to drop nuggets and kernels of information throughout the evening.  For instance, the existence of slavery in Detroit as well as the Underground Railroad where Detroit served as the last stop. Mr. Boyd explains: “This was a path that was carved out by individuals who were escaping the atrocities of servitude in this country,” Or when he talked the racial tensions and hostilities that framed the racial riots of 1943 and 1967.

Or how automobile manufacturing was not only the “lifeblood” for Detroit’s economy but for the nation as well. Or when he unveiled that before Detroit was known for making automobiles, Detroit was at one time, the stove-making capital of the world! Or when he talked about not only how the music and Detroit was “inexplicably connected” – but how the music was more than Motown.  Here, Mr. Boyd pointed to the world class musicians who studied and played a wide range of music - rhythm & blues, blues, be-bop and of course, jazz. He explained that folks came to Detroit because of the Renaissance taking place there – similar to the Harlem Renaissance. “It was more than just New York – there was a renaissance happening all over the country in varying degrees.” He pointed out that the Harlem Renaissance was also replicated in cities such as Pittsburgh and Toledo.

The evening of conversation ended with the topic of politics – specifically, black radical politics.  Professor Lewis-McCoy asked Mr. Boyd to talk about what he described as the “uniqueness” of Detroit in this regard.  Consider for a moment the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X, the Republic of New Afrika, the revolutionary formations taking place amongst the black workers in the automobile plants, and Wayne State University (WSU) as a cauldron of black radical politics. “It was such a promising moment where we thought revolution was just around the corner, such a moment of heightened political intensity,” said Mr. Boyd. Describing Wayne State University as a “hotbed of activism”, Mr. Boyd recounted his first class at WSU where he had 125 students.  There in the first row sat members of the Socialist Workers Party, Black Panther Party, Shrine of the Black Madonna, League of Black Revolutionary Workers, and the Revolutionary Communist Party. He amused his audience when he said: “Every political stripe was represented in that classroom – so you can imagine the tricky line I had to walk from an ideological standpoint.”  


   
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Sunday, April 1, 2018

Book Review: Democracy in Black: How Race still enslaves the American Soul

Democracy in Black
Eddie S. Glaude Jr.
Crown: 288 pages

American Democracy, White Supremacy and Racism

By Charles Brooks


Democracy in Black: How Race still enslaves the American Soul, written by Princeton University Professor Eddie S. Glaude has been on the bookshelves for about two years now.  The book was released January 2016 just as President Obama entered his last year in the White House.  In this book Glaude confronts the American democracy project and its contradiction – a contradiction seemingly rooted in the treatment of African Americans versus the American ideals of freedom, justice and equality. Glaude notes the contradiction and writes: “People could talk of freedom and liberty and hold black slaves.” As the subtitle suggests, this is a book unmistakenly about race and white supremacy in America.  

He challenges American democracy by linking this contradiction to white supremacy as the driving force behind what Glaude describes as the value gap, opportunity deserts and racial habits.  Glaude also writes about the concept of disremembering or active forgetting – a critical component to not just widening the value gap but advancing white supremacy. 

Democracy in Black is a clearly written polemic that’s easy to read without the dense academic prose. Glaude attempts to make a case about the far reaching implications of this American contradiction with anecdotes, historical and contemporary examples along with his personal observations and experiences. You will find featured prominently throughout the book, quotes from James Baldwin, Martin Luther King and W.E.B Dubois that Glaude uses to grapple with his thoughts on white supremacy, the value gap, opportunity deserts, and racial habits. 

Glaude takes on a wide range of topics that includes a brief history lesson on the origins of American contradiction. He digs into the implications and dangerousness of white fear, but more specifically white fear of the anticipation or rather, the expectation of black criminality.  He describes the narrowness of today’s black politics and black leadership that includes a searing critique of Reverend Al Sharpton and President Obama. While Glaude is not likely to get any love from Sharpton or Obama fans, he won't receive any from the clergy either when he talks about the death of the black church and their retreat as a progressive institution. He also takes on struggling HBCU’s, revealing his thoughts about President Obama’s apparent dismissive approach. His discussion about race also includes, the public resistance to the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, radical activism, and the Great Recession, where he writes “…the very foundations of Black America have cracked under the weight of the economic fallout.” 

There are passages in the book that should trigger passionate debate such as his criticism of President
Obama where he writes, “Obama refuses to engage directly the crisis sweeping black America.” Or when he says Obama was supposed to be more – he was supposed to be different, “He was ideally our black progressive antidote to the conservative policies of the Bush years.” Such provocative statements are certain to draw condemnation from Obama’s supporters who fiercely defend him at all costs. There’s Glaude’s prescription for presidential politics where he advocates for essentially a protest vote where there’s no vote for the presidential candidates or simply left “blank” – hence the “Blankout” strategy. With a hint of naiveté, Glaude reveals his belief in America when he talks about remaking American democracy.  He says a revolution of value is needed to transform the value gap and racial habits, and there are three ways to accomplish this - with changes in how we view government, black people and to what truly matters as Americans.  Yet in this context, Glaude did not include his views around “respectability politics” or provide a more expansive analysis on structural racism.  Although Glaude outlines some meaningful remedies to remake American democracy – there’s this muted dismissal of the realities around those interests or issues that inherently generates opposition. Whether the issue is poverty, minimum wage, healthcare, crime, or even support for the Confederate flag – there will always be a clash of two sides.

Nevertheless, Democracy in Black is definitely worth the time to read as Glaude makes more than a few points throughout the book that argues for a new way of thinking.  The Ferguson protests, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the Forward Together campaign - the politics of disruption are just a few examples that he uses as being informed by taking a more radical approach to transforming American democracy.  Just as important is Glaude’s inclusion of the need to transform the current state of black politics from its limited and narrow state to one that is more expansive in political expression. Like Glaude says – something has to change. 

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