Hat Tip: Racewire

A Louisiana town has managed to find another profoundly trivial reason to trample the first amendment.

The new indecent exposure ordinance in this Cajun-country town of about 2,000 carries penalties of up to six months in jail and a $500 fine for being caught in pants that show undergarments or, in the mayor’s phrase, “private parts.” “I don’t know if it will do any good, but it won’t hurt,” said Delcambre Councilman Albert Roy, who introduced the ordinance. “It’s obvious, and anybody with common sense can see your parts when you wear sagging pants.”

That’s right, you can be thrown in jail for six months for wearing your pants low. The Mayor argues that the law doesn’t target black folks.

Low-hanging, baggy pants have become a fashion fad, mostly for young men in the hip-hop culture. Several residents objected that the ordinance targeted blacks. Broussard denied any racial motivation. “White people wear sagging pants, too. Anybody who wears these pants should be held responsible.”

Broussard’s point hardly refutes the idea that this law targets blacks, it just also targets in a larger sense, contemporary African-American culture in the form of Hip-hop. The law isn’t simply meant to provide another excuse to throw black people in jail, it also hopes to dissuade white people from participating in or imitating Hip-hop culture.

Could anyone imagine similar laws targeting shirts that say “No Fat Chicks?”

Broussard’s advice for people who like their pants to hang low: “Just wear it properly. Cover your vital parts. I mean, if you expose your private parts, you’ll get a fine. If you walk up and your pants drop, you get a fine. They’re better off taking the pants off and just wearing a dress.”

I’ve never seen anyone sag their pants in order to expose themselves a style choice. How much of this is at the discretion of the arresting officer? And why is the government telling people how to dress?

The fact that another racially motivated law targeting black people and black culture is being passed in the South is profoundly disturbing in the context of Genarlow Wilson, whose 10 year prison sentence for having consensual oral sex with a girl two years his junior was recently overturned after he spent two years in prison.

The case began three years ago when Mr. Wilson was arrested for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl at a New Year’s Eve party in 2003. Under Georgia law, that offense qualified as aggravated child molestation, a felony charge largely intended for use against adult sexual predators, not teenagers like Mr. Wilson, who was 17 at the time of the incident. He had no prior criminal record and was an honors student and star athlete.

Being a gifted student and talented athelete did not protect Genarlow Wilson from racial descrimination in court, which took away two years of his life. Our current legal system is racially biased enough without laws that so blatantly target black people. What does it say that such laws are once again acceptable in Delacambre, Louisiana?

UPDATE: A little cultural perspective on the hostility to Hip-hop, and charges of “obscenity”.

“A wave of vulgar, filthy and suggestive music has inundated the land with its obscene posturing, its lewd gestures,” spewed one newspaper in 1899 about jazz.

When jazz swept through Chicago, the playing of saxophones and trumpets was banned after dark; “reckless” new jazz dance steps like the bunny hug, the turkey trot and the lame duck were outlawed.

Things, change, stay the same.

I read Rep. John Conyers’ DailyKos diary yesterday entitled simply: White House Subpoenas. Here’s an example for other CBC members to follow. Do something helpful/progressive and then tell the netroots about it. Not that hard. Conyers says:

I consider these subpoenas to be essential because the evidence our investigation has uncovered points to the pivotal role the White House played in the U.S. Attorney firings. We have only sought to compel cooperation through subpoenas after more than three months of stonewalling by the White House.

I had hoped that the White House would be more forthcoming in assisting our investigation. Unfortunately, this subpoena provided the only legal means for the American people, through their elected representatives, to find out how their government functions.

This subpoena represents a very serious step by Congress not to be taken lightly. Defiance or failure to comply would run counter to the checks and balances that are the foundation of our constitution and democratic government.

I applaud this action. John Conyers is living up to his legend as a ferocious civil rights hero. His post made me proud he is a courageous leader doing the right thing who happens to be African-American.

I only wish it had come a couple of months earlier when Americans still cared about this issue. There was a time when Gonzales was really on the ropes. His strategy of clinging by his fingernails to the rocky ledge of legitimacy seems to be working — no longer does this issue dominate the morning news. No longer do we hear calls from Republicans for his resignation.

It’s summer now. People are thinking about barbeques, vacations, hot weather and high gas prices. It’s hard to hold on to indignation when it’s so dang sunny out.

Don’t get me wrong — I am still angry. I still want justice returned to the Justice Department. I only wish the Democrats would quit scattering their momentum on Iraq and Gonzales and go for the jugular of this corrupt, inept Administration at crunch time. Not when everyone’s yawning and the curtain is halfway down.

They each have only one black woman in the top ten of their top 100 hottest women lists. Both women are lightskinned.

In the case of Maxim, the token beauty is R&B Chanteuse Rihanna.

In the case of AfterEllen, it’s L-Word star Jennifer Beals. Of course, I’m guessing many of their readers don’t even know Jennifer Beals is black.

I guess cultural standards of beauty biased against dark skin transcend sexual orientation.
Senior editor of AfterEllen Scribegrrrl writes:

Clearly, what straight men and lesbians find sexy in a woman is a little bit different.

Sadly, “a little bit” seems fairly accurate.

God Bless America.

I mean it’s not like they’re not both gorgeous, but you see my point.

Hat tip to the Dailykos.

Hat tip: Skeptical Brotha

Stop Judge Leslie Southwick.

Southwick has been nominated for the federal bench from Mississippi.

Here’s a piece of Southwick’s judicial past:

The current nominee, Leslie Southwick, in his former capacity as a Court of Appeals Judge, affirmed the judgment of the state employee appeals board to re-instate a white female state employee who called a black female co-worker a “good ole nigger.” The racist rationale is that this behavior is somehow not serious enough to warrant immediate termination.

If you want to read the Magnolia Bar Association’s letter to Patrick Leahy, it’s here.

I think it’s time that people dropped a note of concern to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Patrick J. Leahy

Edward M. Kennedy

Arlen Specter

Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

Orrin G. Hatch

Herb Kohl

Charles E. Grassley

Dianne Feinstein

Jon Kyl

Russell D. Feingold

Jeff Sessions

Charles E. Schumer

Lindsey Graham

Richard J. Durbin

John Cornyn

Benjamin L. Cardin

Sam Brownback

Sheldon Whitehouse

Tom Coburn

Time to drop some Democratic Senators a nice little letter about Southwick.

Cross-posted at Mirror On America

Here’s Matt Stoller of MyDD raising money for Donna Edwards who is running once again against corporate whore Al Wynn.

Getting people like Wynn to support corporate-friendly policies has been a lynchpin of right-wing power, which means that Donna Edwards’s challenge to Wynn is both critical and systemic. This is not a normal primary challenge, this is a clash of two systems of power, of influence, and of ideas. It’s not a surprise that the Chamber is already weighing in on this race, for Wynn. This primary was critical in 2006, when her underfunded campaign, which was dismissed in DC because she did no polling, no TV, and only a bit of direct mail, nearly toppled Wynn, who was seen as invincible. It’s even more critical now. Donna is a real, legitimate candidate. She is going to raise a lot of money, and she’s going to fight for values and ideas that actually are progressive. We lost in 2006, and we see what that got us – a Democratic Party that is only responsive when it’s convenient for them. We can’t afford this kind of Democratic party, and we must support people like Donna in our movement to change it.

Why should you care? I mean, do you even live in Maryland?

Maybe not: but here’s why. The CBC has a tension among sell-outs like Al Wynn who are the reason why we have to argue about the lunacy of doing a Democratic debate with Fox News. They are the reason we must endure the humiliation of Members of Congress supporting the re-election campaign of a man who had $90,000 in his freezer. They are the reason that our relatives and frat brothers and neighbors are still in Iraq. They are the reason all children still don’t have access to healthcare in America. I could go on.

A new leadership is needed that will actually serve its constituents occasionally. It’s like the fight between Dollar Bill Jefferson and Karen Carter. We need more Karen Carters and Donna Edwards. Black blogs — let’s start talking about how we help our brothers and sisters who need us into office — including fundraising on places like ActBlue.

One of the reasons why I’m not so upset that Alberto Gonzales hasn’t resigned, is because he has answers to give. Answers for many things, but especially for the role in the Justice Department in enforcing, or NOT enforcing VOTING RIGHTS.

It seems as if this Justice Department didn’t find a non-White voter whose rights they felt worthy of defending. Wrapped up in the U.S. Attorney flap, is this issue of voting rights. It seems to come up, time and time again, as an underlying reason why the U.S. Attorneys were targeted for removal.

In Minnesota, Tom Heffelfinger, was targeted for dismissal because it seems, he had been too concerned with protecting Native American voting rights.

According to the Washington Post, half of the dismissed U.S. Attorneys were targeted because they were seen as lax on investigating voter fraud.

But, don’t get it twisted. Voter fraud for this bunch only means MINORITY VOTER SUPPRESSION.

Dr. Michael Fauntroy has outlined the long and dirty history of the Republican Party and their active involvement in voter suppression, especially BLACK voter suppression. It happens all the time, but we’ve had a front row seat to it; in 2000, down in Florida. In 2004, in Ohio – I take my hat off to the Brothers and Sisters in Ohio who stood defiantly in long lines, as they were being disenfranchised.

Opening quote of his piece: “I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of the people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.” – Conservative activist Paul Weyrich, at a 1980 training session for Christian conservatives

Can’t get more authentically, establishment conservative than Weyrich. When he says he doesn’t want everyone to vote -THAT MEANS YOU!

Touch screen voting machines with NO paper trial; Voter ID laws; the fight against felon re-enfranchisement – these are all tactics used to suppress the power and strength of the Black vote. It’s our responsibility to fight back with registering as many new voters as possible, and being vigilant about our votes.

One thing that I just have no tolerance for is Black folk not voting. You have no excuse as to not vote. If you get in there and write someone in, that’s still voting. Way too many people were beaten, tortured, arrested and DIED for Black people to think that they have the luxury of staying home on election day.

There has been an organized directed effort from the highest levels of government to actively suppress Minority Voting. It’s just beginning to come out from being swept under the rug.

If you want to read further about voter suppression, take a read at the following articles on journalist Greg Palast’s site. He’s been on this story since 2000. Of course he doesn’t work for an American Media Outlet.

Some of the reporting on Palast’s site:

Raging Caging What the heck is vote caging, and why should we care?

Palast Reports on the Prosecutor Scandal for BBC

US Attorney Resigns Following Conyers’ Request for BBC Documents

The Goods on Goodling and the Keys to the Kingdom

My grandfather used to tell me all the time: “You may beat me, but you’ll never fool me – unless I help you.”

When it comes to voter suppression, our responsibility as a community, is to make it as hard as possible for our enemies.

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The Chicago Tribune has an interesting article out today. Entitled, Carefully Crafting the Obama ‘Brand’, it goes into detail about the foundation for his future political ambitions were being sown even ‘way back when’.

The charismatic celebrity-politician had rocketed from the Illinois state legislature to the U.S. Senate, stirring national interest. The challenge was to maintain altitude despite the limited tools available to a freshman senator whose party was in the minority.

Yet even in those early days, Obama and his advisers were thinking ahead. Some called it the “2010-2012-2016″ plan: a potential bid for governor or re-election to the Senate in 2010, followed by a bid for the White House as soon as 2012 or, if not, 2016. The way to get there, they decided, was by carefully building a record that matched the brand identity: Obama as unifier and consensus-builder, an almost postpolitical leader.

Well, they haven’t deviated from the ‘plan’ of his image, have they? Except, for the time table seems to have moved up, which they explained in the article.

I thought it was a well-balanced article, pointing out the positive and the negative of Obama’s time in the Senate and the possible reasons for some of his more questionable votes.

Cross-posted at: Mirror On America

This was the last in a series of articles about Obama. If you are interested in Barack Obama, these articles are a good place to begin your research.

Related articles

The not-so-simple story of Barack Obama’s youth

Obama’s mom: Not just a girl from Kansas

Portrait of a pragmatist

Showing his bare knuckles

Building Obama’s money machine

Michelle Obama: Barack’s rock

Careful steps, looking ahead

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Investment bank Goldman Sachs is endowing a $2 million dollar chair at Morehouse College.

The Goldman Sachs Leadership Chair in Civil and Human Rights will be responsible for the collection of papers belonging to Martin Luther King, Jr., that were bought by a consortium last year before they were to be placed on the auction block.

Cross-posted on: Mirror On America

Related articles:

Goldman Sachs to donate $2 million to Morehouse College

Morehouse College to Inherit King Papers

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So says John Derbyshire at National Review Online.

Here are some of the money quotes:

Similarly, there are probably a lot of black American women who wouldn’t mind working as maids in prosperous white households, as used to be commonplace. I’m willing to bet, though, that there are large numbers of white people who would much rather not have a black maid. Not, again, because they fear a black maid would harm them, or be lazy or dishonest, but just because they would not feel comfortable in a master-servant relationship with a black person, after all the guilt-trip propaganda of the past 40 years.

What’s more, I think I’m one of those white people. Another story: Back in 1990 or 1991, living in London, I was walking across the interior space of Victoria Station, a major rail terminus. There was a shoeshine stand there in the middle of the concourse, operated by a lone black man who looked as if he could use some business. My shoes needed shining, I had five minutes to spare, so I negotiated a price, mounted his chair, and he started polishing.

And I started sweating. I felt really uncomfortable. It was irrational, I know, but I’m telling how it was. I got looks from people walking by, too — not friendly looks. See that black guy toiling away at the white man’s feet! Those were the looks — or, just as revealing, if in a different way, that was how I imagined them. I suspect that shoeshine guy didn’t get much business.

The rest of the piece has similar gems.

I suppose the premise of treating all workers with just basic respect is beyond the author.

You just can’t make this stuff up. It’s not possible.

Greening the Ghetto

11 Jun 2007

Recently, Jack and Jill Politics had an opportunity to interview Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) about the book he and his wife just published. I’m personally a bit obsessed with massive global crises such as climate change, peak oil and, I guess now, bees. I’m just sayin, I don’t care as much if you’re a racist, just be carbon neutral about it.

That conversation with Kerry got me thinking even more about the risks and opportunities our poorer, minority urban neighborhoods face over the next few decades as America attempts to make the transition to a more sustainable energy infrastructure.

On the one hand, many of our communities are the first to feel the negative effects of pollution, and as the underlying costs of oil-dependent goods and services necessarily rise with the decline in supply, we will feel the burn first as well. Environmental justice is a serious issue forced onto the national scene in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and addressed on great blogs like the African American Environmentalist Association. We often suffer more and recover more slowly.

On the other hand, the massive scale of the national reorganization required to meet the climate and oil crises creates an incredible opportunity… to do something right. It gives this country a chance to engage all its citizens in the sacrifices and benefits associated with a more sustainable society.

In many ways, African Americans were passed over in the great technology boom of the past decade and the great transfer of value in outsourcing operations. Basically, I’m saying that all those companies looking offshore to workers could have looked in-shore to the hoods of America where unemployment among black folks is generally double that of the overall population.

While my own feelings on the immigration debate are in flux, much can be said of our need to make sure our own domestic population is able and willing (see: education policy, community investment, elimination of discriminatory lending, revised urban planning, factory zoning rules and more) to fill the employment needs of the economy before getting gung ho about imported labor, legal or illegal.

Our driving culture will have to change dramatically. Our economic networks may need to become more local in nature along with food distribution and energy production. We cannot afford, as a nation, to not have everyone at the table. There is no reason that the benefits of investments in alternative energies, local agriculture, mass transit and more should not be shared with and among our most depressed areas (I’m talking rural areas too BTW).

I envision rooftop organic farms in the hood and reduced asthma rates for our people when we get serious about emissions controls and fuel economy standards. I see our local businesses growing and our high levels of fast food and junk food consumption declining. My hopes in this area have been greatly influenced by the work of Majora Carter of Sustainable South Bronx.

This post was much longer than I anticipated, but the real point was to introduce this video of Majora’s speech at the TED conference in 2006. It’s 18 minutes and worth every moment. Please do check it out. Majora is for real and has been behind a great transformation in her own hood. She exhibits more leadership than most of our presidential candidates combined.

From FreedomToMarry.org:

When the question of race discrimination in marriage came before the U.S. Supreme Court (the Court had actually gotten it wrong in previous decades and ducked the question repeatedly in the years following Perez), it was in a 1967 case brought by a black woman, Mildred Jeter, and a white man, Richard Loving. The couple had had to leave their home state, Virginia, in order to get married where their love was allowed. The law in Virginia, like that of many other states, provided: “All marriages between a white person and a colored person shall be absolutely void without any decree of divorce or other legal process.” An interracial marriage was considered a non-starter, contrary to the very “definition” of marriage.

Back from their honeymoon, the Lovings were arrested one night in their own bedroom—with their wedding certificate hanging over their bed—and prosecuted for the “crime” of “evading” their state’s discriminatory law and violating Virginia’s same-race restriction on marriage.

Tomorrow, a coalition of organizations and social justice groups such as the National Black Justice Coalition, Hispanic National Bar Association, Asian American Justice Center and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation will hold a press conference to honor the 40th anniversary of the Loving decision and make the connection to today’s struggle for marriage equality for gays and lesbians.

I am so excited to see the breadth of the coalition behind this event and the movement generally. I’m tired of black folks especially feeling that the civil rights movement stopped with us. It seems to me that too often we display an attitude of “game’s locked” with regard to Latino and immigrant groups and gay/lesbian rights.

Just look at the absurdity behind the language of the miscegenation laws, and it becomes increasingly difficult to justify such discrimination against our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.

Sure, I believe it’s selective persecution (yes, I chose the word deliberately).

But, if you’re a Black Male Teen in Georgia, I think you should think twice before you decide to have sex.

First, it was that young man, who was on his way to Vanderbilt, but wound up in jail for having consensual sex.

And now, it’s Genarlow Wilson, who is serving a 10 year sentence for consensual oral sex at age 17 with 15-year-old girl.

The judge has voided the sentence, but the District Attorney has filed an appeal, thus keeping this young man in jail. There’s so much wrong with this case, it’s ridiculous, but the bottom line is the same – young Black men, if you decide to play, you might be paying with the next YEAR of your life, since this law has since been amended.

Two words to remember: SELECTIVE PROSECUTION.

And, guess, who they choose to select to prosecute more often than not. That’s right: folks that look like Genarlow Wilson.

Just a friendly warning.

Cross-posted at Mirror On America

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BTW: Dollar Bill’s assets have been frozen by the feds. That’s what can happen when you fill your freezer full of cold, hard cash. Ha.

Now that Jefferson stands indicted on some of the most serious charges filed against a sitting lawmaker, members of the Black Caucus are faced with the dilemma of offering their continued support or quietly looking for an out.

The simmering divisions were evident in the results of a vote Tuesday night, calling on the House ethics committee to investigate Jefferson and report back on whether he should be expelled from the House. Eighteen caucus members supported it, 13 opposed and three voted present. The resolution passed overwhelmingly, 373-26.

Some observers saw a generational divide in the results, with younger Black Caucus members backing an ethics investigation and older members urging caution. More senior members have memories stretching back to spurious investigations of African-American civil rights leaders.

Caucus members voting to investigate Dollar Bill include:

Democratic Reps. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, Charles B. Rangel of New York, Gregory W. Meeks of New York, Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri, John Lewis of Georgia and Mel Watt of North Carolina.

Congratulations to those with the sense God gave them. As for the rest:

Among those voting against the Republican resolution were some of Jefferson’s longtime backers, including [James] Clyburn, Democratic Reps. G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina and Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick of Michigan, as well as some newcomers, such as freshman Democratic Reps. Yvette D. Clarke of New York and Keith Ellison of Minnesota.

Putting aside the black eye this gives Black America — for his own dignity, Jefferson should resign. Unless he is expelled from Congress via procedural process or pushed out by the Dems, expect his current plan to remain in Congress until his day in court on Jan 18, 2008 to become an embarrassment for Dems during the presidential primaries.

h/t Politico Crypt

We’ve all heard about the honeybees disappearing. From the first time I heard about this, it just sounded bad. Very bad. Like something we should address promptly.

It’s number 4,037 of my grandmother’s signs of the approaching apocalypse. Something like it might even be in Revelation for all I know — raise your hand out there if a grandparent or crazy uncle has read to you from the Book of Revelation since Sept 11. I know I’m not the only one. If this has happened to you, you are probably black. Also, yes, George Bush, particularly his astonishing re-election, does count among many black people as a sign of the apocalypse.

I’m a bit tongue-in-cheek of course.

That said, Rep. Alcee Hastings is actually doing something about this. Thank god someone is. As part of our continuing series to highlight useful things the CBC is doing, I offer you:

Whatever the reason, the remaining bees have a friend in Congress: Rep. Alcee Hastings. The Florida Democrat introduced the Pollinator Protection Act to authorize over $75 million in research funds for the little buggers.

“Bees are critical players in our ecosystem. They enhance our way of life, whether we realize it or not,” Hastings said. “If we do not act now, Colony Collapse Disorder will have a stinging impact on America’s agriculture industry and our standard of living.”

Often, I hear other bloggers saying things like — I would love to hear more from African-American bloggers and seem surprised, even dubious that there has been a rapid growth in what others have called the “blackosphere.”

I’ve already linked to RSSPECT. Well, let me recommend to you also the even larger Afrospear news and political portals.

There’s the general online newspaper, a Politics and Opinion section (where Jack and Jill Politics is featured — thanks!), entertainment, fashion and beauty (as a for-real black woman, I LOVE this page), tech and internet(not many actual black blogs here as far as I can see, but still a great summary) and more. I would love to see a music-only page since you know how we feel about our music. So far only one major music blog is linked (AllHipHop.com) And a movies/tv-only page would be nice if only so other black bloggers can highlight what’s positive and pillory what ain’t.

Who needs Newsgator or Bloglines when you have the Afrospear? Kudos to BronzeTrinity for her work. Girlfriend, you got it going ON!

Looking for the explosion of black bloggers online? Look no further.

Who We Are

Cheryl Contee aka "Jill Tubman", Baratunde Thurston aka "Jack Turner", rikyrah, Leutisha Stills aka "The Christian Progressive Liberal", B-Serious, Casey Gane-McCalla, Jonathan Pitts-Wiley aka "Marcus Toussaint," Fredric Mitchell

Special Contributors: James Rucker, Rinku Sen, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, Adam Luna, Kamala Harris

Technical Contributor: Brandon Sheats


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