Americans United Again

Reminding Americans that we're ALL in this together

Mission Statement

Americans United Again's mission is to promote policies and standards that encourage a better society based on our constitution and our founding principle of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all.  The U.S. Constitution serves as a basis of inspiration for not just ourselves but the rest of the world as well. Our goal is to help guarantee that we as a country continuously work to live up to the spirit of our constitution and to make sure the American Dream of hard work and integrity paying off apply to all citizens and those who wish to be.

Why We Started

This movement was started to encourage growth within the American population, to unify Americans around the values we all agree upon and to ensure that minority groups have equal rights and protection. Our philosophy is based on the very American value that united we stand, divided we fall. Our government has become gridlocked by a myriad of issues and is failing to address the will of the people as it is intended to. Through cooperation on common issues and principles from otherwise opposing ideologies we can put the will of the people back in charge. Only then can we truly begin to work towards equal rights for all groups.

Heritage Not Hate? Let’s Ask Your Forefathers Why They Flew The Confederate Battle Flag

To listen to the audio adaptation of this Blog post click here:

Due to the now intense pressure to remove the Confederate Battle Flag, after the terrorist attack on Emanuel AME Church, many have stepped up to defend it. Known to many as the “Stars & Bars” the flag was the flag flown in battle by the former Confederate States of America. Many descendants of Confederate veterans maintain that the flag is about heritage and not hate. While the flag is certainly about heritage, the claim that it is not about hate or slavery or racism flies in the face of the very words of the men who flew it. Don’t believe that? Well let’s examine the very documents the reasons states gave for seceding. Only four states; South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia & Texas gave reasons for seccession. It’s worth noting that South Carolina & Mississippi were the first states to secede. So what did these two Confederate trailblazers decide to leave the Union over?

 

South Carolina:

“The ends for which this Constitution was framed are declared by itself to be "to form a more perfect union, to establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity." These ends it endeavored to accomplish by a federal government in which each state was recognized as an equal and had separate control over its own institutions. The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights; by giving them the right to represent, and burdening them with direct taxes for, three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor.

We affirm that these ends for which this government was instituted have been defeated, and the government itself has been destructive of them by the action of the nonslaveholding states. Those states have assumed the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the states and recognized by the Constitution. They have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted the open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace of and eloign the property of the citizens of other states. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and, those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books, and pictures to servile insurrection. For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of the common, government. Observing the forms of the Constitution, a sectional party has found, within that article establishing the Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. A geographical line has I been drawn across the Union, and all the states north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common government, because he has declared that that "Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free," and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.”

 

So slavery for the state of South Carolina by their own admission was a key factor in seceding. I wonder what Mississippi was so peturbed about.

 

Mississippi:

In the momentous step which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course.

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.

 

So the originators of this Confederacy seemed to have their minds made up on where they stand on slavery. Maybe as more states joined the cause the cause itself changed. Well let’s take a look at the great Confederate state of Texas who joined the later than either Mississippi or South Carolina for those answers.

 

Texas:

The government of the United States, by certain joint resolutions, bearing date the 1st day of March, in the year A.D. 1845, proposed to the Republic of Texas, then a free, sovereign and independent nation, the annexation of the latter to the former, as one of the co-equal states thereof,

The people of Texas, by deputies in convention assembled, on the fourth day of July of the same year, assented to and accepted said proposals and formed a constitution for the proposed State, upon which on the 29th day of December in the same year, said State was formally admitted into the Confederated Union.

Texas abandoned her separate national existence and consented to become one of the Confederated Union to promote her welfare, insure domestic tranquility and secure more substantially the blessings of peace and liberty to her people. She was received into the confederacy with her own constitution, under the guarantee of the federal constitution and the compact of annexation, that she should enjoy these blessings. She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery-- the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits-- a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time. Her institutions and geographical position established the strongest ties between her and other slave-holding States of the confederacy. Those ties have been strengthened by association. But what has been the course of the government of the United States, and of the people and authorities of the non-slave-holding States, since our connection with them?

The controlling majority of the Federal Government, under various pretences and disguises, has so administered the same as to exclude the citizens of the Southern States, unless under odious and unconstitutional restrictions, from all the immense territory owned in common by all the States on the Pacific Ocean, for the avowed purpose of acquiring sufficient power in the common government to use it as a means of destroying the institutions of Texas and her sister slaveholding States.”


 

Well this seems pretty clear. Clear enough to not even have to ask the state of Georgia why it joined. But with something so obvious that I shouldn’t have had to write this piece in the first place, why not beat the dead horse & then lead him to water to make him drink?

 

Georgia:

“The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of an equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic. This hostile policy of our confederates has been pursued with every circumstance of aggravation which could arouse the passions and excite the hatred of our people, and has placed the two sections of the Union for many years past in the condition of virtual civil war. Our people, still attached to the Union from habit and national traditions, and averse to change, hoped that time, reason, and argument would bring, if not redress, at least exemption from further insults, injuries, and dangers.”

 

Well, that speaks volumes. What’s even more telling are the metrics of the language used in each of the documents. Slavery is referenced throughout the four declarations for the reasons of secession. The word slave itself appears in the documents over 80 times in some form. By comparison that is more times than the words “liberty”, “constitution”, “heritage”, & the term “states rights” COMBINED.

 

Can we put this one to bed now? Yes, the Confederate states seceded over states rights, states rights to own slaves. Yes they left the Union for economic reasons, the economics of slavery. Yes they fought over their heritage, the heritage of profiting from Black bodies. If you can’t accept that then you can kindly, safely & freely eat a bag of Boston Baked Bean flavored horse dicks, choke on a few & then go fuck yourself.

 

By Any Means Necessary

To listen to this Blog post click here

White Supremacy must end. It must end by any means necessary. But who decides what means are necessary? Those who fight to keep it alive.

You don't want people peacefully clogging up your streets? Cool.

End White Supremacy.

You don't want to hear Black people complaining about racism? Cool.

End White Supremacy.

You don't want to see people rioting? Cool.

End White Supremacy.

You don't want to see a "race war" as you call it, ignoring the fact that White Supremacy was the declaration of such war 400 years ago? Cool

End White Supremacy.

If you won't we WILL end it for you. By any means necessary & if we have to do it you may not like the end result. Those who fight against White Supremacy, be they Black, White, Red, Brown, straight, gay, trans or cis, will not stop until the color of one's skin has no more of a burden or an advantage than the color of one's eyes do. If you want that to be peaceful means then end the system of oppression peacefully. Because by any means necessary means what is logistically needed not what you feel comfortable with. It means violence if violence is the only feasible solution. It means peace if it is possible. By any means necessary is not a statement of violence, instead it is a statement of commitment to one of this country's founding principles: that ALL are created equal. If you think that by any means necessary means violence then realize that such a belief implicitly acknowledges how violently so many are willing to fight to uphold White Supremacy & join the fight against it so that peace is the means by which it comes to an end.


 

#BlackLivesMatter

 

#McKinney: So Much White Supremacy

To listen to this Blog post click here

The #McKinney incident has shown White America the world Black America lives in & did so in a way that White America didn’t want to have to experience. To most Black people the videos of what happened are triggering. They bring back some memory of a similar occurrence they dealt with, an occurrence that they repress just to get through each day. To many White people, those who see the difference in how Black people are treated by police, the actions caught them by surprise & likely filled them with hurt & anger. This is progress for many in White America because they’ve refused to believe what Black America has been saying all along, “That good cop who speaks nicely to you, treats us like disposable, sub-human occupants of this country.” It was evidenced in the way that Corporal Casebolt talked to the White teenager filming the video & how he responds to every other Black teenager present. Those children he was cussing at aren’t even allowed to see movies with that much cussing in them without parental supervision but an officer of the law sees fit to verbally abusing them in a manner that if their parents did on camera, would garner outrage. Worse is that NOT ONE adult there stopped him from at least doing that. Think about that when you watch the video or run it back over & over in your mind.

 

I honestly love the discussions I’ve seen & heard around this ordeal from people but there’s something that many aren’t focused on when they talk about this situation & that is just how much of a role racism/White Male Supremacy played into it:

 

  • It obviously played into how the situation began, with two White women harassing the Black kids at the pool party & then berating a White kid when she voiced her displeasure. Of course it played a role in how the fight started with 19 year old Tatiana Rose deciding to confront the women about their harassment & one of them attacked her.

  • White Supremacy played a role in just WHY the police were called. They weren’t called for a hate crime or an assault, the real reason they needed to show up. They were called about a bunch of Black people fighting. From the outset the police were given reason to come in & harass Black people & they surely didn’t disappoint did they? The video opens up with officer Casebolt running around chasing Black children more akin to a caffeine intoxicated hamster than an officer of the law. And worse off his fellow officers, though appearing mostly calm, do nothing to stop him from harassing children who weren’t even involved in the altercation they were called about.  

  • White Supremacy played a role in just why so many officers were present. Upon the first car arriving many of the teenagers reportedly scattered. Given what transpired I can’t say I blame them. Innocent Black people being legitimately afraid of police didn’t start after this incident, it started long before. It’s highly doubtful that those children hadn’t already had a relationship with police that was soured both by the way they themselves are treated & the many instances of government sanctioned violence on Black bodies. So when some ran, more cops were called, ignoring the fact that even if they were innocent, they had substantial reason to be afraid.

  • White Male Supremacy played a role in the harassment & unnecessary detention of Dajerria Becton by Casebolt. Let’s be clear, a 15 year talking back to an officer, especially one who is actively harassing her, her friends & her family, is not a crime & definitely not a threat to Casebolt. You can only berate someone while in a position of authority for so long before the people on the receiving end use what they have to stand up for themselves. In Dajerria’s case she used her words & her legs. Casebolt’s detention of her wasn’t about the law, it was about pride. His actions signify someone thinking, “How dare this little Black bitch talk to me like that?” rather than “This child broke the law & needs to be held accountable.” He used his power & authority demean, abuse & harass a child.

  • White Male Supremacy played a role in Casebolt’s ability to harass these children, Becton especially, while still being relatively safe. The young men who approached him were looking to remove him from his post on top of a child, not specifically to injure him. Therefore Casebolt didn’t draw on them to protect himself but in effect drew a gun to stand his ground on top of a 15 year old girl. The young men, who despite doing something technically illegal by interfering with an arrest deserve to be applauded. They are the embodiment of what #BlackLivesMatter should look like. They saw a Black life being devalued, being shown it didn’t matter & they made the decision to try & put a stop to it. Could their actions have caused Dajerria to be harmed further? Absolutely. It was clear that this cop was dangerous & that the move could backfire. The same thing happens in war when someone is downed, injured or captured. The one thing we don’t do in these situations is blame airmen, marines, sailors & soldiers for trying to save a one another from harm, nor should we. If soldiers in war aren’t held to that standard then why should children in duress be? To do so is racist because it holds Black children to an unlivable standard. Casebolt & the officers who didn’t immediately disarm him instead of chasing the young men made it very clear that the punishment for valuing Black lives should be severe injury or death. For their bravery one was awarded what appeared to be a bloody mouth & may face charges. They were the ONLY people to even attempt to stop Casebolt from ego tripping on a minor. Not his fellow officers, not the other adult men or women present, no one else.

  • White Male Supremacy was why the teenager filming the video, Brandon Brooks, who is White, wasn’t cussed at or abused & was walking around freely filming while every other kid was being forced into police submission. Thankfully Brandon used his privilege to expose what happened instead of being complicit. Speaking of complicity, the White men & one man who appeared to be an older balding Black man who were present in the video were assisting the police in holding innocent children hostage by trying to calm them with pacifying voices instead of standing up for the kids’ dignity. One man, the large man in the  tan shirt & jeans shorts even goes so far as to stand over the girl with his crotch on the back of her head, in what appeared to be an attempt to stop her from getting up, a perverted way to get some sexual pleasure, to show off his political preference (Teabagging, get it?) or some combination of the three.

  • White Male Supremacy has shaped how Dajerria’s actions have been framed & the expectations for Black children under duress.  Many of the same people saying“She shouldn’t have talked back” or calling her a thug are the same voices that defended the pedophilia of Josh Duggar. What so demented about the comparison is that Duggar received less punishment  from a police officer, an officer who himself is a pedophile, for molesting his sisters & other young women than Dajerria received for responding rudely (and rightfully so might I add) to an officer who is literally actively terrorizing her friends & family. Again keep in mind that two White women started this melee, yet there are no White women in sight being treated the way these innocent kids are. Black people are being punished for being victims of a crime but there are those who can’t understand our aversion to police.

 

If this incident isn’t enough evidence of the pervasiveness of racism via White Supremacy then you’re part of the problem. Honestly, White Male Supremacy is killing this country from the inside out & it has always been doing so. It has functioned as a congenital disease in this country & yes we’ve gotten this far while largely ignoring it but the reality is that we haven’t really gotten that far.

 

#BlackLivesMatter #YesNiggaAllBlackLives: Black Men & Their Obsession With Mimicking Oppression

Hey Black men,

We need to do better. Seriously, this isn't a fuckin' game. This profanity laced tirade doubling as a blog post is about our own issues with privilege & oppression as we fight against the very same things. I have a question for Black men. What the fuck is our problem?

Don't know what I'm referring to yet? No? Well it's the treatment of Black women & the Black LBGTQ community,  especially within the Black Lives Matter movement. The marginalization, the exclusion,  the lack of support.  Mind you Black women were there on day one, Black people of the LBGTQ community were there  on day one.  This is just as much their movement as it is ours & every time we do not act accordingly we dishonor the battle call, that Black lives, although not treated as such, are to be valued, nurtured & support like those of the dominant society. All this misogyny, homophobia & transphobia shit has to stop. It's Black LIVES Matter nigga, not just yours & the ones you find acceptable based on White Cis Male Supremacy. That means Black women's lives matter. That means Black LBGTQ lives matter. Yes nigga ALL #BlackLivesMatter.  I get it, this is attributable to social conditioning but so is anti-Blackness & you managed to shake that shit just fuckin' fine bruh.  Cut the shit. You can get rid of this social conditioning. Read some books, actually LISTEN to the people you're helping oppress, I mean fuck Google will teach you all you need to know if you're really interested. Within this movement you have options, you have freedom, you have the comfort of those who value you so what the fuck is wrong with returning the favor just because it's the right thing to do?

So what brought me to this tirade? Well for one it was WELL overdue because we've been doing this shit for too long but the straw(s) that broke the camel's back for me were two things that happened this past weekend. The first was something that happened in the St. Louis area. Activist & Blogger Angel Carter so eloquently put it like this,

"Sunday, April 26th there was a rally held in downtown Saint Louis to amplify the names of black women who have been killed and/or raped by police officers. The desire to incorporate black women into the conversation about police brutality, is not an act of division, it’s an act of inclusion. This was the first rally held to centralize black women here in Saint Louis. It has been long overdue. In comparison to past events, the turn out was typical. White allies were in attendance, kids, signs, banners, blow horns, chants, cops, etc. Every thing was as it always is, minus one thing…. There were only six black men present. I wish I was exaggerating this number, but someone even walked around and counted to be sure. Six black men supporting black women. Even the police exceeded the amount of black men, there were approximately eight of them [policemen] standing behind us."

You can read the rest of Angel's post here

The second thing was a Facebook post from another woman instrumental in the #BlackLivesMatter movement & it's inception in Ferguson, MO.

Y'all need a swift kick in the scrotal region for making good, talented people feel so alienated. For real.

Y'all need a swift kick in the scrotal region for making good, talented people feel so alienated. For real.

Netta hit the nail on the head. "If straight Black men want everyone else to go home then who would be left?" What in the fuck is this about? The reality is that we need them & they need us. Y'all know that for every 100 Black women there are 83 Black males not dead or in jail right? That doesn't even factor in any men who are a part of the LBGTQ community. Y'all so bad that you can take out a power structure that outnumbers us damn near 10 to 1? Niggas get it together. Y'all taking this magical negro shit entirely too seriously. I'm trying to keep it real but y'all can't even keep it realistic with this bullshit notion. Even Barry O wants to know:

#TellEm Obama

#TellEm Obama

Hey....

Black cis gendered men...

Black Kings...

Niggas... 

Whatever the fuck you identify as...

What the in the flying fuck are we doing? These are women who stood in the face of violence to proudly shout that Black lives matter when one of us is killed & we can't return the fuckin' favor? We gotta call them bitches? I'm ashamed & confused. Why? Because how you ever expect to end White Supremacy without ending Cis Male Supremacy is beyond me & in bailing  on a group that so fervently backs you, by this bullshit standard we men are supposed to abide by,  you're a bigger "bitch" than any woman could aspire to be. I may not be the hardest nigga from the hood but I'm from the hood no less. Last I checked being so insecure in who you are that you can't fight for those who fight with & for you is kinda a "bitch move" in every hood I know of. You wanna show off your "manhood"? You wanna exercise your privilege?  Then at least do it in defense of those who defend you. Otherwise have several seats & go play musical chairs with them.

At least once a week I contemplate asking the women & those in the LBGTQ community to stop fighting for fools but I know they can't.  Their lives & the lives of their loved ones depend on them not stopping. I just wish that somehow their work didn't help the Black men who wish to oppress them in the name of a system that spits in in all of our faces. We Black Cis men foolishly cling to a system that sets violent standard for masculinity & then uses uses that standard against us.

We have to do better Black Cis gendered men, this shit won't cut it.

#BlackWomenLivesMatter

#BlackLBGTQLivesMatter

#BlackMentallyIllLivesMatter

Why? Because #BlackLivesMatter

#YesNiggaAllBlackLives

The Role of Mainstream Media in the Removal of America’s Cognitive Dissonance

I remember where I was the very moment I heard rumblings of the news.  I was restless so I did what a techie does when sleep is elusive and the mind stands center stage in a mental 3-ring circus of restless thought.  I grabbed my phone and checked my Twitter feed.  Someone had been shot in a town called Ferguson, Missouri.  He was black.  He was male.  He died August 9, 2014.  It was over a day later so I was sure the mainstream media was covering this travesty.  I turned to key cable news channels expecting breaking news.  No dice.  Surely, the mainstream print media was headlining this story.  No dice.  It would be social media networks that would break the developments of the case of Michael Brown and surface the horrors of the aftermath.

After months of closely following the fight for justice for the unarmed Michael Brown, I watched in utter disbelief as mainstream media continued to get it wrong.  Did he rob a store?  What was his temperament as a child?  Was he the product of a broken home?  The stripping of Brown’s humanity in an onslaught of post-mortem demonization was a theme across most mainstream media outlets.  As independent journalists captured livestream actions of weapons of war used against unarmed citizens, the mainstream media continued pressing forward with the dehumanization of an entire community.  I decided that the mainstream media was no longer credible and had abandoned all journalist integrity.

What I had not decided was if the abandonment of fair and balanced reporting, as it relates to black and brown lives, was intentional.  If I were to believe that the unabashed demonization of black and brown bodies in the mainstream media was intentional, I needed to understand why.  I happened upon a video by Dr. Joy DeGruy (an author, lecturer, and consultant in the areas of diversity training, adaptive behavior, and the effects of slavery and institutionalized) titled “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome.”  In the video, Dr. DeGruy eloquently details the psychology of cognitive dissonance as it relates to race relations in America.  Cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values.  “The first thing you must do to remove cognitive dissonance is you must justify your behavior.”  Dr. DeGruy goes on to say, “The second thing you must do after you have justified your behavior is you have to re-label the people you are oppressing.”

As those droplets of knowledge redefined everything that I had believed about mainstream media, I was resolved to believing that the media was complicit in delivering intentional propaganda to the minds of Americans.  The steady and predictable onslaught of subliminal messaging and outright vilifying of black and brown bodies hypnotized Americans into believing that the boogie man was black.  Big, black, scary and male.   Be afraid.  Be very afraid.

Subconsciously, fear had been injected into the very fabric of America.  This fear, delivered cunningly by trusted sources of news,  governs how strangers interact with one another.  The erasure of the collective cognitive dissonance of the American public allows for justified brute force when a cop confronts a teenager for jaywalking and the teenager is, as a result, murdered with impunity.  Michael Brown was a teenager, a son and beautiful human worthy of life.  The re-labeling of Michael Brown as a thug worthy of death for merely existing while black is not by happenstance.  It is the successful result of institutional racism delivered by a thinly veiled propaganda campaign courtesy of mainstream media.

Why Not #AllLivesMatter? You Tell Me

Far too often the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag & movement is met with a silly, ignorant question who's only apparent goal is to devalue it.  This question; "Why not #AllLivesMatter?" 

Before you ask this question I have a question for you; Do you understand what the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag & movement actually mean? Well if not here's the gist of it. The lives of Black people & other People of Color are shown in virtually every measurable statistic to be valued less than the lives of Whites. Society acts as if these lives do not matter, as if they're not worth enough to matter and many people, of all races, are tired of it. They're tired of the over-policing, the police brutality, the disparate sentencing in the justice system, the vast economic inequity, the under-representation in places of power & news media.  Tired. So before you fix your mouth or your keyboard to ask "Why not #AllLivesMatter?" understand that. Understand that you're asking a bunch of people tired of living in the richest country known to man,  seeing the lives of Black people & other People of Color being discarded like animals. Understand the anger that nearly a millennium of mistreatment can cause.

So why not #AllLivesMatter? You tell me random Twitter concern troll or confused commenter. Why is it that Black people are disproportionately suffering in this country? Why is it that in my homeland, a homeland I love, a homeland I served to defend, that Black lives don't matter as much as White ones? Why is it that as a Black male I have to walk around with the understanding that people see my skin color as more threatening so that I don't get killed or accused of something I didn't do? Why is it that the unemployment rate for Black people is twice national average? Why is it that Black people suffer disproportionately from poverty? Why is it that Whites are more likely to support the death penalty the more they see photos of Black criminals? Why if #AllLivesMatter do these problems exist? Are Black people just more inherently violent, stupid & evil? What does holding that belief say about you?

Why not the #AllLivesMatter hashtag? Good question? Have you started an #AllLiveMatter movement advocating for the equal treatment and valuing of all human life? If so we'd surely be allies. We could march together on issues of police brutality or economic justice with seperate banners but in solidarity with each other. Have YOU shown that #AllLivesMatter? Probably not because in even asking the question you're attempting to minimize the fact that Black lives, although they matter, are not treated as such. Can you accurately say that about all lives? Doubtful, very doubtful. 

Is #BlackLivesMatter hashtag not the best marketing technique to accomplish the goal of ending racial discrimination via the practice of White Supremacy? Debatable, I've certainly argued that to some degree it isn't but I also refuse to Monday morning quarterback a name. The name symbolizes much more than any name could possibly do. Would #AllLivesMatter be more palatable to those who's help is needed to combat White Supremacy? Probably so but think about what that admission says about Black lives. That Black lives don't matter, they're not worth fighting for unless someone else is included too. That only underscores just why the hashtag is so necessary.

Put simply, the fact that you have to ask that question is why it's not #AllLivesMatter.

 

The Importance of Being Earnest: Being Honest But Hopeful

By Leea Allen

A few minutes into the New Year, I found myself lying in bed, wide awake and unable to sleep. I'd spent most of the evening at home, catching up on old movies before dozing off for a little while. When the sound of fireworks woke me from my slumber, I could not seem to get back to sleep. I was tossing and turning, wrestling with thoughts in my mind about everything I'd witnessed and experienced over the course of the last year. I could not sleep because I wanted to feel a sense of resolution. I wanted to feel closure. I wanted to feel that the end of 2014 meant the beginning of the end of racial injustice in America and the world.

By now, those reading this blog post know that the first few days of 2015 have brought us no such closure. In fact, since January 1st, I've heard more stories of police violence and abuse of power happening against people of color than I'd heard about during the latter part of 2014. Why was this so hard to deal with? Was it possible that for much of my young adult life, I had been avoiding this sort of news? Perhaps I was still sleeping, eyes wide shut to the prevalence of violence, discrimination, and white privilege in our culture. 

After the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO on August 9, 2014, I realized just how far America had to go in terms of addressing and fixing the issue of racial discrimination by law enforcement. This is not a myth. This is real, everyday life, and there are hundreds of studies and statistics to make the case:

1) Black people are arrested at a disproportionately higher rate than any other racial group in the United States (USA Today - http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/11/18/ferguson-black-arrest-rates/19043207/)

2) Black people are killed by police during arrests at a substantially higher rate than any other racial group (Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics - http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/ard0309st.pdf)

3) Black people are up to 8 times more likely to die at the hands of law enforcement than Whites (Center for Disease Control and Prevention's National Vital Statistics System - http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss.htm)

4) Law enforcement has a propensity to use lethal force against Black people more than White people; they're quick to pull the trigger and less likely to give Black people the benefit of the doubt (Florida State University and MotherJones - http://www.psychologicalscience.org/pdf/ps/racialbias.pdf and http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/11/science-of-racism-prejudice)

5) Black people are incarcerated at 6 times the rate of Whites and constitute 1 million of the 2.3 million prison population (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People - http://www.naacp.org/pages/criminal-justice-fact-sheet)

But I don't need to go on and on about the mounting evidence of state violence and discrimination in America. In fact, I don't need to prove to anyone how far deep the struggle goes. Black men, women, and children are being abused, arrested, and killed at an alarming rate that shocks the system.

 

"How does it feel to be a problem?" This critical question – posed so eloquently by W.E.B. Du Bois in his famous The Souls of Black Folk – is one that some of us have dreaded answering. For years, we've grown up in our own version of privilege by treating problems at home as if they were some distant memory that would eventually dissolve into sub-consciousness. Now, with the truth hitting us hard in the face everywhere we turn, it is impossible to deny the fact that our very existence is problematic. And that is something I fully accepted in 2014. I got honest with myself, with my circumstances, and with my convictions. I rediscovered the importance of being earnest.

 

Recently, I listened to Pastor Andy Stanley of Northpoint Ministries pose another powerful question. Speaking to a congregation of mostly White, mostly mid-upper class Christians, he asked, "What breaks your heart?" Traditionally, the start of a New Year seemingly revolves around self. Many of us ask ourselves how we can live better lives. For people like me, the question struck a chord buried deep within me. Similar to New Year's Eve, my sleep was yet again disturbed. I had been looking and searching and hoping for the last 5 months to find answers to solving this very real problem, so much so that I did not spend much time reflecting inward. When I finally did some soul searching, I came to admit something very personal:

 

I've been running from doing the work.

 

So many rallies, protests, and demonstrations I'd attended. I even coordinated a few efforts of my own with the help of other organizers around the country. I'd read articles, watched videos, attended lectures and forums, all to educate and empower myself to being a better social justice leader. I felt angry and moved by the loss of Black life at the hands of police. But the term "activist" was not something I was keen on accepting...not even 5 months into the game. That is until Pastor Stanley said something incredibly profound: "You have no idea what hangs in the balance of your decision to embrace the burden God has put in your heart." And then it hit me. I was afraid. All this time, I'd watched protesters in Ferguson, New York, and in cities across the country and stood with them in solidarity. I watched a new movement being born. I watched young leaders take the helm of social justice in radical and revolutionary ways. I respected them. I admired them. But was I one of them?

 

Growing up, I remember hearing elders of the church say that you can't run from God. Was I running?

 

As you plan your goals and resolutions for the New Year, consider not only what you can do for yourself, but what you can do to make this nation and world a better place. Whether you recognize it or not, if you are a Black person in America (man, woman, queer, poor, youth, mentally ill, differently-abled), you must answer the question, "What breaks your heart?” You have no choice but to see the ugly truth for what it is. You must feel the weight of the burden of social injustice. And at some point, you may be called to embrace it. Why? Because so much hangs in the balance. Our lives, our freedom, our very existence are at stake. The next Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Darrien Hunt, Tanisha Anderson, or Deshawnda Sanchez could be a close friend, a family member...or you.

How Our Labor Utilization Statistics Debunk the "Blacks are lazy" Myth

Let me start off by saying that in 2014 I find it appalling that I even HAVE to debunk the myth that Black people are lazy. As a descendant of people confined to slavery who were called lazy because they picked cotton for most of a 24 hour day and not all of it, only to be continue to be called lazy after they were no longer slaves, this is infuriating. Worse more is the fact that no matter how much evidence is shown to the contrary people have continued to hold this belief. Well here is yet more evidence to the contrary.  That evidence shows that Black people,  even during times of economic downturn, continue to search for work more than Whites. The data comes not from some "liberal think tank" or other group, but from our own labor utilization statistics. 

In March of 2012, John Schmitt & Janelle Jones from the Center of Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) wrote a paper called Long-term Hardship in the Labor Market. In the paper they compiled a graph that shows both the U-3 and U-6 unemployment rates for 2011. The U-3 rate, our standard for measuring unemployment, includes all those actively looking for employment but unable to find it. The U-6 unemployment rate, which includes the U-3 rate as well, also includes discouraged, marginally attached and part-time workers who want full-time work but took a part-time job for economic reasons.

The results are below:

Graph from Long-term Hardship in the Labor Market By John Schmitt & Janelle Jones

Graph from Long-term Hardship in the Labor Market By John Schmitt & Janelle Jones

The authors add:

"We start with race and gender. Figure 1 shows the standard unemployment rate and the broader U-6 measure for eight race or ethnicity and gender groups in 2011. Black men (18.1 percent) and women (14.3 percent) had the highest unemployment rates. Latino women (11.9 percent) and men (11.3) followed. White men (7.8 percent) were next, with a rate that was lower than the national average (9.1 percent). Asian women (7.5 percent) and men (7.3 percent) had unemployment rates that fell between those for white men and white women (6.8 percent), the group with the lowest unemployment rate of these eight race-and-gender categories."

Now given that the U-3 rate, our standard for unemployment, one would think that just the fact that a higher percentage of black men and women are actively seeking employment compared to their white counterparts would put this myth to bed but sadly it hasn't. Looking more closely at the relationship between the U-3 and U-6 reveals even more evidence to contradict the myth that Black people are lazy. In 2011 Black men had a U-6 rate of 25.5% and a U-3 rate of 18.1%. By comparison White men at the same time were at 12.8% and 7.8% respectively. Further examination of the data shows that 70.9% of   those who make up U-6 rate for black men  are actively seeking employment. For White men  that percentage is 60.9%. The trend also held true across gender lines as well. Black women outpaced White women by the same metric (see below). 

Source Data from  Long-term Hardship in the Labor Market By John Schmitt & Janelle Jones

So what can we conclude from this data? The most obvious conclusion is that in 2011 despite many Americans being in dire straights and being available for work that largely isn't available Black people who were jobless consistently continued to seek out employment at a higher rate than Whites. Does this sound like something a lazy group of people would do? Admittedly the roughly ten percentage point difference is not large enough to conclude that Black people are more hard working and vigilant in seeking employment than Whites. What the data does show is that the myth is patently false based on the way America measures and has always measured labor utilization. 

An Invitation To Join Us In The Fight Of Our Lives

Sometimes I wonder what in the hell I'm doing trying to  mobilize people and educate them about the things in our broken government that affect their lives more than they either realize or want to admit. The majority of Americans see the American Dream as a pipe dream. Instead of fixing a system we allowed to go off course we seem not to care. People would rather:

- Turn up instead of turn things around.
- Focus on reality TV as an escape instead of dealing with reality. 
- Hustle to the detriment of their health and happiness instead of helping themselves by organizing. 
- Pray for things to get better instead of trying to make them better. 
- "Doing them" instead of doing right.
- Save a buck, instead of saving the environment.
- Blame the victims instead of blaming the cause.
- Listen to the lies they secretly (sometimes not so secretly) want to hear instead of considering the facts.
- Worry about haters instead what kind of world they're leaving their kids. 
- Be spoon fed bullshit instead of thinking critically. 
- Play in a rigged game instead of changing the rules.
- Give up instead of fight.

Sometimes I wish I could do the same, just say screw it and not care but I do and I can't bring myself not to. It's easy to give up, ignorance is bliss. That bliss comes at a cost, a cost that I will may or may not live to see but am not willing to leave future generations stuck with. Between the direction our economy is heading, the erosion civil rights, privacy and climate change ruining our country and the world what will your answer be when your kids/grandkids ask you, "How did y'all let this happen? "

If you fight for a better future you'll never have to answer that question with shame. Whether you fail or succeed, you can answer with pride that you did all you could.  You can inspire them to keep fighting for the same thing you fought for; better.

There is hope. There is an opportunity. There is another choice than to rest your head in the blissful bussom of ignorance, apathy and dispair. There is the option to fight for what you believe in and to do so with all the moral convictions that you truly hold dear. To meet that which is immoral and unjust with morality and justice and possibly come out a winner.

It won't be easy, it won't be quick but win, lose or draw it will bring you the peace that standing on the sidelines will not. Most importantly you cannot do it alone, it will take thousands, if not millions. So share this with everyone you know and give them the same opportunity that I give you,  to fight and to fight hard for the future of the American Dream and the opportunities that we all long to have; the opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It's Not A War On The Rich, It's About Growing Our Economy

Upworthy writer Maz Ali wrote an article (read here) showing the disparities between the effect of Wall Street bonuses, JUST their bonuses, and the total earnings of every full-time minimum wage worker in the U.S. Ali cited data done by the Institute for Policy Studies analysis of New York State Comptroller and Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) data for the article. In the first chart (here) it shows just how much the difference is. While Wall Street bonuses for roughly 165,000 employees totaled $26.7 billion, minimum wage pay for almost 1.1 million workers was $15.1 billion. In the second chart (here) Ali shows just what the multiplier effect on the economy would be if that $26.7 billion were in the hands of minimum wage workers instead of Wall Street bankers. The results show that 80% more money would flow into the economy than just giving it Wall Street. This isn't to say that Wall Street does or doesn't deserve the bonuses, but it does show exactly how to help better our economy. The question then becomes if we're serious about improving our economy how do we fairly reallocate some of those bonuses to low wage and average workers in order to take advantage of that growth?

 

The best option would be to raise taxes on high earners (those making over $1.5 million) and raise the minimum wage to roughly $11.50 an hour, bringing their earnings to roughly $24,500 a year. The raise in taxes should be just enough to offset the increase in minimum wage. Why? This is in order to give the government some power to provide employers incentives to pay their low wage employees more with a temporary tax credit . The money raised in taxes can be used to offset the cost to the federal budget caused by the tax credits, which would only be in place for 2 to 3 years, giving small business owners who may not have the demand to pay the increased wages a safety net. That 2 to 3 year safety net affords small business owners a reprieve until the increase in demand caused by low wage and average consumers having more money to spend kicks in.

Let's be clear; this isn't about punishing the success of Wall Street, it's about finding ways to get more money into consumers' hands so that our economy has sufficient demand. Taxing those who have the much more money than needed to provide for their basic needs and wants in order to grow the economy is the least harmful way to improve our economy. Low wage workers end up making more money, thus allowing them to take fewer federal benefits and decreasing the need for others to do so by stimulating the economy with much needed consumer spending. As Ali points out such policies aren't about a war on the rich but are instead about a better return on investment for our economic system.