Friday, February 16, 2018

We took this picture in San Antonio where we were celebrating the publication of our new ebook on Literacy by NSSA Press. From left to right Bill Curtis and Terry Lovelace, Lem Londos Railsback, Pat and Bill Kirtley.
See you in Las Vegas.

Gabrielle Union Says It's Time To Pass The #MeToo Microphone To Women Of Color

Once again, Gabrielle Union is coming through with news we can use.
The actor, who has set herself apart as a champion for justice and an intersectional feminist, has once again offered a smart and necessary hot take. This time, it’s about #MeToo — the movement of women, and a few men, sharing their experiences with sexual assault.
In a profile for the New York Times Style section, Union spoke about having to relive the trauma of her own rape night after night during the promotional tour for her recently released memoir, We’re Going To Need More Wine. Not only did she talk about it in the book, she noticed that women were eager to share their own horrific stories of trauma. This is certainly reflective of the digital sharing of stories that's taking place on social media with #MeToo, but Union isn’t afraid to point out that there are voices missing.
“The floodgates have opened for white women,” Union boldly asserted to the NYT. Elaborating on what she meant, the actor said, “I don’t think it’s a coincidence whose pain has been taken seriously. Whose pain we have showed historically and continued to show. Whose pain is tolerable and whose pain is intolerable. And whose pain needs to be addressed now.” These are the sentiments that have also been expressed by Jane Fonda, who insisted that Weinstein’s victims were heard because they’re “famous and white.”
White womanhood is often seen as inherently valuable and worthy of protection. Meanwhile Black girls and women are viewed as less innocent at ages as young as five. When Lupita Nyong’o penned an op-ed accusing Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment, she was just one of many. But it was only her account that he responded to directly. And despite decades of rumors that rival Weinstein’s heinous means of taking advantage of women, R. Kelly has yet to experience any of the repercussions that the Hollywood producer has. Even though Kelly is Black (making him more likely to be criminalized than his white peers), so are his alleged victims. And when women of color – especially those without the same tenure or wealth as Union – speak up about sexual violence, they are not met with culture shifting discourse.
At one point during the interview, even Union had to check herself. She initially spoke of passing the #MeToo microphone “back” to people with different experiences. “It should be passed to the side,” she corrected. And this is the real reason we need more people like Union. On her own platform that may not be as well-respected as Meryl Streep’s or even Gwyneth Paltrow’s, she knows how much bigger it is than, say, the woman who claimed to have been under R. Kelly’s control for years.

From New York Times

President Jacob Zuma of South Africa addressing the nation in Pretoria on Wednesday.CreditPhill Magakoe/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images 
JOHANNESBURG — President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, a master tactician who survived a string of corruption scandals and harsh court judgments during his nearly nine-year presidency, agreed on Wednesday night to step down, repudiated by the governing African National Congress Party, threatened by a no-confidence vote in Parliament, cornered by opposition parties and abandoned by millions of voters.
In an address to the nation Wednesday night, Mr. Zuma said he was resigning even though he disagreed with the party’s decision ordering him to do so.
“I have therefore come to the decision to resign as president of the Republic with immediate effect, even though I disagree with the decision of the leadership of my organization,” he said at the end of a lengthy address on television. “I have always been a disciplined member of the A.N.C.”
It was a humiliating end for Mr. Zuma, a charismatic anti-apartheid hero who was imprisoned on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela and was once the A.N.C.’s intelligence chief. Cyril Ramaphosa, the deputy president whose election as A.N.C. leader in December set off a power struggle with Mr. Zuma, immediately became acting president.
Initially Mr. Zuma’s presidency inspired hope in millions of South Africans, especially the poorest. But, tainted by numerous accusations of misconduct, he came to symbolize the corruption that flourished during his time in office.
Continue reading the main story
Influence peddling in his administration was so widespread, according to the nation’s former public protector, that it became a form of state capture in which Mr. Zuma’s business partners or friends influenced government decisions in their personal interest.
A banner bearing a portrait of Cyril Ramaphosa, the A.N.C. leader, at the party’s anniversary celebration last month.CreditMujahid Safodien/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images 
Now, his departure as president leaves South Africa with a disillusioned electorate, a weakened economy and a tarnished image in the rest of Africa.
Only hours before his resignation he sounded defiant and aggrieved during a live interview with the state broadcaster SABC, after party leaders threatened to hold the no-confidence vote on Thursday. He indicated strongly that he would not resign, saying that the party’s effort to pull him from office was “unfair,” that he was being “victimized,” and that he had done nothing wrong.
But by Wednesday night, whatever narrow paths of escape he may have hoped for earlier had closed.
Mr. Zuma, who throughout his long career had overcome scandals with a combination of guile and boldness, said he did “not fear exiting political office.” He expressed contrition, though only fleetingly, saying that in executing his political responsibilities, he had not been “the epitome of perfection.”
“If truth be told,” he added, “none of us are.”
Mr. Zuma still faces possible corruption charges for an arms deal in the 1990s, before he was president. If he had remained in office, he might also have faced impeachment proceedings stemming from another corruption case, related to the misuse of public funds for upgrades to his homestead.
On Thursday, Mr. Ramaphosa is almost certain to be chosen by Parliament to become the nation’s fifth president since the end of apartheid in 1994; all have been members of the A.N.C.
The resignation was the culmination of a long internal fight, pitting Mr. Zuma’s supporters against an ascendant faction led by Mr. Ramaphosa, who pushed the president to step down before the end of his full term in mid-2019. The balance finally tipped against Mr. Zuma when the majority of party leaders concluded that the A.N.C.’s interests, and their own, would be better served under a new head of state.
Talking Points:  This is partly due to China’s targeted neo-mercantilist trading strategy, employing a state-managed, non-market trade regime, coupled with Chinese demand for Latin American agricultural products and minerals to fuel it industries. It is partly due to the decline in US economic strength in comparison with China and other industrial powers, a trend that dates back decades. Also, the US has failed to engage in aggressive economic diplomacy, which would enable it to compete on more even terms with China and other major trading countries for market share and foreign direct investment opportunities.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

#Me Too Movement: Women, Race and Sex

On October 5, 2917 the New York Times published a story detailing decades of allegations of sexual harassment. Mr. Weinstein was the co-founder of Miramaxx and the Weinstein Company. During the past four months actresses have revealed their encounter with the producer and have told harrowing stories of sexual assault, rape, and unwanted attempts to enagage in sex, etc. Hwever, what many people do not know was that the Me Too Movement has its origins a decade ago when Tarana Burke  coined the phrase "Me Too." She founded the movement in 2006 becuse she had experience sexual assault  and wanted to help women and girls, particulalrly women of color, who had survived sexual violence.

Black women have had a history of sexual assault dating back to the enslavement experience and continued through Jim Crow and segregation. One case that is telling was in 1855 when Celia, an 19 year-old enslaved person, hade repeatedly been raped  by slaveowner Robert Newsome. On June 23, 1855 she decided to fight back which resulted in the detah of Robert Newsome. She ws tried, convicted and was hanged for the alleged crime. Rape was an ever present threat to black women then and continued in the 20th century. For example, Racy Taylor , a 24 year old sharcropper, was abfducted and raped on September 3, 1944 by six white men in Alabama. And athough the evidenced was overwhelming, a jury could not indict the accused men.

Hence, we hoped that the #Me Too Movement is inclusive and do not follow the trail of the white feminist movement which has been silent on the experience of African American and Latina women encounters with sexuak harassment.  Remember Ms. Nafissafou Diallo, a Hatian hotel maid, accused Dominique Strauss, former chief of the International Monetary Fund, of attempted rape and sexual assault. Where was the feminist on this case?

Sunday, January 28, 2018

"Why are we having all these people from shithole countries coming here?" 

"When Mexico sends it people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people,"

"Black guys counting my money! I hate it...I think the guy is lazy. And it's probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks"

Obviously there are many more comments, but the question is this...

Is President Donald Trump racist or just plain ignorant?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The following abstract and presentation was delivered at the National Social Science Association Fall Conference in San Antonio, Texas (October 2017). We thank you for your comments and look forward to publication of our paper in the near future.

Bridging the Gap: Examining the Correlation Between Racism and Mental Health Among African Americans and Latinos
Merida A. Valera, Umeme Sababu, & Jennifer D. Dashiell

     This paper examines the correlation between racism and mental health among African Americans and Latinos.  It traces the history of racism and discrimination people of color have experienced in the United States. Presently, there is an abundant wealth of research data that highlight the deleterious effects and influence that racism has impacted on mental illness on people of color. Our study seeks to build on research of the link between racism and mental illness focusing on Latinos and African Americans. It has been a disgraceful issue that has resulted in negative implications. In addition, the article examines the attitude, the psychological outcome of discrimination, and the implicit component of racism against people of the color.
     More specifically, this study attempts to answer the following question; has racism resulted in a high rate of mental illness among Latinos and African Americans due to exposure to traumatic stress? Jones argued that in a more objective view, African Americans and Latinos share a number of characteristics that by observation help define the disadvantaged status of the two groups (Jones, 2015, pp. 14). These characteristics include slavery, segregation, discrimination, prejudice, and racism. Hence, the racial hierarchy that was formulated during the colonial period in Latin America and North America and oppression of people of color has continue to the historical era (Jones, 2015).
      There has been a number of researchers who have written on this subject. Therefore, the researchers’ hypothesis declares that racism has a degree of impact on mental illness among people of color. The researchers review the subsequent system of control that replaced slavery (e.g., discrimination, Jim Crow, segregation, and prejudice) that continue today in many covert and overt ways. Finally, this study attempts to unfold several questions pertaining to racism and discrimination and mental illness among African Americans and Latinos.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Reading and Writing Achievement

The struggle to ensure that Black and Hispanic American students achieve in reading and writing continues in 2018.  In a recent report, State of America’s Children, 2014, are abysmal statistics.  “Almost 75% of fourth and eighth grade Black and Hispanic public-school students could not read or write at grade level.”   Since reading and writing are basically the same topics, much work, still, must be done to alter this negative phenomenon, especially, since the digital era is a powerful force in their lives.

Cultural accommodation without interference is necessary to help our children of color progress in these subjects.  Since the inception of American education, Black and Hispanic students have experienced literature segregation.  Not only is it important for Black and Hispanic American students to achieve proficiency in reading and writing, they must be exposed to literature pertaining to their cultural lifestyle and history in abundance.  To deny them is a rejection of their very existence and negatively impacts their love for reading and writing and high proficiency standards.

Also, it is important to realize who is culturally accommodating them in learningrooms.  I believe professionals who are knowledgeable about Black and Hispanic American history and lifestyle are sensitive to their needs should be their teachers.  Currently, cultural accommodation is treated as a side-kick or supplemental instruction.  Change must occur soon and very soon.

Renee Coates-Smith, M.Ed.