Category Archives: justice

Blacks, Police and Stats

So I was reading the Wall Street Journal lsat week and came across an article* “The Myth of Black Lives Matter”, so I took a deep breath and flinched and read on.

It turn out the WSJ was examining the data from a Washington Post article on a book called “The War on Cops”. So the bottom line was that cops were doing great and Black on Black homicides are the problem. I mentioned this to my husband and he immediately said “..it’s not true, there are less Blacks in society. Not a man to mince words I took his guiding principle and dug into this work.

So there are “Lies, Dam Lies, and Statistics” and the saying goes, no more profound as in this data analysis. So I encourage the NA members and allies to read articles you normally don’t read and dig into them. Yes, you can Facebook your outrage but read a variety of sources.

in 2014, the US Census reported there were 6,095 homicides of Non Hispanic Whites (NHW) people and 5,397 Black homicides, That’s a total of 11,492. So that seems like there are more NHW than Blacks. But, the same Census shows that Blacks are only 12% of the US population. Hence, we should expect only 1,379 Blacks to be killed, which his not the case!

The article goes on to look at the data on police shootings. You may be aware the FBI does not have much if any data in this. So in 2015 the Washington Post went through the data and found that 662 NWH were killed by police versus 258 Blacks. That’s seems true based on the limited data. However using the Census proportion of Blacks (12%) we would predict only 110. So that is proportionately more Blacks.

Not in accord with the “Myths of Black Lives Matter”.

The thrust of this blog is to remind everyone that Black Lives DO Matter because of racial animus and imbalance in police shooting and that we should call for more data on police and communities at the margins.

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Source:
http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-myths-of-black-lives-matter-1455235686

PAFF 2016 journal #3

So I met up with Ken and Mack at the movies and we saw “Stories of our Lives” with an unfortunately small audience. This is a lovely black and white omnibus feature which told 5 stories of everyday life in rural Kenya and its challenges for GLBT people. These challenges all stem of course from a hostile political and social reality. These 5 vignettes (2 about women, 3 about men) tell of the struggle of gay and lesbian people to live their lives and love whom they want. There are no big tragedies or deaths, only the steady resistance of the society to letting them be.  
Most of what we hear about GLBT life in Africa is defined by the horrific laws and persecutions in some countries (Uganda, Nigeria). “Stories of our Lives” offers a more hopeful view absent the violence of other accounts but still realistic. Again with the dispelling of misperceptions of Africa! To wit: Africa is NOT a seething maelstrom of human slaughter and misery but is instead a collection of struggling communities and nations containing strong traditional elements as well as global trends and standards.  

I won’t be going to the festival until next Saturday when I’m planning to see “KPIANS” (Nigerian horror movie), “Nelson Mandela Myth and Me,” “Second Coming” (Idris Elba), and “Eye of the Cyclone” (Burkina Faso during their civil war). Then Sunday the boys and I are going to meet our friends Vicky and her daughters to see “Out of Darkness,” a well regarded US doc about African contributions to history, and maybe another one. Lots more info at paff.org of course.
Thanks for reading.

Jeff H
Anybody interested in joining me?

Jeff Horton

PAFF journal #2 

From Jeff H BWMTSC COCHAIR

Sunday, Feb 7

My planned viewing last night (Saturday) was altered by my underestimation of the popularity of the festival this year. (ALERT: Buy your tickets as early as possible!) I barely got into “Half of a Yellow Sun” and I had to substitute the American drama “Chapter and Verse: A Harlem Story” for “Lambadina” because it was sold out.

“Half of a Yellow Sun” is a big budget Nigerian historical epic set in the bloody civil war of the 1960s when Eastern Nigeria tried to secede as the country of Biafra. The film tells the story of a middle class, educated couple (Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton) whose romantic relationship and its missteps are inexorably and then suddenly overwhelmed by the violence of the civil war and anti Ibo persecution (they’re Ibo). Their lives, and the lives of their friends and her sister, devolve abruptly from a comfortable middle class existence to a frantic rush to find shelter from the war in a refugee camp. John Boyega is their loyal house servant. The transition from romantic melodrama to brutal and violent historical tragedy is jarring, and even though the main characters survive the violence, many of their friends and parents do not.

This movie is a perfect example of why we should see the African narrative features. Our view of Africa is so distorted and twisted by centuries of anti African propaganda in Euro American culture that it really takes African stories (and movies) to tell the truth. This film not only presents a crucial historical event occurring shortly after independence from the colonial masters of England, it also paints a portrait of a fully rounded society with modern and traditional lifestyles. The actors do a superb job and the production is excellent. It’s showing again next Sunday Feb 14 at 215 pm. See it if you can, if you want to expand your understanding of African history and culture.

“Chapter and Verse: A Harlem Story” directed by Jamal Joseph is also a gripping and revealing drama. Daniel Beatty, in a tour de force performance, is a recently released convict and former gang member who struggles to survive on probation in Harlem by delivering meals to the needy. He befriends an elderly woman (Loretta Devine) and her grandson, reconnects with an old friend who has also left the gang life behind for a barbershop, and in every case enhances the lives of those he encounters. The depiction of the tightrope that formerly imprisoned Black men walk in trying to survive gives the film a constant feeling of menace and uncertainty. All of the performances are genuine and human in the gritty, threatening, but vibrant world of Harlem depicted so vividly in the movie.  

I give this one a high recommendation also. It is a Black perspective on Black life in the age of mass incarceration, neither sentimentally optimistic nor brutally negative. See it if you can. It’s showing Fri Feb 12 at 845 pm and Mon Feb 15 at 520.

I’m about to leave to see “Stories of Our LIves,” a Kenyan feature with several vignettes about GLBT life in that country. I can’t wait go get a more balanced view of our brothers and sisters in Africa. I’ll report!

Friday, Feb 5

My first viewing at this year’s festival: the LGBTQ shorts program. This was a wonderful experience. There were 5 short films, 2 from Africa and 3 from the US. Afterwards there was Q & A with directors from the 3 American movies, all of them Black women. In fact all of the films are about women. They were all very well made and provocative. One of the African films “Oya” is an extensive exploration of the role of gender ambiguity in Yoruba culture contrasted with the vicious antigay laws being passed in Nigeria. “Transcend” is about a Black transgender man trying to reestablish a relationship with his parents. The others all deal with coming out and its consequences in one form or another. All in all I recommend this series highly. They are shown again on Thur Feb 11 at 345 and on Mon Feb 15 at 805.

Tonight, Saturday, at 7 pm I’m going to see the exciting sounding Nigerian dramatic film “Half of a Yellow Sun” set during the civil war in the 1960s and starring John Bodega (Star Wars!) and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Then I’ll see the Ethiopian drama “Lambadina” at 930. Tomorrow, Sunday at 1255, I’m planning on seeing the Kenyan film “Stories of our Lives” which is a series of vignettes about LGBT life in that country.  

Anybody interested in joining me?

Jeff H

Black Lives Timeline

  • 2013,
    George Zimmerman acquitted in the killing of Trayvon Martin
  • Alicia Garza, on Facebook, : “Black people. I love you. I love us. Our lives matter.”
  • Two days later activists used #j4tmla (justice for trayvon martin l.a.)and #blacklivesmatter in tiny letters. 

2014

  • Brittany Packnett, protests Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Mo., appointed to President Obama’s police-reform task force.
  • A single understanding of the movement not used because  it would ultimately exclude so many people.

2015,

  • University of Missouri, a hunger strike and boycott by the football team that drives the president out of office.
  • National conferences to connect and swap strategies.
  • Encryption of communication with smartphone apps
  • Black Lives Matter network, consolidated by Garza, Cullors and Opal Tometi, now counts nearly 30 official chapters,
  • Tactics include physical occupation of public space decentralized by design, maximizing impact
  • Black Lives Matter influential LGBT activists work to make equality one of the movement’s hallmarks.

March

  • Emphasis on gender, identity and social inequality the violent arrest of Martese Johnson, at University of Virginia August, Rallies across the country to spotlight the murders of black transgender women.
  • Terms like the prefix cis—as in cisgender, and intersectional and micro aggression.

April

  • In  Bay Area, Black Lives Matter part of the Fight for 15, a campaign to hike the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
  • New York activists launched a Black Lives Matter super PAC.

October

  • Clinton’s overtures to Black Lives Matter interrupted by Atlanta activists
  • The Democratic National Committee, passes a resolution declaring its support for the movement

November

  • Shut down Chicago’s Magnificent Mile
  • Death of teenager Laquan McDonald. Chicago activists run campaigns against school closures, and reparations for police torture.
  • University of Missouri Members of the football team announced that they would boycott team activities.
  • BLM sweeps out president and the chancellor of its flagship campus.
  • Demonstrators began in Minneapolis police protest the shooting death of 24-year-old Jamar Clark.
  • Republican presidential candidates said the movement spurs racial division, if not sheer lawlessness.

November

  • Opening the raw wounds of race has not made the protesters popular.
  • Despite its tactics (or perhaps because of it), BLM is winning ever more access to candidates as the race ramps up for next year.

Podcast Election Fever

podcast

Ken  collects comments and ideas on the GOP debate season with the caveat that the NABWMT cannot endorse candidates for office but can and must discuss issues on human rights and how the 2016 election could impact people at ther margins
GOP presidential candidates had six prime-time hours on the national stage on Wednesday to tell the American people why they should lead the country and its scary.

There was a strong vein of xenophobia, fear mongering and lies.

Public-Sector Black Jobs

I was in my local post office and was chating with the counter clerk about the tough times that the postal service employees were haaving and then I saw and article in the New Your Times*
about the demise of the black government jobs.

For millions of black families, working for the government has long provided a dependable pathway to the middle class and a measure of security harder to find in the private sector, particularly for those without college degrees. These include bus driving, teaching school, delivering mail, driving,processing criminal justice and managing large staffs. They are about 30 percent more likely to have a public sector job than non-Hispanic whites, and twice as likely as Hispanics.

Today public sector jobs have been decimated, competition is tougher and the jobs are a lot scarcer. During the recession, though, as tax revenues plunged, federal, state and local governments began shedding jobs which have still not bounced back.

At the same time, Also collective bargaining, like those led by Wisconsin’s governor, Scott Walker, has been weakened. Because blacks hold a disproportionate share of these jobs, relative to their share of the population, the cutbacks hit them harder. Some researchers and union officials also see a racial undercurrent in the campaigns.

These are more examples of the covert and open discrimination against poeople of color. I ask you to consider this when you vote!
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* http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/25/business/public-sector-jobs-vanish-and-blacks-take-blow.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0

Transgender Equality

Last Saturday I went to a transgender event at our local Unitarian Church and came away with the view that the rights of this marginalized community need even more support.

As a cis gender male (yes a new new term to me for my “tribe”), I was amazed at my lack of knowledge of transgendered Americans often regarded as deviants and a disgrace for families. Shunned by relatives and reviled by fellow workers. For most, transitioning on the job was tantamount to career suicide. Coming out meant going through life as a freak!

Luckily, more Americans who have wrestled with gender identity are transitioning openly, propelling a civil rights movement that has struggled even as gays and lesbians have reached irreversible momentum in their fight for equality. This was evident in the speakers at my forum who included the star of the hit series “Transparent

The transgender movement has been part of the broader quest for equality for sexual minorities, but while gays and lesbians have achieved far-reaching legal and political victories in recent years, transgender people, who may be gay or straight, remain among the nation’s most marginalized citizens. They face distinct challenges, including access to transition-related medical care, which have not always been a focus of the broader struggle for gay rights. Gays and lesbians are visible in all walks of life today, and many are celebrities and role models. Transgender Americans, meanwhile, remained largely unseen until fairly recently.

At my forum, it was noted that one challenge lies in semantics,

Below I list a short summary of the terms:
Sex
Social assigned term, usually based on the appearance of external anatomy. better, a combination of bodily characteristics including: chromosomes, hormones, internal and external reproductive organs, and secondary sex characteristics.
Gender Identity
One’s internal, deeply held sense of one’s gender, not visible to others.
Gender Expression
External manifestations of gender, expressed through one’s name, pronouns, clothing, haircut, behavior, voice, or body characteristics.
Sexual Orientation
Describes an individual’s enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction to another person. Transgender people may be straight, lesbian, gay, or bisexual.
Transsexual
An older term that originated in the medical and psychological communities.. Many transgender people do not identify as transsexual and prefer the word transgender. It is best to ask which term an individual prefers.
Transgender man (trans man, FTM)
People who were assigned female at birth but identify and live as a man may use this term to describe themselves. It is best to ask which term an individual prefers.
Transgender woman (trans women, MTF)
People who were assigned male at birth but identify and live as a woman may use this term to describe themselves. It is best to ask which term an individual prefers.
Cross-dresser
Typically used to refer to heterosexual men who occasionally wear clothes, makeup, and accessories culturally associated with women. This activity is a form of gender expression, and not done for entertainment purposes. Cross-dressers do not wish to permanently change their sex or live full-time as women. Replaces the term “transvestite.”

Be aware of the differences between transgender women, cross-dressers, and drag queens. Use the term preferred by the individual. Do not use the word “transvestite.”

Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS)
Doctor-supervised surgical interventions, and is only one small part of transition (see transition above). Avoid the phrase “sex change operation.

Recently, some employers in the public and private sectors have begun to openly support people making the transition. At the Central Intelligence Agency, a young analyst who transitioned on the job in 2013 worried that coming out would end her career. She realized that fear was unfounded when colleagues got her a gift certificate to Ann Taylor after she transitioned at work and senior agency officials made it their mission to ensure she could continue to thrive at her job. Yet at the same time, thousands of American troops who are transgender serve in anguish because the military bans openly transgender people from joining the service. Those who take steps to transition can be discharged under the current rules.

In several states, transgender people are courageously battling efforts to bar them from using public restrooms. In West Virginia, transgender women have been at war with the Division of Motor Vehicles because officials are refusing to give them new licenses unless they stop “misrepresenting” their gender when they have their photo taken. A recent federal government survey found that one in five transgender people reported having been denied care by a health care provider as a result of their gender.

Expanded formal recognition is a fundamental first step. The size of the transgender community in America has always been unclear, since many people wrestle with gender dysphoria in silence. The most widely-cited figure, 700,000, comes from a 2011 study by the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles. The United States Census Bureau should give transgender Americans the chance to be formally recognized as such on forms, if they choose to.

Having more detailed information about the demographics of the population is crucial to the evolution of stronger legal protections and expanded access to health care. There has been significant progress on both fronts. Last year, Medicare, which has a big influence on the industry standard for insurance coverage, lifted its ban on covering gender reassignment surgery. More states and insurance providers are following that lead, heeding the call of medical experts who say transgender-related care must be viewed as “medically necessary,” rather than elective.

There have been hard-won victories on the employment front, too. The Department of Justice last year began taking the position that discrimination on the basis of gender identity, including transgender status, constitutes sex discrimination under the Civil Rights Act. Yet, many jurisdictions lack local laws that protect transgender people and discrimination remains commonplace even in places that do.•

This generation should be the one that stopped thinking that being transgender is something to fear or shun.

Sources: The New York Times, GLAAD Media Reference Guide – Transgender Issues

Long Beach Rally for Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and the many more

BWMTSC endorses a rally on Tuesday, December 9th 20144:00PM – 7:00PM  at Long Beach City Hall333 W. Ocean Ave. Long Beach, CA 

Faith and community leaders will gather in solidarity, prayer, and peaceful protest in response to the recent grand jury decisions involving the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and the many lost lives and victims of structural, systemic, and institutional racism. Members of a number of interfaith and community organizations including Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE-LA), Greater Long Beach Interfaith Community Organization (ICO), and South Coast Interfaith Council (SCIC) will stand together in solidarity to say enough is enough, and will offer their prophetic and public witness in prayers for all the youth, family, and friends affected by police brutality. All people are invited to join us in prayer, protest, and songs for hope and change.You are welcome to bring a candle and/or signs.

Twiiter #BLACKLIVESMATTER and #BROWNLIVESMATTERINTERFAITH JUSTICE CANDLELIGHT VIGIL