Monday, September 24, 2012

Local Artists Truth Universal and Mos Def Among Contributors To New CD Raising Awareness of Extrajudical Killings of Black People in US

From a press release from Malcolm X Grassroots Movement:
In 2012 the police kill a Black man, woman, or child every 36 hours!

In July, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) and the Malcolm X Solidarity Committee (MXSC), issued “Every 36 Hours: Report on the Extrajudicial Killing of 120 Black people”, that documented this tragic and disturbing fact. The report can be found at

To reach a broader audience and further inform and educate the public about the findings and implications of this report, MXGM and Nu Afrika Entertainment produced the “Every 36 Hours CD Project”. The CD project features artists Jasiri X, Zayd Malik, Dead Prez, Immortal Technique, Chuck D, Killer Mike, Ife Jai, Truth Universal, Tongo Eisen-Martin and more! The project can be found at, or iTunes.

"Hip Hop is our biggest and best means of communication with our people and we intend to use it as a weapon to defend ourselves, when in the immediate past, it has been used to destroy our community”, states Zayd Malik, who is a member of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement Executive Producer of the CD Project. “The Malcolm X grassroots movement has allowed for the opportunity to make this fact a reality in the eyes of our community, and as artists' we must paint a picture of revolution in an effort to save lives in the face of authoritative figures such as police officers, security guards, and neighborhood watchmen”.

The Every 36 Hours CD Project is a promotional tool for the No More Trayvon Martins Campaign for a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice and Self-Determination that MXGM is advancing. Some of the demands of this campaign include an immediate end to police brutality, the end to racial profiling, the redirecting of resources from the police and military to essential social services, and the institutionalization of local police control boards.

Kali Akuno, of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement states, “These extrajudicial killings must stop. The government has to address the crisis being confronted by Black and Latino people. A national plan of action to address racism and issues like police brutality and murders would be a good place to start”.

For information on the petition visit

Neither Candidate: Fifteen Issues this Election is Not About, By Bill Quigley

Neither candidate is interested in stopping the use of the death penalty for federal or state crimes.

Neither candidate is interested in eliminating or reducing the 5,113 US nuclear warheads.

Neither candidate is campaigning to close Guantanamo prison.

Neither candidate has called for arresting and prosecuting high ranking people on Wall Street for the subprime mortgage catastrophe.

Neither candidate is interested in holding anyone in the Bush administration accountable for the torture committed by US personnel against prisoners in Guantanamo or in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Neither candidate is interested in stopping the use of drones to assassinate people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia.

Neither candidate is against warrantless surveillance, indefinite detention, or racial profiling in fighting “terrorism.”

Neither candidate is interested in fighting for a living wage.  In fact neither are really committed beyond lip service to raising the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour  – which, if it kept pace with inflation since the 1960s should be about $10 an hour.

Neither candidate was interested in arresting Osama bin Laden and having him tried in court.

Neither candidate will declare they refuse to bomb Iran.

Neither candidate is refusing to take huge campaign contributions from people and organizations.

Neither candidate proposes any significant specific steps to reverse global warming.

Neither candidate is talking about the over 2 million people in jails and prisons in the US.

Neither candidate proposes to create public jobs so everyone who wants to work can.

Neither candidate opposes the nuclear power industry.  In fact both support expansion.

Bill Quigley teaches law at Loyola University New Orleans and is Associate Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.  You can reach him by email at

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

‘We All Count’ Campaign To Combat Historic Levels of Voter Suppression and Disenfranchisement

From a press release from Project South:
More than 30 million people will be discouraged or prevented from voting in this election. “This is the highest number since the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965. We know that many of those people are African-Americans, LGBT people, people displaced by foreclosure or disaster, and young people—we are working to bring these communities together, and to say that we will not be erased,” says Emery Wright, Co-Director of Project South in Atlanta, GA.

While the Democratic and Republican parties fight for the votes of people across the country, 15 grassroots Southern groups working for social justice are taking a different approach through an effort called the ‘We All Count’ campaign.

The 2008 election, which many considered a decisive victory, was decided by 9.5 million votes. The 2004 election was decided by 3 million votes. If even a fraction of the voters who are discouraged or prevented from voting were able to vote this year, the blue-red map could look very different.

While the media and many national organizations abandon the South during election years, these 15 groups representing over 25,000 people have established 25 action sites around the South. Instead of playing beltway politics, more than 300 organizers are engaging ‘unlikely’ voters - inviting them to join with other communities, to participate, and to be counted.

“Working with the ‘We All Count’ campaign has changed my life,” says Shaquita Bell, a 22-year-old college student at Alabama State University in Montgomery, AL. “I have learned so much about how to engage my community and stay involved beyond the election, when our organizations are needed the most.”

150 people will gather in Lowndes County, Alabama on September 22 to represent their communities and vote on a plan of action for the People’s First 100 Days. Lowndes County is the historic site of Tent City on the trail of the Selma to Montgomery March that organized for voting rights almost forty years ago. While other groups focus on how to target individual voter groups around narrow individual interests, the We All Count campaign is working to shine a light on how different groups of ‘unlikely’ voters have similar interests but are often marginalized from the democratic process.

This movement in the US South is bringing together people who are often dismissed as non-voters or as people without political power. But as history shows us, the power of a multiracial, multi-generational coalition represents a significant powerbase that can respond locally, regionally, and nationally to the attacks on immigrants, youth, women, and families living on the frontlines of poverty.

“Some people have asked why an LGBTQ organization would be spending our time building with Latino and Black-led groups across the South this fall instead of working with other LGTBQ groups to push ‘our issues’’, states Caitlin Breedlove, Co-Director of Southerners On New Ground (SONG), a regional LGBTQ organization. “The answer is simple—‘our issues’ are far more alike than different—people of Color, immigrants and LGBTQ people are being blamed for lack of jobs, unaccountable government programs, and fissures in our family and community values. But, we all need and deserve good schools, good jobs and basic safety—we need to come together to make our voices heard.”

“Many people ask me why ex-felons and formerly incarcerated people would be spending time building with immigrants, gays, and youth,” states Rev. Kenneth Glasgow, a formerly incarcerated person who leads The Ordinary People’s Society (TOPS) in Dothan Alabama. “The answer is simple: our issues are connected, and the disenfranchisement of any person threatens the whole democracy.” More than three million people who have served their time are still excluded from voting every election. “If we look at the economics of disenfranchisement, in Alabama alone the cost of housing inmates is approaching 30k per year. It makes good moral sense and sound economic sense to ensure public participation and reduce recidivism. We all need and deserve good schools, good jobs, and basic safety—we need to come together to make our voices heard.”

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Aramark Uses Hurricane Isaac to Loot the City of New Orleans

From a press release by SEIU Local 21LA:

On August 29, Hurricane Isaac swept through New Orleans and surrounding areas with raging winds and torrential rains causing widespread flooding and epic power outages that lasted in some cases as long as a week. Businesses and schools were closed for up to one week. Whether people evacuated or chose to ride out the weather at home, most people experienced a financial loss due to being out of work since August 28. Shelters were opened. FEMA began processing applications and a disaster foodstamp program was implemented and extended for days to accommodate the outpouring of those in need due to the hardships caused by this disaster.

Everyone lost -- except Aramark and its Wallstreet owners. In fact, this Fortune 500 company, which receives taxpayer money to clean and provide food services in the Recovery School District (RSD), made money. Aramark was paid even though schools were closed. Instead of paying workers for their scheduled shifts that were canceled due to forces beyond their control, the company pocketed tens of thousands of dollars, while their workers, who already toe the poverty line, were put into precarious situations because of the loss of income.

Aramark and its private equity investors from Wallstreet made a week’s worth of profits off of the pain and suffering of New Orleans and the New Orleans people.

“Aramark and its Wallstreet investors looted during Hurricane Isaac from the workers and the taxpayers,” said Helene O’Brien, president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 21 LA. “Louisiana law requires a three-year prison sentence for looters. Aramark needs to pay its workers or pay back the taxpayers or go to jail.”

Aramark workers as well as concerned New Orleanians will deliver a letter of demands to the Aramark office (3800 Desire Parkway, New Orleans, 70126) at 10 a.m., Tuesday, September 18. For more information or to interview Aramark workers and concerned New Orleanians, contact Jewel Bush, SEIU Local 21 LA, by phone at (225) 454-3853 or via email at

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Lolis Eric Elie And The Connections That Link New Orleans And Haiti

This article has been reprinted from Bev Bell at Other Worlds:

The Things That Are The Richest Are The Least Valued: New Orleans And Haiti, Post-Catastrophe

Lolis Eric Elie, Interviewed by Beverly Bell

August 28, 2012

Tomorrow, seven years to the day after Hurricane Katrina dodged New Orleans, the city will be venturing out to assess Hurricane Isaac’s overnight imprint on its neighborhoods. Yet parts of the city – especially low-income, African-American parts – are still damaged from the flood that followed the 2005 storm, when more than 50 levees broke and filled New Orleans with killing waters.

Below, writer Lolis Eric Elie speaks to the connections between his native New Orleans and Haiti, which did not escape Hurricane Isaac. Officially, 24 people died when the hurricane passed through on August 25, though the numbers of those who will die from secondary effects such as hunger and cholera will never be counted. Elie’s discussion, however, focuses on an earlier disaster in Haiti, the epic 7.0 earthquake of January 12, 2010.

Elie is one of the writers of the HBO hit series Treme and co-producer of the documentary Faubourg Treme.

A friend of mine visited Haiti post-earthquake and he sent back a bunch of pictures of fresh graves of people with my last name. I’ve always known that there were Elies there, but that personal connection, seeing it that way… I can’t escape imagining people with my last name and my blood perishing in the earthquake.

In terms of obvious connections, the architecture strikes you immediately: the shutters and the stucco construction, the colors people paint their houses. These things make places in Haiti look very much like parts of New Orleans. The food is also a striking parallel. In Haiti, you have a version of New Orleans’ red beans and rice. You also get a sense of celebration in that culture that parallels our own. For example, considering how small Haiti is, it’s amazing that their visual art has had the incredible influence that it has had. There are at least a half dozen signature styles of Haitian visual arts, whereas you couldn’t say, “That’s obviously a painting from Brazil, or from Poland.”

We also share with Haiti the fact that the things that are richest are the same that are the least valued by the people who count these things. Part of what was so heartbreaking about New Orleans post-levee failure was the fact that we had to explain to people why we were important, why we mattered. And even in the context of trying to make that case, we often found ourselves  minimizing our cultural riches and maximizing our discussions of international trade and oil refining and drilling. We found ourselves forced to speak in the language of a marketplace when that is certainly not the thing that has made New Orleans singular.

Haiti is similar.  If you took it out of the world market picture, financial markets would not collapse. But if you took Haiti out of the cultural picture through its music, its architecture, its visual arts, we as a world community would be greatly impoverished.

The other thing we share with Haiti is this assumption that somehow we deserve our misfortune. Or that somehow misfortune follows us so closely and so consistently that no one should be surprised.

The shorthand for what happened, whether we’re talking for Haiti or New Orleans, is that this was a natural disaster, and nothing could be further from the truth. It is so easy to attribute our difficulties to natural disasters or acts of God, but no one investigates very closely how much unnatural disasters and acts of man are really at the heart of these twin catastrophes. In New Orleans, if the federal levees had been built to the standards that they were supposed to be built to, Katrina would have caused moderate damage. Of course, in Mississippi and Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, it would still have been devastating, but New Orleans would not have been devastated the way it was. If the forced urbanization of Haiti had not taken place in the l980s [when many small farmers went out of business due to the influx of foreign goods at prices made extremely low by IMF pressure on trade tariffs], if millions had not flocked to the city, then the destruction of Port-au-Prince would not have taken the human toll that it took. The forces behind this migration were anything but natural.

Post-flood, there was both euphoria and dread. Euphoria at the possibility that we could rebuild  and apply to the rebuilding a degree of intelligence unprecedented in the city’s history. There was also an immense dread that the same kinds of developers and profiteers would guide the rebuilding, thereby amplifying and expanding all that was bad prior to the levee failures. It is impossible these days to speak about major disasters without referencing Naomi Klein [the intellectual author of disaster capitalism, as described in her book The Shock Doctrine]. Implicit in the rebuilding strategies I hear about for Haiti, and heard about for New Orleans, is the sentiment that we are so desperate that we should be glad for any assistance, no matter how lethal.

The other thing the rebuilding of New Orleans and Port-au-Prince have in common is a sense that what we need is outside experts. At no point has anyone looked at our history and asked about the extent to which outside experts have been culpable in our misfortune. The outside experts who knew how to drain swamps and develop subdivisions had us building in places that we probably should not have built. The outside experts from the Army Corps of Engineers assured us that the levees would protect these areas. They did not. In the case of Haiti, outside experts have been going there at least since the American occupation of 1915 to 1934. The assumption is that foreigners, especially white foreigners, are automatically more qualified than someone in Haiti who can do the work. You cannot escape the racial dimension of the post-earthquake assistance.