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Keeping the focus on Ferguson
Commentary by Black Kos Editor Denise Oliver-Velez

Just because Ferguson isn't dominating the headlines at the moment, doesn't mean nothing is going on. In fact, plenty is happening...most importantly the activities of #HealSTL.

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Buy tee-shirts to support the movement

The shirt is free if you volunteer one hour or you can pay $9 for it and we will use that to pay a Ferguson youth for one hour of work organizing his/her community.
#HealSTL - The struggle continues in Ferguson
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HealSTL still has a wishlist at Amazon for supplies.

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Heal STL: Ferguson Nonprofit Braces for More Violence If Darren Wilson Isn't Indicted

The nightly violent standoffs between police and protesters in Ferguson may have stopped, but the anger that fueled two weeks of unrest here -- anger at police, at elected officials, at oppression -- remains.

And if Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson isn't charged with a crime for shooting and killing unarmed teen Michael Brown, anger could again swell into chaos.

"If there isn't an indictment, we're going to see the same thing again," says Antonio French, a St. Louis alderman who has emerged as one of the leaders behind the movement for change and peace in Ferguson. "That's predictable. It's going to get bad."

But this time, community leaders won't be caught off-guard and "flat-footed," as French says, by the anger. By the time the grand jury decides on Wilson's fate five or more weeks from now, things will be different.

That's where Heal STL comes in.

I've thought about this too, and since few of us reading here are in St. Louis, seems to me that the best thing we can do is offer support to #HealSTL....and wait.

The TM will beguile us to shift swiftly to another story, another outrage...but we have a responsibility to see this through and give whatever support we can to the folks who live there, grieving, angry and determined to change the status quo.

In case you missed coverage of the August 30th march - here's a video recap.


                  News by dopper0189, Black Kos Managing Editor


Do many people have Ferguson backwards? Washington Post: Ferguson isn’t about black rage against cops. It’s white rage against progress.
When we look back on what happened in Ferguson, Mo., during the summer of 2014, it will be easy to think of it as yet one more episode of black rage ignited by yet another police killing of an unarmed African American male. But that has it precisely backward. What we’ve actually seen is the latest outbreak of white rage. Sure, it is cloaked in the niceties of law and order, but it is rage nonetheless.

Protests and looting naturally capture attention. But the real rage smolders in meetings where officials redraw precincts to dilute African American voting strength or seek to slash the government payrolls that have long served as sources of black employment. It goes virtually unnoticed, however, because white rage doesn’t have to take to the streets and face rubber bullets to be heard. Instead, white rage carries an aura of respectability and has access to the courts, police, legislatures and governors, who cast its efforts as noble, though they are actually driven by the most ignoble motivations.

White rage recurs in American history. It exploded after the Civil War, erupted again to undermine the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision and took on its latest incarnation with Barack Obama’s ascent to the White House. For every action of African American advancement, there’s a reaction, a backlash.

The North’s victory in the Civil War did not bring peace. Instead, emancipation brought white resentment that the good ol’ days of black subjugation were over. Legislatures throughout the South scrambled to reinscribe white supremacy and restore the aura of legitimacy that the anti-slavery campaign had tarnished.

                                                * * * *

Nearly 80 years later, Brown v. Board of Education seemed like another moment of triumph — with the ruling on the unconstitutionality of separate public schools for black and white students affirming African Americans’ rights as citizens. But black children, hungry for quality education, ran headlong into more white rage. Bricks and mobs at school doors were only the most obvious signs. In March 1956, 101 members of Congress issued the Southern Manifesto, declaring war on the Brown decision. Governors in Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia and elsewhere then launched “massive resistance.” They created a legal doctrine, interposition, that supposedly nullified any federal law or court decision with which a state disagreed. They passed legislation to withhold public funding from any school that abided by Brown. They shut down public school systems and used tax dollars to ensure that whites could continue their education at racially exclusive private academies. Black children were left to rot with no viable option.

A little more than half a century after Brown, the election of Obama gave hope to the country and the world that a new racial climate had emerged in America, or that it would. But such audacious hopes would be short-lived. A rash of voter-suppression legislation, a series of unfathomable Supreme Court decisions, the rise of stand-your-ground laws and continuing police brutality make clear that Obama’s election and reelection have unleashed yet another wave of fear and anger.

A riot police officer aims his weapon while demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri August 13, 2014. Police in Ferguson fired several rounds of tear gas to disperse protesters late on Wednesday, on the fou

It may take the next white president to talk to white Americans about race. Slate: Is Hillary Clinton Better at Talking About Racial Injustice Than Obama?
After almost three weeks of silence, Hillary Clinton has finally spoken on the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Toward the end of her paid remarks at a tech conference in San Francisco, Clinton shifted gears to address the shooting and its related issues. “I applaud President Obama for sending the attorney general to Ferguson, and demanding a thorough and speedy investigation,” she said. “That’s both thorough and necessary to find out what happened, to see that justice is done, and to help this community begin healing itself.” On criminal justice reform, she echoed President Obama’s comments from last week’s press conference. “We cannot ignore the inequities that persist in our justice system,” she said, “inequities that undermine our deepest values of fairness and equality.” Clinton also condemned the draconian police response to peaceful protesters. “Nobody wants to see our streets look like a war zone,” she said. “Not in America, we are better than that.”

From there, Clinton addressed racial prejudice and inequality. But unlike Obama—whose comments were limited to banalities and “both sides” posturing—she had something smart to say.

“Imagine what we would feel and what we would do if white drivers were three times as likely to be searched by police during a traffic stop as black drivers, instead of the other way around,” she said, “if white offenders received prison sentences 10 percent longer than black offenders for the same crimes, if a third of all white men—just look at this room and take one third—went to prison during their lifetime. Imagine that. That is the reality in the lives of so many of our fellow Americans and so many of the communities in which they live.”

Clinton’s statement on Ferguson was a little blunt, but in a good way.
The few times President Obama has made serious comments on race, he’s been candid, personal, and conciliatory. He’s either tried to universalize his experience—as he did in his 2008 Philadelphia speech—or contextualize the particular experiences of black Americans, as he did in his 2013 remarks on the George Zimmerman verdict. Put simply, being black lets Obama empathize with black Americans in a way unique to his presidency. At the same time, it acts as a limit on what he can say. Or, as I noted on Tuesday, Obama can’t address racial issues without polarizing the public along racial lines. He tiptoed around Ferguson, but given the rancor caused by his comments on Henry Louis Gates’ arrest or Trayvon Martin’s killing, it was the smart path to take.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton having lunch at the White House


Stereotypes that never seem to die... Slate: When White Women Discover Their “Inner Black Woman”.
Everything about Girlfriend Intervention, Lifetime’s new makeover reality series that premiered last night, feels horribly familiar. For starters, the show is a Queer Eye for the Straight Guy knockoff, in which a quartet of black lifestyle and beauty coaches instruct their dowdy white fixer-uppers how to dress, rap, and do African dance. “Trapped inside every white girl is a strong black woman waiting to bust out!” heralds the series intro, with not a trace of irony to be found. Apparently this is what Lifetime thinks of as catering to a more diverse audience, after years of showcasing overwrought movies and series about white women.

But of course Girlfriend Intervention is hardly the first show to reduce black women to neck-rolling, attitude-having, innately stylish stereotypes. When Hollywood has bothered to provide roles for black actresses at all, it has often presented them as sidekicks who whip important white protagonists into shape. Sometimes this stereotype is deployed harmlessly; at other times it becomes downright offensive. With that in mind, here is a catalog of notable past instances of the sassy black friend-as-white person’s (usually unpaid, mind you) life coach, from the benign to the egregious, and beyond.


It’s hard to learn a new language. But it’s way harder to learn a new culture. The Atlantic: Acting French.
Acquiring a second language is hard. I have been told that it is easier for children, but I am not so sure if this is for reasons of biology or because adults have so much more to learn. Still, it remains true that the vast majority of students at Middlebury were younger than me, and not just younger, but fiercer. My classmates were, in the main, the kind of high-achieving college students who elect to spend their summer vacation taking on eight hours a day of schoolwork. There was no difference in work ethic between us. If I spent more time studying than my classmates, that fact should not be taken as an accolade but as a marker of my inefficiency.

They had something over me, and that something was a culture, which is to say a suite of practices so ingrained as to be ritualistic. The scholastic achievers knew how to quickly memorize a poem in a language they did not understand. They knew that recopying a handout a few days before an exam helped them digest the information. They knew to bring a pencil, not a pen, to that exam. They knew that you could (with the professor’s permission) record lectures and take pictures of the blackboard.

                              * * * *
For most of American history, it has been national policy to plunder the capital accumulated by black people—social or otherwise. It began with the prohibition against reading, proceeded to separate and wholly unequal schools, and continues to this very day in our tacit acceptance of segregation. When building capital, it helps to know the right people. One aim of American policy, historically, has been to insure that the “right people” are rarely black. Segregation then ensures that these rare exceptions are spread thin, and that the rest of us have no access to other “right people.”

And so a white family born into the lower middle class can expect to live around a critical mass of people who are more affluent or worldly and thus see other things, be exposed to other practices and other cultures. A black family with a middle class salary can expect to live around a critical mass of poor people, and mostly see the same things they (and the poor people around them) are working hard to escape. This too compounds.

Now, in America, invocations of culture are mostly an exercise in awarding power an air of legitimacy. You can see this in the recent remarks by the president, where he turned a question about preserving Native American culture into a lecture on how we (blacks and Native Americans) should be more like the Jews and Asian Americans, who refrain from criticizing the intellectuals in their midst of “acting white.” The entire charge rests on shaky social science and the obliteration of history. When Asian Americans and Jewish Americans—on American soil—endure the full brunt of white supremacist assault, perhaps a comparison might be in order.

But probably not. That is because fences are an essential element of human communities. The people who patrol these fences are generally unkind to those they find in violation. The phrase “getting above your raising” is little more than anxious working-class border patrolling. The term “white trash” is little more than anxious ruling-class border patrolling. I am neither an expert in the culture of Jewish Americans nor Asian Americans, but I would be shocked if they too were immune.

                     Ta-Nehisi Coates


Voices and Soul


by Justice Putnam
Black Kos Poetry Editor

I purchased and built my first crystal radio with an ear-set from funds gifted to me on my birthday in March of 1963. I was eight years old. It took a couple of weeks before the components arrived in the mail; and I set out to put the thing together. The radio was small and fit in the pocket of my coveralls, while a thin cord snaked its way to my left ear. We lived on the farm in Philomouth outside of Corvallis; and I had many chores to do before the bus picked me up for school. That radio kept me linked to the world while I milked the farm's only cow, slopped slop for the pigs, fed the geese and chickens, collected eggs and churned butter from the cream of that only cow.

The strongest frequency the radio picked up during those early morning duties was a station that broadcast local news, early morning weather and farm reports; and the conservative, baritone intonations of Paul Harvey ("... this is Paul Harvey... good day!"). I attended Saint Mary's Catholic School in Corvallis; and like many Catholics of the day (and even now, not so surprisingly), photographs of JFK were prominent at home and school.

There was something about Harvey that bugged me as an eight year old. His halting, yet dulcet vocal delivery were pleasant enough, but the content of his broadcasts grated. Later that year, after the 16th Street Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, that killed four young school girls; Harvey attempted to diminish the tragedy by explaining that no matter how brutal the murders were, they were to be expected.

Murdering four black school girls was an expectation in America? Even as an eight year old, I knew that wasn't and shouldn't be correct.

A year later, a Great Uncle helped install the antennae for the short wave radio he gave me. I could now listen to the BBC, music from Paris and New York; and I discovered Studs Terkel in Chicago.

Though both Terkel and Harvey broadcast from Chicago, they were worlds apart. Terkel's interviews with Bob Dylan and Mahalia Jackson still resonate in a deep seated radio tape loop in the middle of my cerebelum.

We never owned a television in Oregon, reception being poor or non-existent where we lived. When we moved to Southern California in the summer of 1965, when my father began a 35 year professorship at Cal State Fullerton, we purchased a television shortly after settling in. Later, we purchased one of the first generations of color televisions. I would match the news from the three broadcast networks with that of the BBC, that I listened to on the short wave radio, (it was a big argument about dismantling and moving the antennae from Oregon to California, but my dad prevailed on my mom that is was a good idea). I began to triangulate information before I even knew the word. It just seemed the prudent thing to do.

As a child, I couldn't get enough information. It remains the same today. With each new technological advancement, the ability to gather info increases; and I anticipate it strongly. With events unfolding in Scotland, the Ukraine, Kurdish Iraq and elsewhere, with social networks in the forefront of the digital revolution; it is proved that change need not be exacted by the barrel of a gun, but by the wide distribution of information.

 We don't need a hotel heiress or government lackey to set the tone for when and how we get our information.

All we need is the ability of the Word to travel the ether.

Total Information Awareness

“This bubble had to be burst, & the only way to do it was
to go right into the heart of the Arab world
& smash something.” The hotel heiress, snapped
flashing her bum in a Bahamas club.

To go right into the heart of the Arab world,
they claim their device can trigger an orgasm:
flashing her bum in a Bahamas club
on a boozy date with her new bloke, Nick Carter.

They claim their device can trigger an orgasm.
American officials who spoke on condition of anonymity
on a boozy date with her new bloke, Nick Carter,
say he confessed under torture in Syria.

American officials who spoke on condition of anonymity
without touching a women’s genital area
say he confessed under torture in Syria.
“There’s no explanation why. We’re just not saying anything.”

Without touching a women’s genital area,
I take it all seriously. I am withdrawing from all representation.
There’s no explanation why. We’re just not saying anything
to make this objective absolutely clear.

I take it all seriously. I am withdrawing from all representation,
but he was in the special removal unit.
To make this objective absolutely clear,
the development of counterterrorism technologies—

but he was in the special removal unit.
This had profoundly shocked the commission,
the development of counterterrorism technologies
with the flick of a switch. Women get turned on.

This had profoundly shocked the commission.
No one detected any radical political views.
With the flick of a switch, women get turned on
to a new business model that only pretends

no one detected any radical political views.
I take it all seriously. I am withdrawing from all representation
to a new business model that only pretends
to give consumers more control. In fact,

I take it all seriously. I am withdrawing from all representation
that she refused to be photographed in body paint
to give consumers more control. In fact,
he was handcuffed and beaten repeatedly.

That she refused to be photographed in body paint
constitutes an integral goal of the IOA.
He was handcuffed and beaten repeatedly.
There’s no explanation why. An information whiteout

constitutes an integral goal of IOA
while Justice turns to Syria’s secret police.
There’s no explanation why. An information whiteout.
Forebodings of disaster enter into box scores

while Justice turns to Syria’s secret police,
constructing systems to counter asymmetric threats.
Forebodings of disaster enter into box scores
to achieve total information awareness,

constructing systems to counter asymmetric threats.
This bubble had to be burst, and the only way to do it was
to achieve total information awareness
& smash something. The hotel heiress snapped.

-- John Beer


Welcome to the Black Kos Community Front Porch


Originally posted to Black Kos community on Tue Sep 02, 2014 at 12:59 PM PDT.

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