07.10.2011 § Leave a comment
- We are a group that has been participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement. We are part of the 99% and are united in solidarity with all those who are fighting to change the direction in this country. As participants of this occupation, we also believe that solidarity and criticism go together. We are people of color and allies who want to ensure that the voices, experiences and issues of the most oppressed and marginalized communities are in the front and center of this movement.
- A blog that seeks to destabilize the rampant white supremacy and other systems of domination that have manifested themselves in the Occupy movement.
- Created in response to the lack of racial diversity at #OccupyWallStreet with the purpose of developing critical consciousness within the movement and extending its reach to include those most effected by the current crisis. It is open to all who identify as people of color.
JOIN US at http://groups.google.com/group/POC-working-group
05.10.2011 § Leave a comment
I first went down to Occupy Wall Street last Sunday, almost a week after it had started. I didn’t go down before because I, like many of my other brown friends, was wary of what we had heard or just intuited that it was mostly a young, white male scene. When I asked friends about it they said different things: that it was really white; that it was all people they didn’t know; and that they weren’t sure what was going on. But after hearing about the arrests and police brutality on Saturday, September 24th and after hearing that thousands of people had turned up for their march I decided I needed to see this thing for myself.
So I went down for the first time on Sunday, September 25th with my friend Sam. At first we couldn’t even find Occupy Wall Street. We biked over the Brooklyn Bridge around noon on Sunday, dodging the tourists and then the cars on Chambers Street. We ended up at Ground Zero and I felt the deep sense of sadness that that place now gives me: sadness over how, what is now in essence just a construction site, changed the world so much for the worse. I also felt a deep sense of sadness for all the tourists taking pictures of a place where many people died ten years ago which is now a testament to capitalism, imperialism, torture, and oppression.
Sam and I get off our bikes and walk. We are looking for Liberty Plaza. We are looking for somewhere less alienating. For a moment we feel lost. We walk past the department store Century 21 and laugh about the killer combination of tourists, discount shopping and the World Trade Center.
The landscape is strange. I notice that. We are in the shadow of half built buildings. They glitter and twist into the sky. But they also seem so naked: rust colored steel poking its way out of their tops and their sides, their guts spilling out for all to see.
We get to Liberty Plaza and at first it is almost unassuming. We didn’t entirely know what to do. We wandered around. We made posters and laid them on the ground (our posters read: “We are all Troy Davis”, “Whose streets? Our streets!”, and “Tired of Racism, Tired of Capitalism”). I didn’t know anyone down there. Not one person. And there were a lot of young white kids. But there weren’t only young white kids. There were older people, there were mothers with kids, and there were a lot more people of color than I expected, something that made me relieved. We sat on the stairs and watched everyone mill around us. There was the normal protest feeling of people moving around in different directions, not sure what to do with themselves, but within this there was also order: a food table, a library, a busy media area.
Race is more likely to affect death sentencing than smoking affects the likelihood of dying from heart disease.
22.09.2011 § Leave a comment
Two of the country’s foremost researchers on race and capital punishment, law professor David Baldus and statistician George Woodworth, along with colleagues in Philadelphia, have conducted a careful analysis of race and the death penalty in Philadelphia which reveals that the odds of receiving a death sentence are nearly four times (3.9) higher if the defendant is black. These results were obtained after analyzing and controlling for case differences such as the severity of the crime and the background of the defendant. The data were subjected to various forms of analysis, but the conclusion was clear: blacks were being sentenced to death far in excess of other defendants for similar crimes.
A second study by Professor Jeffrey Pokorak and researchers at St. Mary’s University Law School in Texas provides part of the explanation for why the application of the death penalty remains racially skewed. Their study found that the key decision makers in death cases around the country are almost exclusively white men. Of the chief District Attorneys in counties using the death penalty in the United States, nearly 98% are white and only 1% are African-American.
These new empirical studies underscore a persistent pattern of racial disparities which has appeared throughout the country over the past twenty years. Examinations of the relationship between race and the death penalty, with varying levels of thoroughness and sophistication, have now been conducted in every major death penalty state. In 96% of these reviews, there was a pattern of either race-of-victim or race-of-defendant discrimination, or both. The gravity of the close connection between race and the death penalty is shown when compared to studies in other fields. Race is more likely to affect death sentencing than smoking affects the likelihood of dying from heart disease. The latter evidence has produced enormous changes in law and societal practice, while racism in the death penalty has been largely ignored.
20.09.2011 § Leave a comment
Teonna Monae Brown, 19, pleaded guilty last month to first-degree assault and a hate crime in the beating of Chrissy Lee Polis, 22. The April attack drew national attention after a video went viral online, and it became a rallying point for transgender-rights advocates.
Brown, who tearfully apologized in court Tuesday, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with five years suspended, plus three years of supervised probation, as prosecutors sought. The maximum sentence for the crimes is 35 years.
“This is the harshest penalty I have ever seen handed down to an 18-year-old first-time offender in a case of assault,” Timothy Knepp, Brown’s lawyer, said later. He called the case “a tragic set of circumstances that was really overblown by the state’s attorney’s office.”
01.07.2011 § Leave a comment
Johnson Aziga is the first person in Canada to be convicted of murder via HIV transmission after having infected several women with with the virus through unprotected sex, two of which have since died from AIDS-related cancers. Aziga argues that he was convicted by a racist jury (they were all white, as were a number of his victims), and that there is insufficient evidence to prove that he was the source of the infection in his victims. However, the highly-educated former public servant also admitted to knowingly engaging in unprotected sex with 11 different women in the 8 years since his diagnosis and to having witheld his condition when asked directly by some of the women. From an article in the Vancouver Sun:
He has given a number of reasons for why he didn’t tell the women about his HIV status, including that he was afraid of losing companionship, he was not counselled properly on how to do so by public health officials and that his ex-wife made him a “monster” and “morally dead.” Aziga also blames his culture for not making it easy to divulge personal information.
While the racist stereotyping around HIV is completely fucked up, and the limits of HIV counseling and education in North America are real, Aziga’s behavior during the trial is still extremely disturbing and overrules these excuses as in any way justifying his actions:
During the cross-examination, she asked him if he was ready to let the victims move on by resigning to serve his life sentence for the murders or if he was still preparing to appeal the convictions.
“Why should I?” retorted Aziga. “I cannot definitely tell you that I’m abandoning my appeal.”
On Wednesday, Aziga personally apologized to the women for the first time in a two-page statement he read aloud in court. Most of the statement was about his own suffering.
On Thursday, he admitted that he’d be willing to engage in unprotected sex if he is released from prison if the woman told him she was a “risk taker.”
Since his conviction, debate has continued over whether to label Aziga as a ‘dangerous offender,’ which would result in his being ineligible for parole. In addition to the above testimony, the prosecution is citing Aziga’s “abnormally high libido” in arguing the likelihood of recidivism, further underscoring the racist and patriarchal tenor of the whole affair.
17.05.2011 § Leave a comment
Two recent articles online critiquing slutwalk, one on the basis of some police-state-apologist white-supremacist bullshit, and the other on the basis of where the fuck’s the feminism this is gobbledywack.
This post points out that the cop who originally spurred the enormous response in Toronto was in fact INVITED TO ATTEND AND PARTICIPATE IN A CAMPUS MEETING ON SEXUAL ASSAULT. WHAT? And that slutwalk was in fact geared towards reforming and repairing the police system. The author draws out some moments in the media hype around slutwalk to show the pretty obvious white supremacist vibrations emanating from the recent slutwalk upsurge. Also points out by contrast some effed up facts from new orleans about how “sex crimes” are dealt with (of course completely targeting women of color for repression, exploitation and death).
As Trymaine Lee has reported, black, poor and transgender women are being disproportionately and systematically branded as criminal “sex offenders” on an online database for engaging in “survival sex” in New Orleans. Under the cover of an obscure, slave-era legal term called “crimes against nature,” police officers target those who engage in oral or anal sex-for-money. Those targeted for a second time are charged as felons (vaginal sex-for-money, meanwhile, is considered misdemeanor prostitution). 40 percent of those who appear on the sexual predator database are there because they were accused of committing a “crime against nature;” more than 80 percent of those are black women.
The author reiterates that there is a deep blindness and disavowal of women and trans feminists of color in the mainstream debates, an erasure of movements against both the patriarchal and racist criminalization of sexuality, and against the police and state forces of capital… Not a surprise, but great concise breakdown.
The author of this post starts out making the important points about why something like slutwalk is initially exciting and potentially important for the radical feminist conspiracy:
One moment I feel like YEAH! WOMEN GETTING MAD. Because, hey, women should be mad. Victim blaming is one of the most insidious, abusive, and traumatic experiences a woman can go through. Not only have we been assaulted, had to come out and admit/describe the assault (terrifying in and of itself), but then we are treated as though we somehow instigated, deserved, or imagined the assault. It is sick. I have witnessed it and I have experienced it.
The author goes on to express their intial suspicion – come – total – disgust with slutwalk as bourgeois anti-feminism par excellence (“par excellence” in that it is cast as womens liberation).
what I found over and over again was not only a refusal to align with feminism, but, often, an outright aversion to it. I saw numerous attacks on radical feminism and radical feminists and I witnessed the reinforcement of negative and untrue stereotypes about feminism (you know the ones: man-hating, misandrist, no-fun, sex-negative, etc). While I do believe the organizers had good intentions, desiring that Slutwalk be inclusive to all, it began to look a lot like the “funfeminist” — NO NO WE’RE THE CONVENTIONALLY ATTRACTIVE FEMINISTS. THE FUN ONES. WE’RE OK. WE LIKE PENISES AND PORN AND LOOKING SEXY kind of feminism that, in the end doesn’t successfully challenge much of anything, and simply repackages sexist imagery in “empowering” wrapping paper.
But what of the contrast of these two texts? Do they speak to each other? do they conflict with one another?
30.03.2011 § Leave a comment
Interesting article from colorlines about the black anti-abortion movement — totally fraught, but some nice historical points:
In 1941, the National Council of Negro Women became the first national women’s group to endorse birth control. Prominent female political figures in the black community came out against the rhetoric of their male counterparts when it came to reproduction. “Black women have the right and the responsibility to determine when it is in the interest of the struggle to have children or not to have them and this right must not be relinquished,” declared Frances Beal, head of the Black Women’s Liberation Committee of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) during the civil right movement…
More broadly, there is the crucial point that criminalizing abortion actually poses a greater threat to the African-American lives. Before the procedure was legalized, “Illegal abortion was the cause of 25 percent of the white women’s deaths due to pregnancy, 49 percent of the black women’s, and 65 percent of the Puerto Ricans’,” as Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman in Congress and a strong supporter of reproductive rights, wrote in her memoir. In addition, the legalization of abortion resulted in significant improvements in maternal and fetal mortality rates. “Maternal mortality in New York City dropped by more than half during the first year [abortion was legal], to an all-time recorded low. Infant mortality also dropped to a new low,”
The article ends up just caving into The Standard Non-Analysis. While really there are so many continuities to follow. excluding the young lords, almost every single nationalist poc group in the sixties held this exact same line. women of color have historically not only lacked reproductive control, but things would happen where they’d go to the hospital and come out without a uterus. to be black is to be killable. (See Wilderson)
“A 1972 Poll showed that black women were more sympathetic than white women to efforts to upgrade women’s status in society (62 % to 45 % respectively) and that black women were also more supportive than white women of the attempts by women’s liberation groups to do so (67 % and 35%, respectively)”