Thursday, December 28, 2006

Details on MLK Event

Click on image to view larger version

Martin Luther King Jr.: "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam" Sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on April 30, 1967. Click HERE
to read and listen. Truer words could not be said if they were spoken today about the Iraq war.

Conversation Recap 12.24

Mary’s story

Steve sings Big Floppy Shoes song

Moral/Philosphical Question—

Love, the Beloved Community and Peace On Earth

Whatever our past experiences with respect to Christmas, one aspect that we can focus on is that it is a story of Peace On Earth and Goodwill Toward All—ideas that can resonate with any faith tradition.

Dexter repeated some of last week’s talk on love as a way to transition into talking about peace.

MLK article (The Current Crisis in Race Relations) made 5 points in laying out the argument for non-violence.
It is not a method of cowardice or stagnant passivity.
It does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent.
It is directed at the forces of evil, not those caught up in the forces.
It avoids not only external violence but internal violence of the spirit. At its center stands the principle of love.
It is based on the conviction that the universe is on the side of justice.

Goal is creation of peace-the goal is the creation of love-the goal is the bringing into being, the Beloved Community
Ø Available
Ø Accountable
Ø Trusting

Tell the truth to each other-honey w/ medicine, in Jamaica they say “taste your words” while the Bible says “speak the truth in love”

Is peace the absence of war or violence or is peace the presence of justice—the presence of goodwill?

People want peace and leaders want war. What are we, The People to do for peace?

Tragic/Comic, looking at life through the blues but still with hope (Cornel West)

Guard our souls against becoming a ideologues (persons who love you to death and then, when disagreement, hate you to death tomorrow).

What do you believe and why do you believe it? What informs and governs why you believe what you believe?

John-poem “If in your heart you make a manger for his birth, then God will once again become a child on earth.”

Laurie- how do we become the people we’ve been waiting for,(referencing the new Alice Walker book?

Tom-self-work resonates, challenged by how to work externally

Tully- love and peace words are tossed out so easily—I love this scarf, I love that movie, etc. Also hate. What do these words really mean?

Dick—love is the natural way we feel for one another when we are not hurt by a class based economically oppressive society. Boldly share this point—we have a system that creates this dysfunction in all of us. Get courage from loving one another in this group

Eve- From The Hopi Elders Speak

Marti-Reagonomics cut taxes create debt-- debt pays interest to banks-rich get richer. To cover up, war in Granada. Bush 2 same thing, would have to have a war to cover. War is used as a tool to distract us and to train us not to speak out. Live a life of courageous love not just comfort.

Steve-admin. So disingenuous in discourse with the American People. Tools (education system, TV). Julia’s message of looking inside yourself is worth taking seriously. Part of solution is acknowledging that there is a them and an us.

Mary-Pogo “We have seen the enemy and they are us” Trees fell and then were cleaned up and still lots of trees. This is not the end of the world. Only do that which is possible—within your sphere of influence. Can’t accept we and them—none of us is getting out alive.

Sallie-in terms of the balance in the struggle, the only thing that works is love. It’s actually pragmatic. With violence, someone loses and then wants to right the wrong. Agree with the us and them and it’s all us. Struggle is balancing these 2

Magda—Navajo Dine-5 worlds, destroy the world and each time then what stands is the earth

Laurie -articulate a vision capable of inspiring even those caught up in the destruction of the planet for profit that there is a better way.

Steve—acknowledge the us vs them in order to make them US.

Magda-example of Cuba that a small can resist a large. Public financing of voting. On voting day the children get out of school and take the votes. Don’t have capitalism. Cuban people say “we love you. We don’t love your gov’t and sorry that you don’t have a democracy.

Dexter—hope that nothing like an “us and them” thinking here. Problem is when you build that internal cohesion in then, once you’ve “won”, there’s a new struggle with those who lost. Agree with Steve that we need to challenge those who use the façade of us/them, but we have to propose a larger, better vision. Working on self can be problematic because it reinforces the American individualism that is such a big part of the problem. We can make a different world. We can make a better world. S. Africa “could not fall” but yet it fell.

With respect to what we can do, we ARE doing it. Not planning for it, not getting ready for it, this IS it. If nothing else, bear witness.

Updates on MLK Event
Fundraising is coming along. Various people volunteered for things still needing doing.

Friday, December 15, 2006


Swift Meat Packing Plants

I haven't read a lot about these raids. This is from Tim Smith, who has been involved in questioning the detention center installation on the mudflats here.
My personal take is that generally people are using immigrant labor because they don't have to deal with unions, or labor law with these people. In short, it is about finding a population that they can abuse. You will note that none of the officers of the Swift Corporation have (to my knowledge) been charged with anything. You may also observe how blatantly racist the actions of the officers concerned in this article are (although the spotlight shown on them shows an interest from the observer). I think that the wrong questions have been fielded about this entire debate, concerning folks coming across the border with no papers.
Steve Nebel

PS - I think this could be a very good conversation, but definitely would call for someone with some more in depth knowledge of the subject matter than I have.

Here are observations of a couple of Minnesota immigration attorneys.
I pass this on because it is useful when raids hit our areas:

After the Swift raids yesterday, the local ICE office provided the
chapter here in Minnesota with a toll free hotline to call for family
members of people who may have been detained yesterday: 866-341-3858

I don't know how well this is working. But this could be used
nationally for this type of situation.

ICE Press releases claim this was a targeted enforcement operation
with spokesman Tim Counts claiming it was not a "raid." This is not
what we saw yesterday.

The raid started about 8:30 with ICE and state troopers limiting
access and exit from the plant. ICE met with senior management of
Swift who then started to pull people off the kill floor. They were
directed to the cafeteria where 50-70 ICE agents were at. People were
immediately asked if they were citizens, if they had papers. Some
people were handcuffed immediately. Witnesses state that white
workers were allowed to claim USC status and directed away

People of color who claimed to be USC had to prove it. We spoke to
one USC who was detained in plastic handcuffs for several hours;
witnesses have identified two other naturalized citizens who had the
same happen. We were told that one USC remains in custody. Numerous
LPRs, TPS, etc..., were detained for at least hours in plastic cuffs.
Some had their LPR card in their locker, others left it at home. One
woman said her purse had been stolen at work before, so she left her
card at home because it was difficult and expensive to replace. This
operation did not target individuals suspected of "identity theft" or
involvement in false document rings. It swept up every non-white
worker at Swift.

We spoke to one family where both parents of a 2,3, and 12 year old
were detained. Other primary caregivers were detained when children
had health issues. ICE denied entrance to the plant to one person
with Honduran TPS, whose EAD was expired, but whose automatic
extension made her EAD good until Jan. 2007. The show of force was
overwhelming. After initial interview in the cafeteria, people were
interviewed in room and processed. The room had 15-20 ICE agents in
it, 5 more flanking the exit door, and 50 more in line in the hallway
right outside the door. John Connelly, of Washington DC ICE, told us
that everyone was "free to go"if they requested --- didn't appear
that way to us. It was a very coercive environment. Once cuffed,
people were yelled at to sit down. If they complained about the ties
hurting, they were told to sit comfortably. We saw numerous people,
including LPRs, with red marks and contusions on their wrists hours
after they were released.

Lawyers got a number of people released who had children, children
with health issues etc.... 30 were processed and released with NTAs
at the plant itself. We still think 200-300 were detained, many taken
to Iowa.

Anyone doing these cases should think of a Motion to Suppress. We
will have many good statements to support an argument this was a
racially biased operation, violating 4th amendment rights, with lots
of unlawful detention and potential for confusion and untrustworthy
information during interrogation.

Bruce Nestor and Susana De Leon

Monday, December 11, 2006

Conversation Recap for December 10, 2006

OK, folks here it is--be aware that text in color represents hotlinks to websites with more info. Enjoy!

We heard another fabulous story this week This time it was John. Once again we are reminded how wonderfully fascinating our lives truly are.

We were introduced to a couple of new folks—a student from Dexter’s class who first got introduced to the Conversation through his orientation as a new student at UPS and a colleague of Pam’s who’s joining us for the first time. We hope both of them will become regular members of our group.

We talked a bit about the horrendous injustice behind the incredibly high incarceration rates in the U.S., especially of Black males. Dexter shred just a bit of the data (more here):
· US is leader in the world --737/100k are incarcerated- 100/100k av’g in world
· 7 million people 1 in 32 adults behind bars, or subject to justice system.
· 2.2 million in jail
· 1998 1 in 3 Af Am men 19-29 tied up in US justice system.
· Over 50% jail population is black and brown.
· 1 in 50 adults currently or permanently lost voting rights

Pam and Addie both spoke of the stress and pain of raising their Black sons in a culture that targets them and of what this paranoia often does to the ways in which they treat their sons.

Dexter raised the question for us all to think about-- Can this democracy continue? In 1980’s white America went into a moral panic—“world is going to hell in a handbasket” What’s solution? Get tough on crime—lock them up. No one could get elected without repeating tough on crime—most locking up is for drugs.

MLK Event

Next we discussed the proposal some of us in the Conversation are working on for an MLK event. Conversation is lead entity along with Associated Ministries and Urban Grace Church.

Dexter shared a document outlining the vision and lots of discussion and brainstorming followed. We asked Conversation members to participate in planning, fundraising and event itself. Dexter thinks we can raise the 8-10k and really make it a premier event. Funds will pay for printing, publicity and stipends for people in program.

Tom and Sue S. will head up fundraising piece- Sue: the thing that can make this possible, use our contacts—who do we know who would like to get involved, such as corporate. We should all ask ourselves who we know in marketing at any companies. They often have marketing dollars they need to spend, especially at this time of year—have to spend their $. They also have Federal Community Reinvestment rules at banks. Lots of other ideas ere floated that have been passed on to the planning committee.

Keith volunteered to head up the food committee.

We got a short update from Dexter relayed from Tom on the Shakabra incident. Tom and others met with the ownership and apparently there is movement in a positive direction on resolving the issue. More from Tom et. al. when they return to the Conversation next week.

There was some more discussion of group and meeting structure following a sharing of the Conversation Document—a description of the history and current structure with some tweaking based on input from the discussion of the previous week. We agreed to post the document on the blog so as to continue the dialogue there. There was some discussion about the 1 or 2 story each week issue with no firm decision reached. Again, folks should continue the dialogue on the blog. Dexter we need to honor that a hand raised will be honored first and those who have not spoken will be honored before those who have a second chance. Luke suggested that the same etiquette be honored in the small groups as well.

We also talked about the idea of a “Paint & Grout” element to our group in which those that need to move, paint their house, etc. could have a pool of helpers from which to draw. Dorothy volunteered to coordinate the P&G efforts and Allegra volunteered to assist. Folks who need help—get the info with particulars of where and when, and Dorothy will get the word out to the group so folks can step up.

We also discussed kids in the group as Amy and Tully bring their 2 young daughters and wondered if anyone felt at all as if they were a distraction. We gave a resounding NO—we honor their presence. Then there was some discussion about programming for the young among us while also acknowledging that just hanging with the grown-ups teaches a lot.


Dorothy-YWCA Adopt-a-Family. While out shopping, bring a gift and Dorothy will bring. Unwrapped and non-violent please.

Tacoma Art Museum Event around Aminah Robinson’s art this Tues.

Latino Group at Lincoln H.S. performance of Pasada- a Xmas celebration Next Fri at 7pm at Lincoln where old Mt. T is Cafeteria Cultural Congress (arts orgs across state)

Luke recommended a panel be convened at the Broadway Center to talk about race and the arts that could include Conversation members, i.e., Dexter, Magda and Diane - Late April, possisbly.

Focus group probable by Broadway Center on programming in future, Djembe Soul—He’d like Conversation to be a part.

Sat. Dec. 15 anniversary of Bill of rights ACLU has celebration. 7pm WA History Museum.

Jan 6th Steve and Kristi Nebel benefit concert for citizens hearing on the war and the case of Eren Watada Antique at 7:30 fundraiser for TESC event, CITIZENS’ HEARING ON THE LEGALITY OF U.S. ACTIONS IN IRAQ on January 20-21, 2007.

Mighty Times: The Children’s March film. Jan 11th WA History Museum Reception at 5pm; program at 5:30. Slam poetry by Josh Reisberg.
Sallie—paint seniors homes, maybe conversation could get involved. Also think about neighbors who might be eligible.

We were treated to a hip hop piece by Noah to end our time together.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Conversation Document-Please Comment

The following was handed out at today's conversation meeting. We hope everyone will join the dialogue and comment.

The Conversation
Where talk IS action
Visit our blog at


The Conversation is a group of Tacoma and South Sound residents committed to the building of a diverse, critically engaged, social justice community for the task of procuring for ourselves and our communities a better life. With "Justice for All" as its foundational principle, the group has two primary foci; providing encouragement and support for social justice activists and promoting justice in such areas as legal system, wages, housing, healthcare, and education.
We aim to address justice through two essential and interrelated questions. The first is philosophical; What is the meaning of our lives--our relationship to each other, the world, the universe? The second is political and practical; What are our immediate socio-political responsibilities toward creating and promoting justice in a world stained by bigotry based on issues such as race, sex, class, and religion?

January 1, 2006, at the request of the leadership of Urban Grace--A Downtown (Tacoma, WA) Church-- Dexter Gordon started teaching Martin Luther King’s second book, Why We Can’t Wait to an adult Sunday school class. As a result of word of mouth and other publicity efforts, primarily by Rosalind Bell and other members of the class, on their own initiative, approximately fifty people, who are not members of Urban Grace, attended all or some portions of the class. Some persons in the class expressed a desire to see the class continue beyond the scheduled ending time. Eventually, tensions and disagreements between the leadership of the church and the group led to the group moving from the church, first to King Books, then to the Washington State History Museum, to the YWCA, and to its present location at Evergreen Tacoma.

Each Sunday, doors will open at 8:30-coffee, chitchat and settling in will occur between 8:30 and 9.

Members of the leadership team will arrive by 8:45.
We will begin at 9.
Each day’s program will be structured as follows:
Welcome & Introductions
Personal Stories
Moral Philosophical Question –Lecture
Small Group Discussion
Plenary Discussion
Announcements & Closing

The group is guided by a voluntary leadership team called The V Team. Membership is open to all.

The V Team is responsible for the following:

General development

The V Team is governed by the following:
Successive (Each leader will develop a successor)
The leader will be the person in the forefront of a role for a year with the successor as an associate. Thereafter the associate will assume the leadership role and a volunteer will be invited to become the new associate.
Volunteer leadership team so far:

Dexter Gordon - Conversation Facilitator
Associate -
Tom Hilyard - Political Mappigator
Associate -
Rosalind Bell - Purveyor of Arts, Letters and Epicurean Delights
Associate - Dianne powers
Laurie Arnold - Town Crier
Associate - Marla German
Jennine Matt - Media Coordinator
Associate -
Julia Harris - Finance & Budget Manager
Associate - Mona Baghdadi
Magdalena Nieves - Development
Associate -


We welcome anyone interested in promoting social justice to become a part of The Conversation. We frame our relationship as a healthily functioning family--we should be able to challenge one another, ask on another the hard questions and still love one another--still be committed to one another, just as family members are. And as a family, we strive to provide intellectual, moral, emotional, and spiritual support. We are mindful that people from different religious traditions and from no religious traditions share our commitment to social justice and we welcome and embrace all with a an awareness that our founding is grounded in the Christian prophetic tradition of liberation.


The Conversation is financed by voluntary contributions from those who attend its meetings.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Dexter's Response


Thanks for taking the risk and sharing your thoughts and your challenges. Being the "new person" in a group comes with its "outsider" element. The challenge for any group is to help to shorten that outsider time so that the new person feels that her/his voice is welcome. As challenging as it is, we hope to be a place where open discussion takes place and where we can all feel welcome to learn together. Of course that means taking the risk of making mistakes. The key is can we learn together without devastating each other in the event of mistakes or missteps.

Because we share differnt life experiences, our truths must collide at some point. Where we go from there is the challenge of mature life. The first time my most cherished truths were challenged I was disoriented and needed new moorings. Thankfully I have found moorings that can accomodate challenge and change. The best we can do, I believe, is to hold tentatively to that which we believe with an openness to learn from others. In other words, all of us have gravel under our feet and the water is clear only sometimes.

On another note, I just listened to the excerpt from the song. You and Kristi are good. I hope you and Kristi will sing for us soon. This is the reason for the kind of discussion we had last week and propose for next time. We need to know what talents and abilities are in our Conversation family.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Steve's Conversation

I have felt like I'm wading into unknown waters all through my attendance at "The Conversation". I can feel the pebbles beneath my feet. I walk gingerly. The waters are dark, I cannot see the bottom. I move slowly, occasionally stumbling, but continuing on nonetheless. The others wading here know the waters but a little better than I, or so it seems. Yes, they have been to some places in this ocean before, but like myself are feeling their way.

I recognize people who speak the same language as myself, and I am finding them here. All week long after I attend a "Conversation", I find myself returning to those hours, thinking about the topics, the stories, the indivduals involved. I have been afraid that I will be seen as a voyeur, as I am somewhat afraid of being seen a fool. I realize that's the chance all of us have to take if we are to express ourselves, indeed grow as human beings. Spending your life defending positions that are untenable does not seem (never has seemed) like a good option to me.

There was a time when I realized that everyone believes something that is categorically, absolutely untrue. Most of us believe MANY things that are untrue. Now there's a sticky subject, the truth. One of the most amazing things about the "Conversation" is the openness of expression of individual truth. So, if all of us possess a different truth, isn't that somewhat oxymoronic? A contradiction? No, it's not. The truth is that we do live in different realities, and to find the common touchpoints, to define reality that suits us all hypothetically would allow us to move on as a group, united in the beliefs that we share, or don't share.

I haven't been very willing to expose myself. You know, we can all put a few words out that supposedly define who we are, but there are never enough words to really accomplish that. I think that's why there are novelists, playwrights, poets, songwriters. They are all trying to define who they/we are with words, and the worlds just pile up until there are billions of books full of words, and still nobody really knows who they are. When you think you know who you are, what happens?

We've been navigating the waters of racism since I've been attending "The Conversation". Some time ago I experienced the epiphany that 100 years is a very short time in the span of the universe. Although I don't know, I probably had relatives who owned slaves, or at least were overt racists. They would have had to have been, and the more we delve into this, the deeper this reality comes home to me. It's really not that I didn't know these things before, but frankly, like many other realities, it's easier to ignore them, painful to not (ignore them). I have written a number of songs trying to find the past, I suppose romaticizing my grandparents, and doing in the process the same thing for other people of my same ethnic, and national background. (click on this for a lofi excerpt from one of these kinds of songs).

So, the more I learn, the harder it is to sing some of these songs, even though there is an audience for them. Experience . . . yes experience. My wife and I have been singing in high end retirement homes (among other places). One of the remarkable things about these places is their resemblance to a plantation setting. All of the inhabitants are often "white", while the serving staff, kitchen staff, cleaning staff are often people of color. These are clearly (to me) stark illustrations of racism in America. These white folks love those songs glorifying the pioneer heritage of my grandparents.

Then there is the experience of living on the poor side of town, as Kristi and I often have. We live there for the same reasons other people do, being economically challenged. This means that we are walking through the social problems that other people only read about. Once again, it can be painful to see people in need, people hurting, and feel like you are powerless to help in any significant way.

It's time for me to get on with my day. I don't think that whatever I would write, there is ever an end of things to be said, if it is only to comment on what should not be said, or what the empty spaces between the words mean. As easy as this is/has not been for me I love "The Conversation". Steve Nebel 12/06/06

Friday, October 27, 2006

Critique of High Stakes Testing

I'd be interested in what folks think of this piece. I thought it expressed my views very well.

What's Behind High Stakes Testing and How We Can Expose It
David Stratman is editor of New Democracy, a bimonthly newsletter devoted to democratic revolution, and the author of We CAN Change The World: The Real Meaning Of Everyday Life. He is the former Washington Director of the National Parent-Teacher Association.

In 1985 I had an experience which can shed some light on what's behind high stakes testing. I was hired by the Minnesota Education Association to help it defeat an education reform plan put forward by the Minnesota Business Partnership, an association of the largest corporations, banks, and media outlets in the state. The Minnesota Business Partnership Plan was the most sophisticated education reform proposal of its time. Its centerpiece was a plan to change the K-12 system to a K-10 system. The Business Partnership proposed that all students leave high school at the end of the 10th grade with a "certificate of completion." The most successful students-estimated at the time to be the top 20%-would be invited back to complete high school in special programs set up for the purpose in conjunction with colleges and universities. Minnesota at the time had the highest school completion rate in the country. Ninety-one percent of its young people graduated from high school and a large percentage went on to higher education.

To be able to defeat this plan, we had to expose the purpose behind it. The Business Partnership said its plan was intended to give students more "flexibility" and "personal choice." We said that its real purpose was to drive tens of thousands of students out of school without a diploma, in order to lower students' expectations of what their lives should be like, and to create a large pool of cheap labor-young people who would flip hamburgers or work in the stockyards at minimum wage.

We were able to stop the Minnesota Business Partnership Plan, but I think it has come back in the new and more destructive form of high stakes testing. High stakes tests achieve the same result as reducing the K-12 to a K-10 system while making it appear that the problem lies in the children themselves, that they cannot make the grade. The high stakes tests sweeping the country will push a high proportion of young people out of school in the 10th grade or earlier. Their lives will be restructured and their expectations downsized to accept without complaint their place in a more unequal, less democratic society.

The tests are not about education but about social control. By constantly raising the standards students have to meet, they make everyone afraid that "you'll never be good nough." Even the students who do well on the tests will be deeply injured by them. Young people are being told that education and life are all about making yourself acceptable to the corporations.

Most teachers and parents I talk with are very aware of the destructive effects of these tests. The question people can't figure out is, Why would the government impose such obviously destructive measures?

To answer this question, we need to look beyond the schools. In the past three decades, millions of jobs have been shipped overseas. Skilled manufacturing jobs have been replaced by low-skill service jobs-retail sales and cleaning offices. Huge numbers of white-collar jobs have been restructured out of existence. The lack of skilled jobs is likely to increase as automation increases. Computerization has greatly reduced the skills required in many jobs and has wiped out many others. This after all is the appeal of computerization to corporations: it makes people more expendable.

What do these developments have to do with high stakes testing and other elements of corporate-led education reform? The answer, I think, is simply this: our young people have greater talent than the corporate system can use. The purpose of high stakes testing is to crush the self-confidence and aspirations of millions of young people, so that if they have less fulfilling jobs and less rewarding lives in an increasingly unequal society, they will blame themselves instead of the corporate system.

Attacking public education is also a way of blaming ordinary people for the increasing inequality in society. Corporate and political leaders are saying, if millions don't have adequate work or housing or much of a future, the fault lies with the people themselves, that they could not meet the standards.

High stakes testing and education reform are part of a broader strategy to strengthen corporate domination of society. The 1960s and '70s witnessed a worldwide "revolution of rising expectations." Beginning around 1972, capitalist and communist elites undertook a counterrevolution to lower expectations and tighten their control. The counteroffensive has taken many forms, all of them designed to undermine the economic and psychological security of ordinary people. The export of jobs, the restructuring of corporations, the dismantling of social programs are policies intended to make people more frightened and controllable.

The growing movement against the tests promises to become the most important popular revolt since the 1960s. To succeed, this movement should take the offensive by doing three things:

Expose the real agenda behind the tests. This isn't just a fight over educational techniques, and we can't win it on a purely educational basis. Corporate leaders don't deny that they are behind education reform. What they lie about is their real agenda. Exposing the real corporate agenda shows the links between the corporate assault on education and on other areas of people's lives and will enable a wider range of people to join our movement.

Fight for real educational change. Even without corporate reform, the schools have profound problems which must be resolved. The movement to defend the schools must also be a movement to transform them. The schools should not reinforce social inequality but help to overcome it; should not intensify competition but nurture solidarity and friendship.

Build the movement for democratic revolution. The debate over education reform is a debate over the values and possibilities of human society. Should human beings be restructured to fit the needs of the economy, or should the economy be restructured to allow the full growth and development of human beings?

High stakes tests are an attack on fundamental democratic values. Most people in our communities share these values. They will oppose these tests once they know how destructive they are and why they are being imposed. Our job is to reach them with this message.

How can you get started? The most important things to do are actually the easiest. Talk with your friends and family about the tests. Find out their opinions and offer them yours. You're bound to find many allies you didn't know you had. Get together with a few friends and compare notes. Identify a few other people to join the discussion. Just talking these things over is very powerful. As you reach out to others and your numbers grow, people are sure to feel stronger and to come up with many good ideas for building the movement. We are stronger than we think.

We are at the beginning of a movement as broad as democracy and as deep as our feelings about our children and grandchildren. Given what is at stake, it is a struggle that we must win.

Thank you.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Cafferty Files - Immunity

what article S 3930 contains...

- Create a secret committee appointed by Bush and Rumsfeld that has the power to declare any person, even a US citizen, to be an enemy, instantly depriving them of their legal rights
- Revoke habeas corpus
- Revoke protection of prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions
- Allow police to search your home without a search warrant
- Give amnesty to war criminals and protect George W. Bush from being impeached for any war crimes he has committed
- Allow for people to be put on trial in front of a military tribunal - even if they aren’t in any military, and have not engaged in military attacks against the USA
- Make it legal for the government to use testimony extracted through torture and end the legal right to be protected from forced self-incrimination
- Allow the government to imprison people without telling them what crimes they are being charged with
- Allow the government to convict people of crimes on the basis of secret evidence that the accused never sees and remove the right of the accused to cross-examine witnesses
- Allow for the records of trials to be kept secret from the American public
- Revoke away the right to a speedy trial
- Enable trials to begin even before a thorough investigation of the alleged crime has taken place

Saturday, October 07, 2006

"God's Army"

Check out this story as reported on NPR Religion and the Air Force Academy. It's really scary that the people learning to fly fighter jets are increasingly being recruited by and trained by these people.

Jesus Camp

For those intrested, this film is showing at Metro Cinemas in Seattle.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Audio from the conversation- Sept. 3rd, 2006, Tom Hilyard talks about the primary election

powered by ODEO


The first is the video that I tried to show at the past two conversations, but could not because of technical difficulties. The second is about the same camp, just from a different view. The reason why I wanted to show these videos two weeks ago is because during the conversation, a few expressed their discomfort with church and issues along the lines of religion. There were several others who remained quiet, but might share the same discomfort of one deeper than those voiced. This video, whether depicted properly or not, is proof that discussions and matters dealing with religion and church are extremely relevant in the struggle for justice. We must question, piece together, and answer questions for each other to overcome the lies of institutions. We must play mental tug of war between this idea and the other as a means of finding the core of what justice truly is.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Seattle man's life too important to overlook

This story impacted me greatly, wanted to share it.

Djali Addie

Friday, September 08, 2006

church or fellowship

Addie, thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings evoked by the notion of viewing our gathering as church. I imagine that we each have experiences which shape the meaning and function of church. The strictures which I have witnessed and indeed the cruelty perpatraited by some church goers can be a strong inducement for one to take leave of same. I have to remind myself often that the spirit of love is what calls to me and basque in it, to weather the affront of intolerance and oppression. I know that I must find the strength to stay in the fray for without the presence of opposition we might all sucumb to the withering on slaught. While you remain I hope that you can draw succor from the warm embrace of the conversation and know that you will need it when you return to the place of your sorrow.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Thank you

Thank you so much for sharing your feelings, on the subject of "church". I just want you to know in the short time that we've had to get to know one another you have enriched my experience of "community" through your willingness to share of yourself. I'm thankful for your presence at the conversation and look forward to sharing what time you have left with us. I hope the conversation will continue to evolve into multiple possibilities of what "church" can be.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


On Sunday August 27th we discussed the direction of the Conversation. As a relatively new member and because my time is winding down here, (I'm relocating in 3 months), I was reluctant to voice any thoughts. As ideas were contributed, someone mentioned that perhaps the time slot of our meetings prevented some people from attending because of obligations to their church and perhaps we should consider an adjustment. Someone said that what we do on Sunday morning is church, bringing a sudden sting of tears that surprised me: I thought I had resolved all matters relating to the "Church".

Having left my previous religious organization for several reasons but chief among them the promotion of intolerance and the invocation of God's wrath on those who dare to disagree with the narrow interpretation of the Bible being hurled from the pulpit, I felt dread at the mere mention of the word "Church".

I struggled to compose myself, embarrassed at the rivers that flowed down my cheeks, resisting the urge to flee. I listened as various voices talked about the meaning and purpose of church, battling with my ghosts of misogyny, racism, homophobia and suppression of my curious mind, all that I thought I left at the alter.

I struggle to get to the Conversation on Sunday because, backslider that I am, Sunday morning for me is: late Saturday nights and a lazy morning of tea and the paper, CBS Sunday Morning News, NPR; my self constructed "Church". The tears I shed on Sunday were a mixture of guilt at abandoning my roots, the invalidation of my opinions my some members of my family ("...well you know she don't go to church no more...") and the fear and trembling at the thought of the Conversation resembling anything at all what I was taught was "Church".

My roots are in the church, my family is in the church (4 brothers are ministers), my trust was in the church and much of my pain has come from the church. A strange potpourri of love and distrust, faith and disappointment, hope and anger; the "Church" continues to pull at me , call me, and challenge me to balance my love of God and Spirit with my rejection of "Church" as I know it. Yet even in that rejection is the longing for ritual, songs, the comfort and hope in the Word.

However the question of "Church" is addressed in the Conversation, it will call upon a extension of trust by myself, an opening of my arms to embrace and trust that the people who choose to forgo what others deem "Church" and come to the Conversation are peculiar enough to frame "Church" in terms that will embrace everyone that wanders into it's circle. As I write this I realize that I have been reticent on most Sunday mornings that I am at the Conversation: grappling with becoming fully part of a circle that has welcomed me with out qualifications or reservations, and has stimulated my mind and spirit as had been before, and on a Sunday morning. Please forgive and be patient with me for not yet fully engaging in what has been given to me by all of you: a space that allows me to simply be me.


p.s. forgive my grammar and comma slices also!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Galloway Lebanon

Here's a video on Britain's version of Fox--Sky News-- with a view you don't hear often. George Galloway, for those who don't know of him, is a member of British parliament. Google him for more of his refreshing perspective on world events.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Saving Drowning Babies

Here's a version of the story we were discussing in this morning's conversation. I found it on the United Way of Southern Michigan website, but there are many versions of it all over the web.

The Ogre Story
A villager is walking by the river early one morning. The villager looks out into the water and sees a baby floating down the river. Horrified, the villager races into the water, grabs the baby, and brings the baby to shore. The baby is fine.

Relieved, the villager looks back into the water and sees another baby floating down the water. The villager again dives into the water and rescues this baby as well.

Once more, the villager looks into the water . . . and sees dozens of babies floating down the river. The villager calls out an alarm, and the entire village comes running to the river to rescue as many babies as they can before the water carries them away.

This is a village that is mobilized. Every villager is at the river, trying to save the babies from the water.

This is a village that is improving lives. Many of the babies are being saved.

But the babies keep on coming . . . because no one is going upstream to put a stop to the ogre that is throwing the babies into the water in the first place.
[We] need to gather a contingent of villagers to go upstream and stop the ogre. Otherwise, we will be pulling babies out of the water forever.

Pulling babies out of the water is essential. How can we live with ourselves if we don’t try? But it is by going upstream — to re-direct the ogre (our political and civic leadership) and put its energies to better use — that we create a lasting change in the conditions that are causing this nightmare to begin with.

Monday, July 31, 2006

WA State 10-Year Homeless Plan

Reminder: City Council meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) at 5pm. There will also be a study session at 12noon. The topic is special use housing and land use. Voices in support of Tacoma's homeless are needed at one or both meetings. On that note, here is some info that Mona would like to pass on regarding the state homeless plan.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Apocalypse No! An Indigenist Perspective

Major food for thought. I highly recommend this article. It's lengthy but worth the time. It would be interesting to discuss this at The Conversation sometime.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

5 more ideas...

Thanks Laurie for the song download, loved it! As far as the performance/Art in action count me in as a collaborator. I have a digital video camera (commercial quality) that we would have access to. Although I did not verbally share with the group last Sunday, know that I am so thankful for all the voices at the table and am honored to be a part of this group. My ideas for where we go from here were: 1. Begin white privilege education with younger children, ie. 3rd grade . 2. Educational workshops on media literacy and media justice issues in the schools and community venues. 3. Strike up a conversation with at least three people you suspect may be blind to the realities of contemporary racism. (ie. don't just preach to the choir) . 4.Invite at least two new guests to the Conversation within the next month. 5. Ask an elder (any race) what their experiences with Racism have been.
Look forward to sharing next Sunday morning with you all.

A Song in the Heart of Good People...

I was listening nostalgically to an old David Rudder (Trinidadian singer/songwritier/Calypsonian) song and thought I'd share the chorus with you as it kind of expresses my feeling about "The Conversation" I'm also including a link to an mp3 recording of the actual song. We'll see if that part works.

Day of the Warlord
David Rudder

Ina these times of the warlord
They say it is the day of the warlord
They want you put your hands in the air
These people want you surrender
Ina this day of the warlord
They say it is the day of the warlord
Understand where you are
They say now he is the new superstar (no no no no no no no no no NO!)
But even in this loud desperation and raging despair
We got to let them know we ain’t takin’ it so
We got to survive, keep our living alive
We got to tell them no, tell them no, no, no, no, no
A song in the heart of good people
Tell them the voice of good people
Tell them good people say so

Get the song here

The Conversation

The Conversation: "Conversation "

I want to follow up to our conversation Sunday in regards to mixing performance and conversation.

I really love the idea of performing arts becoming an aspect of conversation, dialogue and transformation and I may have an avenue for this to happen sooner rather than later as an opening salvo so to speak. I'm hoping that Ros aight be open to this idea in regards to excerpts from one of her works as well. Yes, Ros, I am putting you on the spot, but your talent demands as such--plus --I kinda like it.

Last fall, I organized a 27 hour Marathon for Peace which featured a multitude to spoken word artists, dancers, poets, musicians, speakers and even massage therapists and counselors to examine the impact of the war and implications.

The event was exhausting and exhilirating, and as it concluded it seemed that the spirit the "word" as a foundation for further work should be explored. At that moment, we advanced the idea of creating a performance company under the umbrella of "The 28th Hour" which would invite collaboration between spoken word and al other art forms including dance, music, visual arts, video, and other media/disciplines.

This month, we were able to collaborate with a dance company to complete two works: Beyond and Prior--A Response to 911 and beyond and The Thirteen Hours: A Contemplation of Nuclear Conflict or Transformation. The collaboration happened under the umbrella of Barefoot Studios, a beautiful dance studio owned by a couple from San Francisco who are very open to partnerships and collaborations and want their studio to be a cental point for performing arts. The studio holds 75 on any given evening for performance so it could be an intimate setting for performance and conversation afterward.

These pieces are now ready for a new performance along with a set of others to be determined.

The whole event would be called The 28th Hour--A Performance and Conversation. The performance event would be followed by a faciliated conversation by Dexter and/or whoever the group designates, perhaps with snacks and beverage. The intent would be to delve into the material raised by the performances in a welcoming atmosphere while reinforcing the wonderful of the activist community we are forming. the two night event could also function to promote our ongoing dialogue on Sundays and perhaps bring new members to the table.

All of this would happen aproximately two months after the Race and Pedagogy Conference was done and folks had the chance to recharge their batteries.

Knowing how profound a writer Ros is, I would love to see her work become a part of the evening. These need not be finished works, but could be sneak excerpts. I am deeply interested in her Katrina monologues. The challenge would be to include some other form of media beyond the spoken word. This could be slides, video excerpts, even movement--all to be decided. But I guarantee that between Ros' work, my own with BQ dance and others, we would have an evening of rich material to draw from. I'm thinking that performances would be held on a Friday and Saturday evening and that we could determine who might facilitate. We might even take some excerpts from Dexter's book and set them within a performance vein if this made sense.

I'm thinking that we look at a November weekend, the year anniversary from the Marathon for Peace and gather as the conversation family to attend and co-host the event.

In the long run The Conversation could sponsor/host at least one performance each year which lends itself to conversation and interaction. Could be more.

I will be singing this Sunday and giving a talk at a Unity Church in Centralia the week after that, but would love to explore the possiblities and as always look forward to being with you in a set of tables that can be recognized by their stretch marks.

Love you all--


Monday, July 24, 2006

"Separate and Unequal" Brokaw "Special"

This program was billed like this: In “Tom Brokaw Reports: Separate and Unequal,” Brokaw traveled to Jackson, Miss., for an in-depth report on race and poverty. Jackson struggles everyday with the issues of race and America.
Want to know what I learned from it? That the problems in the black community of Jackson, Mississippi (and by extension, the rest of the U.S.) are caused by:

  • Youth who don't know how to succeed even when they have potential
  • Too many fatherless families
  • The unhealthy influence of the evil rap music
  • So many teenage pregnancies (see 2nd bullet above)
  • Lack of personal accountability

Now, I admit--I didn't have high hopes for a Tom Brokaw special on race and poverty, but I did expect that such a special would at least touch on the roots and causes of the whole, separate and unequal problem. But guess what, after an hour, all I got was the same old, tired pathological "analysis". Brokaw mentions that during integration, blacks were able to move into formerly all-white suburbs and attend formerly all-white schools, but that now, 50 years later, the suburbs and schools are all black. Does he give us one iota of explanation for this? NO! Instead of helping the viewer see how white flight, (oh no--our property values are going to go down, and oh no--our children are going to have to sit next to "them") resegregated everything, he spends all his time getting his subjects to tell us earnestly that it really comes down to personal responsibility. I was sickened.

Once again I was reminded of Tim Wise's statistic--that 80% of white America lives in communities where there are no people of color. It's no wonder that we have so far to go when programs like this not only do not give an accurate analysis of the causes of the problems, but basically give those white people every justification for the racial isolation they seek.

I'm thinking of writing to Tom Brokaw and suggesting that he watch "Ku Klux Klan: A Secret History", which does an excellent job of tracing the history of white supremacy and it's political, legal and extra-legal manifestations right up to the present day. Believe me, it has a lot more explanatory power than the nonsense put out in his "report".

Friday, July 21, 2006

Acknowledging a People of Great Perseverance

The exhibit is on. Click on the image and it will appear larger in a new window

Middle East Crisis


Please visit this link that Mona has passed along and take action now at This is a very one-sided bill.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Vazaskia is back on line

I'm back on line and finally able to sign onto the Blog. Thanks Laurie!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Yes, I've Registered--You Should Too!

Folks, I'm telling you, just go here and browse the schedule. This is an incredible opportunity, right here in Tacoma. Nearly 60 different panels and 100 workshops presented by people from all over the country and even internationally, on an impressive range of topics. This is BIG! Once you've looked over the schedule, then go here and get registered. And take what Rosalind says to heart--the Cornell West lecture and reception at the Glass Museum is going to sell fast. I've seen Cornell West at both UPS' Fieldhouse and Evergreen's College Rec Center Gynmasium, both of which hold around 3,000 and both of which were standing room only.

I'll see YOU there!


UPS Race & Pedagogy Conference

Dear Conversation Family,

This is a gentle nudge to get you to drop what you're doing right now, right this second and log on to UPS Race & Pedagogy Conference and register. You may think there's a lot of time left for you to register between now and the conference's start date of 9/14, but you'd think wrong. Why? Well, for one thing, there are only 300 tickets available for the Cornell West Opening/Welcoming/ event (this $50 ticket includes both his UPS campus address and the reception at The Glass Museum) and they are going fast. Also, don't we want to be the first in line to support this cause? Yes! Yes! I hear you saying. Okay then, let's get going with our registration and show we're standing with Dexter and his vision in this groundbreaking endeavor.

If any Conversation Family member would like help with the financial aspect of the registration, please call or write. We want as many of us there as we can possibly get. No barriers exist to your getting there. Transportation from the campus to events downtown is also being provided.

Love, Laughter, Peace,

UPS Race & Pedagogy Conference

Dear Conversation Family,

This is a gentle nudge to get you to drop what you're doing right now, right this second and log on to UPS Race & Pedagogy Conference and register. You may think there's a lot of time left for you to register between now and the conference's start date of 9/14, but you'd think wrong. Why? Well, for one thing, there are only 300 tickets available for the Cornell West Opening/Welcoming/ event (this $50 ticket includes both his UPS campus address and the reception at The Glass Museum) and they are going fast. Also, don't we want to be the first in line to support this cause? Yes! Yes! I hear you saying. Okay then, let's get going with our registration and show we're standing with Dexter and his vision in this groundbreaking endeavor.

If any Conversation Family member would like help with the financial aspect of the registration, please call or write. We want as many of us there as we can possibly get. No barriers exist to your getting there. Transportation from the campus to events downtown is also being provided.

Love, Laughter, Peace,

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Tomorrow's Conversation

We will begin with chapter 3 (Racism & the White Backlash) but Dexter hopes to get to chapter 4 (The Dilemma of Negro Americans). So read both, everyone! See you tomorrow.

P.S. The Native Arts Festival today was great--I recommend you show up tomorrow. It starts at 12 noon outside the History Museum.

NW Native Arts Market & Festival

Check it out! Today and tomorrow--art, music, dance & storytelling. FREE.

Friday, July 14, 2006

For Immediate Release...

National Action Network

Contact Information
Alton McDonald 253-255-2619
For Immediate Release


Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder and CEO of the National Action Network, will be in Tacoma to address the community. Open invitation, cordially inviting all citizens to attend.

Time: 7:00p.m.
Date: Saturday, July 15, 2006
Place: Shiloh Baptist Church
Address: 1211 South “I” Street
Tacoma, WA 98405

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Dick Mansfield

Dear Conversation Family,

Dick called on Saturday to check in with us again. He was in the desert. He sends his love to us, wants us to know he's thinking of us and can't say when he will return. He is very happy to be spending this precious time with his daughter, his first daughter/child. And although it appears he gets to email rarely, I encourage Conversation members to email him your good thoughts. You can imagine how filled with Joy he'd be.

Love and Laughter and All That Jazz,


Please Read (2nd Attempt)

Here's the article.

Black men quietly combating stereotypes

By ERIN TEXEIRA, Associated Press Writer

Keith Borders tries hard not to scare people.

He's 6-foot-7, a garrulous lawyer who talks with his hands.

And he's black.

Many people find him threatening. He works hard to prove otherwise."

I have a very keen sense of my size and how I communicate," says Borders ofMason, Ohio. "I end up putting my hands in my pockets or behind me. I stand with my feet closer together. With my feet spread out, it looks like I'm taking a stance. And I use a softer voice."

Every day, African-American men consciously work to offset stereotypes about them - that they are dangerous, aggressive, angry. Some smile a lot, dress conservatively and speak with deference: "Yes, sir," or "No, ma'am." They are mindful of their bodies, careful not to dart into closing elevators or stand too close in grocery stores.

It's all about surviving, and trying to thrive, in a nation where biased views of black men stubbornly hang on decades after segregation and where statistics show a yawning gap between the lives of white men and black men. Black men's median wages are barely three-fourths those of whites; nearly 1 in 3 black men will spend time behind bars during his life; and, on average, black men die six years earlier than whites.

Sure, everyone has ways of coping with other people's perceptions: Who acts the same at work as they do with their kids, or their high school friends?

But for black men, there's more at stake. If they don't carefully calculate how to handle everyday situations - in ways that usually go unnoticed - they can end up out of a job, in jail or dead."

It's a stressful process," Borders says.

Melissa Harris Lacewell, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, says learning to adapt is at the heart of being an American black male.

"Black mothers and fathers socialize their sons to not make waves, to notcome up against the authorities, to speak even more politely not only when there are whites present but particularly if there are whites who have power," she said."

Most black men are able to shift from a sort of relaxed, authentically black pose into a respectable black man pose. Either they develop the dexterity to move back and forth or ultimately they flounder.

"It's a lot like a game of chess, says 43-year-old Chester Williams, who owns Chester Electric in New Orleans. He has taught his three sons, ages 16, 14 and 11, to play.

"The rules of the game are universal: White moves first, then black moves,"he said. "Black has to respond to the moves that the whites make. You take the advantage when it's available.

"Twenty-year-old Chauncy Medder of Brooklyn says his baggy jeans and oversized T-shirts make him seem like "another one of those thuggish black kids." He offsets that with "Southern charm" he learned attending high school in Virginia - "a lot of 'Yes, ma'ams,' and as little slang as possible. When I speak to them (whites), they're like, 'Hey, you're different.'"

Such skillful little changes in style aren't talked about much, especially not outside of black households - there's no reason to tip your hand. As Walter White, a black sales executive from Cincinnati, puts it: "Not talking is a way to get what you want.

"He recalled that, "as a child, we all sat down with my mother and father and watched the movie 'Roots,'" the groundbreaking 1970s television miniseries tracing a black family from Africa through slavery and into modern times.

The slaves were quietly obedient around whites. "But as soon as the master was gone," he said, "they did what they really wanted to do. That's what we were taught.

"Historians agree that black stereotypes and coping strategies are rooted in America's history of slavery and segregation.

Jay Carrington Chunn's mother taught him "how to read 'Whites Only' and 'Negro Only' before she taught me anything else," said the 63-year-old, who grew up in Atlanta. "Black parents taught you how to react when police stopped you, how to respond to certain problems, how to act in school to get the best grade.

"School is still a challenge, even from an early age.

Last year, Yale University research on public school pre-kindergarten programs in 40 states found that blacks were expelled twice as often as whites - and nine out of 10 blacks expelled were boys. The report did not analyze the patterns, but some trace it to negative views about black boys.

Black male children are often "labeled in public schools as being out of control," said Lacewell, who studies black political culture and wrote "Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought."

"If you're a black boy who is smart and energetic and always has the answer and throws his hand up in the air," she said, "you might as a parent say, 'Even if you know the answer you might not want to make a spectacle of yourself. You don't want to call attention to yourself.'

"Bill Fletcher still has nightmares about his third-grade teacher, a whitewoman who "treated me and other black students as if we were idiots," he said. "She destroyed my confidence."

But his parents were strong advocates, and taught him to cope by having little contact with teachers who didn't take an interest in him, said Fletcher, former president of TransAfrica Forum, a group that builds ties between African-Americans and Africa.

As black boys become adolescents, the dangers escalate. Like most teenagers, they battle raging hormones and identity crises. Many rebel, trying to fit in by mimicking - and sometimes becoming - criminals.

"They are basically seen as public menaces," Lacewell said.

Rasheed Smith, 22, a soft-spoken, aspiring hip-hop lyricist from the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, recently tapped his long fingers, morosely counting his friends killed in neighborhood violence in the last five years - 11 in all. Few spent much time beyond their blocks, let alone their neighborhood. Some sold drugs or got in other trouble and had near-constant contact with police.

Smith has survived by staying close to his family. He advised: "With police, you talk to them the way they talk to you. You get treated how you act.

"Twenty years ago, Carol Taylor's teenage son - now a lawyer - was mugged twice near their Brooklyn home, but police officers "treated him like he had done the mugging," she said. She wrote and self-published "The Little Black Book: Survival Commandments for Black Men" filled with tips on how to deal with police: keep your hands visible, carry a camera, don't say much but be polite.

"Don't take this as a time to prove your manhood," wrote Taylor, a retired nurse and community activist who said she's sold thousands of the pocket-sized, $2 books.

And more general advice: "Learn to read, write and type, and to speakEnglish correctly. This is survival, not wishful thinking. If you are going to survive in America, go to college!"

One selective business program at historically black Hampton University in Virginia directs black men to wear dark, conservative suits to class. Earrings and dreadlocked hairstyles are forbidden. Their appearance is"communicating a signal that says you can go into more places," said business school dean Sid Credle. "There's more universal acceptance if you're conservative in your image and dress style.

"One graphic artist says he wears a suit when traveling, "even if it's on aweekend. I think it helps. It requests respect.

"But in the corporate world, clothing can only help so much, said Janet B. Reid of Global Lead Management Consulting, who advises companies on managing ethnic diversity.

Black men, especially those who look physically imposing, often have a tough time."

Someone who is tall and muscular will learn to come into a meeting and sit down quickly," she said. "They're trying to lower the big barrier of resistance, one that's fear-based and born of stereotypes."

Having darker brown skin can erect another barrier. Mark Ferguson has workedon Wall Street for 20 years. He has an easy smile and firm, confident handshake."

I think I clean up pretty well - I dress well, I speak well - but all that goes out the window when I show up at a meeting full of white men," says Ferguson of New Jersey, who is 6-foot-4 and dark-skinned. "It's because they're afraid of me."

"Race always matters," said Ferguson, whose Day in the Life Foundation connects minority teenagers with professionals. "It's always in play."

Fletcher knows his light brown skin gives him an advantage - except that he's "unsmiling."

"If you're a black man who doesn't smile a lot, they (whites) get really nervous," he said. "There are black people I run across all the time and they're always smiling particularly when they're around white people. A lot of white people find that very comforting."

All this takes a toll.

Many black men say the daily maneuvering leaves them enraged and exhausted. For decades, they continuously self-analyze and shift, subtly dampening their personalities. In the end, even the best strategies don't always work.

"I've seen it play out many times" in corporations, said Reid of Global Lead. "They go from depression to corporate suicide. Marital problems can come up. He loses all self confidence and the ability to feel manly and in control of his own fate.

"Sherman James, a social psychologist at Duke University, studies how the stress of coping for black men can damage the circulatory system and lead to chronic poor health. Black men are 20 percent more likely to die of heart disease than whites, and they have the highest rates of hypertension in the world, according to the National Medical Association.

The flip side, black men say, is that many learn to be resilient.

Ferguson recalls when a new Wall Street colleague, minutes after meeting him and hearing he grew up in a housing project in Newark, N.J., asked if he had been involved in "any illicit activities" there. He shrugged it off.

Over the years, as he has earned promotions and built client relationships over the phone, he has learned to steel himself for face-to-face meetings -for clients' raised eyebrows and stuttered greetings when they see he is black.

"It just rolls off our backs - we grin and bear it. You can't quit," he said, sighing heavily. He vents his frustrations to mentors and relaxes with his wife and young children.

"Then you go back," he said, "and fight the good fight."

Copyright C 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewrittenor redistributed without the prior written authority of The AssociatedPress.

Please Read

Here's a link to an article Dexter recommends.

Black men quietly combating stereotypes.doc

The Conversation

The Conversation

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Prayers and support for Dick especially while he is away.
Strong support and energy for Vazaskia as she heads out to fulfil this significant training assignment.

The Colors of Our Communities

My hubby was doing a little demographic digging*. For your amusement, here are a couple of multiple choice questions. The answers may surprise you. They will surely be thought provoking:

1. Which is the most ethnically diverse city in the Pacific Northwest?

a. Vancouver, B.C.
b. Seattle, WA
c. Tacoma, WA
d. Portland, OR

2. Which city is whitest?

a. Vancouver, B.C.
b. Seattle, WA
c. Tacoma, WA
d. Portland, OR

3. Which city is least white?

a. Vancouver, B.C.
b. Seattle, WA
c. Tacoma, WA
d. Portland, OR

4. Which city has the most African Americans?

a. Vancouver, B.C.
b. Seattle, WA
c. Tacoma, WA
d. Portland, OR


1. Tacoma, 2. Portland, 3. Vancouver, 4. Tacoma

Here are some interesting stats on the ethnic makeup of some of our NW cities:

Af Am Asian Latino Native Pac Isl White
Vancouver 0.9% 45% # 1.9% # 51%
Seattle 6.6% 13.1% 5.28% 1.0% 0.5% 73%
Tacoma 11.24% 7.5% 6.85% 1.96% 0.93% 69.08%
Portland 6.69% 6.33% 6.81% 1.06% 0.38% 77.9%

Pasco 3.2% 2.9% 56.6% 1.8% 0.14% 52.76%
Kennewick 1.1% 0.11% 15.6% 2.12% 0.11% 82.9%
Richland 1.4% 4.06% 4.72% 0.8% 0.11% 89.6%

Only Vancouver is less white than Tacoma, but much of their non white population is Asian, so Tacoma is more racially "balanced".

Perhaps not surprisingly, Portland is whitest, but somewhat surprising to me was that Seattle is not far behind.

For some reason, I was surprised to see that Tacoma has almost twice as many the African Americans as Seattle has.

# = unknown (Canada doesn't have a census like ours and apparently it was harder to figure out how they calculate some groups. Further investigation needed).

I think this is interesting stuff. What do you all think?


Sunday, July 09, 2006

posting link

Hey Tacomalaurie,

How about posting a link to my organization, Progressive Majority ( I don't think I talked to you about it today, but the organization's Racial Justice Campaign has the goal of electing people of color to public office so that our electeds actually represent the communities and our issues.

If you have a blurb on the Race and Pedagogy conference I have a few folks I would like to send it to. Can you email a blurb to me? You have my email since you set up this blog, right?

I'm on the blog.

Thanks to all who showed for the thirteen hours. It meant a lot to see so many there. I will stay in the conversation for a couple of weeks this way and then be back three Sundays from now.



Still Fiddling...

OK, I'm still tinkering with this. One thing I can do is edit the links section so if you all have links to imprtant websites, let me know. I'm going to go ahead and add the Race & Pedagogy site. Stay tuned...


This is the first post to our blog. Hopefully we will all be able to use it easily. For now, only members will be able to post and comment, however, depending on what we decide, this can be changed. The blog itself will be public, though information about members will not. This will be somewhat trial and error, but it should come together within a day or so at the most.