Monday, August 31, 2009

20 Questions Mercury in Retrograde Edition


1. Why don't we just run out of the grocery store with all of our
instead of standing in those long assed lines, houngary?

2. What are you reading?

3. Do you have healthcare?

4. Why granola cost so much?

5. Will Jay Z still rap about selling crack when he is a 50 year

6. Why is it so hard to admit that we have allowed the white
of Black masculinity to define the terms of Black,
mainstream masculinity?

7. Why do I feel like I am morphing into a community organizer?

8. Why am I being forced, because of Saul Alinsky, to see that

no person, or non profit is all bad or all good?

9. Why I go to a Black wedding reception with Filthy, and was
reminded of how race is lived?

10. When will I have time to write blog essays again?

11. What are you procrastinating on doing right now?

12. What was the last sacrifice you made for someone you love?

13. When was the last time you forgave someone for hurting you?

14. How do you deal with friends you owe money to?

15. What do you think of how some of the Buddhist view pain?

16. How do you ease out of someone else's life?

17. How do you leave the door open for them to come back?

18. Why do I look at some of my old posts and totally disagree
with my previous statements?

19. Why is my lunch already made for tomorrow?

20. When am I going to learn to drink more water?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Twenty Question 's Monday


Via Post Secret
1. How you feel?

2. When was the last time you were caught reading something
had no business?

3. Why am I just now watching the Chappelle show?

4. Why have I made headway with my anger by replacing vulnerability
with anger?

5. Why ya'll never told me spinach artichoke dip went so hard?

6. When is the new Jay Electronica coming out?

7. If Black men were lynched to deter us from voting, then doesn't

angry white folk showing up to town hall meetings with guns make


8. Why is South Central one of the realest shows I have ever seen?

9. Why do I get the sense that if folks read more, they would
and write less?

10. Why does waking up in your own apartment feel so good?

11. Will I grow some green onions this fall?

12. Why is D.C. a big,' small city?

13. How many Law and Order episodes can you watch in a row?

14. How long will the liberals boycott of Whole Foods last?

15. What impact would having indoor year around farmers markets

have on the 'hood?

16. What would happen if the Congressional proponents said that
THEY were signing
up for the new healthcare plan they were advocating?

17. Why Black men look at me crazy, when I am walking on the street

with a white man, but they refuse to give the same look to dope dealers
on the block?

18. Why Saul Alinsky gave me the wiggles and forced me to rethink

waaaaay too much?

19. What are your three favorite blogs about news, art, books or music?

Cook anything good lately?

I have questions. You have answers.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Capitalism is for Suckas: or, How Constructive Capitalism is our Future


Note: This post grew out of two things. One is a post that I wrote
last week on how the Crack Epidemic was in its essence pure capitalism
and my personal transformation from a person who wanted to be an
banker to someone who aspires to be a scholar and community
organizer. The second thing was a kind of crowd sourcing that happened last
week. After I wrote the post Rafi and
I went back and forth on Twitter about
constructive capitalism. I suggested that
we have a conversation about it.
Two people, @
professorf and @chartreuseb, suggested that we continue
the conversation publicly, which would provide a transcript and
give Umair
(@umairh) a chance to respond. The blog seemed like a good space to
do this, so, here it is.

Renina Jarmon: How do you expect for constructive capitalism to survive
in a system
where profits at all costs have been the mandate
since the late 70's when corporations
mutated into multinationals?

Rafi Kam: First I should say that you really should do a thorough reading
of Umair's blogs because he lays these things down every
week, I'm just going to do my best to explain what I've taken
away from there.

I think your question has it backwards because if you look in the
news for the past few years it's the short term profits at all costs
approach that cannot be expected to survive. Destroying the world's
resources only works for so long, having interests in opposition to
your customers only works for so long. Companies that don't solve
problems or offer any real value to the world have now been paying
the price in the marketplace, and (bailouts aside!) that will continue.

Detroit failed because they ignored the fact that they needed to make
better cars and tried to make all their profits with creative financing
tricks. If they had spent the money and effort to make economical
cars to solve the world's problem that everybody knew about decades
ago, they'd be fine right now. Instead they tried to make their business
be about financing. Ok, so good riddance Detroit! May the next
generation of American car makers hopefully learn from your mistakes.

The mortgage crisis grew out of banks screwing people. The lesson
people are beginning to learn is that this is never truly sustainable. If
your business is based on fucking over your customer you are ultimately
screwing yourself too. I mean this was particularly true with mortgages
where the stakes were so high. I expect sustainability to be the focus
for companies instead of short term profits because that is the landscape
we are looking at today. So you see a new lending model in a company
like Kiva, which is creating this healthy system of trade and tackling the
problem of global poverty. The company enables participation and
benefits on all sides instead of being there to just suck value from the

And these changes in theory will come about mostly because
they are the best means to compete, as Umair says "there is nothing
more asymmetrical than an ideal" meaning having an ideal to base
your company on is actually this insanely huge business advantage.
I believe in that very strongly and we have all witnessed it in action. It
trounces our traditional notions of positioning or economic advantages.

We've seen in our lifetime the disruption of so many things, just in the
past ten years. So too this notion of old school capitalism. It will
change because it needs to and the shift has already started.

Renina Jarmon: I have taken the time to re-read some of Umairs posts,
The Generation M Manifesto, The Case for Constructive Capitalism,
(one of my all time fav's) Michael Jackson and the Zombie Economy,
What Would a Fair Labor Ipod Cost and The Niche Paper Manifesto.

The central premise of capitalism is the endless accumulation of
capital, at all costs. It appears that what Umair is describing isn't
capitalism at all.

For example, in the Generation M Manifesto, Umair says, "You wanted
to biggie size life: McMansions, Hummers, and McFood. We want
to humanize life."

Humanizing life is antithetical to capitalism.

Capitalism turns on the expendability of workers and treating people
like property.

If he has to call it Constructive Capitalism to sell it, than I can see the
benefits of that, as I am more concerned with building local sustainable
communities than I am with arguing over the semantics of a naming of
our new economy.

I am excited that Umair is talking about a change in what institutions
value. In the the essay, "A Time to Break Silence", Martin Luther
Kind jr. talked about the need for a radical revolution of values in
our society. Perhaps the changes he is arguing for in our institutions
will also be mirrored in us individually. The possibility for this happening
is why I write, work, and in the near future, will teach.

As a Black woman and a feminist who is interested in sustainable
economies my general contention is that the crisis that our
American institutions are facing around labor and our economy
is rooted in the United State's primary contradiction, which is the
forced free labor of millions of enslaved Africans.

U.S. Capitalism is rooted in U.S. slavery.

It is brutal, bloody and treats workers like they are expendable,
when the workers are the
ones creating value. The notion of the
founding fathers and the planter class taking what it needed, in this
case, the forced free labor of enslaved Africans, for the purpose of
sustaining a new nation, while simultaneously declaring its freedom
from Britain has never been both acknowledged and dealt with.

Perhaps the sustainable, local economies of the future can be an
opportunity to address this primary contradiction.

Renina Jarmon: What are some examples of business that employ
constructive capitalism?

Rafi Kam: As I said on Twitter, the most disruptive example is Google.
It was created to solve a pressing problem "organize the world's information",
it became a powerhouse of wealth because it solved another huge problem
to make advertising more relevant and accountable. This offered a solution to
a real problem for advertisers and web publishers. It stated a list of core
values about itself and how it thinks the web should work most famously
"Don't Be Evil".

That isn't to say I'm comfortable with the amount of power Google has but
by stating that as their constitutional value they themselves created that
dialog/standard and asked to be judged accordingly. They've
stressed innovation and open-ness. Employees are required to spend
a big chunk of time creating their own projects. Google's free APIs and
free apps have changed the game, provided a foundation for developers
and forced competitors to change their models. And referencing your
first question, quite clearly, they don't act according to a profits at all
cost approach.

Some Umair favorites: Kiva, Etsy, Threadless, Flickr, Twitter, Netflix, Zipcar

I think there's a connection here between Umair's ideas on Constructive
Capitalism or Capitalism 2.0 and so many things that are currently part
of the Zeitgeist: web 2.0, open source, local farming, local economies,
purpose-driven marketing, collaboration over competition, empowering
people, small is the new big and so on. People seem more aware than
ever of how destructive business as usual is, so I think these trends
and ideas rise in response to that.

Renina Jarmon: I agree, with regard to the new companies that have come
along with a different model that acknowledges the community and
human dimension of business. I am all for artisanal, robust, sustainable,
small, if you will, slow communities.

However, if this crisis has taught us anything, it the importance of
considering the global implications of our actions.

Capital is incredibly flexible. I see that it is quite possible for our U.S.
economy to become more green, local and sustainable while the
economy of the Gobal South is turned into one populated by a
"permanent untouchables" class.

The way of life of folks in the Global North is subsidized by folks in
the Global South. While I know that you hated the video that I
sent you last April, The Story of Stuff about consumption, I found
it to be useful in demonstrating the ways in which the products
that we consume start someone where, and end up somewhere else.

What I am getting it is that it is quit possible for Capitalism 1.0 to
absorb our sustainable "Green Economy" by making it profitable
at the expense of the "Third" World.

The first example that comes to mind is the Tabacoo industry. Big
Tobacco was sued in the 80's over whether they lied about knowing
that cigarettes was inherently addictive. In the 90's teen anti smoking
advocates pushed for and Big Tobacco supported underwriting,
anti-teen smoking campaigns. Teen smoking went down in the US,
but it went up in Vietnam, China and arguably other places as well.

I ask you, what is to stop this from happening?
Wouldn't businesses have to be willing to operate from a minimal
to zero profits perspective in order for this to avoid this happening?

Renina Jarmon: If as you say, we are in the beginings of a new era,
how does your notion of constructive capitalism take the fact that we
are moving towards an automated jobless society into consideration?

Rafi Kam: That's a loaded question! I don't know that we're moving towards
an automated jobless society and don't even really understand what that
means. Industries rise and fall, and automation and outsourcing have
replaced many jobs but I don't see how we are moving to a jobless society.
It's not cost-effective to replace every job with automation and it's downright
impossible for some. But speaking to low-skill manufacturing or service jobs
that may have been replaced by automation, there's different possible
answers I suppose. You have initiatives like the one Obama campaigned
on to create "green" manufacturing jobs. Ideally you'd want to see a world
where we're creating better jobs and preparing more people for them.

But it's sort of this two-sided thing where having a whole bunch of people
in need of jobs is a problem for society to solve and also a potential
resource for people with capital. In a perfect world you would have
someone looking at the labor pool both those ways at the same time.
Maybe that's too optimistic. How's that for a perfect closing line to this Q&A.

Renina Jarmon: We are in fact moving towards an automated society.
My thinking about this comes out of a reading of James Bogg's The
American Revolution, pages from a Negro Workers Notebook. The
book, was written in 1963. His general contention is that based on
advances in technology, our society will become one in which automation
will force us to think about how to organize society based on our needs
instead of our wants.
I wrote about his book in a blog post last month
The Coming Jobless Society.

The notion of an automated society is a hard one to swallow, however
it is coming.
For every place that you see a machine replacing a
human a job has been eliminated. The further technology advances,
the more automated our society will become, the fewer jobs will be
Every time you use a computer, instead of working with a human,
a process has been automated and job has been lost. For instance,
in Detroit, the assembly line was automated in the '50's. Our current wars are
becoming automated via unmanned land and aerial vehicles.

For the most part email has eliminated both the need for receptionists
and the USPS. Garbage trucks are automated. Pay kiosks at
businesses, such as AT&T, the grocery store, the airport and Target,
have eliminated the need for customer service agents. Where there
was once 4 human employees you only need 2, or 1.

Taking all this into consideration, I come away from this Q & A with,
in many ways trying to reconcile the world that Boggs is talking about
with the world that Umair is advocating for.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Term, Woman of Color: Race is Hard


Last week, I was watching a sex scene involving
three nude men in the film
Short Bus and said to my friend,
who is white, "Wow, white folks have called us colored but they have a
variety of skin tones as well."

He nodded, and said "Yes, you do have a point" and we continued
to watch the film.
Of course there are different skin hues and tones
amongst white folks,
but it is the kind of the thing that is really
apparent when watching folks, nude, on a screen.

I struggle with the notion of being inclusive. As you may have noticed, I don't
use the term woman of color on my blog, at least not on a regular

basis. I usually write Black, Latina and Asian.

Back in January, Latoya put me on to a thread on My Ecdysis
about women of color and radical women of color on the internet.

So, today, I was on on
The My Ecdysis blog, as I am starting a site
Black feminism, so I was looking for the names of folks who
be interested in contributing. I noticed that Nadia responded
to a comment that I wrote, (where I mentioned the phrase, Black
Asian and Latina women). Her comment, in part, was that using
Black, Asian and Latina, erases Arab and Native Women.

She is right.

But I was also like, this is getting to be a little much. Then I was like, damn,
I might have to use women of color, or perhaps even non-white
women, in order to talk about Black, Asian, Latina, Native and Arab

It was then that I saw the usefulness of the term Woman of Color.

The jury is out.

I am thinking about what it means to be inclusive.

I am thinking about the ways in which our language not only reflects but
also shapes our reality and the futures that we envision.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Twenty Questions Saturdays 8.15.09


1. Why they make the Asian dude in The Hangover act like
a stereotypical, loud, Black, drag queen?

2. What would Black bloggers write about if there was no
(institutional) white racism?

3. Why do I find myself nodding in agreement, laughing and
about blog post ideas every time I read Michelle Wallace's blog?

4. Did you see the article about the nearly 8 thousand people
lined up for free health care last week in Inglewood, CA?

5. Why did I send out my babies v. dreams questions and
quickly let me know that the issue isn't parenting or policy
but thinking within the nuclear and not an extended family framework?

6. Often times, when I hear people complain about the government,

I simply think or respond,
what are you going to do about it?

7. Why he bring me a pound of Peerless coffee back
from Cali and
I became a little less angry?

8. Why salmon teriyaki and black beans w/ salsa taste so good

9. When is Wordpress going to be customizable like Blogger?

10. Is the fact that the white folks are boycotting Whole Foods
indication of the contradiction sharpening?

11. What are you currently reading?

12. How different would our would be if we looked at people
humans first, then racial/gendered beings second?

13. Did you see the last episode of Roseanne?

14. Why am I excited about visiting the largest Buffalo Exchange

in the country in Las Vegas (so I have heard)?

15. The year is almost over, has it been a good one?

16. When am I going to have the courage to press publish
my critique of the Black blogosphere?

17. Why am I just not rediscovering that I have been trying
impress Adrienne Rich all along?

18. Why am I really excited about this Q & A with Rafi about

the sustainable of "constructive capitalism"?

19. What would republicans complain about if they made Gay
and abortion permanently illegal?

20. Why are there so many similarities in how both
The Black Power
Movement and Hip Hop treats women?

Me. Questions. You Answers.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wanted: Your Short Essays


I am currently reading Adrienne Rich's essay "Teaching
Open Language in Admissions" and I have decided
to run a series of short essays or posts on my educational

I have come to the conclusion that I have had a very unique one,
and I would like to use this space to share our experiences.

For instance, as a first year student at Mills, I tried to test
out of English 1. Not only did I not test out, but I was recommended
to take the grad student led reading/writing workshop along
with first year English. I was not amused.

I still remember the topic of my final essay for that class,
which was about how Adrienne Rich and Ntozake Shange were
creating a new language, in order to say new things that never
had been said.

I remember the professor telling the rest of the class that I had submitted
one of the best final papers. I was proud of myself.

The irony that I could NOT test out of English, was placed in the "support
workshop" but wrote one of the best essays, was never lost on me.

If you have similar experiences, please send them to me at

Monday, August 10, 2009

Musing on War Money and Art Money In the University


via Ican

Have public and private universities
decided to trade arts education
for nuclear weapons?

While writing about the white and Black consumption of Black death
in hip hop last May, I came across Chomsky's argument, that the
U.S. is moving towards a "Third" world model.

Meaning that
, we are evolving to have two classes of folks in this country,
the elite and the people who
serve them. This is clearly taking root in
California and New York City. Meanwhile in the heartlands, the
economies in
factory and mining towns have been gutted, and been replaced
with the Walmart, prison and meth economies. Neither of these are sustainable,
just or democratic.

A fundamental thread of the American experience has been that the next
generation will have a better life then the current generation. Given the economies,
listed above, this simply isn't feasible.

Which brings me to the arts education article that I came across in the
New York Times today. Patricia Cohen writes,
If you are looking for a sign of how strapped the University of California, Los Angeles, is for cash, consider that its arts and architecture school may resort to holding a bake sale to raise money. California’s severe financial crisis has left its higher-education system — which serves nearly a fifth of the nation’s college students — in particularly bad straits. But tens of thousands of students at public and private colleges and universities around the country will find arts programs, courses and teachers missing — victims of piercing budget cuts — when they descend on campuses this month and next.
The comments on the article were interesting because
of both what they said, and what they didn't say. One commenter
focused on liberal arts and moms. She writes,

August 10th, 2009
10:23 am
Is this about jobs? Do these administrators think, like so many ignorant Americans, that college degrees in the arts or liberal arts don't lead to jobs? College is not vocational training, let me make that clear. But I also can't help but notice that almost every single mother I know with a degree in art is a stay-at-home mother who is also self-employed. Whether they be painters or art gallery owners, private art teachers or web-page designers, commercial artists or wedding photographers, as I enter my middle thirties I'm surprised by how many women I know who have used their art degrees to spend most of their days with their children and make money at the same time. Facebook has made this even more apparent to me as I reconnect with women I haven't seen in 15 or 20 years.

Make cuts in these programs, and you further reduce mothers' (and probably fathers') options for employment. You will also create more latch-key kids at the same time that you usher babies and toddlers into daycare centers as their parents wish it could be otherwise.
Another focused on how the arts are important to trained artists and engineers
on campus. A commenter writes,
August 10th, 2009
10:58 am
I work in engineering and science but regard reduced emphasis on the arts as short-sighted. Scientists and engineers are more creative and productive when they also have education and experiences in the arts. Life-long learning and an appreciation for abstract thought-and tolerance-are also positive outcomes. Arts programs add much to campus life. Spending cuts may be necessary but should be done equitably to all programs so that educational balance is maintained.
In his new book, the Empire of Illusion, Chris Hedges discusses the
relationship between the war economy and the American University.

His general
thesis is that the university has used both private money from
corporations and public tax dollars from the Pentagon and the Department
of Defense to build weapons to supply, advance and sustain our permanent
war economy.

For the record, historically, when I have encountered anti war activists, I
typically, glazed over with a blank stare. It didn't seem like what they were
talking about was relevant to me, what I was passionate about, or what I
was interested in. But, given the expense of war and the expense of
higher education, the relationship of critical thinkers to a sustaining a
Democracy it is an important issue to consider as we move forward.

In reading bell hooks, Chris Hedges and Chomsky recently, it has become
clear that there is a connection between the arts and the ability to make
sense of ones life.
Be it reading a novel, seeing a play, watching a movie
or a tv show, attending a concert or writing a blog.

There is something to be said for a culture
that derives its meaning from
art rather than war.

I am also seeing that there is a connection between a war economy
and our boys being raised to think that being destructive, rageful
and violent is the only and most appropraite way
of being. Bob Herbert
wrote recently about how the murders of the
women at The LA Fitness
in Pennsylvania last week the was an act of hate against women. A
commenter wrote back

To the Editor:

While I greatly appreciate Bob Herbert’s focus on violence toward women, as a psychologist looking for possible causes and solutions, I see a bigger problem. Boys and young men in most of the world are brought up to admire violence through fantasy, media and sports and in preparation for the army and war. They are taught that being a successful man requires physical power, weapons and often violence.

This has to be addressed in our child rearing and in our culture and values, beginning with childhood games and culminating in our emphasis on physical force to solve global problems and sustain our “world supremacy.”

Vivien D. Wolsk
New York, Aug. 8, 2009

Given the connection between how boys are socialized and war, and the
connection between
our two wars, our schools and the dismantling of liberal arts,
I have a few questions.

What happens when a country treats it higher education like vocational/
trade schools?

When are we going to have a conversation about the fact that universities
are a billion dollar business and, given the fact that we are moving
towards an automated jobless society, what will we do with our young people
once they have graduated, if they make it that far?

If the arts programs have to sale cookies in order to survive,
do the engineering and physics departments have to as well?
If not, then why not?

Will the only jobs left be service jobs (waitresses, janitors, nurses)
or servicing the elite/corporations (finance, advertising) or joining the armed

If private corporations provide some funds to science and engineering
(in return for the right of any novel discoveries) the schools
receive research grants/our tax dollars from the
department of defense,
what do the students receive?

How are the interest's of both the students and the public served by this?

Lets Discuss.

Sponsorship and Biases: Musing on The Crack Game and Investment Banking


The crack game, in it's essence, is pure capitalism.

Profit, over people, at all costs.

Eliminate enemies at all costs.

Take out the dominant political regime or competition at all costs.

Endless accumulation of property and capital, at all costs.

Domination through coercion, violence and if necessary legal
at all costs.

People, human beings, babies, addicts and quite simply,
the human toll, are all irrelevant.

This evening I was reading a piece on the Newsweek site
titled, The Fatal Flaw of Obamacare. By the bottom of the first
page, I decided to Google the author because the derisiveness of
his tone suggested that he was getting conservative think tank money.

I found out he that he was a writer, and in fact conservative cat, who
is down with the National Review.

I was half right. It also became clear that his money is tied up with
To be fair, there are left think tanks and "liberal" writers at Newsweek
who are pushing their own agendas.

My issue is with the lack of disclosure.
The asymmetry of information
pisses me off, and when I sniff
it out, I stay on it until my point is made.

The asymmetry
tends to work in favor of he person who has more info.
brings me to Twitter. A few weeks ago, I learned that Oprah,
Puffy, Shaq and arguably
others receive Twitter stock shares, in
exchange for tweeting.

That's cool,
but there was something that struck me about the fact that
this simply
was never mentioned, in all of the articles in the mainstream press
about the popularity of the site.
It became clear to me that everything is
for sale. (I know. Naive bear. Hang in there with me for
90 seconds. I will

I hadn't really thought about the notion of everything being for sale
as a strict truth
since 1986, which is the year that the pure capitalism
of the crack game seeped into the streets
corners and blocks of
East Oakland.

With the notion of everything being for sale, this afternoon I tweeted
that when you seperate your money
from your art you are free.

This is material because I was once neutral regarding corporations.

There was a time when I thought that if I learned how corporations worked,
I could work for one, make my money, get in and get out. Never being one
on ambition, I wanted to work at Merrill or Goldman Sachs. I
to leverage my relationships, to the extent that I could try and
such a position. I reached out to the men that I knew who worked
in the field and asked them to help me.

With this experience in the back of my mind, I read Matt Taibbi's piece on
Goldman Sachs. In many ways it represents the convergence of art,
sponsorship and the essence of the crack
game as pure capitalism.

Taibbi writes like he is independent. The piece reminded me of
Gary Webb.

Moreover, he has done, what very few people have done, which
is criticize politicians, investment banking and implicitly,
capitalism in the mainstream press which in this case is Rolling Stone
Magazine. What is material is that the story was NOT buried on arrival.

In the article, The Great American Bubble Machine, Taibbi writes,

The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it's everywhere. The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money. In fact, the history of the recent financial crisis, which doubles as a history of the rapid decline and fall of the suddenly swindled dry American empire, reads like a Who's Who of Goldman Sachs graduates.

By now, most of us know the major players. As George Bush's last Treasury secretary, former Goldman CEO Henry Paulson was the architect of the bailout, a suspiciously self-serving plan to funnel trillions of Your Dollars to a handful of his old friends on Wall Street. Robert Rubin, Bill Clinton's former Treasury secretary, spent 26 years at Goldman before becoming chairman of Citigroup — which in turn got a $300 billion taxpayer bailout from Paulson. There's John Thain, the asshole chief of Merrill Lynch who bought an $87,000 area rug for his office as his company was imploding; a former Goldman banker, Thain enjoyed a multibilliondollar handout from Paulson, who used billions in taxpayer funds to help Bank of America rescue Thain's sorry company.
What is interesting about the piece is both his passion, nerve and
the fact that he isn't a finance reporter, per se.

Furthermore, the article, gives me hope for the day in which
Black writers will themselves to write with similar fierceness,
criticism and vision.

On Alternet, Dean Starkman talks about the ways in which Taibbi's
works, doesn't work, and its merits as an article as a whole.
For the most
part the mainstream press has dismissed it, yet and
still folks are talking
about the company, Wall Street and whether
his assertions in the article are in fact true. They can't rebut his arguement,
they are just opting to not take it seriously because he called Goldman a
"great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly
jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money." Say word?

Ezra Klein offers a great sum up, of Starkman's piece when he writes,
writing that "the weakness of the piece is where others might find strength, its polemical nature and its hyperbole." In particular, he says that "when you call Goldman a 'great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money,' you’re in a sense offering a big fat disclaimer—this piece is not to be taken literally and perhaps not even seriously."
I am thinking about Goldman, I am thinking about Democracy
and I am thinking about the Crack game.

To create another future, one of the contradictions that many of us
who came up in the 80's will have to face, is the conflict that arises when
we are faced with choosing money over people.

Take the d-boy for instance. I am mindful of our willingness to love or
respecting a dope dealer who sends children in the hood to college.

Yes, the d-boy sent the children to school, but the d-boy
still sold crack,
that has to recognized and accounted for as well. Let me be clear.

I understand that cats in the hood didn't fly cocaine, Tech-9's nor AK's
into the hood. I get
that. And that isn't the issue at hand. I am
more interested
in who and what we respect and why.

I once thought that I could work at an investment bank, stack a little
cheese, pay off some school debt and move on.

I now realize that this is like saying, I will just sell crack for a few years,
make my money, and get out. It doesn't work.
I have known since I was
ten that how an adult makes their money
influences what they say and
how you say it.

When I saw, one, two and then three women be murdered
because they were
either addicted to drugs or were dating drug dealers
and subsequently
murdered in double homicides, it became clear to
me then that the notion of who I hung around with and or how I got money
have an impact on my life.

As an artist, today, I realize as a person who operates in that murky

space of not being a journalist, of writing and soon to be, as a
and teacher, deciding to not marry my art to my income is a
scary, loaded
and freeing act.

As a Black woman, I am particularly attuned to, and have a criticism
for human beings and corporations who make their mortgages
trafficking in the disparity of Black women, Black men and Black

We see what Black people, who have been given a little bit money,
some job titles, but no real power have done. They have pursued their
gain at the expense of pursuing our collective advancement.

My preference is for the children to learn from these Black folks and
to do something different. What that something is, I am not sure.

Throwing folks under a bus for investment banking money
or crack
money isn't sustainable, just, nor Democratic.

I believe, today, that to be effective, our new pursuit must be along the lines for
pursuing the collective good
over the individual gain. Perhaps we
can discover what that looks
like together.

Lets Discuss.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Health Care's Perfect Storm Brewing


Frank Rich wrote about President Obama, and the battle
over health care here.

The most insightful comments that I saw was this one:

New York
August 9th, 2009
8:50 am
There’s a perfect storm brewing: a government that (but for a few ethical souls) only advances the interests of the monied class; a monied class that owns the media; and a media that exploits and advances the fears of millions--millions who are angry and growing desperate over an economy that is short on jobs and big on rewarding the monied class.

Where’s the way out? I've always taken pride in being a conscientious, informed citizen, but the last few months have forced me to finally face the fact that our government is beyond repair, beyond redemption. If I had money and a job to go to, I would leave.
This commenter was interesting, in that it became clear to
me how some of us are beginning to analyze what was promised
and what has occurred.

The surefire way to ensure that you have learned
something, is to try and teach it to someone.

Where is the website showing, in a ten point plan, what the
plan is and is not?

We can not list or teach, what we do not know.

The following comment resonated with me because of
the honesty but also the willingness to still expect politicians
to solve our problems, when it has been made clear that
there is no apparent incentive to do so.
August 9th, 2009
8:50 am
Until there is universal health care, everyone is set up for failure. If you get sick or even just become one of the millions of people in a car accident, you can lose your finances. Assuming you have good insurance, they can decide to ditch you after they say they won't pay for an illness.

Say your neighbor has melanoma. Well this neighbor's insurance will only cover $10k of the cost of treatment, but that treatment can be five to ten times the maximum the insurance company will pay. The hospital wants their money, so you are on the hook for it. What are you going to do? Refuse treatment? But the doctors want to save your life! The insurance company wants to destroy it.

No matter what Suzie Orman says, you can't prepare yourself for $100,000 in medical bills. The median income for a family of four is around $40000 per year! We expect people to have three years gross salary saved in case they get sick?

That also assumes that once you get so sick, you'll be able to continue working. Now if you're on chemo, it's a lot harder to sit at a desk and answer the phone. It's even harder if you have a job in a service sector where it is vital that employees stay whole and healthy. You can't get hours if you're too sick to stand for eight hours a day. If you can't get hours, then you'll have no income. If you have no income, how are you supposed to pay for medical care in addition to the expenses we all have like rent/mortgage, car payment, utilities for the home, and food?

We, the members of the middle class (or what's left of it), have all been set up. I wish there were a politician out there who would admit it and fix it. However, he or she would face such opposition from much mightier forces than voters that they'd probably never make it to an office of any consequence. It's why change is easy to promise: we all want a change. It's probably going to be impossible to deliver a true change. I voted for Obama because I didn't want to see someone like John McCain who put women's health in air quotation marks running the country and making decisions that would affect my life.

I'm in my 20s and I don't have health insurance. I may get some when I go to grad school in a few weeks. I may even be able to get my teeth cleaned after two years of not seeing a dentist. Why have we been abandoned in the last 40 years by our government, and why did people buy Reagan's nonsense that the government was the problem? My generation is going to be paying for all of it. We're going to have to work longer, harder, and for less. What we've sacrificed is our standard of living to lobbyists.

It's enough to make me want to move to another country, and I'm lucky enough to speak Spanish. I have my pick of about 25 places to go! I could probably get my teeth cleaned in Cuba for free!
I wish there were a politician out there who would admit it and fix it.
I wish there were a politician out there who would admit it and fix it.
I wish there were a politician out there who would admit it and fix it.

Our coming new way of life will demand that we understand
that it will be our responsibility to solve our own problems.


Thursday, August 06, 2009

Twenty Questions Friday 8.7.09


1. Why bank fees make me almost have a coronary?

2. Why am I my fathers child?

Even though Manaen tells me, what seems like once a week,
why is it so hard to forgive, even if the act is for me, not the


4. Why when someone leave, you miss them, a lot, then you get
use to it?

5. What if some of the "birthers" flipped out and got violent with an Asian, Black
or Latino white person?

6. Why people stay saying that poverty is why our children can't
yet Cuba as a 99% literacy rate?

Why did it feel good when I ran into the Graduate, (he has always treated
me like number two)
who said I was glowing then proceeded to hit on me.

8. Why isn't there a Black Michael Moore?

9. Why I still be looking for a modern Pharcyde?

Why am I so competitive?

11. Why people try and make money off of everything, when everything
ain't for sale?

12. Why do i have to resort to crack game metaphors to explain capitalism?

13. Why do I still remember dig dugs pfn number?

Why do I want Tony Touch to DJ my going away/birthday party?

If Black people don't save Black children, who will?

Why do I love Bianybear for teaching me that I need to be vulnerable
and fearless?

Why my honesty make me feel vulnerable and free?

18. When will we have an honest conversation about
the fact that
automation is eliminating jobs that will never

Why we so scared to stand up for what we believe in?

20. Why "he" say that I ain't follow my heart last night?

I got questions, you, have answers.

So Apparently, I am a Man


The same techniques used by white folks to keep Black men in check,
Black men use to keep Black women in check.

Last week on Twitter, I was chatting with @shehateme.

He mentioned something, probably a complaint, general
tweet like chatter. I responded,
saying that he was strong,
that he would be okay.
He responded saying, no "You are strong,
I want to be like you."

Another, Tweeter, @
darius_sinclair responded saying, "Yes she is
strong, like three men.

I read it, and thought to myself, hmmmmm. Something about that statement
didn't sit well with me.
Before I responded, I thought about it,
because quite simply, attacking people isn't
productive nor my steez.

I asked
@darius_sinclair, "Hey, what did you mean by this?" He responded,
simply, "That you you are strong."
Even though it seemed fairly innocuous,
it still didn't sit right.

I asked a friend, who can sometimes help me see the forest for
the trees when it comes to race and gender theory. He said, quite simply,
"In our culture, women who challenge men, are not women, they are
not feminine, they are strong, and the only strong people are men."

I turned to him and said, "I don't know my place?" Then I nodded
saying I don't know my place because one of my gifts is that
I feel comfortable everywhere (except in Projects that I don't know,
they have me on edge, until I know the locations of key players.)

In a previous life, I was going to be a lawyer. What kind
of lawyer could I have possibly been if I didn't feel comfortable
challenge people? It is what we are trained to do. Craft arguments.
Be analytical. Argue statutes. Argue Facts.

I had a teachable moment on the way that patriarchy (
sexism) works.

As a woman, if I challenge anyone, especially men, I am not
a woman, I am not feminine, I am a man.

There is simply no room for me, as a woman, to like sports- its masculine,
to be into games, technology and programming- its masculine, to
be an argumentative lawyer- its masculine, to be a philosopher- its

Implicitly when women are called strong, the motivation is to shut us up,
to silence us, and to try make us feel ashamed. While that may not necessarily
have been the case on Twitter last week, it is the way that gender functions
in our society.

It was then that I realized that the same techniques used by white folks
to keep Black men in check, Black men use to keep Black women
in check.

Lets discuss.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Writers Block


What do you all want me to write about? I know I used to ask this on a
more frequent basis.

I decided to
do so today, because......I need help deciding.

You see, I spent the weekend in NYC and I was away from the internets.

Now, I am looking it the internets sideways, because..because...because....

Because school is about to start, because I just read this new
Chris Hedges book
and I can't get it out my mind (its like when you kiss someone and you can't get
the moment off your byrd), because I have a little time on my hands
and because
I have relationship upheaval (I know, I always do, always processing, always
learning, lols)
, I just can't seem to write the way I normally do.
I am stuck.
Backed up.

Funny thing is I get grumpy when I don't
essay on the reg.
Yes. I used essay as a verb. You know what it is
(I also think Mod Min about to be 4 in a couple of days. Hmmp.)

So here are the posts that I am most interested in:

  • What Our Forefathers Taught me about Revolution and Black People
  • Why Lil Kim Makes Black Women Uncomfortable
  • 50 Cent Masculinity Requires Beyonce Femininity
  • Notes from a Waitress
  • So, I Learned that I am a Man (about femininity and how if I am a woman
    who stands up to men, then I am a MAN, and no longer feminine. Deep, hunh?)
  • The End of California (Why California will be our first modern "3rd world" state)
  • Our Future: Sustainable Local Economies
  • I See Myself in Henry Louis Gates
  • Sexism Hurts {Black} Men Too
Is there anything that you would like for me to address with regard to
this list, or something you have been curious about.

As usual, I look forward to your responses.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Twenty Questions Saturdays {I Know, Late Black Girl}


Life caught up with me yesterday, hence by ability to provide you
with the much beloved, 20 Questions Fridays, on a Saturday.

1. Why is it so hard to acknowledge that hip hop has an impact
how Black children treat each other, with regard to sex,
around sexuality and violence?

2. What if everything you had now, regarding material items,
was all you would have for the next five, ten years?

3. Are you in contact with the people who mentored you
you were a teenager?

4. Why I still cheer the A's, even though I don't know
any of the
players names?

5. Why is it so hard to turn off that "I should have said
X to her"

6. What will it take for those who are employed to be concerned

with the fate of the semi and permanent unemployed?

7. Have you heard of the
$5 slice of pizza?

8. Why isn't there an international youth movement?

9. Why stuffed mushrooms go so hard?

10. Why did I find a bar that has a bookshelf full of philosophy

books, California beers on tap, right in Brooklyn?

11. Why, in addition to having a beer, didn't President Obama

take a moment to facilitate a broader American conversation
on the
interaction between the police and Black communities.

12. How come there is never enough money for all the artistic
project ideas I come up with?

13. Why three different people tell me that I be over thinking

stuff, yesterday?

14. What collective obligation do Black folks w/ degrees and
education have to Black folks who do not have the resources or

access to achieve these things?

15. Why did being a waitress force me to grow up (in ways I
am still seeing everyday)?

16. Why is white poverty invisible in mainstream media?

17. Why are teen sex workers treated as criminals, as opposed
to people who need social services and mental health assistance?

18. Why for the first time in my life, I have visited New York City

and the people, in some ways seem incapable of feeling?

19. Have you considered composting?

20. How will I be able to blog in the fall when I won't have
anymore time?

You, of course, have answers.

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