“Moral Mondays” Preacher Barber, Forbes

Dr. James A Forbes, Jr of New York and Rev. Dr. William J Barber II of North Carolina, perhaps best known for his impassioned testimony against his state’s so-called “bathroom bill,” drew a crowd from  all races, genders, and walks of life to Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Milwaukee Wednesday for the final stop of their Moral Revival tour.“The Revival: Time for a Moral Revolution of Values” is a national, multi-state tour to redefine morality in American politics. The tour includes over 20 stops.

The evening began with a call to action. The leader asked, “what do we want?” the congregation then replied, “moral revival!” That moment led to worship with songs to get the crowd warmed up and filled with motivation – motivation that would lead to wanting to make a change.

Following an impassioned singing of “I woke up with my mind stayed on freedom” — with plenty of clapping along — Barber started off saying that we will no longer hide our deepest moral values. “Forward together. Not one step back. Now get out to vote,” he said. (more…)

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The Case for Reparations <p> Inside the Battle for Fair Housing

The Case for Reparations

Inside the Battle for Fair Housing

And if thy brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee. And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty: thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the LORD thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing today.

— Deuteronomy 15: 12–15

Besides the crime which consists in violating the law, and varying from the right rule of reason, whereby a man so far becomes degenerate, and declares himself to quit the principles of human nature, and to be a noxious creature, there is commonly injurydone to some person or other, and some other man receives damage by his transgression: in which case he who hath received any damage, has, besides the right of punishment common to him with other men, a particular right to seek reparation.

— john locke, “second treatise”

By our unpaid labor and suffering, we have earned the right to the soil, many times over and over, and now we are determined to have it.

— anonymous, 1861

  1. “So That’s Just One Of My Losses”

Clyde ross was born in 1923, the seventh of 13 children, near Clarksdale, Mississippi, the home of the blues. Ross’s parents owned and farmed a 40-acre tract of land, flush with cows, hogs, and mules. Ross’s mother would drive to Clarksdale to do her shopping in a horse and buggy, in which she invested all the pride one might place in a Cadillac. The family owned another horse, with a red coat, which they gave to Clyde. The Ross family wanted for little, save that which all black families in the Deep South then desperately desired—the protection of the law.

Clyde Ross, photographed in November 2013 in his home in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago, where he has lived for more than 50 years. When he first tried to get a legitimate mortgage, he was denied; mortgages were effectively not available to black people. (Carlos Javier Ortiz)

In the 1920s, Jim Crow Mississippi was, in all facets of society, a kleptocracy. The majority of the people in the state were perpetually robbed of the vote—a hijacking engineered through the trickery of the poll tax and the muscle of the lynch mob. Between 1882 and 1968, more black people were lynched in Mississippi than in any other state. “You and I know what’s the best way to keep the nigger from voting,” blustered Theodore Bilbo, a Mississippi senator and a proud Klansman. “You do it the night before the election.”

The state’s regime partnered robbery of the franchise with robbery of the purse. Many of Mississippi’s black farmers lived in debt peonage, under the sway of cotton kings who were at once their landlords, their employers, and their primary merchants. Tools and necessities were advanced against the return on the crop, which was determined by the employer. When farmers were deemed to be in debt—and they often were—the negative balance was then carried over to the next season. A man or woman who protested this arrangement did so at the risk of grave injury or death. Refusing to work meant arrest under vagrancy laws and forced labor under the state’s penal system. (more…)

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One of the most toxic attempts to dismiss the prevalence of racism is what Jenée Desmond-Harris calls “vanity sizing for racism,” the idea that a large number of Americans cannot be racist. That “racist” is a hurtful term that only really describes people so outwardly bigoted that they use racial slurs and harass people of color. But in reality, a large number, even a majority, of white Americans can be racist. Their racism is not necessarily overt; rather it is oftentimes more insidious in its subtlety.

Hidden Figures understands this. The film tells the story of three black women at NASA who were pivotal in Project Mercury, the mission that sent the first American to orbit the planet in 1962. The three brilliant women, Katherine Goble Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), struggle throughout the film to have their skills utilized, let alone recognized, by their white “superiors.” They are confronted with misogynoir at every turn, whether it be Dorothy trying to get a book from the whites-only section of the library or Mary trying to receive an engineering degree at a white-only school. Segregation is an inescapable part of their lives.

But their oppressors are not the typical racists depicted in film. It is not random blue-collar white men who advocate for racial violence, but rather professionals in fancy clothing who use “precedent” and “rules” to deny black women access to the resources and basic needs they are entitled to. NASA is segregated, with Katherine, Dorothy, and Mary working at the West Area Computing facility, which lacks the technology granted to the white Langley Research Center. However, the three black woman continually prove themselves to be deserving of what they ask for. Eventually, when their skills are finally realized to be essential to the mission, they are allowed to enter white spaces. (more…)

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