Saturday, May 26, 2012
"As far as that stuff [Bain critique], I have to just say from a very personal level, I'm not about to sit here and indict private equity. To me, it's just this--we're getting to a ridiculous point in America, especially that I know. I live in a state where pension funds, unions and other people are investing in companies like Bain Capital. If you look at the totality of Bain Capital's record, it ain't--they've done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses, And this, to me, I'm very uncomfortable with."
I have no problem with any of that because as the Mayor mentions, he was speaking from a point of view of what has been good for his city and state, which is his main concern. But ultimately that sentence about "looking at the totality of Bain's record" could not stand because it was made at the same time that Team Obama was releasing attack ads painting Bain as the job killer. So Cory Booker had to go on his Ustream and "clarify" in a manner that sounded much more like the talking points that the President's campaign workers want out in the media. If you wonder why one of the most recognizable Mayors in America would do this given how much cache he has built, you just have to remember that he is a self-described Obama surrogate. He wants to keep playing the political game when his time as Mayor is done, and being able to call on the Obamas (as well as the cultural and financial capital they inspire) when he needs them will always be a good "chip" to have in his back pocket. I would have a hard time swallowing what I was truly feeling just to keep donors and cronies scratching my back while I'm trying to advocate for the people in my care, so worry not about me ever contacting you for donations for a political campaign run. The game is rigged.
Friday, May 4, 2012
This week news came out that thirteen students at Florida A&M University (FAMU) would be charged with the death of "Marching 100" drum major Robert Champion. The 26-yr old was beaten during a band hazing ritual, and ultimately passed due to shock and severe internal bleeding from repeated blunt force trauma. As I read the Abu-Jamal/Hill text, I was saddened by the literal Classroom and Cell circumstance that these students now face in the name of upholding a "tradition" that was never intended to include this level of violence. The words of Abu-Jamal and Hill were particularly piercing as they discussed Black masculinity and the "performances" that it entails. Hill in particular noted the troublesome connection between a detachment from emotion, which many Black men are taught to have, and the normalizing effect it has on our views of violence. When you add to that a particularly strong brand of homophobia that exists within many Black communities, you have the recipe for how a young man's life could be ended on a charter bus outside a football game. I have seen the same escalation in violence among many of the Historically Black Greek Letter Organizations (HBGLOs), and it is particularly troubling because none of these organizations was founded upon principles of self-destruction. In fact, all of the fraternities, sororities and their surrogates were created upon ideals of uplift and community service. The FAMU case is just one example of how the conversations that Abu-Jamal and Hill were having play out in the larger world. This is a key reason that this work is so important, and can serve as a catalyst for continued examination of key issues within Black communities across the nation so that healing strategies may be developed.
My reading of this text comes at a key juncture in my life where I have a rare moment to really reflect on who I am, and how I want to continue to develop. One of my main theoretical undertakings during my doctoral studies was the issue of racial identity, how it continually morphs, and how the development process is fluid. In this rare reflection moment, I face questions of how to parent, how to structure my career in a way that fits my marriage, how to use my accrued cultural capital to address gross inequities that exist in our society, and how to continue taking what I understand from a life that is centrally Black and male to foster meaningful personal relationships that are built on a shared humanity, one that transcends race, ethnicity, class, gender, and other labels. This book was instructive because in Abu-Jamal you have a cultural and historical "oldhead" who can speak to issues of Revolutionary Black Leadership, Black Politics, and the Prison Industrial Complex in a very real, un-romanticized way so that the portrait in your mind is less abstract and more real. In Professor Hill, I have a peer who has clear insights on issues of the day, yet is struggling with many of the same issues as I am, so it is easy to place myself within the the "conversation" going on between them. While not exhaustive on any given topic, the text serves as a viable appetizer for further satiation of the appetite for knowledge, and insight into where Black people have been in this country and where they need to go.