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OP-ED: After the “Murder” of Trayvon Martin, Healing Will be Difficult

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“Too Many White-Americans Still Don’t Understand”

During the Zimmerman Trial, it was revealed that Trayvon Martin called Zimmerman a “cracker” and many white-Americans were shocked. In the 1970s, my father, who is the grandson of a slave, often called white men “crackers.” Back then, I wondered why my dad said this word with such pain in his voice. When my dad was dying in the year 2003, I asked him why he called white men “crackers.” He answered: “…because white slave masters were crackin’ that whip and f***in’ our mothers. That’s why we also call them mother f***ers.” How can white-America produce dreadful situations that create horrible words, such as “nigger” and “cracker,” then criticize African-Americans for using these words? White-America’s unending racial hypocrisy stinks to high heavens.

Despite these devastating truths, many white-Americans callously say African-Americans need to move beyond slavery, racism and “get over it.” I’ve got news for them; most African-Americans would love to move on. But too many ill-effects of past racism remain. Too much racial clutter continues to exist within present-day $y$tems. Too many race realities continue to prevent African-Americans from moving on. As we attempt to heal, too many white-American actions and $y$temic conditions keep ripping-off the scab of racism.

Despite these truths, many white-Americans can’t seem to understand why some African-Americans continue to speak in terms of race. When white-on-black racism completely goes away, white-Americans can rightfully protest that African-Americans overly-focus on racism. Until then, too many white-Americans are the ones who need to “get over it” in at least two ways. They need to realize African-Americans have justified reasons to focus on race. And, white-Americans need to get over their lingering racist thoughts and actions.

After thousands of years of discrimination, black slavery, and continued (though-decreasing) racism, various sources report: “Between the years 2000 and 2011, white-American hate groups rose from 602 to 1,018.” May 2006: “Racial discrimination still plagues U.S. mortgage market.” May 2007: “African-Americans are charged higher car loan rates.” June 2007: “Race disparity in medical care persists.” July 2013: “NYC principal called black teachers ‘nappy-headed,’ then fired them.” Please stop me at any time. Add continuing cases of “economic redlining”; “racial biases in law enforcement”; on and on and the racism scab constantly gets ripped-off. Racial wounds can’t heal under these conditions.

Throughout July 2013, various white-Americans complained that Trayvon demonstrations too-often turn into “protests against capitalism.” Too many white-Americans disregard the fact that racism is married to class within capitalism. Too many white-Americans overlook studies such as “Are Emily and Brendan More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal?” which, in 2001, found that “job applicants with white-sounding names are 50-percent more-likely to get called for an interview than applicants with African-American-sounding names.”

It’s difficult enough surviving and coping under capitalism, while capitalism plus racism can be unbearable.

Enough African-Americans clearly see that capitali$m perpetuates many socio-economic inequalities that were produced by past $lavery and oppression. But then, when some disenfranchised African-Americans react by turning to crime or drugs, too many white-Americans unfairly blame only this behavior for socio-economic inequalities that are habitually-generated by past and present-day raci$m.

After all this, for Zimmerman to racially-profile Trayvon, follow him, incite Trayvon’s “justifiable” anger, then “murder” Trayvon during a fight that Zimmerman promoted: this can’t be “justifiable” homicide. Zimmerman had no right to “murder.”

But after Zimmerman’s acquittal, too many white-Americans support Zimmerman’s ambition to become a police officer. This nonsense should surprise no one. After the original O.J. Simpson trial, Fox News hired N-bomb-dropping cop, Mark Fuhrman. White-America’s continued denial of obvious racial truths is offensive. This too must change for African-Americans to heal and move on.

Anthony Vaughn is the Author of “The Last Testament of Racism in America” and “The Way to FIX Our World”. He can be contacted at w.anthony@mail.org

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Activism

COMMENTARY: The Big Truth: The Big Problem is the Big Lie

Many if not most Republican officials know that Trump’s Big Lie is not true. But they are cynical and corrupt enough to use it to justify new voter suppression laws and other schemes to overturn the will of the voters. Far-right activists have harassed and threatened election officials across the country. And they are trying to get elected to state and local positions that will give them the power to oversee future elections.

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By Ben Jealous, President of People For the American Way

It’s been a year since a mob of Trumpists violently attacked the U.S. Capitol. They wanted to stop Congress from affirming President Joe Biden’s victory. Some of them were out for blood. All of them were motivated by the former president’s Big Lie that he won the election but that his victory was stolen from him and his supporters.

That lie has been debunked by journalists and election officials — both Republicans and Democrats. It has been rejected by courts. But it has never been abandoned by Trump or his right-wing allies. And so, one year after it fueled an attack on Congress and the Constitution, the Big Lie is still a big threat to our democracy.

The Big Lie causes big harms in lots of ways by fueling anger and mistrust about our elections among Trump’s base.

Many if not most Republican officials know that Trump’s Big Lie is not true. But they are cynical and corrupt enough to use it to justify new voter suppression laws and other schemes to overturn the will of the voters.

Far-right activists have harassed and threatened election officials across the country. And they are trying to get elected to state and local positions that will give them the power to oversee future elections.

Donald Trump would love to go into the 2024 elections knowing that he has loyal Trumpists in place to reject or “find” as many votes as he needs to declare victory. That’s why Trump has endorsed the effort by Rep. Jody Hice to replace Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Raffensperger refused to embrace the Big Lie, stood up to Trump’s bullying, and respected the will of the voters. Hice has promoted the Big Lie. That’s the kind of guy Trump wants deciding which votes to count — and not count — in 2024.

Trump has endorsed other secretary of state candidates, and his political henchman Steve Bannon in encouraging Trumpists to try to replace election officials at the local level.

Meanwhile, state legislators are making it easier for partisan Republicans in state legislatures to mess with vote counting by taking control from local officials — and even to simply override the will of the voters.

That is why we urgently need new federal voting rights legislation — and why we need senators and President Biden to work together to overcome “states’ rights” Republicans and their use of filibuster rules to block the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

Both pieces of legislation take on both voter suppression and election subversion. The John Lewis Act would make it illegal for a public official to “willfully fail or refuse to certify” an election victory by the candidate who gets the most votes.

The Freedom to Vote Act only allows local election administrators to be removed by the state if they have a legitimate cause to do so.

As Sen. Raphael Warnock said on Jan. 4, “Our democracy is in peril and time is running out.”

“This is a moral moment,” Sen. Warnock said. Indeed, it is.

There’s also another moral duty facing our elected leaders. And that’s finding out the truth about the Capitol insurrection and those who incited it, planned it, facilitated it, and have since tried to downplay or cover-up that assault on our democracy.

Criminals need to be held accountable for their crimes — and not just those who smashed windows and attacked Capitol police.

Republicans love to talk tough about the rule of law, but now many of them are resisting the rule of law by trying to undermine and obstruct the House committee investigating the insurrection. And they’re trying to rewrite history, downplaying the violence and portraying its perpetrators as patriots.

The problem for them is that the violent reality of that day has been well documented. The same is true for other casualties of the Big Lie, including harassment and threats against election officials.

The Big Lie and all those who have spread it have created a dangerous reality in which millions of Americans falsely believe that President Joe Biden’s election was illegitimate and that Donald Trump should still be our president.

And that makes them more willing to determine the outcome of elections through violence or the raw exercise of power.

In the year ahead, we need to defend democracy by answering the Big Lie with the truth, and by acting to defend our democracy at the ballot box.

Ben Jealous serves as president of People For the American Way and Professor of Practice in the Africana Studies Department at the University of Pennsylvania where he teaches leadership.

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Activism

OP-ED: On Anniversary of Jan. 6 Insurrection, Rep. Lee Calls on Senate to Pass Voting Rights Legislation 

Across the nation, over 400 bills have been introduced suppressing the right to vote — from reducing polling hours and locations to allowing lawmakers to overturn a legitimate election result. And we know that voter suppression laws are not felt universally: these restrictions are particularly harmful to people of color, young people, the low-income, the disabled, those in rural areas, and other marginalized communities. 

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Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13)
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13)

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) released the following statement on the one-year anniversary of the January 6th insurrection:

This time last year, I was hurrying down flights of stairs in the Capitol, thinking about how fortunate it was that I wore my tennis shoes, and praying that the angry mob of armed white supremacists didn’t know where we were going.

It was a traumatic day for the country. Trump’s egregiously false claims about election fraud culminated in a shocking attempt to overthrow our democracy.

Although the rioters ultimately failed to do so, the siege on our institutions is nowhere close to being over. By refusing to accept facts and spreading corrosive lies about election sabotage, Republicans are stoking the flames of dictatorship and authoritarian rule.

Across the nation, over 400 bills have been introduced suppressing the right to vote — from reducing polling hours and locations to allowing lawmakers to overturn a legitimate election result.

And we know that voter suppression laws are not felt universally: these restrictions are particularly harmful to people of color, young people, the low-income, the disabled, those in rural areas, and other marginalized communities.

By restricting their access to the ballot, their voices and calls for change are silenced.

Make no mistake: there is a crisis in our democracy.

The Senate must move quickly to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to protect free and fair elections in this country — even if it means abolishing the filibuster.

To quote the late Congressman Lewis, ‘the right to vote is precious, almost sacred.’ It is our constitutional and moral duty as elected officials to protect it.

This announcement is courtesy of Barbara Lee’s press office.

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Parents Raise the Alarm About Violence in Schools, Say Their Votes Depends on Improvement

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Parents have very legitimate concerns about violence in schools, increased bullying, and a lack of mental health resources,” Keri Rodrigues, co-founder, and President of the National Parents Union, said in a statement.

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NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Parents have very legitimate concerns about violence in schools, increased bullying, and a lack of mental health resources,” Keri Rodrigues, co-founder, and President of the National Parents Union, said in a statement.
About 52 percent said student mental health after coping with the pandemic is a significant issue, as well.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

A new poll revealed that parents continue to express “legitimate concerns” about violence in schools, increased bullying, and a lack of mental health resources.

Alarmingly, the poll released by the National Parents Union found that 59 percent of parents are very or extremely concerned about how schools are teaching race and diversity.

“Many Black parents are worried that schools are being harsher on students of color compared to white students,” researchers noted in the poll.

The National Parents Union counts as a network of parent organizations and grassroots activists committed to improving the quality of life for children and families in the United States.

Conducted from November 19 to November 23, the survey included 1,233 parents who also count as registered voters.

Researchers found that 84 percent of parents are concerned about how schools address the threat of violence, and 59 percent identified increased bullying or violence in school as a significant issue.

About 52 percent said student mental health after coping with the pandemic is a significant issue, as well.

“Parents have very legitimate concerns about violence in schools, increased bullying, and a lack of mental health resources,” Keri Rodrigues, co-founder, and President of the National Parents Union, said in a statement.

“Now, it is incumbent on schools to do something about these issues, especially given the federal funds available. It’s not rocket science. Rather than repaint a football field, first, make sure that there are enough counselors to help students cope with mental health issues,” Rodrigues asserted.

The poll also asked the parents who responded that they were concerned about the threat of violence, which worries them the most.

The top three most pressing concerns remain:

  • 44 percent: schools not having enough counselors, psychologists, or social workers to work with students
  • 42 percent: schools not having resources to keep weapons out of schools
  • 39 percent: schools not having school resource officers or police accessible on campus
  • 59 percent of parents are extremely or very concerned about how schools are teaching about race and diversity; Among Black parents, 69 percent share this sentiment, which drops slightly to 67 percent among Hispanic parents.

Of the overall number of parents who are at least somewhat concerned (79 percent):

  • 48 percent say what concerns them the most is schools are not teaching accurate information about the issue of race.
  • 42 percent are most concerned about schools pushing a progressive agenda onto students
  • 56 percent of GOP parents who are concerned say this is their top concern
  • 32 percent are most concerned that schools aren’t focused on the issue enough
  • 46 percent of Black parents who are concerned say this is their top concern
  • 78 percent of parents are concerned about how schools are handling disciplinary issues
  • Nearly half (46 percent) of Black parents who said they are concerned about how schools are handling disciplinary issues are worried that schools are harsher on students of color compared to white students
  • 38 percent of parents trust Democrats to do a better job of handling education; 31 percent trust Republicans; 14 percent trust both equally; 11 percent trust neither

Among parents who identify as Independents, 28 percent trust Republicans and 20 percent trust Democrats.

“These findings underscore the importance of the very thing we have been imploring school leaders across the country to do – listen to the parents in your community,” Rodrigues stated.

“It also reinforces the need for those running for office to take the concerns of parents very seriously or risk losing elections.”

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