May 2009 Archives

PWB (Policing while Black)


Police outside Harlem Hospital emergency room this morning (29 May) waiting for news. Photo by Patrick Andrade for NYT.

In January of 2008, Christopher Ridley, a twenty-three year old Black NY police officer was shot multiple times in Mt. Vernon, NY by his fellow officers who were responding to Ridley's call for back-up. Ridley was off-duty when he attempted to break up a fight in downtown White Plains involving men waiting for a ride back to the local shelter provided for people living without homes. The four police responsible for the shooting of Ridley were never indicted.

Call for Submissions

Sketch by Maggie, 2007

TITLE: White before We Got Here: Youth & the Hidden Curriculum of Whiteness
EDITORS: Bill Ayers, Dept. of Education, University of Illinois @Chicago & Mambí Maestra Arrastía, Dept. of American Studies, University of Minnesota

We’re looking for essays, poetry, lyrics, and photographs of original visual/performance/installation art by young women and men no older than 25 at the time of the work was created.

Submissions to our edited book may be creative non-fiction, personal essays; poetry; and all types of artwork. The only rule is that the work has to be yours. Your work has to be previously unpublished and not under consideration by another publication or media source.

Work submitted should demonstrate an attempt to examine how you see and experience whiteness in your life, and/or culture, community, city, town, nation.

For more information and possible ideas to consider, go to WHITE.

Minneapolis, MN • Photo by Mambí Maestra Arrastía, 2009

"Myrrh," a contributor to the Cosmic Hobo blog which discusses afro-pessimism, provides an explication of a statement Myrrh made in a post on 18 May 2009: "there is no space for the afropessimist in the academy." Myrrh writes: "In Frank Wilderson's wording, one of the arguments that afropessimists would make is that the essential capacity of the Human-- such as the capacity to 'transform endless time into meaningful event and endless space into nameable place'-- is destroyed for the black.

"It's the Political Economy, Stupid!"

BY Slavoj Žižek
The University of Chicago Press, 2009

redblackcafe 10-08.jpg
Red & Black Café, Portland, OR (October 2008) • Flickr photo from by Lee Gumienny

Two events mark the beginning and end of the first decade of the twenty-first century: the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and the financial meltdown in 2008. The language President Bush used, in both instances, to address the American people sounds like two versions of the same speech. Evoking the threat to the very American way of life, and the
necessity for fast and decisive action to cope with the danger, he called for the partial
suspension of core U.S. values—guarantees to individual freedom and market
capitalism—to save these very values. Where does this similarity come from?

Maya Angelou Public Charter School • See Forever Foundation

There is a very good article by James Forman, Jr. in Boston Review,">"No Ordinary Success: The Boundaries of School Reform" (May/June 2009). Forman is the founder of Maya Angelou Public Charter School, a school for those kids that schools usually don't want as students, often the ones that, unfortuantely, the criminal justice system in the U.S. collects as symbols of "fighting crime." Forman is a product of SNCC parents of the '60s. His father, James Sr., died in 2005 was SNCC's executive secretary and his mother was an activist and nurse.

"Middle Class Values": A Euphemism for Whiteness in Schools


BY Mambí Maestra Arrastía

Frederick Douglass Boulevard & 154th Street. From Wired New York.

On 7 May, David Brooks, the self-identified conservative New York Times op-ed columnist lauded The Promise Academy Charter Schools, a program of the Harlem Children's Zone in New York City, for achieving what he considers to be a "miracle": closing the achievement gap between African American students and white students by radically modifying the culture of black youth. In his article, "The Harlem Miracle," Brooks outlines and praises the philosophical structure for success that such schools use. He is particularly appreciative of the schools' ability to inculcate working poor kids of color with "middle-class" values. The very fact that Brooks hyphenates the phrase demonstrates that middle class is not solely an economic status, but a social position imbued with cultural and economic properties that can be associated with whiteness. Here is what Brooks has to say about the philosophical structure of the schools that in his mind has created "the Harlem miracle":

Over the past decade, dozens of charter and independent schools, like Promise Academy, have become no excuses schools. The basic theory is that middle-class kids enter adolescence with certain working models in their heads: what I can achieve; how to control impulses; how to work hard. Many kids from poorer, disorganized homes don't have these internalized models. The schools create a disciplined, orderly and demanding counterculture to inculcate middle-class values.

The no excuses schools pay meticulous attention to behavior and attitudes. They teach students how to look at the person who is talking, how to shake hands.

Assessments are rigorous. Standardized tests are woven into the fabric of school life.

The approach works. Ever since welfare reform, we have had success with intrusive government programs that combine paternalistic leadership, sufficient funding and a ferocious commitment to traditional, middle-class values. We may have found a remedy for the achievement gap. Which city is going to take up the challenge? Omaha? Chicago? Yours?

"Guess Who's Coming Over?"


It appears that 'race' remains one of realityTV's greatest commodities.


The following is taken from The Learning Channel's (TLC) "series description" of its new show, Guess Who's Coming Over, which attempts to explore "racism in modern America." The show aired Sunday 3 May:

Self-described 'redneck,' David hosts Chuck, an African-American from New York. Will this experience leave a lasting impression on David and eradicate his preconceived notions about African-Americans? Or is he too set in his ways to change?

And the Nominees Might Be . . .




The second woman and second Puerto Rican to be appointed to the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. (Hispanic PR Newswire 17 September 2007)

Born 1954 in Bronx, NY

Federal Judicial Service:
Judge, U. S. District Court, Southern District of New York
Nominated by George H.W. Bush on November 27, 1991, to a seat vacated by John M. Walker, Jr.; Confirmed by the Senate on August 11, 1992, and received commission on August 12, 1992. Service terminated on October 13, 1998, due to appointment to another judicial position.

Judge, U. S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Nominated by William J. Clinton on June 25, 1997, to a seat vacated by J. Daniel Mahoney; Confirmed by the Senate on October 2, 1998, and received commission on October 7, 1998.

Education: Princeton University, B.A., 1976; Yale Law School, J.D., 1979

Professional Career: Assistant district attorney, New York County District Attorney's Office, 1979-1984; private practice, New York City, 1984-1992.
(Federal Judicial Center)

Widely considered a political centrist by the American Bar Association Journal and others, Sotomayor was nominated on November 27, 1991, by President George H. W. Bush to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York vacated by John M. Walker, Jr. (the president's cousin).

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