Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section
Video

Pride in a Time of Mourning

26 Jun


Friends, especially those in the LGBT community

As we celebrate this Pride weekend, please take some time to watch President Obama’s eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney of Charleston, South Carolina. Let us not just quote Dr. King’s words that the “arc of the moral universe is long , but it bends toward justice”; let us also acknowledge that our histories are intertwined, and our African-American LGBT brothers and sisters are both celebrating and mourning right now – as we all should be, regardless of race or sexual orientation. Today President Obama celebrated the Supreme Court decision granting equal marriage and then left for South Carolina to deliver this eulogy, his best speech ever I think, to a crowd of mourners.

Celebration and mourning can coexist and, in fact, must.

Amazing Grace, indeed.

White People, Listen! or How Not to Talk About Race Post-Charleston

20 Jun
What, me, whitemansplain?

What, me, whitemansplain?

White People, Listen!

This morning I am reminded of the classic piece of black feminist theory, Hazel Carby’s essay White Woman Listen!, where she wrote;

Much contemporary debate has posed the question of the relation between race and gender, in terms that attempt to parallel race and gender divisions. It can be argued that as processes, racism and sexism are similar. Ideologically for example, they both con- struct common sense through reference to “natural” and “biological” differences. It has also been argued that the categories of race and gender are both socially constructed and that, therefore, they have little internal coherence as concepts. Furthermore, it is possible to parallel racialized and gendered divisions in the sense that the possibilities of amelioration through legislation appear to be equally ineffectual in both cases. Michele Barrett, however, has pointed out that it is not possible to argue for parallels because as soon as historical analysis is made, it becomes obvious that the institutions which have to be analyzed are different, as are the forms of analysis needed. We would agree that the construction of such parallels is fruitless and often proves little more than a mere academic exercise; but there are other reasons for our dismissal of these kinds of debate. The experience of black women does not enter the parameters of parallelism. The fact that black women are subject to the simultaneous oppression of patriarchy, class, and “race” is the prime reason for not employing parallels that render their position and experience not only marginal but also invisible.

I’ve been thinking about the intersections of race, gender and privilege since last night, when I read the exchange in the photo above.  Wintana Melekin is a friend, an organizer with Neighborhoods Organizing for Change in Minneapolis, and someone I consider one of the key young voices of Minnesota today who will be a state leader of tomorrow.  Expressing emotional exhaustion after the Charleston Massacre, Wintana suggested in this Facebook post that white people engage with each other on the issue of racism.  It seems an uncontroversial request.

Enter David Koch, owner of the Minneapolis restaurant Seven, who took the opportunity not to talk to fellow white people about racism but rather to lecture Wintana about her ignorance.  Mansplaining doesn’t quite do Koch’s words justice. Whitemansplaining doesn’t even quite do it. This is a colossally, epically perfect example of how not to talk about race to a person of color if you are white, especially after a tragedy like South Carolina. I am stunned and all i can think to say is, White People Listen!:

  • If you feel compelled to tell a black person that you know more about race and racism than they do, Just don’t.  Stop yourself. Don’t.
  • If the country is in the middle of a crisis, with African-Americans being verifiably, explicitly, repeatedly, under attack, and you think you are the one who is being singled out, generalized about and you feel you just have to share that feeling with the world, Just don’t. Stop yourself. Don’t.
  • If your reaction to a white nationalist who wore the flag of Rhodesia on his jacket and killed nine black people in church is a burning desire to lecture a young black woman about the real problem — black on black crime, Just Don’t. Stop yourself. Don’t.
  • If you’re a man feeling compelled to open a conversation with a young black woman with the words, “young lady”, Just Don’t. Stop yourself. Don’t.
  • If you cannot read a cry of pain and react with empathy and real engagement Just Don’t.  Stop yourself. Don’t.

President Obama, Debate Senator Warren on the Trans Pacific Partnership

11 May

In the debate over the Trans Pacific Partnership, we are witnessing something uncommon: progressives are putting a Democratic president on the defensive.

This is only a good thing.

The Republican base does this to their elected officials constantly.  Their base is so feared that respectable politicians even kowtow to bonkers right-wing conspiracy theories.  Democratic politicians rarely show any deference to the base and certainly don’t show much fear of that base.

"The President said what?!"

“The President said what?!”

That’s what we are witnessing with President Obama’s public tussle with Senator Elizabeth Warren.  He is fearing a coherent and informed critique from the left.

This is only a good thing.

Issues of trade and finance are seemingly impossible for progressives to get any traction on, no matter who is elected president.  Whichever party is in power, you can bet money that someone from Goldman Sachs will be heading up Treasury.  And when it comes to “free trade” agreements that end up hurting American and foreign workers while making global corporations richer and richer — well, it was Bill Clinton who got us NAFTA and it’s President Obama who is pushing the Trans Pacific Partnership.

The President’s call to fast track the TPP is supported wholeheartedly by right-wing Republicans, while his own party has slowly woken up to forcefully opposing the deal. Enter Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who heave been the most visible opponents of the TPP.

President Obama has seemed particularly rankled by the Senator from Massachusetts. After giving a pro-TPP speech at Nike the President said in an interview with Yahoo news that Senator Warren is “absolutely wrong” when she says the pact would be another bonanza for Wall Street.

(And, by the way, exactly how tone deaf are the president’s advisers on this issue — Nike, seriously? The corporation synonymous with global sweatshops–that’s where you go to hail the newest free trade pact?  If a Democrat ever disagrees that our side tends to dump on its base while the other coddles theirs — remind them of this: The President gave a speech. At Nike.)

Senator Warren shot back this morning in The Washington Post:

THE PLUM LINE: What’s your response to the latest from President Obama?

SENATOR WARREN: The president said in his Nike speech that he’s confident that when people read the agreement for themselves, that they’ll see it’s a great deal. But the president won’t actually let people read the agreement for themselves. It’s classified.

PLUM LINE: But don’t you get 60 days to review it after the deal is finalized, with the authority to revoke fast track?

WARREN: The president has committed only to letting the public see this deal after Congress votes to authorize fast track. At that point it will be impossible for us to amend the agreement or to block any part of it without tanking the whole TPP. The TPP is basically done. If the president is so confident it’s a good deal, he should declassify the text and let people see it before asking Congress to tie its hands on fixing it.

If only there were some way to get Senator Warren’s ideas and President Obama’s exposed to the whole country so we all can decide who to believe.

Well, this past Saturday, consumer advocate and erstwhile presidential candidate Ralph Nader presented a modest proposal for via The New York Times:

[T]he president ought to debate Ms. Warren in person, much as Al Gore, then vice president, did with Ross Perot over Nafta in 1993. “A president can get away with his soliloquies when he stays on his throne,” Mr. Nader said by telephone. But if he is going to go after critics, he said, “then I think he is obligated to engage in a public debate that will inform the American people.”

That sounds like a fine idea.  Mr. President, I voted for you twice and support this administration on many fronts, but on this we disagree.  Do your base a favor and – instead of taking pot shots at us and the handful of leaders willing to represent our views — go toe to toe with Senator Warren, on national television.  Hell, I’d even settle for the Clinton route and send Uncle Joe out to debate the Senator.  It’s all good.  Nothing to fear about an honest debate, no?

Let’s woman up and take Senator Warren’s ideas seriously.  Debate her.

This would only be a good thing.

Wrong About Everything #53 – Fishing Opener

11 May

Yes, I am very inconsistent about promoting the podcast on this blog. Sue me.  The new episode, is however up. 

  In Minnesota news, we cover the Governor’s Fishing Opener, where Governor Dayton, Senator Bakk and Speaker Daudt competed for walleye, or something.  In unrelated new, “Grumpy Old Men & Their Well-Groomed Nephew” will be in theaters soon. We ask, should State Representative Ron Erhardt get how own podcast?  We thank Senator Paul Gazelka for joining the national outpouring of support for gy-hating bakers, talk MNSure & the Senate’s weird No Eye Contact rule. In national news, we ask why President Obama is trying to keep Texas in the union and how Hillary cornered Republicans on immigration. Oh, also awe have an update on Tom Brady’s Balls. Brian’s McDaniel and i were joined by panda-hating liberal Carin Mrotz and GOP lobbyist Jeremy Esetenson sat in for Mike Franklin, who is on assignment.

When did gay-hating bakers become a thing?

7 May

Minnesota State Senator Paul Gazelka joins the national outpouring of concern for the fate of poor, gay-hating bakers. 

 

How much is that cake in the window?

 When did gay-hating bakers become the Rosa Parks of curmudgeons clinging to the past? Was there a memo that went out? Did a convention of bakers pass a resolution or something? Do gay-hating bakers have conventions?  Clearly they have a PR firm, because Holy Jeebus are they getting their story out there. Whoever your agent is, gay-hating bakers, hats off to her. She is working her ass off.

Baking cakes never seemed to me the butchest of professions, but ok.

Oh, and for the record – I don’t want any of your hatecake. 

Nice Puff Piece

17 Apr

That’s what the first commenter wrote on the profile of me written by Beth Hawkins at Minnpost.  I know, never read the comments. At any rate, the piece, “How Javier Morillo, a former academic, became to the most talked-about political operative in the Twin Cities,” is out there.  It’s weird to read so much about me.  The reaction has been positive, though I can’t help but focus on a few details that are not quite right.  I also can’t help but focus on the fact that, holy god, they used not just the worst picture I’ve ever seen of myself but almost the worst picture I’ve ever seen of anybody.  Oh well.  Go read it if you want.

Navell Gordon is a Man. Media, #Pointergate & Dehumanization

9 Nov

In case you missed it, Navell Gordon and Anthony Newby of Minnesota Neighborhoods Organization for Change (NOC) were on Melissa Harris Perry’s show on MSNBC Sunday morning.  Gordon is the young man in the now famous photo with Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, the one at the heart of the now national #pointergate story. Watch:

Navell Gordon has face. He has a name. A Voice. A Story.

Thank you, Melissa Harris Perry for introducing the country to the young man whose name, voice and story was blurred and distorted by an irresponsible journalist and the television station backing him.

One of the most frustrating aspects of KSTP’s #pointergate debacle is that the station’s “explanation” for why they ran with the insane accusation that Gordon and Mayor Hodges were flashing gang signs is as bad, as hurtful, as wrong, as the original story itself. In their Friday afternoon statement about #pointergate and their subsequent news followup  to the story, KSTP makes the point that their story was about the “Mayor’s judgment” and not Gordon, telling us that this is why they “blurred the individual’s face and did not name the group he was working for.“ As I wrote in a previous post,

That is not only not a good explanation, that is precisely the problem, KSTP. You ignored the context in order to sell a sensationalist story spoon-fed to you by the Police Federation.  If you had named the organization, explained what they were doing, and given the full context, viewers would have immediately seen how insane was the proposition that the Mayor and Gordon were flashing gang signs.

If you had explained the context, you wold have had to explain that NOC is an organization dedicated to improving the lives of young people of color, including and especially those who have made past mistakes.  If you had named Navell Gordon, you would have had to admit that sensationalizing his story by calling him a “convicted felon” isn’t news — his past, and a desire to rebuild it, is precisely why he’s doing the organizing work he’s doing.[…]

Your newsroom didn’t blur Gordon’s face and fail to name NOC out of some concern for him or the community — you did that because, had you done basic journalism, your story would have fallen apart.

Someone on Twitter later pointed out something I’d missed when I first saw the story. The KSTP newsroom didn’t just blur out Gordon’s face, they blurred out his t-shirt so you can’t read what it says: “VOTE”.Navell Vote

KSTP was so intent on making it look like the Mayor was consorting with a bad, bad man that they erased his name, his identity, and any evidence that he was actually doing something very positive for himself and his community at the very moment that photo was taken.

KSTP still has lots to answer for. They say in that first segment that the person in question, Gordon, has no known gang ties. (If he’ not in a gang, aren’t those just fingers, KSTP?) That evening, however, in an epic twitter meltdown, reporter Jay Kolls called Gordon a “gangbanger.”  While his twitter feed has gone silent, Kolls’ daughter has also called Gordon a gang member in her public twitter feed.  I know that in Kolls’ initial inquiries into the story he unequivocally described the man in the photo as a “known” gang member.  So why, then, did the story air saying that he is not known to have any gang affiliations?  Did the information Kolls was fed by his sources turn out to be so far off base that it could not be corroborated?  If so, why did they run with the story anyway?

Some have speculated that KSTP’s double-down may have to do with bracing for a lawsuit.  If they and their reporter knowingly put out false information about an individual, one can see how admitting a mistake now could be tantamount to admitting slander.

The 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike MLK stood with the day before he was assassinated.

The 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike MLK stood with the day before he was assassinated.

KSTP now tries to hide behind their blurring of Gordon’s identify as if to suggest they were doing him some kind of favor when, in fact, it was ignoring him as a human being that allowed them to inflame racist fears of a dangerous black man who (even though their own research suggested otherwise) must be in a gang. By making him no one, he became the Black Everyman who is used to stoke fear.  As a blurred face, Gordon is Willie Horton and every other image ever used to scare white folks about crime.

KSTP simply could not tell the story they wanted to tell, of a white Mayor consorting with danger, if they had actually named Navell Gordon and treated him like a human being  and not an abstract concept.  Because Navell Gordon is not an abstract concept.  He is a man. A man who has made mistakes and admitted to that. A man who was, at that very moment they sensationalized, working to make his community better. Navell Gordon is a man who deserved to be treated like one.

And that is why KSTP must retract their story and apologize.

***

In my previous post, I listed a few actions people can take to express their outrage at KSTP.  Since I wrote that, NOC has started a public petition at pointergate.org.  If you’ve not yet signed it, go there now.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 337 other followers