A year on from Israel's calculated decimation of Gaza, we now witness a "rebirth" and strengthening of Jewish anti-Zionism. The other evening, the first time ever (and NOT in New York) we came across a street demo by a group of black-hatted, bearded Hasidic Jewish men, complete with hand-drawn campaign placards "against Zionism". Something has happened, shifted, perhaps even cracked - since never before in my life have I seen anything like this.
With ideas and issues that were provocative when first presented in a U.S. speaking tour thirty years ago this year, like so many things which 'ring true' it seems this book's time has come again.
From the website: "In the spring & summer of 1970, Arie Bober (died 2003), then a member of Matzpen, made a speaking tour of the US, sponsored by the Committee on New Alternatives in the Middle East (CONAME). Among the sponsors of CONAME were Arthur Miller, Noam Chomsky, Pete Seeger; the main activists included Berta Green Langston, Robert Langston & Emmanuel Dror Farjoun (member of Matzpen doing post-graduate work at MIT). In connection with this tour, the Langstons arranged with publisher Doubleday & Co for publication of the book, entitled The Other Israel: The Radical Case Against Zionism, to be edited by Bober. The book - consisting entirely of Matzpen material - came out in 1972. Bober signed the contract with Doubleday & his name appears as nominal editor. The actual editing was done by Emmanuel Dror Farjoun with the help of Robert Langstone."
Enough already. As a Black woman whose U.S. family was enslaved in the USA, hearing solely people interviewed over and over, in every medium, talk about someone as though he were one of us, a slavery descendant -- as if he, who in honest, accurate reality, is the descendant of several white slaveowner families and not of enslaved Black people - as if he and his own family - not Michelle Robinson's family - ever lived through even a fraction of centuries'-long suffering, torture, exploitation and alienation endured by members of my family and our whole community; and even as if this person were God. In the faith in which I was raised this is blasphemous. All this feels like being raped, over and over, and then having people you know - even some family and longstanding friends - repeatedly come and ask why you keep protesting, why you refuse to lie back, be "grateful" and enjoy.
The election may be over yet BBC has forever altered my perception of it as a relatively balanced source of international news. I was watching BBC TV News last Monday evening, Nov 3, as the announcer chirpily announced there actually were other candidates in the U.S. election. Surprise! He proceeded to name and show photos, first Ralph Nader (independent), ex-Republican, now Libertarian Bob Barr (a U.S. Afrodescendant who seems to self-identify as "white"), and the third candidate? I was pretty well waiting for the newsreader to note Cynthia McKinney, the U.S. Green Party candidate. Was I wrong. Instead the Beeb names... Gene Amondson. Gene Amondson?? Have youheard of Gene Amondson? Has he, like Cynthia McKinney, been a six-term (or even a one-term) member of the U.S. Congress? I don't recall BBC bothering to mention Mr. Amondson's party affiliation (perhaps more obscure than his name, if that's possible). And so Tuesday, election day, I looked it up on the Net. Apparently he belongs to the "Prohibition Party." Prohibition? I thought that failed in the 1930s. Thanks to BBC News, Cynthia McKinney out, Gene Amondson in. Here's a deeper, bitter irony: Cynthia McKinney bears a British surname; like almost all Black Americans, probably linked to slavery. She carries a family name of British origin and yet, so uncharacteristically, the BBC had not even the slightest desire to acknowledge her, let alone brag about her, on the basis of UK ties to this U.S. presidential candidate and her almost certain British slave-trade family history. How sad; how racist.
This will be one of my last blog posts before Tuesday's U.S. presidential election. Borrowing from our sisters over at Document the Silenceblog (on violence against women of colour), I feel the need to quote my Caribbean-American lesbian sister, Audre Lorde: “When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.” You said a mouthful, Audre.
Like myself, writer/activist Barbara Smith and many, many others who (through our people's spiritual, physical and political evolution rather than random, superficial "change") over and over again, daily - cumulatively - over three long centuries in & of what is now the U.S.A., the veteran and former Democratic congresswoman from Georgia, CYNTHIA MCKINNEY, is yet another Black American woman who not only has understood, intuitively & explicitly, but repeatedly - so often virtually fearlessly - has ACTED UPON this deep mantra on (social) environmental- and self-knowledge. This evolution and regular willingness to take action in spite of fear are just part of the experiences and ethnic/cultural characteristics of Black Americans, and of Black American women in particular, that have been ridiculed, censored and 'disappeared' in the course of this 2006-2008 U.S. presidential election cycle. Martin Luther King affirmed, "We shall overcome." And yet, noting the endemic sexism toward Black women over three centuries (not one election cycle) of the Black Liberation Movement that is native to what is now the USA (as well as in the current presidential selection process), it is entirely possible that Dr. King may have got this phrase from someone else, much like "I HAVE A DREAM" actually came from the lips & mind of Mississippi native daughter FANNIE LOU HAMER. In addition to being a member of the Black ethnic population of the USA, Mrs. Hamer was not MALE, and like most Black Americans, nor did she have a PhD or any kind of college/university degree. And yet she was an eloquent, timeless, courageous and effective leader. Unlike almost all of his Movement Sisters whom I will call the "Movement Women Elders" and the "Movement Young Sistas," Dr. King is consciously and constantly remembered, enshrined, re-enshrined and re-interpreted, even as hundreds and thousands of incredible Black American women remain obscured and unknown, and too often even ridiculed, derided, discounted, and finally left behind; most often quite deliberately. In this context it's worth noting that this contempt and disrespect which Black American women encounter comes from all around us: from White women & men alike (regardless of nationality), from people coming from other countries & societies, from more than a few Black men, again of varying ethnic & national backgrounds, and, most sadly and most intimately, often from some of our own sister Black women whether of U.S. or other backgrounds. Some of us know exactly whom I'm talking about. And yet, in spite of the course of Election 2008, following this most historic 2008 U.S. Green Party presidential ticket of CYNTHIA MCKINNEY AND ROSA CLEMENTE, the obscurity, derision and media whiteout will NOT be the enduring characteristics of this campaign nor of these two sistas and all the People who are choosing to support them at the polls on Tuesday, 4 November. (Power to the People 2008 - www.runcynthiarun.org) This dual candidacy not just of two women (which is significant), not only of two women who both arewomen of colour, but more precisely and most historically both areAfrodescendant Women of the Americas, is at least three (3) centuries overdue for the Black people of what today is the United States of the Americas (i.e., Black Americans) and for all the Afrodescendants of the Americas. It is also high time that on Tuesday, November 4 (as opposed to an essentially empty promise to "some day" vote for someone like ourselves (another Black woman, another Black American woman) in a non-specific, non-existent future) seemingly discounted but significant numbers of Black women voters will actively choose to put ourselves first, go to the polls and vote for ourselves. The 2008 U.S. presidential election is time for everyone to vote in favour of our own most deeply held values (as opposed to a common "logic" of voting the lesser of various "evils"). For more and more of us, our values - no matter how much money a candidate raises or how he smiles and speaks in chosen tones - do NOT include either so-called "Clean Coal" (i.e., Mountaintop Decapitation/Removal) or "nuclear power" (i.e., Uranium Mining, Uranium tailings, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, massive amounts of lethal, radioactive nuclear waste, groundwater contamination, radiation - including contamination of the Navajo Nation (and other Indigenous communities) and uranium miners suffering from uranium-induced cancer). The original quote about needing to exploit coal & nuclear power was made by the 2008 Democratic candidate.
In 2008, simply by choosing to work together, Cynthia McKinney, Rosa Clemente and the U.S. Green Party have modeled for us all that not only is it better, it's now imperative (to quote Rosa), for us to run for office, participate in society, to vote, and also to speak.
With less than a month to go, I'd really like to know whether or not my former colleagues of the OSCE - Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe - have a plan in place (on invitation of the U.S. government, of course) to send a full-fledged mission to monitor next month's U.S. presidential election. I figure that, like me, most folks anywhere can honestly say they have never lived through a set of circumstances to match what is going on today in the United States and the rest of the world. As I see it, much of this contagious turmoil and heartache could have - would have - been averted had only someone cared, paid attention and taken effective regulatory and legal action in years past. That includes back in 2000 when professionals of conscience like Atlanta Legal Aid Society Home Defense attorney Bill Brennan and others made crystal clear the extent of U.S. financial institutions' merciless and ultimately self-destructive attempts to exploit and extort the U.S.'s most vulnerable populations: people of colour, women, the elderly; in short, the poor, near-poor and working poor. A related concern is that, come November 4, we very well could witness a third consecutive chapter of the political equivalent of what is now boiling over financially. That is to say we stand to witness the same, grave problems in the conduct of the 2008 U.S. presidential election as the whole world saw, first in 2000 and yet again in 2004. An excellent documentary American Blackout explains clearly what happened in both elections as well as the efforts and work of then-Democratic congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. (As I've blogged before, Cynthia is now the U.S. Green Party's presidential candidate and I plan to vote for her.)
"... I don't think we've invested well... in the last few years..."- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (daughter of late mayor of Baltimore, Maryland; multimillionaire; Democratic congresswoman, 8th Congressional district, California - San Francisco) on the current state of U.S. society, government and economy, in a Capitol Hill news conference, Thursday, 2 Oct 2008.
Politics may make "strange bedfellows," as the saying goes, but there have to be limits, and every now and then I reach one of mine. In this case, for me, it's around the 2008 U.S. presidential election. As Peter Finch's character shouted in the film Network, this is one year when I am not going to "take it" anymore.
Less than two years ago, in late November 2006, I received an email from a reader describing himself as a White American, telling me that (in his opinion - the only one that really counts, of course) he's "never committed even one act of "racism"..." [his quotes] in his life. Bravo for you, dude.
In fact, he started his email telling me that he's voted Democrat all his life. As I read, I wondered, "What Democratic Party member-profile does this guy fit?" How many Democrats think like him? I wondered,Are Democrats like him just ignored, or even accepted?That was then and this is now, and I leave it to others more interested than I to answer such questions. (Don't hold your breath...)
In 2008 the Democratic Party took things a step farther and found themselves the "kind" of "black" (as so many white Americans seem to like to say) they could feel "comfortable" to back for president; one whom even Joe Biden could bring himself to admire.
So this is the year when some Black people with the privilege to vote in the U.S. - i.e., people from different ethnic and national backgrounds (continental African, Caribbean, Black American, Afro-Latino) have convinced themselves that voting Democratic will somehow be "pan-African." Not only are most White voters left clueless aboutpan-Africanism and what it's supposed to be, some of those who will vote Nov. 4th for the Democrats selected black guy are the descendants of the same people who enslaved my family: in Virginia, Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky, South Carolina - and elsewhere. I call them "slaveholder descendants for Obama." These slaveholder descendants will feel good about themselves and their motives as they cast their votes for the Democratic candidate, even while they avoid and still steadfastly refuse any contact with or acknowledgement of me, my family and the history, places and country (also names and bloodlines) we share. Then there is the guy who sent the email below. Are these people really all on the same page?Good question, and yet relatively few Americans seem to have the stomach to attempt any acceptable answer.
In 2007 I finally shared the message below with Democrats Abroad email list. As I wrote to Dems Abroad, there is no etiquette for how to bring up such subjects, and yet I also know that they need to be raised and addressed, and not just by persons who look like me.
Thanks to my sister for sharing news of veteran U.S. legal aid attorney William Brennan and his testimony in Congresson 24 May 2000. So Congress had first-hand knowledge of what was going on from an attorney helping elderly, often female and Black persons (who quite often already owned their homes) from becoming statistics in very elaborate, far-reaching and high-pressure credit scams. In May 2000 Carlo and I were in Skopje, Macedonia. On 9 Aug 2007 we published an entry here at Marian's Blog entitled "The colour of sub-prime, & trans-Atlantic cash."Who knew that ever-larger financial chips would still be falling more than a year later? Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac... And that's only the U.S. list. In 2007 I blogged, "How about "trans-Atlanticism in the 'hood", as France's largest bank, BNP Paribas, temporarily shut down investor access to three BNP private-investor funds linked to U.S. so-called 'sub-prime' mortgage lending." Is anyone in the international human rights establishment paying the slightest attention?
Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney's running mate Rosa Clemente did a very informative interview earlier today with Kojo Nnamdi of WAMU-fm (part of American University). Great interview, Rosa. You can hear it online here. It seemed a bit strange when Clemente referenced history of the Young Lords political party and compared them to the Black Panthers. Nnamdi said most people were more familiar with the Panthers. I'm thinking this would depend on whom you talk with. Was Kojo being disingenuous? Also about the radio call-in from a Black American man who pointed out, accurately, the gulf of historical difference between Barack Obama's identity in and toward the U.S. (and the U.S. toward him) and that of the entire indigenous U.S. Black population, i.e. Black Americans.) Meanwhile, not only is Kojo Nnamdi himself "Black," he's a native of Guyana, and I'm happy for him. Guyana's a fascinating case. It's a South American country yet historically, culturally and demographically, identifies greatly with the societies and countries of the Black, English-speaking Caribbean. As a child of Guyana's Afrodescendant, Caribbean-identified people, is it that Kojo isn't really that familiar with the history of the Young Lords? Maybe or maybe not. In the end of all this, there's as much historical, cultural, geographic and blood heritage difference between Barack Obama and Black Americans as there is between Mr. Obama and the Afro-Guyanese.Ain't nothing really 'easy' or 'user-friendly' about the histories, peoples and realities of the Americas, especially we Black folks.In a more honest, transparent world Kojo could reflect a bit on this, think of his family, country and sub-region of his origin and its peoples, as distinct as the Black Americans, and then go and do a truly informative radio show on all the above.