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Fri May 22, 2015 at 02:25 PM PDT

Black Kos, Week In Review

by Black Kos

Reposted from Black Kos community by Yasuragi

Marijuana - The Playing Field is not Level

Commentary by Black Kos Editor JoanMar

I don't smoke. I have never lit up a joint in my life. But I know a lot about the good ol'  Mary Jane. I can smell it a mile away. My mother smoked like every day; my father, I have been told, smoked; my older brother smokes, my younger sister smokes (or smoked - she claims she no longer does - I have heard that before), I have had boyfriends who smoked, and I had smelled it on my son's breath a couple times.
I was not going to be my mom, so that meant no smoking and no heavy drinking.

Given all of the above, you may wonder why I am so bothered by seeing that documentary by CNN, Cashing in on the 'green rush.'  The series celebrate (the best word to describe what I saw) the "trailblazers" who are making use of the opportunity provided to them in the wake of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado.

I am not merely bothered by what I saw, I found it to be downright obscene. To be fair, those people did not invent the problem. They are merely doing what any true entrepreneur would do. I ain't really mad at them as much as I'm mad at yet another piece of evidence of just how our two-tiered justice system works.

See for yourself:

The idea that these people could be so joyously celebrating their new found wealth, even as hundreds of thousands of people have suffered and continue to suffer for trying to do what they are doing, leaves a nasty taste in my mouth

In talking about their "pioneering" business, the young (white) couple featured in the series, spoke about a conversation they had with their grandmother. Apparently they mischaracterized the nature of their business and then were forced to come clean to grandma. The wife explains that conversation this way:

"She thought we were just your stereotypical drug dealers."  
Stereotypical drug dealers. Who are those, pray tell?
Maybe someone like Vincent Winslow? Let's take a look at his case:
On September 5, 2008, Fate Vincent Winslow watched a plainclothes stranger approach him. Homeless and hungry, on a dark street rife with crime, the 41-year-old African American was anxious to make contact, motivated by one singular need: food.
More:
Police arrested Winslow, drove him to prison, and locked him up. Six months later, a jury found him guilty of distribution of a schedule I substance (marijuana). Three months after that, a judge sentenced him to life imprisonment with hard labor, without the benefit of parole.

For a transaction that involved a whopping $25.00, Mr. Winslow got a life sentence, and with hard labor to boot.
He is just one example of thousands...if not millions. Whether selling or using, African Americans are more likely to be targeted, arrested, and convicted.
Whites and blacks  use marijuana at roughly the same rates; on average, however, blacks are 3.7 times more likely than whites to be arrested for possession, according to a comprehensive 2013 report by the A.C.L.U.
In Iowa, blacks are 8.3 times more likely to be arrested, and in the worst-offending counties in the country, they are up to 30 times more likely to be arrested. The war on drugs aims its firepower overwhelmingly at African-Americans on the street, while white users smoke safely behind closed
Another ACLU report details the long lasting, life-changing effect of being arrested for keeping company with mary jane:
When people are arrested for possessing even tiny amounts of marijuana, it can have dire collateral consequences that affect their eligibility for public housing and student financial aid, employment opportunities, child custody determinations, and immigration status.
It seems to me that there is something sad and downright immoral about how the ganja god has chosen to distribute his/her blessings. In the same state, in the same country, in the same world, some people experiencing great fortune while others are  behind bars for doing the exact same thing. If we can't have a level playing field, at least show a little awareness about what's happening around you.

One law for everyone; those in Buk-in-hamm palace, and those standing in the shadows furtively scratching at the edge of the sumptuous pie.


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Reposted from Chitown Kev by mahakali overdrive

And so it goes. Same as it ever was.

And I'm not simply talking about police officers getting away with killing (mostly) young black men but the incessant nitpicking of each and every case searching and not giving a damn about one dead black body piling up after another dead black body.

Of course, I know that each case is individual and argued on its' own merits but the pattern is clear.

American law enforcement seems to have no problem unleashing deadly force on black children and black people.

Samuel Jones at The Grio reminds us that as recently as 2006, The Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a warning that white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan were increasingly seeking to "infiltrate" law enforcement.

The document that Jones refers to is a 7-page unclassified document published by the FBI.

White Supremacist Infiltration of Law Enforcement

White supremacists in law enforcement is nothing new of course; in part, the origins of organized police departments in America actually goes back to the slave patrols of colonial times.

One positively chilling aspect of this 2006 FBI report is the description of what white supremacists call "ghost skins."

Since coming to law enforcement attention in late 2004, the term "ghost skins" has gained currency among white supremacists to describe those who avoid overt displays of their beliefs to blend into society and covertly advance white supremacist causes.
I don't know who the white supremacists are in the police departments, DA offices, and judge's chambers of this country.

And neither do you.

They have assimilated.

And many of you--us--will be assimilated, at least if I am reading the comment sections of this supposedly progressive blog correctly.

I certainly do not (or should not) need to detail the history of white American police brutality against African Americans and other people of color.

But I do have to ask:

Is this the 21st century America that we want?

Is this the America that we want?

How about this? (yeah, Jon Burge is as disgusting as ever.)

Former convicted Area 2 Police Commander Jon Burge says he finds it “hard to believe” that Chicago’s “political leadership” could “even contemplate giving reparations to human vermin” like the “guilty vicious criminals” he tried to take off the streets.
Fucking animal.

Is this what America wants? Back to The Grio article.

This year, alone, at least seven San Francisco law enforcement officers were suspended after an investigation revealed they exchanged numerous “White Power” communications laden with remarks about “lynching African-Americans and burning crosses.” Three reputed Klan members that served as correction officers were arrested for conspiring to murder a black inmate. At least four Fort Lauderdale police officers were fired after an investigation found that the officers fantasized about killing black suspects.
Apparently so, if this 2014 Gallup Poll is to be believed.

Or at least that what a majority of white Americans seems to want.

Remember, these are the cases that have simply come to light.

How am I supposed to make distinctions whenever I meet a police officer; assimilation is the goal of the "ghost skins," right (assimilation wasn't always necessary mind you but we are post-racial nowadays, right)?

I would think that a progressive community would be at least as concerned about fast tracking some solutions and legislation to halt the spread of white supremacist "peace officers" and police departments as it is about stopping TPP.

Or maybe not.

So...just remember that the next time you clutch your pearls about the next Shaun King diary or you lament about not able to get working, hard-working class white folks to vote Democratic because of a black President or a burnt out CVS...

Remember that you built this.

Remember that you have been (or will be) assimilated.

Because I won't forget it.

I can't afford to.

Discuss

Tue May 19, 2015 at 01:30 PM PDT

Black Kos, Tuesday's Chile

by Black Kos

Reposted from Black Kos community by Yasuragi


I still tear up every time I watch this video. But even then, we knew that it was not enough. Far from it.

Is "Black Leadership" Enough? Not For These Young Adults
by Chitown Kev

Like many other people, I cried when it was announced that my United States Senator, Barack Hussein Obama, was projected to become the 44th President of the United States of America.  

Still, I did not fully "get" the symbolic power of that moment, of that event until early in 2009.

At the time, I was working for an educator who is also a longtime acquaintance of the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Hussein Obama. I was in a school auditorium with mostly black and Latino high school students. One of the students had done a short film life about...teenage life, in general, I suppose. For a moment, the Shepherd Fairey "Hope" illustration of President Obama appeared on the screen.

The kids cheered and jumped up and down and whooped it up as if it were the old Chicago Stadium and Michael Jeffrey Jordan had just hit a buzzer-beater.

Mind you, I doubt that any of the kids were even eligible to vote. Nevertheless, I think fondly of that day in a school auditorium and that moment it remains one of the most moving and powerful moments.

It is now 2015, over six and a half years into the administration of the first black president.

And while I can't pin down an exact and definitive number of black elected officials in this country (I'm working on that), I do know that as I write this, there are over 10,000 black elected officials in the United States.

Recently, I had the pleasure of hearing "the kids" sound off again.

If, as Dr. King maintained, "a riot is the language if the unheard" (and I believe that it is), then I do believe that when those who "rioted" (or their social peers, in this case)  do speak, we should listen to them.

This "town hall" of the African-American young adults and teenagers of Baltimore comes in at about an hour and a half; I've already watched in its' entirety twice.

While I have a number of thoughts, opinions, and even criticisms of this program, I'm going to shelve them for the time being and let the participants speak for themselves.

Well...I will note this...Clearly, these audience participants did not take kindly to their elected mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, and the President of the United States calling them and their peers "thugs" before national television audiences.

In fact, "the kids" are not particularly happy with "black leadership."

But I'll allow them to speak in their own words.

Thank you for reading.

h/t Truthdig

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Reposted from Leslie Salzillo by 2thanks
Rev. Dr. William Barber II, former Netroots speaker and founder of Moral Mondays, along with Forward Together and the NC NAACP, released a new date for the NC NAACP v. McCrory trial. The lawsuit alleges voter suppression in North Carolina, and the trial is now slated for July 13, 2015, in Winston Salem. There is also a massive 'North Carolina Is Our Selma' march scheduled on that same day that will most likely become historic. So if you're in the neighborhood…

Here is an excerpt from the latest email from Rev. Barber, followed by a timeline of informative past events leading up to the pending trial.

From Rev. Barber and Forward Together/NC NAACP:
May 16, 2015
NC NAACP v. McCrory (New) Trial Date Set for July 13

The historic trial of our lawsuit against the McCrory-Tillis-Berger law designed to disenfranchise African American and other anti-racism voters has been postponed a week. The federal judge notified us that he wants the trial to begin on on July 13 in his court in Winston-Salem. "It gives us a week more to spread the word," Rev. Dr. Barber said. "Tell everyone. Monday, July 13, Winston-Salem! We march across our Edmund Pettus Bridge in Winston-Salem to expose and reverse the Tea Party's unconstitutional attack on the voting rights our parents and grandparents won with their lives and blood. North Carolina is our Selma!"

This Week We Called on Gov. McCrory to Explain the Substantial Drop in Voter Registrations at Public Assistance Agencies

The NC NAACP and Forward Together Moral Movement handed a request for e-mails between the Governor, Dr. Wos, who runs the Department of Health and Human Services, and the 100 county DSS Directors, trying to get evidence about why the voter registrations of people applying for public assistance had dropped 66% from the day Gov. McCrory took office in January 2013. We asked Gov. McCrory for an immediate public statement about this suspicious drop off in registration of welfare recipients, which is required by the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. Dr. Wos' staff has said we can get some e-mails, but we have to pay for them. Stay tuned.

On Thursday, May 7, the Daily Kos published a troubling report that showed a substantial drop in voter registrations submitted from public assistance agencies since the beginning of 2013. According to the State Board of Elections, in 2012, 41,162 registration applications were submitted from pubic assistance agencies . In 2013, this number dropped to 18,758 and in 2014, it dropped even further to 13,340.

You can watch the news conference by clicking HERE or on the image below. You can also read our letter to Governor McCrory by clicking HERE.

For those still learning about Moral Mondays and the North Carolina citizen protest, I have compiled a timeline of events, including links to various mainstream and social media articles:

Here are some of the events from 2013:

January 2013
Republican Governor Pat McCrory takes office along with Republicans who won the House and Senate seats in 2012. The election gave Republicans control of both the legislative and executive branch for the first time since 1870. The Republicans began passing bills that many believe negatively affect education, voting rights, women's rights, the environment, racial justice and many social programs.

April 2013
A weekly grassroots protest led by Rev. Dr. William Barber II begins in Raleigh, North Carolina, called, Moral Mondays. It's reported that 924 protestors were arrested for peaceful 'civil disobedience' in 2013.

June 2013
The Supreme Court decision for Shelby v. Holder includes gutting a major part of the of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, giving states and many counties/municipalities, with the propensity for voter suppression, to have the right to change their election laws - without federal approval.

August 2013 
Governor McCrory signs new voting laws allegedly meant to suppress and discourage the votes of blacks, minorities, the elderly, the poor, many whom are known to vote Democrat.  

August 2013
NC NAAP and ACLU file lawsuit against Governor McCrory (NC NAACP v. McCrory).

September 2013
Attorney General Eric Holder with the Department of Justice files a lawsuit against the state of North Carolina over the new voting laws.

Here are some of the events from 2014:
February 2014
Tens of thousands show up for Moral March (aka Moral Mondays/Forward Together - Not One Step Back) in Raleigh.

June 2014
After watching the NC Moral Mondays/Forward Together grow by the thousands, NC Senator Thom Goolsby writes op-ed calling the Moral Monday citizens, 'Moral Morons.'

September 2014
 Over 100,000 erroneous voter packages are sent out by Koch brothers' Americans For Prosperity reportedly to mislead and misinform NC voters.

October 2014
After the League of Women Voters and others file a lawsuit against Governor McCrory and members of the NC Board of Elections leading to an Appeals court panel to blocks two key voter suppression provisions of new North Carolina voting laws

October 8, 2014
Supreme Court overrides the Appeals Court decision.

November  2014
Midterms lead to overwhelming Republican victories causing Republicans to maintain majority in the House, Senate, NC Supreme Court, and Governor's Office.

Here are some of the events from 2015, as well as some important upcoming events:
February 2015
Once again, tens of thousands show up for a 2015 Forward Together Moral March in downtown Raleigh.

May 7, 2015
Daily Kos writer, DocDawg, reveals large drop in voter registration drops and discrepancies in a Daily Kos breaking story.

May 11, 2015
Rev Barber calls emergency press conference where Rev. Barber discusses the disturbing evidence from the aforementioned Daily Kos breaking story and the NC NAACP demand official records from Governor McCrory. Here is the youtube video of the May 11th press conference.

May 12, 2015
Daily Kos diarist, DocDawg, updates the North Carolina voter registration meltdown.

May 16, 2015
Rev. Barber announces new court date for lawsuit, NC NAACP v. McCrory against Governor Pat McCrory, Senator Thom Tillis, and Senator Philip Berger is now July 13, 2015 in Winston Salem.

Upcoming:

July 13, 2015
Court date scheduled for the NC NAAP v. McCrory trial, and a historic march in Winston-Salem, NC.

The results of this North Carolina lawsuit may be an incredible game changer for this country. At minimum, we hope to see these messages resonate to other states that are accused of voter suppression. Cheers to the Rev. Barber, the NC NAACP, and most of all to the thousands of Moral Monday protestors and supporters of 'justice for all.' Stay tuned for more updates.

This movement is amazing. Here are some photos I took on my iPhone while participating in Moral Monday rallies last summer. The photos don't show the huge crowds, but show the beauty of everyday Americans, both genders, all ages, colors, religions, economic statuses, political parties, and all walks of life coming together in joyful and peaceful spirit to protest injustice. It was life-changing for me. These images were also published in a Daily Kos diary from last September. See more photos below the fold.

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Reposted from Daily Kos by Denise Oliver Velez
Young African-American male driving, smiling
Most people have heard or read the acronym "DWB," which stands for "Driving While Black," or in many cases "Brown," derived from DWI—Driving While Intoxicated. In certain parts of the country, "DWI" can also mean "Driving While Indian," which this story, Driving While Indian: A Refresher Course by Mary Annette Pember, illustrates:
On a dark country road in Indian Country, the lessons of childhood come back quickly when the police pull you over. As a nation debates police violence, we should know that Native people are the ethnicity most likely to be killed by law enforcement.

When the officer rapped loudly with a flashlight on the passenger-side window of my car, my 16-year-old, special-needs daughter flung her arms around me like a frightened kitten climbing up my pants leg.

I tried to calm her as I rolled the window down. I could make out no details of the officer because he shined the flashlight in our eyes. The squad car's flashing lights were blinding.

This story did not end in tragedy—meaning death—but the scars that are left by the experience of racial profiling of drivers who are not-white are indelible.  

Follow me below the fold for more on the perils for people of color behind the wheel.

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Fri May 15, 2015 at 04:36 PM PDT

Spotlight on Courage ~ StDDs Week 37

by JoanMar

Reposted from JoanMar by 2thanks

No! Poverty is not to be blamed for the murder of Michael Brown. Lack of opportunities did not take the life of Freddie Gray. The "absent black father" was not responsible for killing Walter Scott. Police officers, armed with the legal authority of the state and under the aegis of their departments, murdered those men.

In addition to changing the laws, we must also change the culture that allows police officers to think that they are a law unto themselves; that they are lords and masters of those whom they swore to serve and protect. To make that change we need outside agitation for sure; but even more importantly, we need those on the inside to make a stand against the lawbreakers in their midst.

Are there any Frank Serpicos to be found anywhere? Who will step forward? The problem is even worse than it was in the 1970s.

Today the Blue Wall of Silence endures in towns and cities across America. Whistleblowers in police departments — or as I like to call them, “lamp lighters,” after Paul Revere — are still turned into permanent pariahs. The complaint I continue to hear is that when they try to bring injustice to light they are told by government officials: “We can’t afford a scandal; it would undermine public confidence in our police.” That confidence, I dare say, is already seriously undermined. (Frank Serpico, October 23, 2014).

[Frank Serpico is a retired New York City Police Department officer who is famous for blowing the whistle on police corruption in the late 1960s and early 1970s, an act that prompted Mayor John V. Lindsay to appoint the landmark Knapp Commission to investigate the NYPD. Much of Serpico's fame came after the release of the 1973 film Serpico, which starred Al Pacino in the title role. (Wikipedia)]




I am pleased to report that all is not lost. There is some glimmer of hope. Bravery and honor are not only to be found in our history books. There are two examples of that which we need that should be getting a lot more publicity than they have thus far: Joe Crystal and David C. Couper. David C. Couper was Madison’s chief of police from 1972 to 1993 and is now an Episcopal priest in Wisconsin:

David C. CouperWhen I talk publicly about the problem of deadly force and disrespect, many white people look at me with puzzled eyes. They don’t know what I am talking about because, as it turns out, they have had little, if any, contact with police. Not so for those men and women of color in my audience. They know—and they know all too well. Recent discussions have helped us understand that “unconscious bias” is inherent in our species; what is needed is being able to identify and manage it. (A Police Chief's Call for Reform by David C. Couper)
One of the voices that stood out for me during the Baltimore Uprising for Justice was that of Joe Crystal. He was being interviewed by someone on MSNBC and my reaction was, “now you come forward?” Turned out I spoke too soon.

Joe Crystal had been doing the right thing even while he was a member of the Baltimore Police Department. He went up against his brethren in blue and in so doing, put his life on the line. BuzzFeed did an extensive piece on Crystal in what one of our members described as a "bloody awesome story." What he had to reveal was both "gripping and nauseating." You can read the whole sad account for yourself, but just one paragraph that captures a culture out of control...from top to bottom:

Joe Crystal, a whistleblower while a policeman in Baltimore
Crystal turned to the police union. He told Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police president Bob Cherry about the harassment, and he said that Cherry told him the department “was blood in blood out, and that’s why [the violent crimes unit] was mad at me,” and maybe he should consider going to another department. (Cherry didn’t respond to interview requests for this story.) Crystal hoped to transfer out of his unit. He asked a sergeant, the old family friend, where he could go. As Crystal wrote in his journal, the sergeant told him that no supervisor wanted him because he was “a rat.” The sergeant then said, “You better pray to God you’re not the star witness against Gialamas, ‘cause your career is already fucked, but if you are the star witness against him you should just resign.” (Breaking Baltimore's Blue Wall of Silence, Buzzfeed)
Is there any help to be had anywhere? How about a lieutenant?
On the advice of another sergeant, Crystal met with the lieutenant in charge of a violent repeat offender squad about a possible transfer. The lieutenant told him, he wrote in his journal, that he didn’t want him on the squad because he had snitched. The lieutenant said, “’When you are on the VRO squad you have to do things in the gray area,’ and he did not think I could do that.”
We need more than two good men. We need hundreds of good men to make a difference. To change the culture from within. We thank Joe Crystal and David Couper for following in the grand tradition of Frank Serpico.

Where are the others?

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Fri May 15, 2015 at 02:12 PM PDT

Black Kos, Week In Review

by Black Kos

Reposted from Black Kos community by Yasuragi

Commentary: African American Scientists and Inventors
by Black Kos Editor, Sephius1

Benjamin T. Montgomery (1819–1877) was an influential African-American inventor, landowner, and freedman.

Ben Montgomery was born in captivity in Loudoun County, Virginia. In 1837, he was sold south, and purchased in Natchez, Mississippi by Joseph Emory Davis—whose brother, Jefferson Davis, later became the President of the Confederate States of America. Montgomery escaped but was recaptured. Davis reportedly "inquired closely into the cause of his dissatisfaction", whereby the two men reached a "mutual understanding" about the Montgomery's situation.

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Reposted from sricki by Denise Oliver Velez

My apologies in advance for the “old news,” but yes, it’s still bothering me – and I have a question. I haven’t diaried in years, but I saw a clip a couple mornings ago which bothered me intensely on a both a cultural and personal level. My diary title is an honest question, and I guess I’m looking for feedback because it’s relevant in my day-to-day life.

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Reposted from Gwennedd by Yasuragi
The White Privilege Checklist
Do you remember Dixon D White? He's a self admitted redneck who, disturbed by a confrontation with his neighbour at his home, decided to post a video from his truck.  In the video, he calls on all white people to come to terms with and take responsibility for their racism. And many did. Kossack dmitcha wrote a wonderful diary about Dixon's video and challenge. Kossack Dewstino also wrote a diary about it a few weeks later.

The video asked people to make videos of their own and talk about their own experiences with racism and what they thought should be done, and post them on his Facebook page. Many many people did just that. They were such moving testimonials from ordinary people! People who want change. You can go to dmitcha's diary and see for yourself what people have said. They are awesome!

I was curious, and since I FB, I decided to check this out for myself. I sent a friend request to Dixon and was accepted. I watched the videos and read the comments, occasionally making some of my own. I have come to the conclusion that Dixon is totally serious and committed to his challenge. He's a genuinely nice person who sees a terrible wrong going on in America and wants it to stop. He wants racism to stop. And he's not alone. 5000 people have joined his challenge. People of all races.

Here's his Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/...

Here's Dixon's video:

Yesterday he asked his friends to finish this thought: ""For me the best way to try to fix our culture and system of white supremacy is..."

Their answers are just over the orange tangle.

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Tue May 12, 2015 at 01:37 PM PDT

Black Kos, Tuesday's Chile

by Black Kos

Reposted from Black Kos community by Yasuragi

Restavek - "One who stays with" is the word for a child slave in Haiti.

Commentary by Black Kos Editor Denise Oliver-Velez

Ignoring Haiti and its problems is par for the course in the United States, even when the U.S. has played a role in creating them. There was a flurry of concern around the time of the January 2010 earthquake, with monies raised by a variety of charities...some legit and some suspect, but Haiti news fell out of the headlines, and for the most part is ignored. Before the earthquake there were a host of problems and some have worsened  since then. Such is the case of the "restaveks,"  nearly 300,000 children who work in a state of indentured servitude which has been deemed modern day slavery by international rights organizations.

Restavek is a form of modern-day slavery that persists in Haiti, affecting one in every 15 children. Typically born into poor rural families, restavek children are often given to relatives or strangers. In their new homes, they become domestic slaves, performing menial tasks for no pay.

In the Creole language, "restavek" means "to stay with." Yet for the children who are called restavek, that definition is incomplete. For them, it means:

To stay with... humiliation and abuse.

To stay with... alone, in a family that offers no love.

To stay with... an incessant and knawing hunger.

To stay with... the feeling that no matter what, their voices, their lives, will never count.

The reasons that the restavek practice persists in Haiti are complex  - ranging from harsh economic conditions to the cultural attitudes toward children. But every morning another child wakes up to begin his or her life of hardship, it becomes all the more urgent that this practice be stopped.

Ask the children what they need, and many of them will offer a simple reply:

"All I want," they say, "is to be human."

As more and more human rights organizations world wide, investigate and try to stop slavery and human trafficking, more attention is being paid to the practice of child slavery in Haiti.  

On the Global Slavery Index, Haiti is currently ranked Number 3.

Jean-Robert Cadet, is a former Restavek and author of the book "Restavec: From Haitian Slave to Middle Class American."

When Cadet was 15 his owners immigrated to the United States and he joined them, again as their domestic servant. He was turned out of the house when his owners realized that domestic servitude was stigmatized in American society and that he would be required to attend school alongside their own children.

Despite this abuse within his own culture and the racism he faced from American society, Cadet went on to finish high school, join the United States army, finish university, get married and start a family and earn a master’s degree in French literature.

Published in English in 1998, Cadet's memoir, Restavec: From Haitian Slave Child to Middle Class American, contributed significantly to the slim body of literature written by survivors of contemporary slavery. Especially striking is Cadet’s bravery in so frankly describing his experience since, “In Haitian society, [being a restavek is] the lowest possible status. It’s like being a dog. And no one wants to reveal that he was once a dog.”

The book depicts the lasting psychological and social damage inflicted on those held in slavery and the suffering that persists from constant physical and emotional abuse. Cadet's overwhelming sense of not belonging—in society, in family, in relationships—is the most acutely painful reminder that he, in his own words, “never had a childhood.”



Organizations like Restavek Freedom are working to address the situation of Haiti's children.

These children wrote a letter to current President Martelli 2 years ago.

Appeals to the Martelli regime, and organized grassroots pressure, finally began to have an effect last August with a new law:

Haiti Enacts World’s Newest Anti-Trafficking Law

”After about a decade of effort, we finally have an anti-trafficking law in Haiti,” says FTS Haiti Coordinator Smith Maxime. “It is an important milestone,” he adds, “but we have a long road ahead to get this law implemented. A national committee against human trafficking has to be formed. Law enforcement officers have to be trained and the public has to be informed about the new infraction.”

How does this law confront restavek slavery?

By defining the existence of “trafficking in persons” for minors as exploitation of any variety against those who are under 18 years of age, the law recognizes a person’s inherent vulnerability because of their minor status without the burden of proof on the use of force, fraud or coercion. This confronts restavek slavery in that minors are shown as naturally vulnerable, unable to give their voluntary consent to labor and easily put into a position of exploitation. For those who have reached the age of 18 within restavek slavery, this law also add protections through the definition of “servitude” as the submission status or a condition of dependency of a person unlawfully forced or coerced by a person providing a service to an individual or others, and who has no other alternative than to provide such service, with the law directly including domestic services

Are there still gaps in Haitian law that need to be addressed to end restavek child domestic slavery?

While the new Haitian law sets out a clear understanding of the crime of trafficking in persons and the potential punishments for perpetrators of this crime, it is still unclear how the National Committee will implement prevention and awareness campaigns, as well as how victim services will be executed. It is also, unclear on how to deal with children who are currently in servitude.

Comprehensive victim services require a strong infrastructure to ensure the physical safety of victims through law enforcement, the psychological safety and recovery of victims through health services, and employable skills, education and basic housing and needs of victims through social services. If a victim is not properly reintegrated into society then there is the possibility that the individual will be placed in a situation of exploitation and trafficking in persons again due to their continued situation of vulnerability.

There are efforts in Haiti to organize and educate rural families about the practice, and to supply agronomists to help with increasing food production, which will alleviate pressure on rural parents who think sending some of their children to the city will reduce the number of mouths to feed.


Haiti's Model Communities Fight Restavek Child Slavery from Free the Slaves on Vimeo.


The Model Communities program has prompted parents to retrieve their children from restavek slavery, and it has prevented other children from becoming restaveks. This video features deeply moving interviews with families who are taking a stand against child slavery.
Other problems entwined with the restavek situation are deforestation, and erosion, the undermining of the Haitian rice economy...and one of the greatest social problems is violence against women.

Please do not forget Haiti. Lend a hand by sharing this information.

"Men anpil, chay pa lou."

    Many hands [make] the load lighter.

Continue Reading
Reposted from DocDawg by Yasuragi

Last Thursday (May 7) here at Daily Kos, I published the first public disclosure of a shocking collapse of the state's voter registration system here in North Carolina under Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. Our analysis of State Board of Elections data revealed that, beginning on or about the time of McCrory's inauguration in January 2013, new voter registrations originating via the state's public assistance (welfare) offices had suddenly and inexplicably collapsed by 66%.

Federal law - specifically the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 - requires states to actively encourage and enable every patron of state offices, including public assistance and motor vehicles offices, to register to vote on the spot. The sudden meltdown in North Carolina's effort to do so, and its continuing failure for more than two years, right up to today, has been responsible for the possible disenfranchisement of up to 40,000 poverty-level citizens (and still counting).

In the four days since this story first broke here at Daily Kos, public awareness and media coverage of the scandal have both begun to snowball rapidly - thanks in no small measure to the many readers who shared it widely via Twitter, Facebook, email, and face-to-face, and legal actions to investigate and hold the perpetrators responsible have already begun. These fast-breaking reactions are summarized below.

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Reposted from BobboSphere by 2thanks

"The despot's heel is on thy shore,
Maryland!
His torch is at thy temple door,
Maryland!
Avenge the patriotic gore
That flecked the streets of Baltimore,
And be the battle queen of yore,
Maryland! My Maryland!
"

This is the opening stanza of “Maryland, My Maryland", the official state song. You can view  the complete lyrics here. The song refers to an 1861 riot in Baltimore when Union troops traveling through the city to defend Washington DC from a possible Confederate attack were assaulted by a pro-slavery mob. The "despot" referred to was President Lincoln.

This song celebrating a riot by white racists goes on for 8 more stanzas exhorting Maryland to secede from the Union. The words were written by James Ryder Randall and set to the tune of “Oh Tannebaum” by two sisters, Hetty and Jennie Cary. The song became a hit throughout the Confederacy and the two sisters joined the high society of the Confederate aristocracy.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee had his army play the song during the 1862 invasion of Maryland which led to the Battle of Antietam and the single bloodiest day in US history. The song had such an emotional impact on the Confederacy that several pro-Union versions were penned in the North, though none achieved the popularity of the original.

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