When the past is present…
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When the past is present…
Nelson Mandela in South African Hospital over Christmas
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s president says former leader Nelson Mandela will spend Christmas Day in hospital.
The presidency says in a statement that Mandela’s doctors confirmed the news on Monday. The anti-apartheid figure was admitted Dec. 8 to a hospital in Pretoria, the South African capital. He was diagnosed with a lung infection and had a procedure to remove gallstones; officials have said Mandela is improving and is responding to treatment.
South African President Jacob Zuma says the whole country is behind Mandela and he is urging people to keep the former president in their thoughts on Christmas Day and throughout the holiday season. Zuma describes Mandela, who was imprisoned under apartheid for 27 years, as an “ardent fighter.”
Read more about Mandela’s past, his future, and his legacy here.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
…Revealing a social concern far beyond his years, in “Stop Da Violence” and its accompanying video, Amor ["Lilman" Arteaga] recites thoughtful lyrics about the impact of abuse and the easy access to guns on our communities.
“People, people, we need to change our ways,” he sings on the hook of the track. “There’s too much violence in our world today.”
Between stanzas, Lilman raps, ”Put the guns down, put the guns down/Stop the violence/Stop the violence.” This linking theme led the emerging artist to sympathize with Newtown.
“I’m trying to stop all violence,” the talented tyke explained. “I hope that the result of people viewing my new video will be for people to just try to come together… just by trying to help each other out once in a while. …We also need to try to make it harder for people on the streets to get guns that easily,” Amor added.
Hoping to take his platform of change across the country in a school tour next year, and eventually to the White House, Lilman also has a message for President Obama. “I would talk to him about how I want to make it harder for people on the streets to get guns,” Amor said. “I [also] think in schools there should be counseling and help for each kid, the ones that are being bullied and the ones that are bullies.”
Where does he get his broad perspective and deep concern for both the victims and perpetrators of hurtful deeds? “I basically get all my thoughtfulness through the violence I see on the news, in newspapers, and in different places in my neighborhood,” Amor said….
Read more about young Amor and learn about his father’s fears for him here.
Cameron Clarke, an African-American high school senior from Philadelphia,
is being celebrated for getting a perfect score on the SAT exam. His academic achievement is enormous, but we’re equally impressed by what he said to local news station Fox 29 about his priorities, his real passion and the beyond-his-years value he places on the support of his community.
Read more about this impressive young man here.
The War on Drugs has failed.
After 50 years of prohibition, illicit drugs are now the third most valuable industry in the world after food and oil, all in the control of criminals. Drugs are cheaper and more available than ever before. Millions of people are in prison for drugs offences. Corruption and violence, especially in producer and transit countries, endangers democracy. Tens of thousands of people die each year in drug wars.
Breaking the Taboo is a Morgan Freeman-narrated feature documentary. It follows The Global Commission on Drug Policy on a mission to break the political taboo over the United States-led War on Drugs and expose what it calls the “biggest failure of global policy in the last 40 years.”
The movie features interviews with several current or former presidents from around the world, such as Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter,
Sundog Pictures put the entire film online, on YouTube, giving us all free access to it. Watch it in full below:
Read more and take action to improve our drug policies here.
The FBI released its yearly report on hate crimes last week and it showed a slight decrease in 2011….In 2011, law enforcement agencies reported 7,713 victims of hate crimes nationally and all but 16 of the total incidents were based on one bias. Overall, 46.9 percent of hate crimes were racially motivated, 20.8 percent from sexual orientation, and 19.8 percent were motivated by religious bias.
Out of those who committed hate crimes nationwide, nearly 60 percent were white while 20 percent were black.
Justin Alesna, a 23-year-old Detroit man, was the victim of a black-on-black hate crime in March 2011, when he was assaulted in a Detroit gas station by a man who claimed that he was standing too close to him in line and peppered him with gay slurs before assaulting him….Alesna also said that as the assault happened, bystanders encouraged the beating and laughed while the clerk working in the store refused to call police.
Police eventually arrested 36-year-old Everett Dwayne Avery, who plead guilty to the assault this past August and faces 12 years in federal prison. Avery was the second person convicted under the Hate Crimes Prevention Act that President Obama signed into law in 2009.
“A hate crime is different than a simple assault because it is an attack on not just one individual victim, but an attack on everyone who shares a particular characteristic,” U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said after the guilty plea. “By passing this statute, Congress made it clear that an attack based on a victim’s sexual orientation will not be tolerated in America.”
Read more here.
Watch the intelligent and moving video testimonial of Justin Alesna about being victimized in a hate crime.
Now that the South Carolina congressman has been tapped to fill a U.S. Senate seat, he just might be.
…As a senator, [Scott will] likely be called upon to be …more of an ambassador to voters of color from the Republican Party and for a farther-right worldview ….
To do that effectively, however, he’ll have to find overlap between his view that “reducing the tax burden, decreasing government interference in the private sector and restoring fiscal responsibility” — themes that resonate among black, Latino and Asian-American voters — and some of the harsher stances that in recent years have put up a wall between the GOP and the voters it will need to win future national elections.
Like when Scott suggested last year that if Obama opted to sidestep Congress on raising the debt ceiling, he’d consider it “an impeachable act.” Or Scott’s 2011 proposal to deny food stamp eligibility for union members on strike — stances that fall squarely within today’s mainstream conservative thought but are generally nonstarters with black voters.
And ideologically, he’ll stand in contrast with the last black GOP senator, Massachusetts’ Ed Brooke, who was pro-choice, an advocate of the Fair Housing Act and arguably more liberal than Obama. It’s a contrast that underscores both the rightward drift of Republicans and the flight of black voters from the GOP over four decades.
Read more here.
It’s a sad truth that our leaders only talk gun control when unspeakable tragedy hits close to home.
Shortly after the Jovan Belcher tragedy I was asked on a television program whether or not the NFL player’s high-profile murder-suicide and sports announcer Bob Costas’ courageous comments about gun violence in the incident’s aftermath would have any impact on gun control in America. I answered that they would not. The reason? Because as I noted during that interview, historically our country has only addressed the issue of gun violence when it touches the lives of those with whom our leaders are most likely to identify. Rarely are those likely to be incidents involving people of color suffering domestic violence or teens of color from low-income communities who are victims of urban gun violence.
Instead the gun tragedies that have actually moved our elected officials to significant action on gun control have been those incidents in which victims are most likely to remind our leaders of their own friends, families and communities, incidents like the 1993 shooting on a Long Island Rail Road train, which killed commuters from New York’s professional class or the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, which made gun control the cause célèbre of white suburban moms, culminating in the Million Mom March in 2000.
Now it appears another incident is poised to finally move our leaders to action once again, 13 years after Columbine. The murder of 20 children and six adults in the quiet and normally safe enclave of Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14 is forcing a conversation about gun control that the shooting of 26 residents in one night in Chicago this summer — resulting in the deaths of two teens and injury of 24 others — could not. As previously noted in an analysis by the now-defunct the Daily, more Chicago residents, many of them urban youth, were killed by gun violence in the first half of 2012 than American soldiers were killed in Afghanistan during the same period.
Just think about those numbers for a moment.
Read the rest here.
His journey would take him a world away from Mount Vernon
Of our first five presidents, four owned slaves. Thomas Jefferson’s slave-owning legacy has been covered in the news lately; however, the biggest slave owner among the four men was the father of our country, George Washington.
Washington and his wife Martha together owned about 200 slaves at the beginning of the Revolution, but at the end of his life the couple owned 317 slaves together. And at least two of these became quite famous, for very different reasons.
William “Billy” Lee, Washington’s personal servant, was the only slave whom Washington freed outright upon the former president’s death (all the others were to be freed upon his wife’s death, though she freed them 12 months after Washington passed). He is depicted looking adoringly at his master in John Trumbull’s famous painting of the president of 1780, standing faithfully by his side.
At the other extreme of attitudes toward the master of Mount Vernon, however, stands another slave. He was a fascinating rebel named Harry, whose life and times have been painstakingly recreated by the historian Cassandra Pybus. And Harry’s dogged determination to be free suggests that not all of the slaves found Washington to be the benevolent master whom historians have depicted.
Read Harry’s amazing story here.
Editor’s Note: In today’s United States, is being black determined by the color of your skin, by your family, by what society says or something else? Soledad O’Brien reports “Who Is Black in America?” on CNN at 8 p.m. ET/PT Sunday, December 15.
A shade darker than brown? The opposite of white?
Who is black? In America, being black has meant having African ancestry.
But not everyone fits neatly into a prototypical model of “blackness.”
Scholar Yaba Blay explores the nuances of racial identity and the influences of skin color in a project called (1)ne Drop, named after a rule in the United States that once mandated that any person with “one drop of Negro blood” was black. Based on assumptions of white purity, it reflects a history of slavery and Jim Crow segregation.
In its colloquial definition, the rule meant that a person with a black relative from five generations ago was also considered black.
One drop was codified in the 1920 Census and became pervasive as courts ruled on it as a principle of law. It was not deemed unconstitutional until 1967.
Blay, a dark-skinned daughter of Ghanian immigrants, had always been able to clearly communicate her racial identity. But she was intrigued by those whose identity was not always apparent. Her project focuses on a diverse group of people – many of whom are mixed race – who claim blackness as their identity.
That identity is expanding in America every day. Blay’s intent was to spark dialogue and see the idea of being black through a whole new lens.
Read more here.
Courtesy of British Nigerian writer, filmmaker, Zina Saro-Wiwa (also daughter of the late Nigerian human rights activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa),
comes an excerpt from a documentary project and video installation comissioned by The Menil Collection in Houston, TX, for the ongoing Progress Of Love exhibit.
This is a collaborative project between The Menil Collection, the Centre for Contemporary Art (in Lagos, Nigeria), and the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in St. Louis.
Revealing, thoughtful, at times seemingly uncomfortable, hilarious, and more.