Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Mid-August 2015 News

The movie “Straight Outta Compton” sold about $60.2 million in its first week in the Box office. The movie was a complete whitewash of what NWA was all about and the impact it had for America including the black community. NWA is a counterrevolutionary group that was backed by the corporate elites as a means for the group (to be used by its corporate backers) as a backlash against more progressive, conscious hip hop (or conscious music in general). The words that I’m about to show may be unpopular to some, but it is the truth nevertheless. The truth must be shown. During the mid to late 1980’s, Compton was filled with police brutality, economic exploitation, the War on Drugs, mass incarceration, and racism. These evils are repugnant. Yet, there is no justification for the members of NWA to spew lyrics that glamorize rape, domestic violence, and nihilistic murder. NWA definitely expressed misogynoir in their lyrics. That is wrong. There is an epidemic of black women suffering assault, rape, and other forms of injustice. Dee Barnes was victim of violence from Dr. Dre. Dee Barnes has been blackballed by the industry and she has courageously wrote about her experiences recently in her article entitled, “Here's What's Missing From Straight Outta Compton: Me and the Other Women Dr. Dre Beat Up.” Also, Dee Barnes is an excellent writer and she is gifted in interviewing human beings. Musician Michel'le also said that Dr. Dre brutally assaulted. Dr. Dre has never made any personal apology to the women that he has assaulted. He just said that he made a mistake. A woman being bruised and brutally assaulted is more than a mistake. It’s a horrendous crime. The offensive, sexist, and colorist casting call for the movie is purely abhorrent. That casting call promotes false stereotypes about beauty. The film omits the violence inflicted on women by NWA members. Even decades later, NWA members has never apologized for their lyrics that glamorizing the commodification of women, rape, and assault against black women. Also, this music has been funded by many big corporations and these artists have made millions of dollars at the expense of the suffering of black people.  The American neoliberal system has harmed black and poor people not only in Compton, but nationwide. Sister Sikivu Hutchinson has written great information on this issue too. These facts (or the perverted lyrics and the serious problem of misogyny in the hip hop industry) should mean that we should oppose misogyny in public and in private. Also, we should continue to fight back against police brutality and injustices in our communities. Police brutality and discrimination are wrong, evil actions. Violence against women is evil too. A movie that exploits black women in a vicious way doesn’t need our support. Also, the director F. Gray has tried to minimize the assault against women (as found in the overall patriarchal society). The truth is that there are plenty of Brothers and Sisters who stood up against police brutality, against racism, and against injustice in general then and now. These people never used lyrics to promote misogynoir, rape, or assault against women at all. Many artists claim to be revolutionaries, but love the confines and the privileges of capitalist society. Some reject any call for a radical redistribution of the wealth, but follow materialistic mindsets. This must change. It is not just NWA involved in this evil. Many artists and many corporations promote this misogynistic garbage in the world too. They should be held accountable as well. So, I believe in liberation and I won’t support the agenda of NWA at all. That’s being real.

There are many points to be mentioned here. One is that Black Lives Matter protesters have protested in the streets of Ferguson, New York, in front of the police, and other locations nationwide. They have protested in front of the face of Jeb Bush. So, the BLM movement has been active in a diversity of settings. Also, the Black Lives Matter movement has made many demands in the local and federal levels. I have looked at their websites saying that they want a federal law to ban racial profiling, a federal policy to end the militarization of the local police, a federal policy of ending mandatory minimum sentencing, and other local policies of other things as well (like the elimination of the school to prison pipeline system). There is nothing wrong with discussions. We need discussions. The members of the Black Lives Matter movement have every right to ask her questions about the prison industrial complex, etc. For long decades, Hillary Clinton has been working with the political establishment in advancing neoliberal policies (from voting for the Iraq War, praising Henry Kissinger, agreeing with cutting back on SNAP during the 1996 welfare reform act, her other hawkish foreign policy positions, etc.). She was the Secretary of State and it was her policies that contributed to the US/NATO war crimes in Libya. U.S. policies have aided terrorists killing Black Libyan men, women, and children. There has been pressure sent to Democratic candidates by protesters and that is why they have no choice, but to issue various platforms about racial justice matters. There must an end to the War on Drugs, an end to the 1994 Crime Bill, an end to NSA warrantless wiretapping, and an end to oppression. Hillary Clinton's overt condescension towards the BLM members was not surprising. So, the Black Lives Matter has explicitly mentioned plans all over the place. I wonder if Hillary will explicitly condemn the system of white supremacy by name. We don’t want co-option, patronize, or lectures about bringing up an agenda when our people have brought up demands all over. Political independence is the way to go and justice is our aim. I congratulate the Brother and the Sister for asking questions.
#Black Lives Matter.

This is an excellent interview. Both Brother Dr. Gerald Home and Sister Makani Themba have dropped jewels like usual. The Watts rebellion never occurred in a vacuum. Various salve revolts occurred, because people heroically opposed the injustices of slavery, racism, and oppression. The Watts uprising came about, because of the conditions of police brutality, economic oppression, and racial oppression. The events came soon after the Voting Rights Act was signed. Also, Los Angeles had the Proposition 14 law until 1966 (when the Supreme Court repealed that unjust law). Proposition 14, which Ronald Reagan once supported, violated the housing rights of black people and others. The uprising in Watts represented a new phrase of the black freedom struggle. As Dr. Home have said, the counterrevolutionary movement (which involved the rise of Reagan as governor of CA in 1966, a more reactionary Congress via the 1966 Congressional elections, the deindustrialization of our cities, the growth of income inequality, the scapegoating of the poor, the War on Drugs, the growth of neoliberal policies, etc.) grew into the next level after Watts. It is also important to show recognition and appreciation to the heroic civil rights heroes in Los Angeles like Sister Yvonne Brathwaite Burke. Many folks have learned since Watts that the inter-sectional problems of racism, income inequality, housing problems, and educational issues must be addressed (in urban centers and rural areas) if we are to be totally free. Dr. King became more overtly radicalized as a product of Watts. Since the events in Watts during 1965, we see the events of Ferguson representing the continued fight against police occupation and overt injustice. We should always maintain our political independence. That means we are against imperialism and advance an independent mindset. As Sister Makani Themba has said, technology (in this new generation) has caused us to tell more of our stories in an unique fashion. This fight is about narrative too. Many corporate media entities refuse to show a fair coverage of the protesters in Ferguson, etc. This struggle is also against poverty, economic deprivation, pollution, misogyny, and any injustice. So, we just have to show the truth and stand in solidarity with those who want justice. We desire equality and social justice.

The struggle for justice continues. The 1977 Atlanta strike hasn’t been discussed much in America. Now, it is time to show the story. First, the 1970 strike in Atlanta must be explained first. In 1970, sanitation workers in Atlanta fought for union recognition, higher wages, and change in the unequal social relations between city management and rank and file employees. Their demands were very similar to the striking sanitation workers in Memphis two years ago. The mayor of Atlanta was Sam Massell (who fired workers and used prisoners from city jails for garbage removal). AFSCME Local 1644 represented the striking workers. Maynard Jackson back then was vice mayor and he was a lawyer with the National Labor Relations Board. He publicly criticized Massel’s reactionary actions involving the strike and said that the wages of the workers in Atlanta was a “disgrace before God.” The striking workers won the 1970 strike movement in Atlanta. Now, Maynard Jackson was elected mayor in 1973. He was the first black mayor of Atlanta. Yet, by March of 1978, Maynard’s action would be a “disgrace before God.” The 1978 strike came about when municipal sanitation workers (mostly black workers who were paid very low wages) just wanted living wages and better conditions as workers. Maynard Jackson refused to support the strike. In fact, he hired scab to replace the strikers. The 1977 strikes happened in 2 separate waves. The first one happened in the four weeks in January and February. Sanitation workers wildcatted when they were told to report to work in cold weather condition.  The city and union had agreed employees did not have to work if the temperature was below 25 degrees, which it was on the 18th and 19th of January. City bosses ignored this agreement and docked employee pay. Already upset their demands for higher wages were falling on deaf ears, many sanitation workers walked off the job for a week in February when city officials refused to reinstate pay.  Even the majority of AFSCME stayed in the job from the Local 1644.

Token concessions came. The second strike came in March 28 (the AFSCME Local 1644 wanted the city to have an 50 cent per hour wage increases to a salary averaging $7,000 annually). Jackson refused to support the strikers as he was up for reelection and he worked with the white business elites and the middle class in order for him to be re-elected. Ads in the New York Times and the Atlanta Constitutions criticized Jackson since the city budgets showed multi-million dollar surpluses that could cover the wage increases for the sanitation workers.  The strikers wanted self-determination and economic justice. Yet, Maynard collaborated with mainstream establishment black leaders and white corporate heads to prevent the 1977 Atlanta strike from being successful. The second strike continued. Unfortunately, there was massive community support against the strikers. The old white business and civic elite and the black ruling elite (many of whom were from the civil rights establishment) worked together in stopping the second strike. To his credit, Rev. James Lawson (a community leader in the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike), compared Jackson to Henry Loeb and supported the Atlanta strikers. The Coalition of Black Trade Unionist (CBTU) also supported the sanitation workers, chastising Jackson for using “Black workers as political pawns in his efforts to please a middle class black political constituency and satisfy the black establishment.” On April 12th, garbage workers dumped on the steps of the city hall garbage. Many protesters were arrested. Community support existed, but in small numbers. In mid-April, the moral among the strikers were faltering. The city’s major newspapers the Atlanta Constitution and the black-owned Atlanta Daily World both publicly supported Jackson’s firing of workers. There were many people in Atlanta who supported the courageous strikers also. The strike folded on April 16th, 1977. The upper class (who wanted the status quo) ended the strike, but the fight for economic justice continues. There was the organizing of the rail and bus operators for Atlanta’s public transit system (MARTA) in 2005. They sought better pay and benefits, and more control of workplace conditions. Their demands were blocked at every turn by MARTA’s board, MARTA workers were forced to accept an unfavorable contracted handed down by a judge (many health benefits and workplace control were sacrifice for a very modest raise). The labor movement took a blow, but in the future, the labor movement would be revitalized by the 21st century.  So, we want black people and all people to be free and have justice. This is why it is importance to have solidarity with the working class and challenge the agenda of the establishment (so, real justice can exist). We will always respect Brothers and Sisters standing up for the truth.

By Timothy

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