Thursday, August 21, 2014

St. Louis, Ferguson, and the voter suppression issue

I suspect St. Louis County, Missouri, has a voter suppression problem. When I say voter suppression, I include not only racially biased voting regulations, district creation, and schedules but also the work of an adept group of GOP activists who will throw out voter registrations under the guise of "voter fraud charges." They will also send overly-zealous vote challengers to monitor the polls, and they have supported a mysterious conservative organization that claimed to be a voting rights organization yet worked to decrease voting.

Voter suppression in Missouri should not be news to progressive political organizers. Nonetheless, it's crucial that people who plan to register people of color to vote in St. Louis County understand what they're really up against.

Most people who pay attention to politics know that Black voters tend to vote for Democratic Party candidates, and they may also know that the Republican party has been unhappy about voter registration drives in Black communities. GOP activists have admitted that much: they want to stop Democratic Party voters from getting to the polls. Therefore, is it possible that in St. Louis County elections the GOP has been more effective than the media cares to report?

I fully disclose here that in 2007 and 2008, I worked about six months as the

Both tyranny and chaos silence free speech

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Yaoband (Chinese)--More music from Apple's Verse series (Video)

Chinese No.1 EDM Team Yaoband's New MV - We Just Love It (耀乐团)
And here's the Apple commercial that features them.

Blogging Apple Verse is now officially a pattern with me.

What did Martin Luther King Jr. mean, "A riot is the language of the unheard"?

Last year about this time, a whole year before the civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, after the killing of 18-year-old Mike Brown, CBS's 60 Minutes posted an overtime segment featuring Martin Luther King, Jr. The segment is part of last year's commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights March on Washington. Its headline is the King quote you may have heard repeated since the tear gas began to cloud Ferguson's night air:
"A riot is the language of the unheard."
The overtime piece features Mike Wallace's 1966 interview with King in which he asked the Civil Rights leader how he felt about a growing number of Black people rejecting non-violent methods. Here is part of what was said, but I hope you watch the full video interview yourself.
MIKE WALLACE: There's an increasingly vocal minority who disagree totally with your tactics, Dr. King.

KING: There's no doubt about that. I will agree that there is a group in the Negro community advocating violence now. I happen to feel that this group represents a numerical minority. Surveys have revealed this. The vast majority of Negroes still feel that the best way to deal with the dilemma that we face in this country is through non-violent resistance, and I don't think this vocal group will be able to make a real dent in the Negro community in terms of swaying 22 million Negroes to this particular point of view. And I contend that the cry of "black power" is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro. I think that we've got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard. And, what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the economic plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years.

WALLACE: How many summers like this do you imagine that we can expect?

KING: Well, I would say this: we don't have long. The mood of the Negro community now is one of urgency, one of saying that we aren't going to wait. That we've got to have our freedom. We've waited too long. So that I would say that every summer we're going to have this kind of vigorous protest. My hope is that it will be non-violent. I would hope that we can avoid riots because riots are self-defeating and socially destructive. I would hope that we can avoid riots, but that we would be as militant and as determined next summer and through the winter as we have been this summer. And I think the answer about how long it will take will depend on the federal government, on the city halls of our various cities, and on White America to a large extent. This is where we are at this point, and I think White America will determine how long it will be and which way we go in the future.
Lagniappe: I also recommend this editorial by Rebecca Carroll at the Guardian, "Why are white people scared of black people's rage at Mike Brown's death?" Carroll addresses her complaint directly to a white audience. Here's a key passage:
You are the ones who created this godforsaken racist system by using your circumstantial power and privilege 400 years ago to institutionalize white supremacy. Now use that power and privilege you still have, 400 years later, to dismantle it.

And please don’t quibble about whether you have any direct lineage to the architects of racism. You are benefitting from it, so you have a direct responsibility to figure out how to undo it. Because maybe you’ve seen what happens when we black people try to undo it in 2014 – they call in the National Guard.
Finally, if you've been wondering where people who are more informed about what's happening in Ferguson get their news, try this list of reporters who are tweeting news live from the ground in Ferguson.

Tweeted Poem: On Florissant

On Florissant

Monday, August 18, 2014

New Apple ad features Jason Hall's Slow Roll with Mos Def sampling Marvin Gaye: So, now Black folks get a verse, too

True Confession: As much as I love Walt Whitman, as much as I love Robin Williams and the movie The Dead Poet's Society, as much as I love Apple's "Verse Anthem" commercial using Walt Whitman's poem "O Me! O Life!," and poetry itself, I confess that I have been brooding, disappointed with the razzle-dazzle-'em computer giant. Its first "Verse Anthem" commercial, while beautifully poetic, has no Black people in it.

For a while I thought about writing a post putting them on blast for that oversight, one that seemed particularly egregious given the #YesWeCode initiative and other programs that aim to bridge the digital divide between African-Americans, urban youth, and the nearly lily white slopes of Silicon Valley.

I mean, that commercial even appears to have people in it performing Hip Hop, but not one glimpse of the ethnic group that created Hip Hop. And, of course, wouldn't it have been nice of them to show African-Americans enjoying poetry and being technically savvy? Such visuals help break stereotypes.

Really, my disdain had grown to the point where its Parenthood commercial with that folksy and monotonous "Living the Life of Dreams" tune aggravated me. How many Black parents can you find in that commercial?  Don't we need more images of Black people being good parents?

I tell you, I was about to switch over to an Android phone.

So, I was pleased to see and hear Apple's latest "Verse" commercial featuring Jason Hall's Slow Roll Detroit project. Immediately I recognized Marvin Gaye's "Chained" had been sampled in a remix of Mos Def's "Undeniable." The composite is called "You Are Undeniable (Amerigo Remix)." You can hear it and see the commercial after this paragraph, and below that I've posted Marvin Gaye's "Chained" and Mos Def's original "Undeniable" separately. If you want the remix, you can buy it from iTunes, of course, but also

Apple describes the commercial this way:
Jason Hall inspires thousands of people to witness the revitalization of Detroit from two wheels. As the cofounder of the Slow Roll city bike ride, Hall taps into his community spirit and his iPad to turn an idea into a movement.

"Chained" by Marvin Gaye

"Undeniable" by Mos Def

I'm pretty sure that there's an Apple fan out there who thinks this kind of stuff is not important, but companies that want to sell to everybody need to show everybody using their stuff.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Adage the news: Today's thought on dissent in Ferguson

It is the first responsibility of every citizen to
question authority. - Ben Franklin

Not for the Sake of Dissent
Humans in positions of power
generally do what they should do.
But without the people questioning,
would the powerful stay true?
Nordette N. Adams

Friday, August 15, 2014

American due process and justice for Mike Brown: Video of alleged robbery by the big black man

This morning, the Ferguson, Missouri, police department released the name of the officer who shot Michael Brown to death. The officer has been identified as Officer Darren Wilson, a six-year veteran of the police force. Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson also released an incident report and a video showing a large black man allegedly committing a "strong-arm" robbery of cigarillos from a convenience store. The department alleges the man in the video to be Brown.

Already some people are angry about the video saying that either it's not Brown or it's not Brown on the day of the shooting, while others (and you can guess their sociopolitical leanings by their opinions) think the video exonerates Officer Wilson and the Ferguson Police Department.

The former doesn't matter in terms of the protest or the shooting, and the latter is plainly not true. In America, the police don't get to shoot unarmed people regardless of race.

As I said on Facebook and Twitter:

"Whether you believe that's ‪#‎MichaelBrown‬ in ‪#‎Ferguson‬ video or not, whoever it is is UNARMED. So, if the police want to stand by that video, what they've really shown us is Mike Brown did NOT have a gun. Do not be distracted! ‪#‎NMOS14‬"

And a person tweeted back: "@nordette_verite And last I checked, the punishment for theft of a Swisher isn't execution without trial!"