On Friday, September 2, lawyers for the Standing Rock Sioux went to court to ask for a halt to construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline over specific sacred sites and burial grounds. They provided a map of the specific cultural sites identified by the tribe’s expert.
The very next day — September 3, Saturday of Labor Day weekend — Energy Transfer Company sent its bulldozers to destroy the specific cultural sites identified in the map submitted to the court. Continue reading
By now, everyone who reads this blog has heard about #NoDAPL, the protests in North Dakota over the Dakota Access Pipeline. The issues are either very simple (NO to all pipelines, everywhere, end of story) or quite complex, involving Native rights, a protest encampment and permits and injunctions, arrests of protesters and journalists, calling out the National Guard, procedural challenges to the Army Corps of Engineers, destruction of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe cultural and burial sites, other substantive challenges based on water protection and climate change, defeats and partial victories in court, and federal government orders to stop the construction – or to stop parts of it. Confused yet?
Since I make sense out of confusion by reading and writing, and since you (presumably) read this blog for some kind of enlightenment, I’m posting a two or three or maybe even four-part explanation of what is going on. This is the first part: Continue reading
With all the Trumped-up falsehoods and foolishness going down in Cleveland, and with 90-degree summer rolling into Minnesota, one good option for sanity is to tune out the madness and dive in to some non-traditional summer reading. According to MPR, some books are “flying off the shelves” as Minnesotans are “searching for ways to make sense of the violence and unrest.” In one of these flying books, A Good Time for the Truth, David Lawrence Grant writes:
“When we hear a white person say, ‘Oh, but I don’t even see color,’ the subtext we really hear tells us, loud and clear, that what they don’t see is us: that our identity, our perspective, our whole history is insignificant, not worthy of attention.” Continue reading
I’m white. You’re white, too, and you tell me, “They’re always playing the race card.” You don’t believe that race is as important as “they” say it is. You believe that discrimination might happen somewhere, some time, but not that often. Please – listen to these voices. Hear what they say. Continue reading
Police reform is simultaneously vitally important and relatively useless. Vitally significant: as Ijeoma Oluo demands, we need to work for police reform “every day like your life depends on it – ours actually does.” And relatively useless, because policing in America is embedded in and represents a culture and society that remain deeply racist and that culture and society must change or no police reform will succeed. Continue reading
We need police reform, but, bottom line: police reform is not enough. Just like passing the 1964 Civil Rights Act or the 1965 Voting Rights Act was not enough. Not enough — because reforming police practices, policies, training will not end racism. But saying police reform is not enough does not mean that such reform is not needed, not essential, not potentially life-saving. Police reform is not THE solution, but reforms are some of the necessary steps along the road to solutions. Continue reading
Never thought I’d agree with Newt Gingrich, but … today he said that “normal white Americans” don’t understand “being black in America” and that they “under-estimate the level of discrimination and the level of additional risk.”
“Normal white Americans” can and must try to understand more. Trying to understand is not about trying to help black people. Trying to understand is about recognizing that we are all in this together — together in this community, in this city, state, country, world. Continue reading
Mr. Phil. That’s what the kids at J.J. Hill Montessori School in St. Paul called Philando Castile, who was shot and killed by police on Wednesday night. Thursday night, his school family held a vigil for him. This is not the way he should be famous, someone said. This is not how he should be remembered.A parent called him “Mr. Rogers with dreadlocks.” Fellow staff members said Mr. Phil was patient and kind and caring. Mr. Phil loved his job and all of “his” kids in the school. Mr. Phil gave them breakfast and hugs and direction. “Everything Mr. Phil did in this school was for the kids,” another parent said. Continue reading
From 2013-14 Civil Rights Data Collection
As the school year ended, we got a peek at what is really happening to the 50 million students in 95,000 U.S. public schools. The Office of Civil Rights (U.S. Department of Education) released a first look at the 2013-14 Civil Rights Data Collection on June 7. That’s a whole lot of data, and more will come over the next few months. Here are six take-aways from the first round: Continue reading
In 2014, the police shooting of Michael Brown brought young people pouring into the streets. Their anger, their courage, their commitment quickly flowed beyond Ferguson and police to challenge multiple forms of institutionalized and structural racism of this country. A new generation marched into the streets. Rage and grief sparked their activism, conviction and solidarity sustain them.
On June 2, Judge Aaron Persky gave Brock Turner, the Stanford rapist a slap-on-the-wrist sentence of six months in jail, which means he’ll probably serve three. An eloquent 12-page statement from the Stanford rape victim sparked outpourings of anger and support. Rather than marches in the street, protest took the form of women telling their own stories of sexual assault, of a million-signature judicial impeachment petition, of at least 10 prospective jurors refusing to serve under Judge Persky in other cases, and of statements of solidarity including an open letter from Vice President Joe Biden. Continue reading