Bush, and Capitalism
Tea Party Anyone?
By Mary Meekins
If fifty million people
say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.—Bertrand Russell
The federal government's
costs related to Hurricane Katrina could easily approach
$100 billion, many times as much as for any other
natural disaster or the $21 billion allocated for New
York City after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.--New York Times (September 6, 2005)
Read the first paragraph extracted up there
and just couldn't read anymore. I'm not a Democrat. I'm not a
Republican. I'm not an across-the-board conservative, moderate,
or liberal. I'm not a feminist or a womanist. Out of all the
world's ‘ist’s and ‘ism’s and subcategories, the only
label I willingly, and gladly, accept is humanist—cut from the
same cloth as other "make/spread love, not war" types.
Somewhere between laid-back Jimmy Buffet,
"love them anyway" Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, and
Pope Jean Paul II, there's me.
That said, add capitalist to the
"not" column up there because it's horribly
incongruent with the first major tenet that I believe in: and
that's that people come before all else.
The reason I stopped reading the article is
because my anger started to shoot through the roof: It's totally
illogical to me that we can open the vaults after a plane slams
into a building, after a quake threatens to split a state into
two, or after a hurricane pummels a city, but we can't pry it
open (and better people's lives) on disaster-free days when the
sun's shining and the skies are blue. To my eyes and ears,
accepting that status quo is the equivalent of accepting that 2
+ 2 = 5. It just doesn't make sense and my mind doesn't/won't
It's not that the money's not there: Given
the staggering sum of disaster-relief dollars that magically
materialize after a catastrophic event, there's a slush fund or
a money tree somewhere. If we've got $100 billion
post-catastrophe, we've got $100 billion prior to one.
It's the same way I question why it is that
we can, illogically, finance an inmate's degree yet deny that
same all-expenses-paid scholarship to those on the outside
who've stayed on the right side of the law.
That same $100 billion could've been used
to shore-up levees and refurbish underprivileged gulf coast
schools and neighborhoods long before Katrina entered the
picture. But Katrina's small-school thinking.
Be it a tornado in Kansas, a hurricane in
Florida, a quake in California, or a levee-breach in New
Orleans, I've always wondered where the clean-up/rebuild funds
come from. What line item in the expense column...what
piggy-bank...are they raiding? $350 million for post-tsunami aid
in Asia. where did that come from? $100 billion for New Orleans?
Where did that come from?
My point is not to slam crisis-relief
efforts but to ask why—if funds can arbitrarily be voted on,
approved, and appropriated, on a moment's notice in the face of
disaster—they're not voted on, approved and appropriated when
the daily headlines are screaming that more and more people are
living paycheck to paycheck and slipping deeper and deeper into
Capitalism's nothing more than a caste
system and poverty, and all its ripples, an underscore. We LET
people go without. We LET people live in poverty. We LET people
die. We limit worldviews instead of expanding them.
It's not a Black issue. It's not a White
issue. It's an issue of the "haves" opting to reward
death and destruction instead of life. And we, the people, LET
That mouthful said, am I saying that, with
or without catastrophic events, race is not an ongoing issue in
this country? No. Am I absolving George Bush of gross
negligence? No...pigs will fly first. Am I absolving all those
at other levels who failed? No. Am I saying that race had
nothing to do with sluggish recovery efforts? No. All of those
things are true if you're looking at the small picture but if
you zoom out and view the bigger picture, George Bush is a
symptom of a much larger problem.
As an American, and as an African-American,
"Impeachment!" was my first reaction to last week's
events but, honestly, that's just a band-aid approach. It might
save us from three more years of immediate incompetence but what
about the inevitable future clones cast from Bush's mold?
Impeachment's like having a major
toothache, yet taking aspirin day after day instead of facing
the dentist's chair and drill.
Republican. Democrat. Federal. State.
Local. The system is broken and bankrupt and it requires more
than a band-aid to heal it. What it needs now...what it's needed
for a long time...is a major overhaul. Not just a "talking
head" change but a mutiny on the bounty: throw out the
Constitution, throw out every branch and level of government as
we know them—and start again from scratch.
You don't rent an apartment, buy a house,
or drive a car and NEVER make repairs (major or minor). Yet
that's the way this country/government runs. We're working off
of a document that was drafted centuries ago.
If the world has a Drama Queen, the United
States wears the winning sash and tiara. And the worst part is,
most of the wounds are self-inflicted. Switzerland, Norway,
Greenland, Canada—the nations that rarely make the headlines.
Granted, they're by no means perfect, but what are they doing
right that we're doing wrong? Why can't we learn from those
who've at least got it halfway right?
Capitalism is dividing us—and killing
us—in more ways than one. It's a foolish thing. Yet, as the
Titanic sinks deeper and deeper into the sea, the band plays on
and the passengers continue their dance.
It's way past time for the American public
to throw another Boston Tea Party and take this country back.
* * *
Mary Meekins, currently residing in
Maryland, is a publishing phenomenon (in her own mind, anyway!).
Actually, she's an inquisitive student of the universe, an
"accidental novelist," and a freelance writer. As well
as a novel-in-progress, she writes essays and short stories for
various blogs, magazines,
and other publications.
posted 9 September 2005
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* * * * *
Aké: The Years of Childhood
By Wole Soyinka
Aké: The Years of Childhood is a
memoir of stunning beauty, humor, and
lyrical account of one boy's attempt to
grasp the often irrational and
hypocritical world of adults that
equally repels and seduces him. Soyinka
elevates brief anecdotes into history
lessons, conversations into morality
plays, memories into awakenings. Various
cultures, religions, and languages
mingled freely in the Aké of his youth,
fostering endless contradictions and
personalized hybrids, particularly when
it comes to religion. Christian
teachings, the wisdom of the ogboni, or
ruling elders, and the power of
alternately terrify and inspire him
carried equal metaphysical weight.
Surrounded by such a collage, he notes
that "God had a habit of either not
answering one's prayers at all, or
answering them in a way that was not
In writing from a child's perspective,
Soyinka expresses youthful idealism and
unfiltered honesty while escaping the
adult snares of cynicism and
intolerance. His stinging indictment of
colonialism takes on added power owing
to the elegance of his attack.
* * * * *
Faces At The Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism
By Derrick Bell
In nine grim metaphorical sketches, Bell, the black former Harvard law professor who made headlines recently for his one-man protest against the school's hiring policies, hammers home his controversial theme that white racism is a permanent, indestructible component of our society. Bell's fantasies are often dire and apocalyptic: a new Atlantis rises from the ocean depths, sparking a mass emigration of blacks; white resistance to affirmative action softens following an explosion that kills Harvard's president and all of the school's black professors; intergalactic space invaders promise the U.S. President that they will clean up the environment and deliver tons of gold, but in exchange, the bartering aliens take all African Americans back to their planet. Other pieces deal with black-white romance, a taxi ride through Harlem and job discrimination.
Civil rights lawyer Geneva
Crenshaw, the heroine of Bell's And We Are Not Saved (1987), is back in some of these ominous allegories, which speak from the depths of anger and despair. Bell now teaches at New York University Law School.—Publishers
* * * * *
So Rich, So Poor: Why It's So Hard to End Poverty in America
By Peter Edelman
If the nation’s gross national income—over $14 trillion—were divided evenly across the entire U.S. population, every household could call itself middle class. Yet the income-level disparity in this country is now wider than at any point since the Great Depression. In 2010 the average salary for CEOs on the S&P 500 was over $1 million—climbing to over $11 million when all forms of compensation are accounted for—while the current median household income for African Americans is just over $32,000. How can some be so rich, while others are so poor? In this provocative book, Peter Edelman, a former top aide to Senator Robert F. Kennedy and a lifelong antipoverty advocate, offers an informed analysis of how this country can be so wealthy yet have a steadily growing number of unemployed and working poor. According to Edelman, we have taken important positive steps without which 25 to 30 million more people would be poor, but poverty fluctuates with the business cycle.
The structure of today’s economy has stultified wage
growth for half of America’s workers—with even worse
results at the bottom and for people of color—while bestowing billions on those at the top. So Rich, So Poor delves into what is happening to the people behind the statistics and takes a particular look at the continuing crisis of young people of color, whose possibility of a productive life too often is lost on their way to adulthood.—
* * * * *
Allah, Liberty, and Love
The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom
By Irshad Manji
In Allah, Liberty and Love, Irshad Manji paves a path for Muslims and non-Muslims to transcend the fears that stop so many of us from living with honest-to-God integrity: the fear of offending others in a multicultural world as well as the fear of questioning our own communities. Since publishing her international bestseller, The Trouble with Islam Today, Manji has moved from anger to aspiration. She shows how any of us can reconcile faith with freedom and thus discover the Allah of liberty and love—the universal God that loves us enough to give us choices and the capacity to make them. Among the most visible Muslim reformers of our era, Manji draws on her experience in the trenches to share stories that are deeply poignant, frequently funny and always revealing about these morally confused times.
prevents young Muslims, even in the West, from
expressing their need for religious
reinterpretation? What scares non-Muslims about
openly supporting liberal voices within Islam? How
did we get into the mess of tolerating intolerable
customs, such as honor killings, and how do we change that noxious status quo?
* * *
Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in
By Melissa V.
According to the
author, this society has historically exerted
considerable pressure on black females to fit into one
of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the
Matriarch or the Jezebel. The selfless
Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to
white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of
those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the
relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable
temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as
an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the
characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television
shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.
points out how the propagation of these harmful myths
have served the mainstream culture well. For instance,
the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for
black females to feel a maternal instinct towards
As for the source
of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their
own bodies during slavery given that they were being
auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless,
it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate
the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate
* * *
A Wreath for Emmett Till
By Marilyn Nelson; Illustrated by
This memorial to
the lynched teen is in the Homeric
tradition of poet-as-historian. It is a
heroic crown of sonnets in Petrarchan
rhyme scheme and, as such, is quite
formal not only in form but in language.
There are 15 poems in the cycle, the
last line of one being the first line of
the next, and each of the first lines
makes up the entirety of the 15th. This
chosen formality brings distance and
reflection to readers, but also calls
attention to the horrifically ugly
events. The language is highly
figurative in one sonnet, cruelly
graphic in the next. The illustrations
echo the representative nature of the
poetry, using images from nature and
taking advantage of the emotional
quality of color.
There is an introduction by the author, a page
about Emmett Till, and literary and poetical footnotes to the
sonnets. The artist also gives detailed reasoning behind his
choices. This underpinning information makes this a full
experience, eminently teachable from several aspects, including
historical and literary—School
* * * * *
The White Masters
of the World
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
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Ancient African Nations
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If you like this page consider making a donation
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Negro Digest / Black World
Browse all issues
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Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /
George Jackson /
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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding
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