Category: Civil Rights & Economic Justice

To Kneel or Not to Kneel… That Is the Paradox

by A’Jamal-Rashad Byndon

The National Football League (NFL) is at a major crossroads in terms of how it addresses the Colin Kaepernick dilemma. For those who have not being following this controversial and polarizing situation, it all started last year when Kaepernick—the former San Francisco quarterback—decided to sit, and subsequently kneel, during the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner. Many fans, military supporters and law-enforcement officials felt it was disrespectful to those who served or gave their lives to defend this country for an athlete to insert politics into sports. These folks appear to suffer from a social and historical amnesia. Almost 50 years ago, Gold Medal runner John Carlos gave the Black Power fist salute during the national anthem at the summer Olympics in Mexico City in 1968. Muhammad Ali, who refused to serve in the military during the Vietnam War, is another example of athletes protesting social conditions and unjust wars.

But when Kaepernick, who led his team to the 2013 Super Bowl, became a free agent, even NFL teams like Houston, that had lost its star quarterback Deshaun Watson to a season-ending injury, refused to pick him up. The man had become a pariah, merely for attempting to bring attention to the many African Americans who have lost their lives in questionable circumstances to police officers and racist predation agents of the system. (And, no, the police, military and other government agents are not protecting any African Americans’ rights or freedom unless they afford us the same rights that they themselves enjoy in this system.)

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Five Big Lies About Trump’s So-Called Tax Reform

by Sally Herrin

How do you engineer the creation of a Third World Country? You colonize a previously sustainable society, concentrate its resources and means of production into the hands of a few of your friends, and create the kind of chaos that keeps the mass of people taking their grief out on one another. Trump and his cohort are intent on breaking this country down, then parceling it out as further chaos ensues. This is the Great Truth, manifest to anyone paying attention. And as always, selling out a society begins with an official narrative based on Big Lies.

The GOP has a tremendous amount at stake on tax reform legislation. Republicans risk ending the year with nothing much accomplished but utter failure on health care reform. And just because Trump’s tax reform package is awful and unfair doesn’t mean it can’t pass. So far the right-wing hardliners who helped sink ACA repeal (because it did not go far enough) have not indicated they have any problem with letting the foxes party in the hen house.

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Thoughts on Charlottesville

by A’Jamal Rashad Byndon

Since the skin-head and white supremacy incident in Charlottesville, Virginia, there has been a heightened awareness—particularly on social media—of the pain and suffering people of color have experienced from racism. And yet these Facebook and thoughtful blog comments demonstrate that many Americans lack the skills to have healthy conversations and dialogues about racial issues. In talking with colleagues, I’m continually amazed at how many are unable to articulate coherent ideas and concepts about the level of racism, prejudice, bias and white supremacy still present in this country. Some suffer from a level of white fragility where they really don’t know where to start. Others want to make those concepts of racism, prejudice and bias synonymous when in fact each term can carry different meanings based on the situation. For still others, watching this hideous behavior being so blatantly and shamelessly played out in the national media makes them want to fold their hands and disengage from reality. None of these reactions are surprising to people of color—we’ve witnessed this behavior all of our lives. But those who have buried their heads in the color-blind sand must either begin facing the reality of racism now—or expect to continue being confronted with it over and over again in the future… because, after Charlottesville, there’s no schmoozing over what’s going on.

These thoughts are being juxtaposed with the images of Klansmen, Nazis and white supremacists marching in the streets of the Charlottesville. It is ironic to see these white supremacists with “Tiki”-brand mosquito repellant torches—bamboo torches that are identified with the peaceful Hawaiian culture. But for anyone laboring under the illusion that the overt display of racism had been relegated to the distant past, we now know that the kind of hate we saw exhibited in Charlottesville can be found in any town, village or city in the United States. Even in the White House.

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by Sally Herrin

Not in my backyard. This expression signifies opposition by stakeholders to local habitation for something valuable, even necessary, but deemed unpleasant, threatening, even dangerous. Many residential neighborhoods, for example, resist certain new neighbors as undesirable: group homes for people living with mental disabilities, halfway houses for addicts, teens and ex-convicts fresh from prison and, back in the day, hospices for gay men suffering from AIDS. Build it, yes, these citizens say, just not in my backyard. This reaction is so widespread and so reliable among human beings, it even has an acronym: NIMBY.

At one extreme, NIMBY creates stratified societies like the caste system in India and deeply segregated cities in much of the U.S. Yes, the blacks and the Mexicans and the poor have to live somewhere, but… I greatly suspect this reflex is very old. At its root is ‘stranger’ fear and, superstitious or not, the fear of contagion. Easier to empathize with folks who resist not just personal economic loss (If you build that recycling center here, my property value will decline), but serious threats to health and quality of life from new neighbors like large hog confinements and chicken processing plants.

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Nebraskans for Peace calls on the White House to remove Steve Bannon, Sébastian Gorka, and any other White House staff members associated with Alt-right and neo-Nazi groups. Mr. Trump's failure to call out these groups for their promotion of hatred and violence against Jews and people of color, in Charlottesville and elsewhere, is reprehensible. These groups’ public media have taken great comfort in Trump's positions. As an organization opposed to the use of violence to solve problems, we condemn these groups’ methods and also the present administration's encouragement of violent solutions, both internally and in international situations. We cannot fight Nazism in wars on the one hand and welcome it to the White House on the other. We call on the Nebraska Congressional delegation to sponsor a resolution calling for this removal.

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