Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Jena Six Petition Is Ready

Please sign and help circulate the petition

Jena Six petition link.

H/T Tom.

More Reasons the (in)Justice System Has Me Down

Sometimes, I really ask what the hell is going on? And I don't mean that in a sarcastic or cynical way, but in a "I'm really frightened and discouraged by" shit that's going on that's just not right. It's just not.

From Yolanda:
Four African American lesbian women from Newark, New Jersey were sentenced this past June 14th to excessively long prison terms in New York for the crime of defending themselves against homophobic harassment and violence. These young sistas were railroaded by both a dismissively misogynist judge and by the reactionary, sensationalist media. As Imani Henry writes in Workers World:
Deemed a so-called “hate crime” against a straight man, every possible racist, anti-woman, anti-LGBT and anti-youth tactic was used by the entire state apparatus and media. Everything from the fact that they lived outside of New York, in the working-class majority Black city of Newark, N.J., to their gender expressions and body structures were twisted and dehumanized in the public eye and to the jury.
According to court observers, [presiding judge Edward J.] McLaughlin stated throughout the trial that he had no sympathy for these women. The jury, although they were all women, were all white. All witnesses for the district attorney were white men, except for one Black male who had several felony charges.
Court observers report that the defense attorneys had to put enormous effort into simply convincing the jury that they were “average women” who had planned to just hang out together that night. Some jurists asked why they were in the Village if they were from New Jersey. The DA brought up whether they could afford to hang out there—raising the issue of who has the right to be there in the first place.
It’s gonna take the struggle of people around the country to get these young women out of prison.
Please read the Workers' World article she linked. Please.

Kactus has been writing about April Griffin:
From MotherWarriorsVoice:
Twenty seven year old April Griffin has been in the Milwaukee County Jail since May 14th, 2007 because she refuses to give up custody of her nine month old son.
May 14th 2007- Ms. Griffin appeared in Milwaukee County Family Court because Mr. Sebuliba was trying to obtain full parental custody of their infant son. Griffin, representing herself, asked Judge Goulee how he could consider giving custody of a 9 month old breastfeeding baby to a man who:
Is on record for having beaten Griffin during her pregnancy
Is not a US Citizen‹Mr. Sebuliba wants to send the baby to Uganda for his mother to raise
Wanted the baby to be aborted
Openly had nothing to do with Ms. Griffin during her pregnancy?
Judge Goulee denied Griffin the right to question her own witnesses. And he refused to introduce her medical evidence.
Judge Goulee changed the baby’s last name against the mother’s wishes.
Judge Goulee ordered Griffin to bring in the infant. HE WANTS THE CHILD REMOVED FROM ALL FAMILY MEMBERS AND PLACED IN FOSTER CARE WHILE DAD IS EVALUATED! (The child has a grandmother and grandfather, 7 aunts and one uncle in Milwaukee.) Griffin refused to subject her child to such trauma.
Goulee told Griffin that she should have overlooked the battery and stayed with Sebuliba because he is a “good catch.” (He’s a nurse. She’s unemployed.) Goulee found Griffin in civil contempt of court. He ordered her to jail, because she was a “threat”.
May 15th 2007- Griffin appeared before Judge Goulee. He again told her to give up custody of her son. She refused. Goulee threatened, ” I can keep you here forever.”
Read the rest, and then see what you can do to help.
Kactus has posted more here, here, here, and here.

Y'all, what the hell?

Mychal Bell, First of the Jena 6 to Stand Trial, Convicted

***Update (5:51 PM-6/28)***

I really have nothing to say right now. This conviction is not surprising.

But it still hurts.

I got the news from the Alexandria Town Talk:
The jurors were told that in addition to the charges Bell faced, they also may consider the lesser and included charges of aggravated battery, second-degree battery, simple battery, or acquittal.
Yeah, right.

Vox sums up my opinion:
30 years for a high school fistfight in which no one was seriously injured, convicted by an all-white jury. I don’t know what to say about that.
Thanks to my cousin, Trinity, for updating here.


This is Trinity-Elle's cousin. She's away from the computer but wanted me to update you that Mychal Bell has been convicted of aggravated second degree battery and conspiracy to commit the same. He faces up to 30 years in prison.

More Later.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

An Aside on the Jena Six

***Please excuse my all-over-the-place-ness as I think this out, but you're used to it, right?***

In the comments of my very first post about the Jena Six, I had a commenter named Nick who was troubled by my views:
Blah, blah, blah!!! I am a resident of Jena and i have been a resident here all my life. It is really unfortunate that the news only publishes stories that make these young men, the "Jena 6", seem like victims. I happen to know 3 of them and i assure you they are anything but.
Does it really matter what color they are or this student they beat? Its so funny how all these big city hot shots come here and try to make all this a racial thing when really its not!
My immediate response was defensive:
as far as "does color matter?" hell yes. don't even try that BS with me--another rural louisianan. didn't color matter when a tree was still "reserved" for whites only now in 2007? when the nooses were hung? when those boys got a slap on the hand?
as far as trying to make this not be a "racial thing"--good attempt with the "i don't remember how this started." it'd be easy to say "with nooses hung from trees," but somehow, i suspect it goes beyond that, past the mistreatment of (largely African American) Jefferson Parish Prison detainees who were moved to Jena after Hurricane Katrina, past the brutalization of the young men in the old juvenile prison, past the overwhelming support of jena's white populace for a former ku klux klan leader for governor.Keep your head buried in the sand, Nick. Jena has a race problem. And it's not young black men.
Nick's response included:
elle, obviously your missing my point entirely! I LIVE HERE IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY In JENA! Do you? I know all about what racisim is, trust me!
The majority of people in this town are not racist though. I work in a place where i talk to cops daily and most of them also beleive that attempted second degree murder is really extreme.
I wanted to continue the discussion, but I felt that I owed Nick an apology (which is why I asked Nick to e-mail me). Not because I changed my position, but because 1) I had professed to want views from people in and around Jena and felt that I dismissed Nick's when I jumped defensive and 2) my initial response to Nick was full of assumptions.

Still, I am troubled by Nick's assertion that some of these boys were "bad" and the resultant implication that being charged with attempted murder is somehow deserved because of alleged past actions (not Nick's position, but I've seen it). It reminds me of all the purported discussions during the civil rights era that emphasized putting only positive-reputation-having, well-dressed, "respectable" people on the frontlines in sit-ins and on segregated bus seats and during acts of civil disobedience. Of course, the technique was undoubtedly necessary.

But still, it begs the question (a question that I'm dealing with in another part of my online life as well), for whom do we seek justice and fair treatment? Whose criminalization and/or negative characterization do we resist? S/he of the spotless past and unimpugnable reputation? Those with the "right" color or money, who can have what they do dismissed as pranks or a misstep (rather than an inherent flaw) or "unintended to offend?"

Vox, as usual, beautifully summarizes why, no matter what unrelated allegations about the Jena Six arise, no matter how many people cry "reverse racism!" (because I, for example, obviously think it's okay for black people to beat up white people and that black people should "get away with" said beatings), the circumstances of this case, from the way provocative actions before the fight were dismissed to the unreasonable charges, point to racism and the difficulty these young men will have in getting a fair trial:
a. Only three of the six teens arrested participated in the fight.
b. Several white teenagers jumped and beat up a black teen the weekend before the fight and were charged only with battery.
c. A white teenager threatened a black teen with a shotgun and was not charged with a crime.
d. White teens threatened the lives of the black teens by hanging the nooses from that tree and were never punished.
e. The boy who was “beaten” in the afternoon was up and at his ring ceremony that same evening.

It’s not racism because they’re being prosecuted for beating another teen. It’s racism because the punishment doesn’t fit the crime, and because similar crimes by white teens in the four months preceding the “beating” were not punished at all.
In other words, that racism affects this case is not something that bloggers, or some newspapers, or the faceless "leaders of national organizations" made up to malign residents of Jena or to divert attention from "the 'real' victim."

I bobble as I try to walk the line between respecting Nick's position as a Jena resident and giving voice to my own lived experience(s) as a black, rural Louisianan. Still, my questions to Nick and people of this mindset remain:
Is the law being administered differently based on race? How does the historical mistreatment of African Americans in Jena's "justice system," affect this case? Is a fair trial for young men that citizens like you are working so hard to paint a criminalized picture of possible in Jena?
I deeply believe that race and place matter in this case, and I worry for the lives of these young men. No matter what allegations are hurled at them, they deserve to be treated fairly and justly.

Ongoing Update-The Jena Six

***For summary/analysis of the circumstances surrounding the Jena (Louisiana) Six, read this by the Friends of Justice. ***

***From the Alexandria Town Talk (6/27)***
JENA -- The prosecution and defense rested their cases today in the trial of Mychal Bell, 17, charged with aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit the same in connection with a Dec. 4 fight at Jena High School.
If convicted on the charges he now faces, Bell could be sentenced to as many as 30 years in prison.
The trial resumes tomorrow. Bell's attorney called no witnesses. Is that strange?

***Update from the Alexandria (LA) Town Talk (6/26)***
All-white jury selected in Bell trial

JENA -- An all-white jury of five women, one man and a female alternate was selected today in the trial of Mychal Bell...
This gives me a sick feeling.

***Update from the Monroe (LA) News-Star (6/26)***

Until Monday, Bell, Shaw, Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis and Robert Bailey Jr. had all been charged with attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit the same crime. Those charges remain for all of the boys except Bell, who also faces a conspiracy to commit aggravated second-degree battery.

There is also an unnamed juvenile charged, whose court records aren't public.
This contradicts what I read on the Friends of Justice blog, so I will have to do some more digging once I get off. The original post and updates are below. ***From what I've read in other papers, I believe only Bell's charges have been reduced.***

Two of the black students are to go on trial Tuesday on the charges, which supporters say are way out of line.

"The detective investigating told me it would be simple battery," Bailey said. "My son has never been in trouble before. He's never done anything wrong, now he's facing this. How can that be?"
The two facing trial this week are Theodore Shaw and Mychale Bell. Robert Bailey Jr., Bryant Purvis and Carwin Jones face trial on the same charges, but no date has been set.

Shaw and Bell, have been jailed since their arrests, unable to make $90,000 bond.

More from the Times-Picayune (6/25).

***Update from Alexandria's Town Talk (6/25):

JENA -- LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters this afternoon reduced the charges faced by Mychal Bell -- one of the six Jena High School students charged in a Dec. 4 fight at the school -- to second-degree aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit second-degree aggravated battery.

He, along with five other students charged in the fight -- together called the Jena Six -- had faced charges of attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit second-degree murder.

Earlier this morning, a plea agreement for a lesser charge was turned down by another member of the Jena Six, Theodore Shaw, who is on trial this week in the courtroom of 28th Judicial District Court Judge J.P. Mauffray Jr.

Shaw's attorney, Tim Shumate, tried to persuade him to plead guilty to aggravated assault, a felony, against the wishes of Shaw's father, Theodore McCoy.

"We are confident to go to trial," McCoy said. "They are trying to avoid trial because they don't have a case."

An ***Update*** from the Friends of Justice blog (6/25):

So this case goes to trial, beginning with jury selection tomorrow. All defendants now face the reduced charge of aggravated assault.
But aggravated assault is still a felony charge, and even if the defendants escape with probated sentences their lives will never be the same. Any minor slip-up could land them behind bars. A college education will become illusive because felons are denied all forms of federal assistance. Most decent jobs are unattainable for felons. And so it goes. We are calling the District Attorney to drop the charges to simple battery–the same charge filed against the boy who attacked defendant Robert Bailey at a dance short days before the incident at the school. Then there is the issue of the all-white jury that will almost certainly be selected tomorrow. We aren’t where we need to be, but we have traveled miles from where we were when this fight began–and in the right direction.
This is what worries me, as well. I see this all the time, everyday--young men who are deemed "unemployable" because of a felony conviction. In my area (here) about the only places they can go for work are the poultry processing plants. If they can't hang with the work there...

The post also mentions that "CNN will broadcast its Jena feature on Paula Zahn’s NOW program this evening between 7:00 and 8:00 (central)." I missed it, of course, but am going to dig around the CNN website now.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tagged--8 Things about Me... favorite subject!! And the lovely ladies Zan, ComebackNikki, and JustMe have given me a reason to write about it.


  • I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.

  • Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.

  • People who are tagged need to write their own blog post about their eight things and post these rules.

  • At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.

  • Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Random Facts:

  1. Sometimes, I close my eyes tightly and try to make myself see colors.

  2. One thing that I am ashamed of about my life is that in the area of consumerism, my reality doesn't fit my politics/ideology. I am materialistic. I live beyond my means. Way beyond. Somedays, I sit there waiting for my precariously balanced world to tumble down around my ears.

  3. Re: my parents: My dad and I have a closer relationship than my mom and I. I feel tremendously guilty about that, given the sacrifices my mom has made.

  4. My son is developing a really dry sense of humor, a bit like mine. We already have a "look" we share when we encounter ridiculousness. That makes me happy.

  5. I am highly suspicious of AT&T. How come, two or three years ago, AT&T was my cell provider? And then I HAD to switch to Cingular and buy a new phone? And now, Cingular is AT&T again. I don't understand. Something ain't right about that to me.

  6. Despite grumblings and protests, I seem to have an affinity for working with children. the ones in my family, from nieces and nephews to distant cousins, seem to really love me. The little ones are always asking to spend the night, the older ones always want me to take them somewhere. I have an affectionate relationship with most of my ex-students, as well. My mother told me Sunday morning that I reminder her of herself--the kids in the neighborhood always wanted to come to our house when we were growing up--my mom was genuinely kind to them.

  7. I am back working at mastering (hah!) the art of soul food cooking. I'm currently focused on desserts. Last week, I made a not-too-bad peach cobbler (I cheated on the crust, though). Before the summer is over, I will have conquered pecan pie (which I don't eat), sweet potatoe pie (which I only eat if it is baked in a shallow pan without a crust--a sweet potato pudding, I suppose), pound cake (okay, I basically got that one; it's just too involved), and a red velvet cake.

  8. Someone asked me recently what classes I'd like to teach. I hadn't thought about is--as a new PhD, I assumed the U.S. History survey would be it for me for a while. But, I've decided, if I had my druthers (hah!), this would be my line up (in no particular order):
  • Southern Labor, ~1890s to the present

  • African Americans, 1877 to the present

  • The U.S. (anti-) Welfare System since 1945

  • Women in United States History

  • The U.S. since 1945

Mmm-kay. I tag Julie, Quinn, Evanne, Mathochist, Vox, Billie, Turtlebella, and No Snow Here.

Monday, June 25, 2007


I have been remiss, bad, just-plain-out-of-it when it comes to linking (and reading) the carnivals I usually keep up with.

One I'm not behind on: Fire Fly has the second Carnival of Radical Action.

The Carnival Against Sexual Violence comes out on the 1st and 15th of each month. Edition # 25 is up at abyss2hope.

The History Carnival is published on the 1st of each month. The current edition (#53) is at the American Presidents blog. The next wil be at Dr. Goetz's place on July 1. (I just noticed she's been blogging for five years. Wow!)

The Carnival of GRADual Progress (which offered me so much hope and support!!) is held monthly, around the 15th. The current edition is at When do you think you'll be done? (Isn't that THE most annoying question?). Next up, around July 15, at Fumbling towards Geekdom.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Help A Sista Out

I want a new layout for the blog. I want sidebars so that I can post permanent info, like the pseudonyms of friends and families and links to books that I think you ought to explore or that I reference (for when I get all academic on y'all's ass! :-). But I'd also like to be able to post temporary announcements and such. Who can I turn to?

Thing two--I want to do an academic/history post but nothing is catching my mush-for-a-brain right now. Can you think of any topics to which I can bring some historical light?

I'm bored, but serious. I need motivation.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Happy Birthday!

To my baby girl. She's five today. Y'all, she's going to kindergarten in the fall!!!

I am overwhelmed.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


  • I have one student, bless her heart (yes that's a southern epithet), who asks me the most minute, detailed questions. I want to pull out my hair. It's not that I mind saying "I don't know," but that I resent saying it to questions like "What new Roman technologocal developments allowed them to beat the Carthaginian navy?" (I'm not kidding).
  • My cab driver the weekend of the conference (was that really a month ago?!!) was Sudanese. He asked me had I ever been to Africa and I said no. He asked me did I want to go and I said, "Yes, I feel like I have to." He then asked me had I heard of Sudan. I nodded. He sighed and siad, "You've heard of Darfur?" I told him yes. Then, I asked, "Have you been to the area?" And he shut down on me, told me yes and it was somewhat bad, but it's getting better and that there is some new agreement that will end the trouble. I was stunned. The more I thought about it though, I began to wonder, what is it about nationalism that makes us dismiss and defend atrocities?
  • Today, I heard some men inviting one of the history profs here to lunch. "Oh no," he said, "I'm on a budget, hence the fifteen cent ramen noodles." And I thought, "What the hell do you mean?!! The fat salary of a history prof won't rescue me from budgets and debt?" I had such high expectations. [/sarcasm]
  • How invested in this world history class am I, that, when I jotted myself a note of what I wanted to include in this post, I wrote "Roman" noodles?
  • I'm feeling all misty and stereotypically motherly today. My son is in Texas with my sister--he had to go to summer school for math. They come home every weekend and he always looks so sad on Sunday evenings when it's time to head back. Usually, I am the most unsypmathetic figure: "Next year, you're going to have to try. You're going to have to be responsible. Sorry you're missing all the summer fun!" But last night I got a bit teary when I talked to him and I missed him fiercely. He was all ready to get off the phone and I was asking the same questions in different ways. Ah, well.
  • Belle will be 5 on June 21. Her mom is contemplating relaxing her hair. I started to elbow her in the face when she said that but 1) I've seen her fight two guys and beat the hell out of them and 2) I'm more of the "talk a lot of shit then say, 'just please don't hit my head or scratch my face,' school. We did talk about it though. Belle has excessively dry skin and we already have to wash her hair with medicated shampoo. On top of it, she has a temper and when she's mad, she pulls out her barettes or scratches her scalp until it bleeds. Her mom says it's getting harder to comb. To be fair, I don't comb her hair--I can't even make a straight part. I simply "brush it up" and reattach the barettes when she stays with me. But I don't think relaxing is the right answer.
  • I love the camraderie between petit and bfp. It makes me feel good.
  • Did elle ever say thanks to Quinn for all the links and book ideas for world history? Oh, nooooooo. elle is too shallow and self-absorbed. Thanks, friend.
  • Zan tagged me. I'm getting to it!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Because I Missed Blog for Domestic Workers Day...

...and I promised my girl I would do it. And since she was nudged by my other blogmiga, I just have to take a break to talk about it.

I was going to write a semi-bitter post fueled by my experiences as the granddaughter and grandniece of women who worked as domestics and nannies--and I'll get to that in a minute. (though, BlackAmazon wrote something like I wanted to and hers is amazing).

But first, I looked around to see what other people were saying about domestic work. And though it is not connected to Blog for Domestic Workers Day, I saw this statement by Twisty at I Blame the Patriarchy:
Some women suggest that a marriage may be made tolerable with the introduction of a third party to muck out the filth. This bit of feudal reasoning, with its profoundly antifeminist essence, is problematic.

The implications of hiring a menial — always a woman — to perform low-status women’s drudgery suggest an unsophisticated grasp of feminist theory...

And so we see that marriage may be made palatable to women who view housework, rather than male privilege, as the primary agitator against equality in their relationships. To maintain the illusion that she can be married without simultaneously capitulating to the megatheocorporatocratic machine, the feminist wife cannot engage in stereotypical wifey-work behavior. Instead, she hires a surrogate drudge. Unfortunately, this merely demands that she oppress, in turn, women of a lower caste than herself, while doing nothing to address the power differential in her own relationship.
Good point, I think.

But hold up! Some of the readership disagree, using the tired tried and true observations:
"Cleaning as an activity does not make the 'underclass of women'; our attitude to women and women’s work makes the underclass."

"[W]hy are women the only ones guilt-tripped about being feudal exploiters?"
And more generally, "Since I am paying 73 bajillion cents an hour, how can I be exploiting anyone?!"

And I thought, something is being skirted, flirted, danced around here. Even the observation about women's work being undervalued = the reason domestic work is undervalued is missing a big point.

Which women's work is valued least of all? Who's being hired for this newly-fabulously remunerated, unexploited work? Twisty gets at it here. You see, this work is not being undervalued just because it is cast as women's work, but because it is cast as the work of women of color. And yes, white women have and do benefit from our assignment to low-status, low-paid work. From Dr. Evelyn Nakano Glenn, who expresses it much more eloquently:
White women may actually have a material interest in the continuing subordination of women of color in the workplace. To understand the contemporary divergence between the priorities and interests of White women and women of color, we must first understand the historic differences in their experiences as workers. A careful reading of the history of Black, Hispanic, and Asian-American women workers reveals a persistent racial division of "women's work." This division of labor has subjected women of color to special forms of exploitation, subordinating them to White women and ensuring that their labor benefits White women and their families.*
In other words, work may be divided by gender, but it's divided by race, as well, a significant factor to "overlook." From another article by Dr. Nakano Glenn:
In the first half of the [20th] century racial-ethnic women were employed as servants to perform reproductive labor in white households, relieving white middle-class women of onerous aspects of that work; in the second half of the century, with the expansion of commodified services (services turned into commercial products or activities), racial/ethnic women are disproportionately employed as service workers in institutional settings to carry out lower-level "public" reproductive labor, while cleaner white collar supervisory and lower professional positions are filled by white women.**
It's almost as if Dr. Nakano Glenn anticipated some of Twisty's readers' responses:
We may have to accept the idea that any policy to improve the lot of racial ethnic women may necessitate a corresponding loss of privilege or status for White women and may engender resistance on their part.
My point is, white women aren't just haplessly caught up in this unfair! capitalist! patriarchal! system that's got all us women down equally. They sustain it. They derive benefit from it. And not just the benefit of not troubling themselves with such menial work; in my experience, they derive a mental wage, a sense of "too good to do that work," or "generous me, I'm helping poor her!" or the ability to talk about domestic help and never once bring up issues of race and ethnicity.

And that is where my personal experience is, watching the outward expression of that mental wage. I hated, hated, hated that my grandmother and her sister were domestics.

Not because I was ashamed, but because of the way white people treated them and us.

Like never once saying, "I'm way younger than you; you don't have to call me ma'am!"

Or, giving my grandmother and aunt money, long after they'd retired, not because they didn't pay taxes for domestic help or because they objected to the fact that our government excluded domestic work from social insurance or because they appreciated the sacrifices my grandmother and her sister made. No, that money was proof that, just as their slaveholding ancestors argued, they took care of their negroes even after retirement!

Or, coming to their funerals and sitting on the front row with the immediate family because they had notions of their own importance. "Nanny raised us!" one of my aunt's "white children" exclaimed, then stood there regally as the family cooed and comforted her.

Whether or not hiring domestic help is exploitative is not solely a matter of how much you are willing to pay. Silly rabbits! The most common reasons for hiring--because you don't like housework and can afford to pay someone else to do the damnable stuff or your time can be better spent doing "more important" work... well, that reeks of privilege.

And before we label it as just the result of a patriarchal society's mandate that all women adhere to some standard of cleanliness that does all women an equal disservice (hah!)...

...why do certain women, who so radically dismiss so many other patriarchal demands, choose to abide by this one?
*"Cleaning Up/Kept Down: A Historical Perspective on Racial Inequality in
'Women's Work'," Stanford Law Review 43, no. 6 (1991): 1333-1356.

**"From Servitude to Service Work: Historical Continuities in the Racial Division of
Paid Reproductive Labor," Signs 18, no. 1 (1992): 1-43.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Carnival for Radical Action

Note: The deadline for submissions is June 21st.

The second edition will be held at Fire Fly's. What it's all about:

The Carnival of Radical Action
Most of us are organizers or activists in our real lives. Or at the very least, we think about it an awful lot and wish we had the skills and/or knowledge to organize. But contrary to the images of protest that make front pages and cause our hearts to swell–actual organizing is not as easy as it looks–nor is it very glamorous.
More often than not, the process it takes to actually get to the glamorous protest part is boring, tedious, filled with infighting, or done by one or two overburdened people who haven’t quite figured out how to say no.
And yet, the organizing part is so vitally important to achieving liberation (whatever that may be). It was through tons and tons of grass roots organizing and hard work that the right managed to come to power in the U.S. the way it has. The Zapatistas and the U.S. based Civil Rights movement both also have a history of achieving goals towards liberation through grassroots organizing.
So how does one go about doing this grassroots organizing?
That’s what this carnival is all about. I will be accepting any posts/submissions that have anything to do with organizing on a grassroots level. Some topic ideas that you might feel inclined to think about:
How do you do radical leftist organizing in the Midwest [or wherever you are]? How do you confront racism/sexism/disableism/homophobia/classism etc within your group? How do you work with a community instead of on a community? How do you confront accessibility issues (that is, you’re all working class mothers and there’s rarely a time to meet or the site where you meet is not wheelchair accessible etc)? What’s been the major problem/setback your group has faced? How did it over come it? What has been a successful tactic in your organizing (for example, you found that taking pictures of violent cops and posting them online is more successful in stopping the abuse than reporting them to their superiors)? If you’re a life time activist, what are some problems you see today with organizing compared to when you first started? Or, if you’ve never organized before, write about why you never have.
This carnival will be about sharing strategies more than finding a “right” answer. In the world we face today where there are so many intersecting forms of oppression, one answer will not fit every community. But something that worked for one community might work for another if they alter it and adjust it to suit their own needs.
The deadline for submissions is June 21st.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Update on the Jena Six

A rally outside the LaSalle Parish Courthouse in support of the Jena Six:

And from Sylvia:
in an effort to rally up support among the netroots, Tom, an ally at his blog Automatic Preference, has started writing a petition for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the charges brought against the Jena Six for racial discrimination, incorporating other criminal justice situations in recent events that have showed indications of disproportionate charging and sentencing arrangements being given to African-American children and young adults. It’s his first time creating a petition, and he’s asking for assistance, input, and feedback. Please stop by and give him your support. The plan is after the petition is developed and established, the link will be e-mailed to the numerous grassroots organizations and national organizations involved to let them know that the AfroSphere and the progressive netroots are supporting their fight for justice for the Jena Six.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


World history is kicking this girl's ass!!! But, would I be deemed too much of a nerd if I admit that I'm enjoying it? And that I can now pronounce Pisistratus? And that I got my students to engage on different theories of why some early civilizations are "understudied?"

My students really got into the lecture on Sparta--one of them told me, "You should see 300." I started to direct him here. Indeed.

Today is BFL's mother's funeral, so I'm getting out of here momentarily. Up until yesterday, she was managing, with this effort that sort of showed in her face and in her words, to hold it all in. Primarily, she stays busy. We've had a hand in everything--picking out the coffin, the dress, finding people to dig the grave, answering the phone, preparing food for all the family that has come from out of town. But yesterday, she wasted some of the baby's milk and she started to cry. She called me and said, "People keep calling saying, 'If there's anything you need' and I want to tell them, I need my mama."

So, think of her, pray for her today.

And I'll be back shortly.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Allied Media Conference

First, there are some fabulous bloggers who want to go and I want you to help send 'em.
Fabulosa Mujer
Hermana Resist (donations can be made through her pay pal email:
Please Professor Black Woman
Black Amazon
The Primary Contradiction
Please think about donating!!!!

Second, an expanded look at the track sponsored by INCITE! at the conference, borrowed from Fab:
INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence Co-Sponsoring Track At the Allied Media Conference .

Here’s the track INCITE is co-sponsoring:
Using Documentary to Organize Against Violence and Colonization
Presenter: Rosemary Gibbons, Boarding School Healing Project
A Century of Genocide in the Americas: The Residential School Experience is a short but powerful documentary about how Indian Residential Schools became a haven for institutionalized sexual abuse. The inspiration for the film comes from the First Nations survivors who have taken legal action against the institutions that perpetuated this destructive cycle; these are the very same institutions whose purpose and mandate was to “provide” for their well being. This video takes a historical look at how the systematic removal of First Nations children from their families and community not only made the them easy targets for pedophiles but also how these vile acts turned many of the victims into predators. The second half shows First Nations peoples taking legal action against not only the pedophiles, but also against the Canadian government and churches while at the same time using their traditional ways of healing in order to bring back joy and balance back within their own lives and also within their communities.
NO! The Rape Documentary
Film screening followed by a discussion with Director Aishah Shahidah Simmons
Through testimonies from Black women survivors, commentaries from acclaimed African- American women scholars and community leaders, including Johnneta Betsch Cole, Farah Jasmine Griffin, Elaine Brown, and Beverly Guy-Sheftall; impacting archival footage, spirited music, dance, and performance poetry, NO! unveils the reality of rape, other forms of sexual violence, and healing in African-American communities.
Empowering Our Communities Through Oral History
Presented by: Emily Lawsin
What is Oral History? How can we use oral histories to help our communities? In this workshop, participants will learn different strategies of how to prepare for, conduct, process, and present an oral history interview. We will focus on how to phrase questions to get the most out of an interview, while managing recording equipment. We will also look at creative ways to document and present oral histories to empower marginalized communities.
Accessibility: from Academia to the Internet
Presenters TBA (possible presenters include: Andy Smith, Nadine Naber, UBUNTU, Laila El-Haddad, and Anjali Teneja, Susana Adame)
This panel will look at two spaces not commonly thought of as realms of radical women of color organizing: academia and the Internet. What are the different opportunities and limitations within each of these realms? From the publishing of This Bridge Called My Back in the late 80s, to the recent publishing of INCITE! Color of Violence Anthology, college classrooms have nurtured radical women of color feminists. Yet academia on the whole remains an inaccessible, hostile space to women of color. The Internet maintains a reputation as the domain of only the privileged. Yet with every passing day, more women of color are starting blogs, sharing resources and building supportive communities through the Internet. Undeniably, the most important work being done to end violence against women and other systems of oppression is taking place in the streets and at the grassroots. How can we create new/stronger relationships between the worlds of academia, the Internet, and grassroots organizing?
Peoples’ Statistics: Information Gathering For Organizing
Presenters: Andrea Ritchie and Remy Kharbanda
What role does research and information gathering play in our organizing work? What barriers and power relations are created and reinforced by existing research and information gathering methods and frameworks? How can they be challenged and broken down through empowering, collective and participatory production of knowledge about our communities? How can we value our own voices as “experts” in our lives instead of those of government, academics or big non-profits? How can we integrate information gathering and research into our base-building and organizing work? How do we ensure community ownership and engagement with research processes throughout? What resources exist to support us in collectively building knowledge for critical reflection and action?
Join RFR, a research collaborative dedicated to supporting and facilitating integration of participatory research and popular education in community based organizing, for a collective participatory exploration of these questions and more!
Zine-making and Women of Color
Presented by: Nadia Abou-Karr
A zine is an independent publication, usually photocopied and distributed cheaply, with little or no profit. What makes this format appealing and useful for women of color? What are the obstacles faced by women of color zine-makers? Why do we do it? This session will tackle these concerns. It will be tailored to fit the needs of those in attendance, and can include open group discussion as well as a zine-making how-to guide, encompassing content, layout, printing and distribution.
Building Inter-active Web Communities
Presented by: UBUNTU
UBUNTU is a Women of Color and Survivor-led coalition of individuals and organizational representatives, formed in Durham, NC in the wake of the Duke Rape Case. Out of rage, pain and hope they generate strategies and actions that prevent, disrupt, transform and heal sexual violence. Broken Beautiful Press is an online project of UBUNTU with the goal of fostering an inter-active web community for collective expression and community transformation. The site offers downloadable media arts projects which can be used as educational and organizing tools. This workshop will explore the Broken Beautiful Press model of engaging with the Internet for healing, transformation, education and organizing.
Radical Women and Transgender Persons Of Color Blogging Caucus
Is it possible to organize online?
Although many people have sung the praises of online organizing, all too often nobody wants to hear about what a woman/transgender person of color has to say, much less how she is organizing. At the same time, however, many of us have found ways to expand and challenge traditional ideas of what online feminist organizing should or could be.
This caucus will be a space for women/transgender bloggers of color to come together and consider ways in which blogging can be used as an organizing tool. What have we done in the past? What’s worked? What hasn’t? What could we try differently? What could we do more of? How can we continue to push the boundaries of what online organizing “should be”? How can we use blogging as a tool toward ending violence against all women/transgender persons of color and our communities? Let’s work together to figure this out!
This is a women and transgender persons of color safe space.
Beyond the Hijab: Struggling Against Stereotypes
Film screening followed by workshop/discussion
With Director Habibah Ahmad, Manhattan Neighborhood Network’s Youth Channel
Beyond the Hijab: Struggling Against Stereotypes is a documentary about 18 year-old Habibah Ahmad, an Afro-American Muslim woman, and her daily struggle against discriminatory labels. The video is a vivid exploration of race, religion, identity and religious intolerance in post 9/11 America. It provides a rich and challenging look inside the life of a young person torn between many alliances and facing intolerance as she tries to find her way in life.
Go! Help someone go!
Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...