Category Archives: politics

Members of “Minority Majority” Gather to Discuss the State of Black Boston

Hundreds attend a town hall meeting focused on a new report from the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, the NAACP Boston and the Trotter Institute at U-Mass Boston.

As a precursor to this week’s 2011 National Urban League conference, many gathered a day early for a town hall meeting prompted by a new report, The State of Black Boston.  

During breakout sessions devoted to sections of the report, panelists drilled down on topics such as the currently bleak outlook for Boston’s Black press, housing and economic development and civic disenfranchisement among the city’s minority majority. One panel was devoted to the exploration of Boston’s modern cultural scene, “since Boston is evolving demographically, and leaving behind, however slowly, the perception that it is a white-bread place wary of outsiders.”

Dr. James Jennings, Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy & Planning at Tufts University, authored the report. It is based upon census and business data used to create a demographic profile of a city.The Urban League describes it as ” .. a tool to assess, measure, and understand the nature of racial inequality among Bostonians.”

“@titojackson: At the Hynes convention ctr with @MassGovernor and over 1000 others for the State of Black Boston. #mapoli #bospoli”
tonytjohnson
July 25, 2011
Massachusetts Governor Duval Patrick kicked off the day with a morning address.
The following are comments are made by attendees at today’s pre-conference meetings.
Patrick on being 1st black MA governor: “Being the first doesn’t mean anything if there isn’t a second.” @massgovernor #2011sobb #nul11 #fb
taliawhyte
July 25, 2011
Patrick says he was still in school in 1976 when Urban League conference last came to Boston #2011sobb #nul11 #fb
taliawhyte
July 25, 2011
There is much discussion about Boston’s racist reputation (school busing and Charles Stuart) at #2011sobb #nul11 #fb
taliawhyte
July 25, 2011
There are some concerns by some attendees that there aren’t many young adults here today. Who are the future leaders? #2011sobb #nul11 #fb
taliawhyte
July 25, 2011
Lol…I love hearing grown black men say fashionista and quote lady gaga. #2011SOBB
KamilahKennedy
July 25, 2011
Dr. Ogletree says we do not talk enough about mental health in the black community #2011SOBB #NUL11
YPNULEM
July 25, 2011
#2011sobb executive summary is being discussed. Health care has improved for black residents #nul11 #fb
taliawhyte
July 25, 2011

Investigative reporter Soledad O’Brien gave the keynote luncheon address. O’Brien is known for hosting CNN’s In America series and is an acclaimed writer, covering topics from gay couples adopting children to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

@soledad_obrien is speaking about her “In America” series. “My goal is to move the needle in discussing diversity” #2011sobb #nul11 #fb
taliawhyte
July 25, 2011
Obrien says she is “disappointed” about the lack of racial diversity on prime time cable. #2011sobb #nul11 #fb
taliawhyte
July 25, 2011
RT @YPNULEM: “How are we attacking age old disparities in the high tech industry within the black community?” @Soledad_Obrien #2011SOBB #NUL11
Sifublack
July 25, 2011
Inspired by the words and life of Soledad O’Brien at the State of Black Boston at Hynes Convention Center. Her focus was on solving social issues in our community by economic empowerment and justice.
Tito Jackson
July 25, 2011
RT @YPNULEM: “I want to talk about Diversity in the Nation and where we are headed” @Soledad_Obrien #2011SOBB #NUL11
MissNance_NLP
July 25, 2011
Wrap up: Most #2011sobb discussion was on economic justice, entrepreneurship and why blacks need to take back their wealth #nul11 #fb
taliawhyte
July 25, 2011
@Soledad_OBrien said “when people want something more, they will win”. Yes!!! #2011sobb
monicacost
July 25, 2011

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Live blog: Obama’s address to joint session

Finally I get it. I understand now what it is I believed in on voting day in 2008. Hearing Obama speak to the country and hearing him challenge us on such a personal level–to care for ourselves, protect our children from debt, improve ourselves and hold our legislators accountable to bringing better policies in to law–that is what inspired me before the election and what I look forward to for the next 8 years. barack-obama

I’m so glad a twitter alert from a friend responding to tonight’s speech to a joint session on O’s budget reminded me to turn on my radio. It was heartening to hear the lively hooting & hollering from congress…and made me so curious to see, I finally went to the television.  It was a bonus to see the eager smiles of some lawmakers when their priorities were discussed.

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What a fantastic idea–asking every American to get some education. “No more quitting on yourself or your country.” Volunteerism in exchange for college credits?! National service? New Hatch & Kennedy bill?Awesome.

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This idea of shining a light on all the unbudgeted items gave me pause. No kidding–we don’t know the price of war? We never budgeted for natural disasters? Again, his agenda is to keep reminding congress that a new era of governing is here: one where the needs of the public are foremost in each lawmaker’s minds.

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Extra long pause for the military support comment. Making sure everybody stands? About time we put money where vets need it most–in recovering from certain trauma from serving in the ME.  YEAH! CLOSING GITMO! Joint chiefs clapping for the “we don’t torture” comment.

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“In our hands lies the ability to shape”….calling out examples of ordinary citizens doing the obvious & right thing….this is how Obama is teaching the rest of us to redefine ourselves and make simple choices to take small actions for each other and improve our communities.

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“tells us about the people who sent us here”….O is always reminding congress–an audience used to power and privilege–that they are public servants. All of us watching are also reminded that those men & women work for us and our country. That implies our involvement, our need to talk with those public servants in order to shape this world together.

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Live Blog of a Lifetime: Watching Obama’s 1st speech as President-Elect

barack-obama-5-14-0811:57 p.m.  I have no words to put here, but saw an image that reflected perfectly my feelings: streaming tears on Jesse Jackson’s face. Way back in ’88 he planted the seeds in believing voters like me–that a black man could rise to the primary seat of power in our country.

“Anything is possible”–this is the message the whole world has wanted to hear for a long, long time. it’s as if we’re terribly thirsty for a leader who knows how to take us back to the mountain top.

12:02: while it’s totally appropriate to thank Biden as his partner, it seems in some way like Hillary Clinton has been the one who walked along the hard campaign trail with him the most.

12:06: Let’s hear it for those millenials!

12:04: NEW PUPPY?! Oh the names speculation that is about to hit the news. Oy!

12:07: Yes we can get there! Obama is always the pragmatist, but what better time to sober up exhilarated crowds than at your victory speech? He’s helping us cope with the election hangover we’re about to have come Wednesday.

12:09 “Let us summon a new spirit…” Obama must realize by now that he’s been doing that with every minute of his campaign, with every speech, every endorsement, every Youtube song. Neighbors have been reaching out to each other, voters have called and visited each other. Americans have remembered to hold their own campaign conversation.

12:10: WE ARE NOT ENEMIES BUT FRIENDS….he’s right to acknowledge he must earn the friendship of those who didn’t vote for him.

12:15 Ann Nixon’s story is everyone’s story. She was alive through so much that’s important to our history–all the things that we’ve learned about from parents and grandparents about what makes us Americans. That she came so far, from enduring overt racism to seeing MLK’s assassination to casting her vote for a black man, finally brings me to tears.

12:17 Oprah, dry your tears! Obama put the challenge out to all of us to clean up this country, work for justice and make this world better for our children. We have work to do!

Finally, my ownly nagging feeling: I wish he had smiled while giving his speech. I know, he needed to appear stern to start whipping this country into shape. Or perhaps it was his grandmother’s death. In any case this has been a long road for the now graying Obama, and his weariness makes the victory bittersweet.

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Uncle Sam doesn’t want the fat, stupid and criminal?

Uncle Sam

Uncle Sam

I smelled something funky right away in Larry Littlefield’s post that includes the tiresome phrase “Youth of Today” in the title (so we know right away where this is going).  He’s gracious enough to qualify his finger pointing by suggesting that while the 70% youth are apparently too slack to be military material, it may not be ALL their fault:

So there you have the youth of today. They are starting out bankrupt in a bankrupt country. That’s what I was worried about before. In addition, a majority are stupid, fat, sick, addicted or criminals. But others are more socially engaged as citizens, and as Grimm [Dr. Robert Grimm, the Director of Research and Public Policy for the Corporation for National and Community Service] pointed out, those who are socially engaged as citizens, statistically, are far more active and healthy. I had heard that all the social indicators – from teenage pregnancy to drug use to high school graduation rates – had improved compared with 30 years ago when I was in high school, so the 70% figure came as something of a shock. It sounds like the uneven distribution of income and institutional collapses are just part of the problem. We have a personal collapse as well.

Can we back up a minute? Littlefield is concerned about this figure given by Lt General Benjamin C. Freakley (I love the surname), a recruiter for the U.S. Army. I suppose this guy has it tough right now, trying to defend a poor recruiting rate. If you were him, would you blame it on today’s youth being unattracted to the situations they see our troops facing (roadside bombs, “100 more years” in Iraq, high survival and amputee rate of injured troops), or would you blame the low signing rate on kids playing too much X-Box and eating too many Doritos? Continue reading

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Contrast last post to this reporter’s coverage

ITN logo

ITN logo

I thought I had it tough squeezing through crowds at Union Square to get a good shot of the spectacle created by protesters supporting the Free Tibet movement. Jon Ray, a reporter for ITN in the UK, had it much worse.

Ray and a cameraman were reporting on a protest near the Olympic games in the Chinese Ethnic Culture Park when police shut him down. See the video of the protesters and Ray’s arrest here.

ITN’s reaction: “We intend to protest in the strongest possible terms to the Chinese authorities and seek assurances that the treatment meted out to Mr Ray will not be repeated.”

Meanwhile, the IOC continuing to say they support open access to journalists. Does this sound like an active reaction? It’s best summed up by Steve Gosset:

So much for free media access during the games. ITN and the International Olympic Committee registered their concerns. Hopefully, the Chinese will do more than just yawn.

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Rallies for an independent Tibet begin on eve of Olympics

protester at a Union Square rally the night before the Olympics opened

protester at a Union Square rally the night before the Olympics opened

On August 7, the eve of the beginning of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, hundreds of supporters of the movement to liberate Tibet from China’s authority gathered in Union Square to protest the games. A screen positioned above a group of monks, sitting in blood-red robes on the shallow steps of the park, displayed videos of beatings, fires and protest demonstrations in Tibet.
Over the normal din of 14th Street shoppers and the skateboarders always trying stunts in the park, a deep-throated chant from protesters would rise and fall. Passersby tried to peek over the shoulders of those standing in protest to get a glimpse of the monks, the arrangement of hundreds of votive candles and the video screen.
Monks and protesters in Union Square

Monks and protesters in Union Square

Many protesters sat on the park plaza and read papers or shared food. Parents came with children. Those interested in joining for the first time were welcomed and given flags and t-shirts featuring a clutched fist and the word “RANGZEN“, which translates to mean “independence.”
After several slow and patient chants, the crowd let out one large shout, then rolled up flags, gathered their belongings and headed for the nearest subways. They will continue to protest every night until the end of the games, according to one organizer who spoke with a reporter from WNYC Radio.

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Viewing Iraqi Art

Last week I had the chance to attend an opening at Pomegranate Gallery in SoHo for the new show “Oil on Landscape: Art From Wartime Contemporaries of Baghdad,” curated by a former military officer who served in Iraq until 2007, Christopher J. Brownfield.

at the pomegranate gallery

I reported on the story with my classmates from the CUNY J-School: Shuka Kalantari, who put together this great webpage for our story, and Tyler Mitter, who shot video.

As a collection from Baghdad, the art covers a wide range: from renderings of eye-witnessed violence to scenes of everyday life for Iraqis. The show evoked in me a sense of loss. The artists and many guests who know Baghdad miss a place that cultivated Middle Eastern culture. What they have in its place is a devastated home many can’t even return to until conditions improve and their lives are no longer at risk.

Naturally, the conversation around this art is political. What everyone seemed to agree on was the idea that art can help an individual transcend fear and anger and develop a better understanding through the feelings and experiences expressed. Visitors and artists seem to almost reach for each other with a desire to connect and make the war go away.

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