Category Archives: Politics

A Statement of Intent

I am a recent graduate of the University of Washington history and philosophy departments and I am currently preparing to enter into a PhD program. My passion and my goal in life is the improvement of the systems and the institutions that govern our lives and societies. However, knowledge by itself without the experience of practical application is often not very valuable. Conversely, when experience guides decisions and actions the knowledge created is vastly more relevant and pertinent. Therefore, I decided to take a year or two away from my academic studies to gain experience and to put what I have learned into practice.

Ultimately, what I would like to do with my time is to work in the community with a non-profit or governmental agency on an issue related to justice. Disenfranchisement and the ability of people to express their agency are two phenomena that nestle at the heart of most issues concerning justice. Much of this I believe exists because of the constriction of lines communication by policies and practices, and because of the fear of interacting with a system that people who are impoverished or who feel disenfranchised find difficult to trust.

I think part of the work that is necessary to overcome these obstacles to justice is assisting people to become knowledgeable about how the current system functions and how they can participate without retribution. Voting is one of the important strategies of participating in the system and expressing agency. Yet, there is often latency between the emergence of an issue, bringing the matter to a vote, and beneficial solutions coming to fruition. Whereas, participating in public meetings both at the government and community levels can often have immediate effects. Yet, there are often issues of accessibility about when the meetings are held and the competing obligations of people who are impoverished, such as, meals and childcare. However, I believe we can easily remedy these kinds of barriers to participation by working with community organizations and elected officials.

Another very important component of an issue of justice is the accurate reporting of facts, trends, conditions, and projections. The first factor is acquiring and consolidating accurate information, which we can then utilize to inform our projections. One aspect of this is historical research and data analysis, and another component is hearing from the members of the communities most impacted. Most situations are complex and have multiple motivating factors or causes. The object of this information gathering should be to identify the real motivations and causes of injustice. The next factor is ensuring that we accurately present this information to those who are responsible for making decisions. As a result of our improving the participation of the people who are often not engaged in governmental activities and who are often the most impacted by injustice, the likelihood that more accurate and complex reports will make it into the record dramatically increases.

I believe the work I have outlined above to be the next steps to the improvement of the systems and the institutions that govern our lives and societies. It is possible that by decreasing the prevalence of disenfranchisement and increasing the ability of people to express their agency that the outcomes of our large bureaucratic system will more accurately represent the disparate and varying lives of the people in our society, thereby increasing the amount of justice experienced. We can only accomplish this work in and with the community and that is why I want to work with a non-profit organization or a governmental agency focused on issues of justice.

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#GOPHANDSOFFME

As an American Citizen I am disgusted and appalled by whom this society has selected as potential formal leaders of our country.

As a Black Man I am insulted and angered because there could be no more flagrant a display of rampant hatred for the people who have been minoritized, marginalized, and pushed to the side in this society, than the so-called ‘leaders’ we are now presented with.

As a Human Being I am ashamed and infuriated that a man who blatantly and openly disregards and dehumanizes half of our species could even be mentioned in the same statement as a person who represents the people.

I stand in solidarity with our sisters, mothers, daughters, aunties, and grandmothers.

To be certain, I am not with the Clinton camp, there has been far too much harm done to Black and Brown communities to ever forgive; families disparaged and torn apart; trade agreements that have led impoverished people of color worldwide to suffer; the prison industrial complex…

However, I am diametrically opposed to Trump becoming president of the United States! It sickens me to my stomach and wrenches my soul that there are enough people in this society who have espoused and endorsed his views and behaviors to even permit him a chance at the presidency. America has not come quite so far as it likes to pride itself on.

What I and you both know is that the office of president is not synonymous with leader, and certainly not leader of the people. The people are the government. The people are the leaders. Nothing happens without our say-so. This is why, all of us, whether we have the right to vote or not, must stand in opposition against this tyranny and declare

#NotOneMore
#BlackLivesMatter
#BlackPower #BrownPride
#Liberation
#gopHandsOffMe

“It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

https://www.facebook.com/events/630232453828500/

I am not a Criminal. I am a Human Being

I am not a criminal. I am a human being.

Categorizing and labeling me a criminal as if it were a universal and everlasting classification and definition is not only detrimental to myself, but also our society. I am a human being who at some point in my life committed what has been called a crime.

It is called a crime when people steal food to survive, or clothes to stay warm, or sell drugs when all other work is inaccessible. Yet, when corporate CEO’s rob billions of dollars from our economy and force thousands into homelessness, they are rewarded with severance checks. Pharmaceutical corporations monopolize the “legal” drug market that gets countless people hooked on opiates. The U.S. government kills indigenous people and topples their governments at a whim, but that is also legal. We must challenge what is labeled a crime and why!

The stigmatizing label of “criminal” is dehumanizing, and is inescapable. The ideology of individualism it’s founded upon denies any context, or any future classification. It further creates a renewing and eternal criminal class in American society whereby we are barred from employment, education, and residence. All clearly understood to be dehumanizing practices.

The Prison Industrial Complex is a vicious, insatiable monster that must be dismantled with all of the ideologies that support its existence.

I am a human being.

I was born a human being and I will die a human being. When someone digs up my bones 5,000 years from now and finds my femur they will determine that it belonged to a human, that it is human. There will be no question whether it was a criminal. When my mother was pregnant with me, the doctor did not walk into the room and tell her, “well it looks like you’re having a criminal” when she asked if I was a boy.

I am a human being who has done some things that were wrong, some things that caused harm, and some things that were necessary for my survival. That however, did not augment me from being a human being.

Any concept, argument, justification, or action that asserts otherwise must and will be challenged.

Are they Rights or Protections that We must Fight for Continuously?

What is it that defines what a Right is? What are the factors that constitute a Right? A Right is usually thought of something that is inalienable, which means it is something that a human being cannot be parted. If a Right is something that a human being cannot be parted with, then that also means it is something that they are guaranteed merely by the fact that they are born; that is, they inherently possess this Right for the sake of being a human being.  That is what is generally thought to constitute a Right namely, that we are guaranteed it by birth, that we cannot be parted with it, and possess it inherently as a human being. This is so, regardless of whether it is a Human Right, a Civil Right, or a Property Right.

 

However, as history and experience will abundantly confirm the only thing that is guaranteed to any human being merely by the fact that they have been born is that at some point they will die; i.e., they will cease to live. It cannot be said that a person has a Right to live, if by Right, what is meant is that they cannot be parted from living, and yet we see clearly that our people are deprived of life all the time.  Not that they are to be forgotten or are not worth mentioning, but rather, to be practical because the list of those who have had their lives stolen is far too long, I will name a few to focus attention on a much broader and problematic pattern of disregard for life.

 

Sandra Bland. Tamir Rice. Rekia Boyd. Eric Garner. Sarah Lee Circle Bear. Michael Brown. Hamza Warsame. Reverend Clementa Pinkney. Cynthia Hurd. Reverend Sharonda Coleman-Singleton. Tywanza Sanders. Ethel Lance. Susie Jackson. Depayne Middleton Doctor. Reverend Daniel Simmons. Myra Thompson.  John T. Williams.

 

State sanctioned and vigilante violence claims the lives of far too many people each year in the United States for Life to actually constitute a Right; that is, something which a human being cannot be alienated. Liberty, or the freedom to choose and to act as one chooses is likewise also not something which a human being cannot be alienated. Any jail or prison will set that notion straight in a hot second. Most people do not know that jurisprudence grants Rights such as the right to privacy, which includes the entitlement to own your own body (owned body), on the basis of our bodies being equated to property. So then Property Rights are out, too.

 

As you read this I am sure that many of you are thinking I have lost my mind and even perhaps that I should be silenced because I have given voice to one of the most horrendous contradictions of our society, and one that questions much of what most of us believe to be true; that there are factors of our existences which should be protected and sanctified.  And in that I agree with you. There are factors in our lives which must and shall be protected.

 

Most of the things that are labeled Rights are in fact, factors that are encountered in enough people’s lives and that are so necessary and vital to achieving and maintaining a particular quality of life that people have joined together and decided to protect those factors. These protections will be different in different places and among different people because the needs and the particular quality of life that any specific group wishes to achieve and sustain, and the complications of achieving such will ultimately be different. That is not to suggest that we as a civilization of many cultures, religions, and groups do not agree on specific factors that should be protected, that are universal among all human beings. For example, it is agreed that regardless of whatever a person’s religion is that they cannot practice their religion if they are not alive to practice it. The same holds for conducting business (trade among people) or marrying (forming a union with) the person (or people) you love.  Thus, it is agreed universally—and by universally I do not mean by every individual, but rather for every human being on the planet—that life is a factor which must be protected in order to achieve a particular quality of life that is valued in most cultures. This is what is thought to be a Human Right, but in reality, they are factors of being human that are supposed to be protected by our collective efforts to achieve a particular quality of life.

 

These protections are not granted to us merely by our being born and that makes them not Rights, but rather protections that we have to fight to secure and maintain for our people. We claim protections through demands. It is agreed that protections are instituted by collective agreements among the people. That is the essence of democracy, the cornerstone of the U.S. Congress, and the basis of the United Nations. However, they have become tainted, diluted, and polluted with corruption and malice as the agents and officers charged with guarding those protections and the process of establishing them, have supplanted the objectives for personal gain. The supposed guardians of our agreed upon protections have become the very thing we need protection from.  Yet, although the institutions (human creations) have been corrupted that has not changed the fact that people are coming together to determine which factors of our lives must and shall be protected. And when the people are not permitted or heard in those corrupt institutions that is when protests, rebellions, and revolutions erupt.

 

People across the United States have been protesting and rebelling against the state sanctioned and vigilante violence declaring that our lives should be protected under the banner of “BlackLivesMatter.” The opposition to Black Lives Matter, usually under the banner of “All Lives Matter,” resolves into a denial that the lives of people of color should be protected from the arbitrary abuses of law enforcement and the impunity they are granted by the law to execute people of color.  By stating “All Lives Matter,” what is being asserted is that the protections “Black Lives Matter” is seeking to achieve are already guaranteed to all people equally, but the facts reveal that assertion to be false.

 

The second problem is that many people in the United States may actually agree with the messages and the objectives of the movement, but disagree with the methods of the people seeking protections from harm. For example, a method that many opponents disagree with is when activists interrupt the status quo of business operations within a capitalist economic system dependent upon the exploitation of vulnerable human beings. And the Christmas shopping season in the United States is the quintessential epitome of capitalist over-consumption. Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dealt with this phenomenon from white clergy members during Project Confrontation in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963 and Black Lives Matter activists are dealing with this right now in Bloomington, Minnesota at the Mall of America while protesting the execution of Jamar Clark. The people in America tend to value participation in the decision making process, which is the essence of democracy, and also tend to believe that what the United States practices is democracy. However, that cannot be the case when there are over twelve million people who are disenfranchised, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been diminished in twenty-two states, and when people attempt to exercise their First Amendment ‘Rights’ we are being beaten, arrested, shot, and murdered. Nothing more exemplifies the corruption of the supposed ‘guardians’ of our protections than how Civil Rights and Black Lives Matter activist have been treated.

 

The executions of people of color by police officers are directly linked to capitalism via the Prison Industrial Complex and the Military Industrial Complex, which have all been written about extensively. All three of these systems ubiquitously deny and revoke the protections that people worldwide have fought for and believe should still be in effect. However, because they are not Rights, guaranteed to use merely by the fact that we were born and that they are in fact protections that we must continue to fight for is what we are doing, and that which we are all responsible for doing as members of our global community.

In the Struggle for Justice

I think that we are at a pivotal movement in history when some very profound changes have the opportunity to be brought about and for this to occur we are going to need unilateral participation from people across the spectrum of our society. Many of us in the Black Lives Matter struggle have felt shunned, ostracized and denounced by many who can be counted among the clergy or the “old guard.” One of the reasons for this is because of a natural age gap and difference in perception that in every struggle I have studied always seems to play a major part. It brings up the thought of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” wherein he mentions the moderate whites of his time and how they agreed with the aim and the goals of the movement, but disagreed with the methods; suggesting that they wait for a more opportune time. For the most part, many of the demonstrations across the country have been peaceful demonstrations of people exercising their First Amendment Rights; the Right to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for grievances rendered. There have been a few outbreaks of violence which have cleverly in the media been labeled “riots,” but they seem to me much more like rebellions which are a natural response of a silenced people to an oppressive situation. For most people, open rebellion is one of the last resorts, which only even becomes plausible after which point many other avenues have failed to materialize any substantive changes in the conditions under which the people live. Again, an exercise of their First Amendment Rights, and in line with the Declaration of Independence:

 

“WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalianable Rights, that among them are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of HappinessThat to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

 

This statement should be amended to state; “all Humans are created equal,” and “Governments are instituted among Humans,” so as to limit its marginalizing and disenfranchising impacts.

 

 

What we need is for the leaders and individuals in our community, especially those who are at the heads of institutions, such as, but not limited to churches, universities, and corporations to make public statements denouncing the deplorable and dehumanizing treatment from the United States Government and its subsidiary institutions such as the Department of Justice; the Law Enforcement Agencies in every city and state; and the Prison Industrial Complex with its corporate structure and profit-driven slave labor model that undermines the expressed intent of penitentiaries: penitence and rehabilitation. Penitence is to feel sorrow for one’s actions and rehabilitation is to prepare someone for reentry into society as a functioning member of that society. However, the system is designed to be a revolving door so as to maintain a subsidized, if not free, labor force for industries and markets wherein the United States does not have a comparative advantage. In other words, the United States could not compete in those markets and industries because those products and services can be produced at a much lower cost and at a greater efficiency in other countries; countries that are experiencing the exploitative practices of American corporations and results thereof. The domestic outcome is that our taxes are being used to fund slave labor internment camps throughout the nation from which corporations are benefiting and earning profit. The global outcome is that Anti-Blackness, which Black Lives Matter is diametrically opposed to and in contention with, is harming, subjugating, and suppressing People of Color worldwide. Moreover, there are over twelve million people in the United States who have been disenfranchised and had their Right to Vote revoked because of felony disenfranchisement laws. All of this is justified according to Law because of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution wherein slavery and disenfranchisement is unconstitutional except in the case of being convicted of a “crime.” All of these factors add up to a false system of justifications, under law, to kill, murder, and enslave People of Color shredding the Bill of Rights and the people’s ability to challenge the tyranny of the United States government and its subsidiary institutions.

 

What we need is for the leaders and individuals in our community, especially those who are at the heads of institutions, such as, but not limited to churches, universities, and corporations to make public statements denouncing the dire economic and living conditions, which includes but is not limited to red lining, job opportunities, educational opportunities, gentrification, transportation equity, and climate change. We are not far removed from the nearly ubiquitous slavery in the United States when Black people were denied education and are even less removed from Jim Crow segregation, an era that denied People of Color in the United States equal educational and employment opportunities and specified the boundaries in which People of Color could live, work, and own property. Furthermore, the rise of the Prison Industrial Complex in the 1980s, the outsourcing of industrial jobs as part of globalization in the 1980s, and the deplorable educational institutions in areas populated by People of Color and poor people have resulted in the expansion of an exceedingly stratified hierarchical economic structure of classes and castes the likes of which has not been experienced since the fall of the Roman Empire. Our people will remain vulnerable to exploitation and suppression by an elite plutocracy and oligarchy until we can achieve economic justice.

What we need is for the leaders and individuals in our community to stand in solidarity with, to march with, and to shutdown business as usual and the status quo with the people who are collectively called “activists.” We are called activists and militants because we will not passively resign to second-class citizenship which seeks to deny our Humanity. We are called activists and militants because we challenge the status quo of injustice and, the arbitrary and unfair practices by a government and its subsidiary institutions who are supposed to protect our “Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness.” They call us activists and militants because our minds are active and we critically question and analyze the conditions under which we live.  We are Human Beings. We are autonomous. And we will not passively relegate ourselves to positions of inferiority. Our struggle is your struggle. And yet, by labeling us activists and militants, what the media and the government hope to accomplish is to discredit and disavow the very real issues and concerns that We, the People have concerning the unjust conditions with live under.

 

What we need is for the leaders and individuals in our community to help us fund the expensive litigations, political campaigns, community organizations and programs, bail funds and trial costs that are most certainly likely to incur as we struggle against a repressive regime to achieve justice for our people. We need the people who have benefitted from the struggles of our predecessors and are now in positions of more economic security to invest in our collective future.

Most importantly, what we need is to know that we are not alone. And the world needs to know it, too.

The Precedents We Set We Are Responsible For

The continued refusal to acknowledge and respect indigenous sovereignty and right to self-determination, many such rights guaranteed through treaties is establishing, for this generation and this society, the precedent that an individual or a people is only entitled to sovereignty and self-determination if they can be taken and/or protected by force; i.e., having an army who can, will, and has killed and murdered to protect those rights. The precedent being set for this generation and society boils down to asserting that murder or the threat of murder is the only way to assert sovereignty and self-determination as the United States and other Western Civilization countries or so apt and efficient at doing. If this precedent is disagreeable and is not a precedent that we seek to establish as a generation and as a society, then why do we continue to deny these rights to those without the physical and violent might to oppose the United States’ and other countries impositions of control over indigenous peoples?

 

In many cases and for many peoples these precedents have a long and treacherous, and often painful history, but it is also the case that these very same rights are being denied today to people both in the United States and to other people globally.  There are sovereign nations within the borders of the United States, Mexico, and Canada today whose sovereign rights are being violated. That means that we as people today are responsible for those rights being violated and the precedent that we are setting as a generation and as a society is that treaty and sovereignty rights, which entails the right to self-determination are only valid if a people has an army to defend those rights.

 

You either, believe in self-determination or, you do not; there is no middle of the road position for this belief. It is a 100% deal. It is a contradiction of definition to propose 90%, or 75%, or 15%, or 0% self-determination. From the belief in Liberty, this entails self-determination, with the qualification that this determination does not harm others, springs forth the understanding that all people are owed this right and that they possess it from birth.

 

However, our actions, as a generation and a society today, do not match our system of values in the United States because our behaviors and our laws and our toleration of the U.S. Congress to ignore the Treaties the U.S. Government has signed reveal otherwise. We have a duty and a responsibility to protect the rights of human beings, and we are obliged to set new precedents when the ones in existence are precedents we disagree with.

Nestora Libre

The People are standing up and demanding that one of our people, an activist who has dual citizenship that went to Mexico to advocate for the people, to be released from the prison she has been held hostage in for the last two years! The power structures is holding a political prisoner

We are calling on the United States government and officials to step in and intervene. In addition to that, the end of military and financial aid being sent from the U.S, to Mexico because it undermines the social contract that otherwise would exist between government and citizen, as well as, an increased respect for Indigenous People.

#BlackWomxnMatter

“In early May 2015, a group of cisgender and transgender Black womxn who live, work, play and struggle in Seattle decided to create an accessible space for mourning state violence and police brutality against our own. While it is our duty to fight for all Black lives, we envision a movement that prioritizes Black womxn and girls alongside Black men and boys. Our bodies are tired and our trauma is fresh; therefore, we propose convening a memorial honoring the lives of Black womxn impacted by and lost to state violence, an event free from competing with opportunistic white voices, harming our bodies and minds or risking arrest in the streets.

Our #BlackWomxnMatter memorial is a part of a national day of action to end state violence against Black womxn and girls. We will lift up the names and stories of womxn erased by patriarchy and respectability politics like Mya Hall, a transgender sex worker killed by police in Baltimore just a few weeks before the murder of Freddie Gray. We will also express our solidarity with Black womxn survivors of state violence in our own backyard and beyond, such as Miyekko “Koko” Durden-Bosley, whose eye socket was broken by a Seattle police officer last year. We hope the memorial serves as a space for not only grieving, but also community-building so we can begin the crucial work of transforming and dismantling institutions that make Seattle unsafe and unwelcoming for all Black womxn.”

(Cited From the Event Page
https://www.facebook.com/events/438134526350453/441526256011280/ )

This was a powerful, healing moment when the community came together both to grieve and set the agendas for our own futures.

Womxn are not only in the struggle, they are the vanguards in our struggle. These women are some of the most powerful, passionate, intelligent, wise and selfless people I have ever met.

An Open Letter to those who Oppose the Protests in the United States

The protests that have been occurring nationally in the United States ignited because of the recent Grand Jury decisions of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, but there is a much longer, older, and deeper system of oppression that tolerates and permits these decisions. These cases were the proverbial straws that “broke the camel’s back,” so to speak, that galvanized the people to action.

The negative responses about these protests are precisely the reason that the protests have continued and why some people decided to protest at the Seahawks game, most people do not know, and or disregard the importance of an unjust Department of Justice and Criminal Justice System in the United States. It is very clear that most people are not aware of the “New Jim Crow” and how the laws of the United States have been crafted not only to be discriminatory towards people of color—McCleskey  v. Kemp (1986)—but also fill in the Prison Industrial Complex with people of color at alarming rates, and disenfranchise entire populations. The legal framework that permits this new system of Jim Crow to exist is the same system that is permitting the Grand Juries to make and levy the decisions that they are making in these cases and essentially, allowing police officers to kill with impunity.

The assertion that a “thug” got what he deserved because she or he was a “criminal,” when the label of criminal is almost ubiquitously paired with being a person of color—even though the data shows that white people commit just as much if not more crime as do people of color—what is being presented is a justification for the murder of people of color by an institution established for the protection of the people.  The people who are protesting feel that either, they themselves or others are not being treated fairly by the system and are correct in the feeling. We do not feel like we are being granted the full status of People of the United States.

It is unfortunate that these protests have to occur at all and it is also unfortunate that The People had stand outside of a stadium where fans were gathering to make our complaints heard. If the system was fair and just then The People would not be taking the actions they are taking all across the country. Just that fact alone should tell the civilization of the United States something is wrong. However, what we see most are people who are upset that events are being disrupted and are presented with arguments like “get over it” and “the Grand Jury already made their decision and there is nothing you can do about it.” But as was stated earlier, this is a much bigger problem than any two Grand Jury decisions. Many people in the United States either fail to understand the depth of the injustice or choose to ignore that it is unjust and would prefer that these issues not be brought to the surface.

I challenge all of you who think that these protests are a pointless waste of time and that they should stop, to imagine, just for a moment, how you would feel and what you would do if, you were a member of a marginalized group being discriminated against and denied your rights. Then imagine that your marginalized group has also been relegated to this inferior position because of some benign characteristic that has nothing to do with your character or merits and the world tells you to “just get over it,” what would your position on the issues be then?