Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Young, Connected and Black- Technology and African American "Millennials"

Young, Connected and Black

African-Americans are exuberant and reflective—optimistic about present-day advances in income, education, entrepreneurship and health care, and determined to forge a better future as influential leaders and catalysts of social awareness against discrimination and social injustice. 

This latest report highlights African-Americans’ economic and cultural gains and continues to shine a spotlight on how African-American Millennials are forging ahead in their use of technology and social media to raise awareness and evoke a national discussion on civic and political issues. African-American Millennials are expanding the use of mobile devices (particularly smartphones with a 91% penetration rate for all African-Americans), expanding their shopping carts with fresh foods and contributing to the diversification of mainstream primetime television viewership—forging a significant increase in advertising dollars focused on African-American audiences. 

As African-Americans, particularly younger Millennials, continue to develop and expand their influence on mainstream America, companies are making changes to reach this culture-rich group with unique, captivating campaigns, as well as products and services that meet their needs.

African-American Population Growth

African-Americans continue to represent a significant percentage of growth in the U.S. population. Having grown 21% between 2004 and 2014, the U.S. Black population is currently at 46.3 million* (14% of the total U.S. population), according to the most recent U.S. Census information.

The U.S. is increasingly diverse and younger, which has largely been driven by Millennials, those born between 1982 and 2000, according to the U.S. Census. There are 83.1 million Millennials currently in the U.S. and of which African-American Millennials comprise 14% (about 11.5 million). African-American Millennials comprise 25% (about 11.4 million) of the total Black population.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Illicit Drug Use Is Lower for Black Hi School Seniors Than for Whites

MAJOR REPORT: Among High School Seniors Illicit Drug Use Is Lower for Blacks Than for Whites

A new report from the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan finds that illicit drug use is more prevalent among White students who are about to enter college than it is among African American students who are about to enter their college years.

The data show that for high school seniors, Blacks are significantly less likely than Whites to use drugs. This is true for nearly all drugs that students were asked about in the survey. (At lower ages, the racial gap in drug use is smaller and for some drugs including marijuana, Blacks are more frequent users than Whites.)

Among high school seniors, 15 percent of Whites reported that they had smoked a cigarette in the past 30 days. This is more than double the rate for Blacks. More than one in five White high school students reported that they had engaged in at least one incidence of heavy drinking within the past 3o days. This is twice the rate of Black high school seniors.

The report also offers a great deal of information on drug use by college students. However, there are no breakdowns by racial or ethnic groups.

The full report, Monitoring the Future: National Survey Results of Drug Use, Volume 2, College Students and Adults Ages 19 to 55, may be downloaded above.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Historian Gerald Horne: No One should Stand for the National Anthem!

Historian Gerald Horne Explains Why No One Should Stand for the National Anthem


As Colin Kaepernick’s choice to remain seated for the US national anthem continues to highlight and provoke conversation about racism and oppression in the country, I asked attorney and Professor of African American studies at the University of Houston, Dr. Gerald Horne, for his reaction to some of the issues that have been brought to the fore.

The 35 year-old who wrote the US national anthem, Francis Scott Key, appears to have been a remorseless enslaver and abuser of black people, a tireless pro-slavery activist, a religious fundamentalist, and a proponent of genocide and land theft.  The full lyrics of his song contain a ghoulish and sadistic call for the mass murder of enslaved black people who might attempt to free themselves from US clutches, as well as evidence of the US intent to continue genocide and land theft campaigns against the Native nations.
It seems that asking a black or Native person to respect or honor this song would be like asking a Jewish person to honor a song written by a Nazi.  Even if the most blatantly offensive lyrics were removed, it is hard to imagine that anyone in the US, except maybe a neo-Nazi, would feel any anger towards a Jewish person who refused to honor a song written by, say, Joseph Goebbels.

That the dominant US culture chooses to use as its very national anthem a song written by a genocidal slave-driver, and becomes enraged when a black person chooses not to honor it, illustrates, Horne said, that the US was “founded on slavery and genocide”, but also, crucially, “in denial”.  Many scholars have pointed out that national denial is almost never broken unless a nation is militarily defeated and forced to fully acknowledge and atone for its crimes, and even then it is not guaranteed.

Asked if refusal to honor the US national anthem, given its background and surrounding history, should be the norm rather than the exception, Horne replied, categorically and emphatically, “Of course”.

The ruling state in the US invests large amounts of time and money in working to create an association between militant nationalism and sports, a link Horne says “has long been recognized.”  The reaction to Kaepernick’s protest has thus been all the more hostile, as he has, Horne points out, “disrupted the narrative” and the “chauvinist” atmosphere, further “inflaming sentiment” against him.
Since Kaepernick’s action began, a few articles, such as in The Intercept and New York Daily News, have noted the US anthem’s gleefully criminal and genocidal elements, though they seem to stop short of making the connection between the sentiments and goals expressed in the anthem and those that drove the US’s 1776 ‘revolution’ as a whole.  One of Horne’s areas of expertise, he details this connection in his book The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America.  Horne asserted to me that, indeed, “like DNA [that is] hard to obscure, the anthem perfectly captures the national essence” of the United States.

One criticism we seem to hear again and again from white people in the US is that Kaepernick is propagating a “victim’s mindset” by attempting to highlight oppression of black people.  This seems to reflect a need to believe that either A) the oppression is not real and is in the minds of black people (and domestic and international monitors and observers) or B) that the oppression is indeed real, but it is counter-productive to point it out, implying perhaps there should be no human rights organizations, journalists, or activists anywhere in the world – rather than shedding light on oppression, they are merely encouraging a ‘victim’s mindset’ and should thus keep quiet.

Horne affirmed that A is a typical example, globally and historically, of an attitude displayed by oppressive majority groups, and B an attempt by nationalists – people who conflate their personal identity with the ruling state – to discourage people from exposing ugliness in the national psyche.

Another common response to Kaepernick’s action suggests that instead of sitting through Key’s song, he should give money to help black people.  (Kaepernick has hosted charity events and is also giving money.)  Asked what he thinks about this suggestion given that the US may owe more than half its total assets in unpaid reparations, Horne said: “I have learned in life that the higher on the pole of success under capitalism, the more profound the insecurity, perhaps because as Balzac said: behind every great fortune is a crime.”  Indeed, Horne continues, there is a “gnawing reality” that the US national fortune “is grounded in the massive misfortune of billions of ‘others’—who too know this and are primed for a reversal of misfortune.”

Kaepernick has cited a lack of “accountability” for murders of black people committed by US state forces as one reason for his protest, apparently drawing from the language recently employed by the UN, which noted “a high level of structural and institutional racism” in the US, maintained partially due to a “lack of accountability for perpetrators of [racial] killings despite overwhelming evidence against them, including video footage of the crime, being present.”

He has also said there are numerous other issues related to oppression of African Americans.

 Washington’s Blog has pointed, for example, to Amnesty International’s report on the US maintenance of slavery as a “legal” institution under which it continues to work black people and others as slaves on cotton fields and at other tasks, a continuation of the post-Reconstruction convict-leasing slave-system that today generates billions for the ruling state and private corporations.  However, many white people in the US (like members of oppressive groups worldwide) are angered by the mere notion and deny that oppression exists in their country.
Horne suggested that some of these people may want to look into issues of “economic inequality… war… sexism…environmental degradation”, but affirmed that “sadly”, it has always been a “hegemonic norm” for the dominant white culture in the US to claim that black people have it good and are complaining about nothing.  (This includes during chattel slavery and the Civil Rights era.)

This form of angry “denial” is seen from people who would consider themselves liberal intellectuals as well as from the right.  Both sides appear generally blinded to the reality that when a black person tries to highlight oppression and the dominant response is anger and criticism of the black person rather than the oppression, this may be one key insight into why the US remains, as the UN recently noted, “far from recognizing the same rights for all its citizens.”

Horne draws from his historical expertise to suggest that because of the overwhelming hostility they face, anti-oppression movements in the US, to be effective, must coordinate with international allies.  How should they go about doing so?  Horne said they can “sue the US for reparations and justice in courts abroad … taking advantage of the emerging idea of ‘universal jurisdiction’”, and should “ally–as our ancestors did–with the prime antagonists of US imperialism.”

Robert J. Barsocchini is an internationally published independent writer who focuses on global force dynamics and serves as a cross-cultural intermediary for the film and Television industry. His work has been cited, published, or followed by numerous professors, economists, lawyers, military and intelligence veterans, and journalists. Updates on Twitter.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Thanks to Capitalism, South Florida Is Sinking

For the past 30 years, scientists have been sounding the alarm about how big developers, garbage and the ravages of unbridled tourism have helped accelerate what global warming was already doing to the ecological system of South Florida.

All the rightwing politicos who dominate Florida politics have made sure that no money or no extra monies have gone into the research and planning for saving Florida's fragile ecosystem.

Now "the gators are coming home to roost" as one can read in the essay below. A fightback is growing at the local level... uniting the scientific forces with the ordinary everyday folk of South Florida as well as the Seminoles who have been the Keepers of the Everglades.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Being A Black Woman In Brazil 2016

Black Life Matters In Brazil2016
The African Descendant population of Brazil (approx 100 million) is greater than the combined population of Ghana and Kenya. But, you would never know it when you look at the Rio Olympics and its coverage of "typical" Rio and Brazil.

For the past 50 years, there's been a powerful social, cultural and political movement of Black Brazilians to get some form of affirmative action, reparations, educational equity and be counted accurately in the census. Now, inspired by the US's BlackLivesMatter Movement, young Black Brazilians are pushing the government and society on the whole to recognize the centrality of AfroBrazilians to the development of Brazil's democracy.

The legacy of Portuguese slavery and colonialism has resulted in a very complex and, ofttimes, bizarre form of "racial" categorization in order to try to keep the "white" population the largest in the nation. Hence, at one point in Brazil's history, they actually had 127 racial categories based on skin color, height, hair texture, nose size, lip size, body build, eye color.... Today, it's down to about a dozen "racial" categories... with the results of the census indicating that 92 million (48%) Brazilians were white, 83 million (44%) were brown, 13 million (7%) were black, 1.1 million (0.50%) were yellow and 536,000 (0.25%) were indigenous. But, if we look at Brazilians thru the US "Race Lens", we find that that "brown" or pardo category looks like folk we call Black here in the US!

Racism runs deep in Brazil. And, with the use of the social media, the Black Brazilian antiracist fightback is gaining traction inside of Brazil. Below are some statement that Brazilian activist youth have been spreading around to help combat and eradicate Brazilian racism.

This Photo Series Shows What I Means To Be A Black Woman In Brazil

"Being a black woman is to strive three times harder than white people to achieve the same result. That's because of racism, sexism, and class oppression."
"Being a black woman is to be complete!"
“Being a black woman means to resist, in order to exist."
"Being a black woman is being a woman."
"My hair and my features are political acts. I carry in my skin and in my soul the pride of being black."
"Being a black woman is to be proud of what is natural!"
"Being a black woman is my essence!"
"Being a black woman is to be targeted with prejudice and to find out you are strong."
"Being a black woman means not talking about how we feel as black women."
"Being a black woman is being original, each black woman is unique."
"Being black is to have attitude."
"Black women: don't get used to offensive words."
"Being a black woman is to be powerful and beautiful."
"Being a black woman is to overcome standards."
"Being a black woman is to feel the sun every day."
"Being a black woman is to resist."
"Trying to live by 'white' standards in order to be accepted!"
"Being a black woman is love, resistance, strength. A fight against the system."
"It is not better to have straight hair and a slim nose."
"My own existence is a challenge."
"Being a black woman is to be the sister of everyone, except the racist."
"I exist to resist!"

Sunday, August 07, 2016

BlackLivesMatter Evolving to Fight Racism & Capitalism

Alicia Garza on Progressives and the Black Community 

Alicia Garza, a Founder of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement


  Aug 2, 2016
Alicia Garca, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, talks to OurFuture.org about strains in the relationship between the progressive movement and the African-American community, and how they can be repaired. Garza was a keynote speaker at the People's Action Delegates Assembly in Milwaukee.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Linda Burnham Analyzing Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, Dallas

Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, Dallas

Linda Burnham - July 11, 2016
A thick strand in the history of U.S. policing is rooted back in the slave patrols of the 19th century. 
Patty rollers were authorized to stop, question, search, harass and summarily punish any Black person they encountered. The five- and six-pointed badges many of them wore to symbolize their authority were predecessors to those of today’s sheriffs and patrolmen. They regularly entered the plantation living quarters of enslaved people, leaving terror and grief in their wake. Together with the hunters of runaways, these patrols had a crystal clear mandate: to constrain the enslaved population to its role as the embodiment and producer of massive wealth for whites and to forestall the possibility that labor subordinated to the lash might rebel at the cost of white lives. 
How far have we come, really? Having extricated ourselves from a system of bottomless and blatant cruelty we have evolved a system that depends on the patty rollers of today to constrain and contain a population that, while no longer enslaved, is ruthlessly exploited, criminally neglected and justifiably aggrieved. Ruthlessly exploited by the low-wage industries that depend on ample supplies of cheap labor, by the bottom feeders of capital – pay-day loan companies and slumlords come to mind –­ by the incarceration-for-profit industry, by the municipalities that meet their budgets by preying on poor people, generating revenue by way of broken taillights, lapsed vehicle registrations and failures to signal.
Criminally neglected by policy makers – 152 years’ worth and counting – at every level of government. And so our education policy appears to be: starve the public system until it collapses and to hell with the children whose parents have no alternative. Housing policy stubbornly stacked against the development and maintenance of low-income housing. Jobs policy that, against an ideological backdrop that touts personal fulfillment and prosperity through honest effort, reduces grown men to selling loosies and cd’s on street corners to provide for their families.
Justifiably aggrieved because we still must assert, against the relentless accumulation of evidence to the contrary, that Black lives matter.
And all this on top of the foundational failure to financially repair or compensate the formerly enslaved or their descendants.
So today’s patty rollers are expected to contain any overflow of bitterness and anger on the part of the exploited, neglected and aggrieved, maintaining order in a fundamentally – and racially – disordered system. Their mandate is as clear as that of their forefathers: to constrain a population whose designated role is to absorb absurdly high rates of unemployment and make itself available for low-wage, low-status work without complaint, much less rebellion. Those who fear a spiraling descent into disorder, know this: we are merely witnessing the periodic, explosive surfacing of entrenched disorders we have refused to face or fix.
Our narratives and debates about good cops and rogue cops, better training and community policing are important but entirely insufficient. No doubt the patty rollers of the 1850s could have been trained to reign in their brutality. Given the gloriously diverse dispositions of our human family, patrollers likely ranged from the breathtakingly cruel to the queasily reluctant enforcers of patent injustice. All that is, at bottom, beside the point. Whether cruel or kind, restrained or rogue, their job was to police – and by policing, maintain – a barbaric system.
Today’s police can be better trained to recognize implicit bias, to dial back on aggression and deescalate tense encounters. All to the good, as far as it goes. But none of it changes their core mandate in poor Black communities: to control and contain, by any means necessary, a population that has every reason to be restive and rebellious.
*                      *                      *
“Was he colored?” That’s what my grandmother would say whenever she heard news about a criminal act. She knew that if the alleged perpetrator were “colored” his criminality would be read not simply as the act of an individual, but as an expression of an ingrained racial tendency. Somehow being Black meant that the actions of every random thief, rapist or murderer who was also Black redounded to you and your people. I imagine most Black families had a version of “Was he colored?” And I wouldn’t be surprised if Muslim American families have an equivalent expression today. 
Untying the knot of individual culpability and the consequences of racial belonging is nowhere near as straightforward as it might seem.
I was on a dance floor on Thursday night, desperately trying to shake off the news from Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights. My phone was in my back pocket and, like an idiot, when it buzzed with an incoming text, I left the dance floor and stepped outside to the news from Dallas. Though the action was still unfolding, I immediately surmised that the shooter was “colored,” and that he had been trained by the U.S. military.
 It has fallen to President Obama, time and again, to make sense out of the incomprehensible and bind the wounds of a nation apparently bent on self-destruction. In the aftermath of Dallas, Obama quickly condemned the despicable violence of a demented, troubled individual. The president’s intent was clear and laudable. He sought to defuse tensions by definitively asserting that the shooter’s action was not associated with a political movement or a particular organization, that his murderous deeds should in no way be linked to African Americans in general. He struggled to shift the focus from “Was he colored?” to “Clearly he was crazy, right?”
But before boxing Micah Johnson up and setting him aside as deranged and demented it’s worth asking a few questions. Honestly, good people, did anybody in their right mind – that is, not troubled or demented – think that the police could continue to pick off Black people at will and on camera without producing a Micah Johnson? And is troubled and demented shorthand for “traumatized by repeated exposure to the graphic depiction of the murder of people who look just like me?” Or for “agonized by the fact that the officers of the law who placed a handcuffed man in the back of a van and snapped his spine in an intentionally “rough ride” were neither held criminally accountable nor labeled troubled and demented?” Or for “depressed beyond imagining and haunted by the ghosts of the men and women whose lives were snatched by the side of the road, down back alleyways, and in precinct stations from one end of the country to the other before the era of cell phone video?” Or for “pierced through the heart by the voice of four-year-old Dae’Anna, comforting her mama?” Because if demented and troubled is shorthand for any of that, then Micah Johnson may have been a lone gunman, but he is far from alone. 
That whoosh you heard on Friday morning was the sound of people rushing to condemn the Dallas shootings, or to extract condemnations from others. There is, of course, no moral justification for gunning down police officers. And, retaliatory violence aimed at the armed representatives of the state, beyond being a suicidal provocation, also shuts down all avenues for advancing the cause of racial justice.  But there is a lot of room for reflection between the cheap polarities of condemn or condone.
So here we are, once again, with calls from all quarters for dialogue across the racial divide. But if the long years before the emergence of the various movements for Black lives have taught us anything, it is this: our purported partners in dialogue simply turn their backs and leave the table as soon as the pressure is off. This moment calls for the vigorous defense of our right to continued protest and the intensification and elaboration of multiple movements for Black lives – for the sake of our ancestors and the generations to come. And for the sake of this country that is our home.
Linda Burnham is the Research Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. She is the co-author of Home Economics: The Invisible and Unregulated World of Domestic Work. Burnham was a leader in the Third World Women’s Alliance, a national organization that was an early advocate for the rights of women of color. In 1990 she co-founded Women of Color Resource Center. She was its Executive Director for 18 years. Burnham led large delegations of women of color to the 1985 UN World Conference on Women in Nairobi, the 1995 UN World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, and the 2001 United Nations World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa.