Days Black People Not Re-Enslaved By Trump

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What Obama and Ray Kelly Have In Common

I was very disturbed by the "kill list" article I posted about yesterday. While that quote I posted served to show one of the main points I have made about the current administration, further reading showed some other disturbing policies.
It is also because Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent. Counterterrorism officials insist this approach is one of simple logic: people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good. “Al Qaeda is an insular, paranoid organization — innocent neighbors don’t hitchhike rides in the back of trucks headed for the border with guns and bombs,” said one official, who requested anonymity to speak about what is still a classified program.
When I read that I thought of the NYPD Stop and frisk policy. This Find and Kill policy is essentially the NYPD tactic on a global scale. In NY, if you are black, live in a high crime area, you are assumed by the authorities to be a criminal. On the global scale if you are 'Muslim", male and live in an area where Al-Qaeda (or the Taliban, they are not the same) runs things or has a base, then you are assumed to be a terrorist. Innnocent? Too bad, so sad.< p/> When we consider the video of an Al-Qaeda stronghold in Yemen That it is clear that not everybody "of military age" is a member of Al-Q. If Al-Q has taken over a city what options does any male have? Does that mean that simply being under rule of Al-Qaeda make you a terrorist?

What if we applied such logic to 9-11. What if Bin Laden had said, Well since the WTC housed a segment of govt. authority (Port Authority) anyone in the vicinity or under their control who are "of military age" are valid targets? No? Yes?

It would seem that US policy is essentially: You are all the enemy.

How Far We Have Fallen

Last night I was very disturbed to watch NYC Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Walcott make an announcement in regards to teachers who have been accused of sexual assault or inappropriate behavior. From the NY Times:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said on Tuesday that the city should have the final say on whether teachers accused of sexual misconduct should be fired, even if hearings determined that they should keep their jobs.
So the city, meaning the Mayor or the Chancellor should be able to overrule the "due process" procedure which would have found a particular teacher should keep their job (likely due to the lack of evidence to substantiate the claim of misconduct).

This is like saying that a judge should simply overrule a jury decision simply because the judge thinks the defendant ought to go to jail anyway.

How is it that a mayor of a city on the United States presumes that due process has no place in a country where citizens are guaranteed due process rights?

Mr. Bloomberg, arguing that the union wants to protect its members more than it does students, proposed a new state law that would give the city’s schools chancellor, or any school superintendent in New York State, the ability to override an arbitrator’s decision and fire or penalize a teacher in a sex-misconduct case.
Read that again. Bloomberg actually went on record that he is opposed to the concept of due process. Furthermore, rather than the teacher's union being praised for standing up for the due process rights of it's membership, they are being painted by Bloomberg and the media as "protect members more than students". That is absolute bunk. Supposedly in the United States, a person who is accused of a crime must be proven guilty. Sexual misconduct with a student (minor) is a crime. Why are persons who are supposed to uphold the state and federal constitutions seeking to publicly eviscerate them? Why aren't they being called to task for it?
“There is simply no reason that teachers accused of sexual misconduct should have greater job security than other city employees,” said Mr. Bloomberg, who was joined by several state superintendents’ groups at a news conference at Gracie Mansion. “The fact that they currently do is wrong; it is dangerous; it is indefensible.”
Really? No reason? It is "wrong" for the accused to be proven guilty? It is wrong for the accused to have a vigorous defense? This is wrong? I get it. We wish to protect children. I agree with that. If the city wishes to remove a teacher from the classroom when a report is made, I can understand that. Better to be safe than sorry. However; there must be due process that is binding on all parties. If such conduct is proven then the teacher ought to be fired and appropriate criminal actions taken. If there is so much concern about teacher student behavior, put cameras in all the classrooms and other places where teachers and students are. But to have a situation where someone who is accused faces just about all the penalties of being found guilty of a crime, without due process and despite due process is a total disregard for the letter and spirit of the law of the land. Such changes to the law would make it very easy for students who do not like a teacher (for any number of reasons, bad grades come immediately to mind) to report him or her for 'sexual misconduct".

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I Didn't Say It

A story in the NY Times entitled "Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will" Contained the following:

A few sharp-eyed observers inside and outside the government understood what the public did not. Without showing his hand, Mr. Obama had preserved three major policies — rendition, military commissions and indefinite detention — that have been targets of human rights groups since the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Now a lot of people get upset when I point out some of the issues I have with the current administration. I have been consistent in my position that if it was wrong under the Bush administration it is still wrong under the Obama administration. That if it is unconstitutional then it is unconstitutional. Period. I'm not going to change positions on principle because I happen to think the current president is a cool fellow, a fellow "person of color" with a brilliant wife.

Let us be clear, If you were gnashing your teeth at Bush and upon reading the above have already formulated excuses, then you are a hypocrite. I'm not even going to mince words with you. YOU are a hypocrite.

If you'd like to reason that there are things that presidents have to do, I will accept that on a limited basis. The qualifier is that if that is the case, don't serve me with the "change" mantra. Just admit that politricks and politricks and you're willing to play the game. Just be straight up with yours.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Zimmerman, Alexander and Stand Your Ground.

A lot of fire has been directed at Florida's Stand Your Ground law that was brought to international attention due to the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. A lot of this fire comes from "Liberals" who take the position that Stand Your Ground laws are "dangerous" and likely inherently racist. The problem with most of the commentary (and petitions) about Stand Your Ground is that most of it completely mis-represents what the Stand Your Ground provision is actually intended for.

In brief the Stand Your Ground law was passed in Florida in response to a situation that a homeowner found himself in after a hurricane. Under then current Florida law it was only legal for a person to use deadly force against a person if that person was in their home or vehicle. This was a part of the classic English Common law Castle Doctrine. That is, you are free to defend your home and property from harm.

The hurricane had damaged the home and so the owner parked a RV of some sort on his property and was using that for shelter. While he was in that RV a person seeking to loot the owner's property entered the RV and menaced the occupant. The occupant leveled and fired upon the intruder, killing him.

That action put him in a legal quandary. He was not in his home, nor his car, and it was questionable as to whether the RV would be viewed the same way as a home. In response to this the Florida law was enacted allowing a person to defend him or herself from an attack anywhere they had a legal right to be.

Unlike say, NYC where the law is that one is obligated to try to avoid conflict and may only use force if there are no other options available to you, the Stand Your Ground law did not place such a burden on the victim.

Since the law has been enacted it has been reported that more people have been claiming "Self defense" under Stand Your Ground for shootings that we assume would not have been covered. I say assume because since there were no trials, we cannot know for certain how many were bonifide cases of self defense and how many were cases of "dead men tell no tales". This brings us to Zimmerman and Alexander.

George Zimmerman, who is facing trial, has claimed that his actions were covered under Fl. Stand Your Ground statute because he was attacked by Trayvon. Indeed the police initially let him go based on that claim.

In stark contrast we have Marissa Alexander who has been sentenced to 20 years for simply firing a gun at a man who was attacking her, but who has killed no one.

Gray began calling her names, saying "If I can't have you, nobody going to have you," and blocking her from exiting the bathroom.

Alexander pushed past Gray and went into the garage where she got her gun from her car's glove compartment. Gray told prosecutors in the deposition that Alexander came back into the house holding the weapon and told him to leave. He refused, and what happened next is somewhat unclear. In his deposition, Gray said "she shot in the air one time," prompting him and the children to run out the front door. But when Gray called 911 the day of the incident, he said "she aimed the gun at us and she shot."

From the Huffington Post:
A judge threw out Alexander's "stand your ground" self-defense claim, noting that she could have run out of the house to escape her husband but instead got the gun and went back inside.
The contrasts here are clear. In the case of Zimmerman the fact that he exited his vehicle to confront/follow Martin was not seen as an immediate disqualification of the Stand Your Ground defense as it was with Alexander. Clearly if Marissa Alexander was supposed to leave the scene, then Zimmerman too ought to have left the scene. If the court is consistent, the mere fact that Zimmerman left his vehicle will be enough to have him convicted of a crime (though I'm not sure if that would be murder 2).

Secondly, Rico Grey had a restraining order against him. Therefore it was clear to the courts that he was a threat. After all they *approved of the restraining order*. Alexander was in a place she had a right to be retrieving her property with the expectation that she would not confront Grey.

If we look at the origins of Florida's Stand Your Ground statute you'll see that Alexander's position most closely resembles it's original intent. She was in a place she had a right to be in. A man whom was a known threat to her, who should not have been within a certain distance of her appeared, in violation of his restraint order. That made a threat to Alexander that could be taken as a threat to her life. And most importantly, Alexander did not shoot the supposed victim. Rather her "warning shot" had the effect of securing the premises without loss of life, unlike Zimmerman.

If Alexander can be jailed for 20 years for shooting a gun in the vicinity of someone who was threatening her in a place she had a right to be in, One would expect a convicted Zimmmerman to face far more time than that.

In the end though I don't have a problem with "stand your ground" laws. I think citizens ought to maintain their right to defend themselves, their property and others against assault. What needs to happen though is that it should be crystal clear as to what constitutes self defense.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dear Ray Kelly

Today I read your opinion piece in the NY Daily news in which you opined as to the effectiveness and supposed legality of the Stop and Frisk program used by your department. Your piece made it clear that you clearly do not understand the legal framework under which your department works, and which the city and state of NY are obligated to adhere to. Since you are clearly not getting proper advice from your advisors I offer this in hopes that you will understand why you are wrong and why eventually your position will cost you, the city and possibly the state of New York, and ultimately the taxpayers a lot of money.

In your "treatise" found in the NY Daily News you stated the following:

The statistics reinforce what crime numbers have shown for decades: that blacks in this city were disproportionately the victims of violent crime, followed by Hispanics. Their assailants were disproportionally black and Hispanic too. Last year, blacks and Hispanics represented 96% of shooting victims and 90% of murder victims. Did the New York Civil Liberties Union and certain City Council members protest or demand something be done to reduce black-on-black violence? Not at all. Instead, they have directed their animus toward the Police Department, condemning the very tactics that have saved more than 5,600 lives in New York’s poorest neighborhoods in the last decade.
While the average person would take these words as evidence that there is nothing wrong with "Stop and Frisk", I sir do not. While your point pin regards to the criminal activity of blacks in New York is correct, you failed to address the actual issue at hand, which is whether "Stop and Frisk", as currently practiced by your department has actually lead to safer streets, or that it is legal. Perhaps it is because you do not wish for the readership to look at the rest of the statistics available on the subject. Here we find that since 2002 between 82 and 90 percent of the persons stopped by the NYPD had not committed a crime, were not about to commit a crime; nor did they have any weapons on their person.

If I were a basketball player and missed my shot 90% of the time no one in their right mind would allow me near their professional team. But we are to believe that by stopping between 80,000 and 500,000 innocent people per year has somehow actually lead to the decreases in crime is laughable. Why? Because "innocent people" do not, by definition, commit crimes. Yes, I know that concept is hard to wrap your head around. Take a few minutes before moving on.

Next I'm going to address your scurrilous claim that black leadership (aside from your apparent new love Al Sharpton) have not been advocating against black on black crime.

First and foremost, Your Hip Hop infiltration squad knows that since before the crack epidemic Hip Hop artists were at the head of those calling for peace. We had the Stop the Violence movement as well as the huge hit single "Self Destruction" which directly spoke to the people in regards to the consequences of violence. Hip Hop pioneers, in fact incorporated break dancing and rap battles as a means to decrease violence by giving youth a place to express themselves and compete when school systems were underfunded and in poor shape and unemployment was high. So we can start there. And that is just the Hip Hop artists. So on that front your entire claim that "we" have not been addressing violence in our communities is simply unfounded.

Secondly, since we know that employment opportunities for jobs with living wages and decent school systems are known means of reducing crime in any neighborhood, every time you see anyone discussing the need to invest in schools or to fund job programs, you are seeing a call to end black on black crime. I know these kinds of things are hard for you to put together but please try to follow. When we ask for our tax dollars to be spent in our communities for summer jobs programs, day care for parents, and the like, we are not only protesting "black on black" crime, we are offering actual working solutions. We know full well that although marching and other public displays have their place (which often go ignored by the media) we know that "shows" of displeasure pale in comparison to actual money and programs on the ground.

With that covered, let me point out that your own policy of "Stop and Frisk" is also contributing to "black on black" crime. The website Alternet posted a report back in June of 2011 where we find that due to your "Stop and Frisk" program. Black men are getting police records over possession of marijuana :

The vast majority of arrests in New York City are for low-level offenses, such as misdemeanors like possessing a small amount of marijuana or violations like selling umbrellas or flowers on the street without a license. Last year, for example, the city’s police made over 370,000 arrests. Most of these arrests occurred in New York’s low-income communities of color -- for example, although the majority of people who use marijuana are white, 86 percent of the individuals arrested for marijuana possession last year were black or Latino.
Let me stop here for a moment Mr. Kelly. How is it possible that your department manages to stop and frisk so many black people and yet it is white New Yorkers who are most likely to be walking around with contraband on them? Clearly by the data presented, most of the black people your department stop have committed no crime and have no contraband on them, and of the remaining 20% of the people stopped, the vast majority only have a joint? Really Mr. Kelly? This is what constitutes proper use of taxpayer money? But let us continue:
Many individuals subjected to aggressive arrest-driven police practices and subsequently charged with marijuana possession are coming forward with testimony that their arresting officers engaged in illegal search and seizure methods. According to these accounts heard over and over from people in different communities and who do not know each other, police often stop individuals, usually young black or brown men, for no apparent reason -- the persons involved are not engaged in what could be considered furtive or suspicious activity; they may have been walking to or from their school or workplace or been on a personal errand.... In another clear violation of their rights, the police conduct an aggressive search without asking permission and without any evident indication that the persons detained are carrying a weapon or contraband. The police reach into people’s pockets and crotch areas and/or tell them to remove their shoes. The police then confiscate the hidden marijuana and later claim to the court that the substance was open to public view,
So not only do your officers blatantly disregard the 4th and 14th Amendment rights of these individuals they are routinely committing perjury. Is it the policy of the NYPD to have officers commit perjury? Are you aware that such behavior endangers the successful prosecution of actual criminals? Are you aware that such actions lead to juries who do not believe the testimony of your officers and the district attorneys who depend on such testimony for trial? Does it not bother you or the Mayor or the Governor that your officers are undermining the very system you claim to believe in?


Criminal justice contact can also limit an individual’s job prospects, especially in New York where over 100 professions, ranging from barber to attorney, require licenses obtained from state authorities. Studies have shown that arrests alone can be an obstacle or even a bar to employment. New York City’s school system, for instance, mandates that an employee report any arrest, even for a violation, and will frequently suspend or reassign a teacher while a case is pending. Even where arrests do not legally or technically prohibit employment, employers will always prefer job candidates who have had no contact with the criminal justice system. The damage done in depriving people of jobs extends, of course, to the families who will suffer undue hardship when their breadwinners cannot find gainful employment
So not only is "Stop And Frisk" a violation of the constitutional rights of those being stopped, but the illegal searches and perjury committed by your officers lead to arrest records. It is well known that black males with arrest records are less likely to find employment than even white males with actual felony convictions. So not only have the actions of the NYPD violated the rights of citizens but due to illegal searches and perjury your officer's actions have decreased the employability of countless young men who may be more tempted to say "fuck it" and commit a major crime. That doesn't excuse the decision, but why are tax payer's dollars going to activities that would decrease the ability of a citizen to be productive?

Lastly, allow me to re-aquaint you with the US Constitution, which you failed to mention once which is binding on the state of New York and well as the city and all of it's agents. The 4th Amendment to the US Constitution reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
In case your seeing this for the first time in years allow me to highlight the relevant portions as it relates to "Stop and Frisk": The people (that would be the people your department is supposed to be protecting and serving) SHALL NOT search or seize anything or any person unless there is probable cause. I know this seems quaint and old fashioned but it is the law of the land. If you do not have a warrant or probable cause there can be no search. Walking down the street, even a street where crimes have occurred is not "probable cause". Tossing a person's clothes to find a thing is not permissible. Your officers know this. That is why they lie in court. The 14th Amendment to the US Constitution reads:
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
I suppose this amendment was written for people like you, who apparently do not understand that black folks are in fact citizens of the US and are to be afforded all the benefits and protections of all the other citizens of this country. So to be clear, neither the city or the state of New York can pass a law or program or whatever else that abridges the rights of citizens to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

So let us review:
1) between 82 and 90% of the persons stopped by NYPD were innocent. They were not committing a crime, had not committed a crime and were not engaged in any behavior other than walking to and from wherever they had a right to go to or from perhaps with other people.

2) Of the remaining 20% of the people stopped, 86 percent of them were arrested or fined for having marijuana. And most of that was found after an illegal search (after the illegal stop). Your officers then willingly committed perjury in order to give these persons arrest records which would have a negative impact on their education and employment opportunities, therefore increasing the likelihood that those persons would commit "major" crimes. Smart.

3) The remaining 5% or so, actually had contraband or something warranting an arrest. And you as a professional cannot figure out a means of getting to these persons without blatant and gross violations of the constitutional rights of the massive number of people stopped.

Hopefully you understand how ridiculous your prop piece for your illegal program is. Hopefully the NY Taxpayer will not have to suffer paying out for your obstinate nature and blatant disregard of the rights of the citizenry that your officers have violated.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Five Reasons Drone Assassinations are Illegal...Plus One.

From Counterpunch

One.  Assassination by the US government has been illegal since 1976 Drone killings are acts of premeditated murder.  Premeditated murder is a crime in all fifty states and under federal criminal law.  These murders are also the textbook definition of assassination, which is murder by sudden or secret attack for political reasons.

In 1976 U.S. President Gerald Ford issued Executive Order 11905, Section 5(g), which states “No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.” President Reagan followed up to make the ban clearer in Executive Order 12333. Section 2.11 of that Order states “No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.” Section 2.12 further says “Indirect participation.  No agency of the Intelligence Community shall participate in or request any person to undertake activities forbidden by this Order.”  This ban on assassination still stands.

The reason for the ban on assassinations was that the CIA was involved in attempts to assassinate national leaders opposed by the US. Among others, US forces sought to kill Fidel Castro of Cuba, Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, and Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam.

That was one of the five reasons offered by author Bill Quigley. Quigley was only focusing on drone attacks. However if we look at the law as cited by the author we would also conclude that the war in Libya that resulted in the killing of Kaddaffi  by what appears to be members of the "new regime" who could not have gotten to Khaddaffi without the direct intervention of NATO; can and may also fall under the same rubric. This is because if both direct and indirect assassination is illegal under US law (among other laws) and the war in Libya was, as far as I've researched, an indirect assassination of Khaddaffi, then the president of the United States did in fact break federal law (or at least whatever legal standing an executive order has).

For those confused about how I came to this conclusion they should revisit my earlier writings on the subject, (US admits to "Setting the Course" in Libya and The White House Libya Explanation Falls Short) There I explain in detail how all the rationalizations presented to the public do not stand up to law nor the claim that the US was somehow not "significantly involved".

Mind you. Had this been an act by Bush and co. we would be hearing it all day every day from certain quarters.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"Universal Jurisdiction"?

From an article in the NY Times
Under South African law, the police are obliged to investigate evidence of a crime against humanity, wherever it occurs, if the rule of law does not exist there, as is the case in Zimbabwe. he ruling has profound implications. It could cement South Africa’s commitment to protecting human rights and broaden the application of universal jurisdiction, which is the ability of countries to prosecute people who committed certain egregious crimes outside its borders.
So the basis of this "universal jurisdiction" is absence of presence of "rule of law"? And exactly how does this mesh with sovereignty? Continuing:
Unfortunately, the South African authorities want to sidestep it and are reportedly preparing an appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal, which oversees the High Courts.
I'm wondering if these are "liberals" who are apparently OK with a country up and deciding that it can essentially enforce it's own laws on someone else's land. You would think that a country that was a colony, essentially under the laws of the "mother" country, would even consider being the police force of some other country. Why not just invade, take over and engage in regime change as well? I mean so long as the intentions are good right? But I tell you what? How about South Africa take up the issue of torture by Europeans? Investigate their crimes? I suggest they investigate and indict the Sanford Police department as well as the NYPD. How about they do that? Or is it that they are more interested in being proxy's for Europe?

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Arab Militants Attack and Burn Timbuktu’s Holy Sites

From the African Globe:
Reports over the weekend stated that Ansar Dine rebels attacked and burned a holy shrine and threatened Muslim worshippers on their way to observe Friday prayers...Haidara told reporters that the Arab attackers damaged “doors, windows and wooden gates”. AFP reported an anonymous source saying that the tomb of Saint Sidi (Mahmoud Ben) Amar was set alight. Haidara appealed to UNESCO to help protect Timbuktu’s heritage sites, saying that the attackers promised to return to destroy other tombs. Ahmed Ibrahim, a resident who witnessed the incident, said that an armed man condemned the praising of holy saints, saying that three men desecrated the tomb in front of onlookers.
Ever since the coup I thought that it was only a matter of time before something along these lines happened.

Black Women And Fat

On May 5th the NY Times posted an opinion piece entitled "Black Women and Fat" which took the issue of "size" in the African-American community head on.

 I am certain there are folks who saw the piece as yet another attack on black women along the lines of "we can't get married, we can't do what we want with our hair and now we're fat". I have found there to be a general discomfort of discussing, in public largely white forums, about "certain" issues. I find it odd, given that a great deal of the same people have no problem with "integration" and "diversity". Did they not think that such diversity would somehow act as a cover for issues? But that's a side commentary.

 The author, Alice Randall, took a look at some of the cultural "imperatives" that inform African-Americans to explain that black women aren't overweight by some happenstance (or that it is a claim of "big bones" the poorest excuse in the book. We can possibly by big muscled but big boned? No.). Rather Ms. Randall discusses the cultural imperative to "thickness".
The black poet Lucille Clifton’s 1987 poem “Homage to My Hips” begins with the boast, “These hips are big hips.” She establishes big black hips as something a woman would want to have and a man would desire. She wasn’t the first or the only one to reflect this community knowledge. Twenty years before, in 1967, Joe Tex, a black Texan, dominated the radio airwaves across black America with a song he wrote and recorded, “Skinny Legs and All.” One of his lines haunts me to this day: “some man, somewhere who’ll take you baby, skinny legs and all.” For me, it still seems almost an impossibility.
As any person who listens to Hip Hop or R&B will attest to, "thick" women are very much the ideal of "urban" blackness. Sir Mix-A-Lot is probably the most well known the genre, but anyone familiar with Hip Hop knows that there are far more explicit admonitions to be thick. What is of importance is that even within African-American culture there is an aversion to "fat" by the males. However "fat" is culturally defined much differently than the mainstream. There are many women who are thick by African-American cultural standards who would be considered obese or at least well overweight in the mainstream. That said, in an effort to be more "counter-culture" with thickness (discussed later)some women who would have been considered "fat" 20 years ago are calling themselves "thick".

 There is a larger issue within the mainstream that the author did not discuss: the "waif" standard pushed by many in the fashion industry. I have long said that the fashion industry needs to be examined for it's numerous homosexual males that dictate standards of female beauty. Though I have no direct proof of the matter, I believe it is them, and their desire for male bodies that has given us the white woman of no shape as the standard. Even the black women who are considered "model types" by their "boyish" standards are relatively shapeless rather than a reflection of a "black" prototype. I do not believe it to be an accident at all that these women look like made up boys. I simply cannot conceive of straight men preferring women with barely there breasts and lack of buttocks. Honestly; while I can appreciate a leggy woman, I have never understood the fashion industry's use of women with no curves to speak of to model clothes that will not drape the average woman anywhere close to what is shown on the runway. It makes no sense to me. While we are at it let us be clear most white women do have some kind of curve to them. They are simply excluded from the fashion world.

 While the author discusses American references to body types we would do well to look at the cultural link that goes back to Africa. A recent report about obesity in west Africa showed that the men in Mauritania had/have a thing for large women. They reported on a man that was very proud of the fact that he needed a wheel barrow to cart his wife around. They reported on the phenomenon whereas young girls as they reach marriage age to undergo fattening sessions .
The preference originated centuries ago among the Moors, nomadic Muslims of Arabic and Berber stock who make up two-thirds of Mauritania's 3.1 million people. To the ancient Moors, a fat wife (much like fat livestock) was a symbol of a man's wealth, proof that he had enough riches to feed her generously while others perished in the drought-prone terrain.
Indeed in places like Ghana and Nigeria one would note how the traditional dress of women does emphasize the curviness of women and is deemed very desirable. I have no doubt that some of these same traditions came with Africans into the new world.

 At the same time we should shatter this myth that Euro-centric body image, as commonly discussed among African-Americans, were always slim and "flat". This was not the case. In Europe there was a time when "large" women (and men I suppose) were seen as a marker of high social cast not much different from it's time in Europe. If one could afford to eat the amounts that it took to become large (and the non-exerition of non-manual labor) then one would naturally become overweight. In the 1850's High status European women were known to wear corsettes and bodice's that would emphasize the breasts and the buttocks. Even in the early 1900's women were to have an "s-shape" that today are often reserved for material usually deemed "pornographic", which is interesting in and of itself.

 So it's clear that within a cultural context even European "ideals" for their women have changed. Of course African-Americans being a minority group within a larger framework are subject to the same pressures and changes via mass media. That can be both good and bad. Let me touch on the slavery issue that Ms. Randall brought up via a quite because I think it was incorrectly presented:
By contextualizing fatness within the African diaspora, she invites us to notice that the fat black woman can be a rounded opposite of the fit black slave, that the fatness of black women has often functioned as both explicit political statement and active political resistance.

The slave trade had a definite mark on those Africans who survived the journey. Clearly those with the physical and mental capacity to survive the travel were the survival of the "fittest". In addition those who were able to deal with the insect born diseases and the climate of the cotton and tobacco plantation also acted as a culling agent for those "unfit" for duty. So we have to taken into account the unique environmental stresses that formed the African-American populations including a preference for metabolisms that can store as much energy as possible (usually as fat) and that can go without what we would consider proper hydration.

 The second issue with the history of slavery is that up until the slave trade was abolished, there was no basis for looking out for a strong slave (in terms of length of life) particularly for the female. Many slaves were literally worked to death. Once the slave trade was abolished, the necessity of having slaves survive became important as a dead slave was not only lost productivity but also literally irreplaceable with new stock. Females became objects of breeding as well as work. Though I cannot say what the emphasis was but we should also take into consideration that knowing that male slave owners (and later employers) had a penchant for "tipping out" with their servants/property, having women around who were allegedly "not attractive" may have worked to the favor of the women of the homes. But that is argumentative as I'm not prepared to actually provide evidence of that. But I do believe the concept of the Mammy is also a strong theme for women who worked in close proximity with white males who may attempt sexual liaisons with or without permission

 But let's suppose that the obese black body is somehow a political statement of "resistance" against the larger society. Isn't that, at this day and age immature? Would it not reek of "I'll show you even if it kills me" stupidity? Certainly the black body that was necessary to survive the plantations and the middle passage is not necessary or perhaps even desirable for survival in a largely sedentary society. br />
 One of the things that goes unspoken in many quarters is the sexual harassment of women and the "don't look like a crack head or AIDS victim" mentality that is in the black community. When crack hit the scene in black communities one of the common ideas that took hold was that if you were on crack then you didn't eat and therefore got skinny. Favoring a world class marathoner would likely result in a person being assumed to be abusing drugs of some sort.

 The issue of diet is also important. Indeed when Africans were involved in a high level of physical labour a high caloric intake made sense. The problem is that now in the 21st century such a diet is not only unnecessary for the vast majority of the population but is actually deadly. Simply put, old cultural habits are causing all kinds of medical issues for African-Americans. This has serious economic implications as money spent on insulin and other medications for avoidable diseases robs the next generation of wealth as well as the spending power of the diseased population.

 In the end though while we should be striving to more healthy bodies we should recognize that body variability exists and exists for a reason. Not everyone is going to have the shape of a world class runner or swimmer. That fact though is not a good reason to do nothing.

Monday, May 07, 2012

If You Are Stupid, You Should Be Taken A Slave

General Museveni on slavery:
“I have never blamed the whites for colonizing Africa: I have never blamed these whites for taking slaves. If you are stupid, you should be taken a slave.”

Friday, May 04, 2012

Michelle Alexander on the Criminal Justice [sic] System

So, what is the system designed to do? It seems designed to send people right back to prison, which is what, in fact, happens about 70% of the time. About 70% of released prisoners are re-arrested within three years and the majority of those who return to prison do so in a matter of months, because the challenges associated with mere survival on the outside are so immense. This is what we've created and we call it a system of crime control.
From her interview with Kathleen Wells