Archive for the ‘Political Commentary’ Category

This series explores the ways in which the predominating forces in this country are trying to force the country into a “post-race” era despite the country’s lack of achievements in racial equality. The end result will be a disarming of the disenfranchised and an increase in loopholes for which prejudice and racism will begin to prevail.

The Story

In a recent interview with Laura Ingraham, the host of a conservative radio show, Alabama Representative, Mo Brooks stated that:

This is a part of the war on whites that’s being launched by the Democratic Party, and the way in which they’re launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else.
– Rep. Mo Brooks

I’ll wait for the laughter to cease. What the fuck is this idiot talking about?! First let me say that this statement was in response to a question about immigration reform. Brooks stated that Democrats are waging a war on White people by making certain issues about race and perpetuating that White people hate everybody. Okay so yo avoid any emotional traps that lead to logic less rebuttals let me say that immigration IS a race issue. We can play the politics and say it’s about the American economy and the fact that immigrants come into the country and do not pay taxes etc. Or we can make it be a national security issue and say that if these refugees can get into the country then perhaps we aren’t as well secured as we should be. But at the end of the conversation, it is about race.

The Problem

The issue is that – in typical conservative fashion – this clown is trying to take several real issues for which Democrats often advocate and reverse and pervert them in a way to suggest that White people could be suffering the same thing. It’s like the topic of reverse racism. At the end of the day any socially conscious person can deduce that this is not an issue that White people face. Not every White person is living the American dream and growing up, living, and raising families in the safety of middle and upper class social statuses; however, that’s not the issue. This issue is the overwhelming number of people of color who are not and can not do this despite having access to some of the same resources as the White people that do.

Furthermore, Rep. Brooks’ statement has an oddly familiar tone to it. It is a common ideology and phrase used by the Klu Klux Klan and other White Supremacist groups. Their passionate advocacy for White people stems from the belief that every other race his it out for them. The more enraged the GOP becomes the more blatantly they are exposing themselves as racist extremists with a plot for U.S. domination (not all, of course, but the ones who doing all the talking).

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The Point

Someone would have to be unfamiliar with America and/or an imbecile to think that it is even plausible for their to be a “war on White people.” What their is: a war on White Supremacy (to which not every White person ascribes). So when Brooks makes his statement it is clear that he is making a fool’s attempt at devaluing the true nature of the issue.

What usually happens is that these phrases become part of a rhetoric that keeps showing up in the conservative controlled media until public opinion actually validates its relevance. Look at what happened with the term “reverse racism.” The entire logic of the phrase is ridiculous. Wouldn’t the reverse of racism be equality? And why is it that this term is only used by White people in response to some racial situation with Black people (as if only white people can be racist and only Black people can be the victims of it). But I digress. What I wish to demonstrate is the way that even the most foolish of phrases can become weapons to neutralize the opposition to injustice. That is clearly what this guy is seeking to do with this “war on Whites” comment.

What must happen is active defense against the legitimacy of this claim. For those Republicans who claim to not be of the ilk as their older, prominent spokes people, I would love to some of them stand up and speak against this garbage right now and not wait until this clown buries his career or when election time rolls around and they want minority votes. At any rate each and every time that the GOP makes this statement it must be refuted. In truth, it’s not a “war on whites” that’s happening; it’s a war on White Supremacy and progress in that war is long overdue.

 

I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,

 

An Angry Black Man

 

 

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A series, inspired by the CNN special, dedicated to race related identity issues concerning Black people in America.

The Story

I have thought long and hard about what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it regarding Lupita Nyong’o’s wave of celebrity and viral admirations for her beauty. At first I smiled when she won her Oscar and appeared gorgeous and graceful on the red carpet. I felt touched and honored to hear her address what it means to be a dark skinned woman Black woman facing American standards of beauty. Then the social media channels began pouring Lupita mania. I saw aggressive declarations about her beauty and emotional postings about her being named One of People magazine’s most beautiful people. But something inside me didn’t cheer, it didn’t smile, it didn’t celebrate these things. Instead I felt suspicious and partly disgusted. It took a while for me to find the words to articulate why I felt this way…but I’ve found the words to express what I was feeling.

lupita-nyong

Lupita Nyong’o is a Mexican born, Kenyan descendant who studied drama at the prestigious Yale University. Nyong’o lived in obscurity until 3 weeks before her Master’s degree commencement when she was cast in 12 Years a Slave.

Nyong’o’s performance won her an Academy Award for her performance. And there begins the spectacle of Lupita. Luptia was acknowledged at teh Academy Awards, the Essence Awards, and through countless nominations. The media clung to Lupita and she was flawless. For me, it reminded me of what I felt when Barack Obama was on the campaign trail for the presidency and, subsequently, won. He did not have to look like me (because he doesn’t) and he didn’t have the same story as me (because he doesn’t) but it was the euphoric feeling of pride that he had accomplished all that he had accomplished without denying or refusing to acknowledge his Blackness. That is what I think Black women must feel watching Lupita and hearing her Essence speech about beauty, but there is so much more happening.

Lupita’s speech was brave and admirable simply in the fact that she chose to say it and how eloquently she articulated it; however, America is not to be revolutionized to easily. Immediately following the clip of Lupita’s speech in the clip the news caster goes into a section of speaking about how Lupita’s speech was not jsut about race but about beauty in general. Actually, while I cannot speak for Lupita, I would say that Lupita’s speech was ONLY about race. The moments in which it is not about race is where White people want to partake of that moment and want to justify allowing her to say it.

The Problemwmb-600

The mainstream which caters to the perspectives of the dominant group (White preferably rich and male) to make them accepting of things, decided to pollute Lupita’s revolutionary and courageous statement by saying that it was about “beauty in us all.” It clearly was not. The statement she made was specifically about dark skin in American standards of beauty. That kind of translation of Lupita’s message serves to neutralize the radical nature of her speech. It is the propaganda that the media perpetuates.

The problem is that while the media encourages us to praise Lupita’s beauty, we have not stopped to address the reason that her beauty is so special — as the son of a beautiful chocolate woman, I have seen beautiful dark skinned women all my life. Lupita is not the first. So what’s so wonderful and special here about this woman’s looks? Why is it wonderful that America is gasping at her breathtaking looks? The answer lies leaning our head just slightly to the left to get the other perspective.

It isn’t wonderful that Lupita, a dark skinned Black woman was allowed to grace the cover of People Magazine and was listed as one of People Magazine’s Most Beautiful People. That’s not the conversation worthy part. The part we should be talking about is why is she the 3rd Black woman to be on the cover of the magazine in the 25 years that the magazine has been doing their “Most Beautiful” issue?? It isn’t special that Lupita, a dark skinned Black woman is now a brand ambassador for Lancome. It’s that the company is 79 years old and Lupita is the first Black brand ambassador. WTF??y

The media would like to place Lupita on a pedastal and focus only on her dark skin and its “beauty” and the Black community eats up the coverage and becomes enamored with themselves so that all they see is that they are finally seeing something they had never seen before. The media is subliminally telling us that America has no problem with our race or dark skin and the Black community is believing that we are making progress. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The anchor Deborah Roberts manages to inject the truth in her recap of Lupita’s coverage when she states that this is “an open secret among Black women.” THAT is the problem. That it is an “open secret.” A secret that is well known by Black people, Black women specifically, that there is not love for dark skin in America (which is reflective of the fact that there is no love for Black people in America). Certainly there is an intrigue and fascination maybe even a fetish or lust for dark skin, but none of those things is the same as love and acceptance.

The Point

It was disturbing the way the media clung to Nyong’o featuring her on the covers of magazines and giving her a place in People Magazines most beautiful people list. What disturbed was the dishonesty of it. She was being used as propaganda to assert that America has come a long way in their representations of beauty and their acceptance of dark skin. But have they? Only with some passable exception have dark skinned Black people ever allowed to be considered beautiful. There has never been a mass mainstream acceptance of dark skin; it was about exoticism, fetish, and consumption. And here we are in 2014 and the notoriety of Lupita’s beauty is evidence that dark skin has still not been accepted in America.

So, it is not significant that Lupita is finding access into theses areas of mainstream favor that have previously been unavailable to Black women, especially dark skinned ones. It is significant that here we are in 2014 in what some posit to be a post-racial America and Black people are still celebrating mainstream firsts. Is that post racial or racially dismissive? There is a difference.

 

I’m not sayin: I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man

 

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The Story

According to Lorne manly of the New York Times, other have been more than three dozen prosecutions in United States courts that have admitted or made reference to rap lyrics in order to secure a conviction. Most, if not all of these cases tend to have some asinine accusations resulting from the use of violent rap lyrics. The conversation surrounding the use of rap lyrics as criminal evidence is whether or not the lyrics reflect the reality of the rapper or whether rap music is an artistic expression in which the creators, like literary authors,  are not to be assumed as directly related to any of the stories that they tell.

Rashee Beasley

Rashee Beasley

Jamal Knox

Jamal Knox

Jamal Knox and Rashee Beasley

Last month in Pittsburg, two amateur rappers were arrested on charges of threatening police, intimidating witnesses, and terrorist threats for a rap video that they released…wait for it…on Youtube. Police who had formerly arrested and/or engaged the two young men claimed that the Knox and Beasley’s lyrics were directed towards them. An example of some of the lyrics used in the song are, “Let’s kill these cops ’cause they don’t do us no good. Pulling your Glock, oh ’cause I live in the hood.” Both young men were sentenced to 1 to 3 years for their rap video.

Vonte Skinner

Vonte Skinner

Vonte Skinner

In New Jersey, Vonte Skinner who is accused of attempted murder had his rap lrics used in his trial. The Prosecutor read 13 pages of rap lyrics that Skinner had wrote 3 or 4 years prior to the incident in question. The prosecutors have stated that the rap lyrics were not the overwhelming evidence that was being used to convict Skinner. However, Skinner’s attorneys argue that the admission of his rap lyrics was a tool of the prosecution to prejudice the jury in regards to Skinner’s character and propensity to commit the crime in question. Skinner’s conviction was overturned in a 2 to 1 ruling of an appellate court that concluded that the use of prior written rap lyrics was similar to admitted evidence of prior committed crimes which is held under strict scrutiny as to when and how such evidence can be used in court. The court declared that rap lyrics must be used with similar caution when they are used as evidence. The case has been taken to the Supreme Court for final judgment.

Antwain Steward

Antwain Steward aka Twain Gotti

Antwain Steward aka Twain Gotti

This month a young rapper, Antwain Steward,who uses the stage name Twain Gotti, was arrested on two counts of murder for a crime that happened four years. A murder case that was closed unsolved in 2007 for lack of evidence and/or leads was reopened last year when Steward released a Youtube video of a song that Police officers assert served as Steward’s admission of the crime through his boastful, violent lyrics that made reference to having gotten away with a murder. Steward will be going to trial in Virginia in May. Steward’s case has gained to the attention of a number of individuals who have concerns about the precedences that courts are setting by allowing rap lyrics to serve as evidence and in Steward’s case a confession.

The Problem

The major problem is that this kind of prosecution perverts the First Amendment, in which we are guaranteed freedom of expression. Prosecutors state that their use of rap lyrics as criminal evidence does not prevent rappers from writing. This is true; however, if that information can be used against them, then that negates the protection of the First Amendment. The reason that police officers must read individuals their Miranda rights is because at that point the individual is being taken into custody due to the probability of them having committed a crime. A person in custody does not have the same rights as a citizen who is not suspected of criminal activity, therefore they are warned that anything they say can and will be used against them. If the suggestion is that we should all walk around using this kind of caution in our speech and expression, then we are all always in custody. That sounds like oppression if not slavery.

The Point

The ACLU has submitted a brief to the Supreme Court to urge them to tighten the requirements for the admission of rap lyrics as trial evidence. The ACLU’s ultimate stance is that rap lyrics should be covered under the First Amendment of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech.

Our point is there should be heightened scrutiny

– Ezra D. Rosenberg, ACLU

The government has been slowly expanding its power to control, manipulate, dictate, and disregard the Constitutional rights of American citizens. Whether or not we like gangster rap or oppose the use of violent lyrics, this is much deeper than that and the effects will be felt more broadly than just the Hip Hop culture. If the government can pick and choose song lyrics and Youtube videos as a smoking gun to convict us of crimes, then we better begin to watch what we post on Facebook, Instagram, Vine, and any other social media outlet. If there’s a gun found in rap lyrics, the only smoke that it has was planted by the prejudice of the court. It’s becoming apparent that when the police are looking for a suspect and the courts are looking for a conviction, Freedom of Speech is an expendable privilege.

Im not sayin; Im Just Sayin,

An Angry Black Man

 

This series explores the ways in which the predominating forces in this country are trying to force the country into a “post-race” era despite the country’s lack of achievements in racial equality. The end result will be a disarming of the disenfranchised and an increase in loopholes for which prejudice and racism will begin to prevail.

The Story

 As much as the mainstream would to believe that America is moving into an era post racism, everything about our society illustrates that we are far from that reality.

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Chart created from 2010 census data by Matt Bruenig

So, then I wonder how anyone can imagine that America is ready for a post-race thing. It’s certainly an enchanting fantasy or maybe even an ideal to reach for, but we must never think that it is reality. The above chart generates a question that the answer to which does not lend itself to the concept of post-race ideology. The first question the chart creates is how and why is it possible (if all races are on an equal platform for opportunity) for White people who make up 64% of the United States population control 88% of the country’s wealth? If the answer to that question is some reference to the cultural deficiency of any particular group, then that suggestion in itself reeks of racism in its truest form. If the answer is that White people have historically been the dominant class and therefore that wealth has survived and/or increased through the generations, then again we draw the conclusion that there’s a problem there and it depends upon race.

However, I have thought about what society would be like if we as a country decide that we have conquered our race issues. I recently ran across an article published in Vibe magazine and I thought, that’s what will happen if we begin to believe that we live in a post-race society.

Vibe magazine published an article offering advice on “How To Apologize For A Racist Moment.”  They called it channelling Olivia Pope in crisis management. The advice was given by Melissa Agnes, crisis management expert. She takes several real life examples of racist remarks that garnered an individual negative publicity. As I read through the article my stomach turned.

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The Problem

The first issue I took with the article was the the fact that it made the discussion of public racism a conversatinoal topic such as one might have in the breakroom with a co-worker. The article calls these incidents “racial faux pas.” Seriously, faux pas?? And the advice that is offered by the crisis management expert is standard Public Relations damage control strategy. So we are now going to say that racist slips are more PR than Freudian? The entire article trivializes the struggle against racism and devalues the reality of racist oppression.

The other issue is the fact that this article was published in a Black publication. It’s as if the Black community is saying it’s okay if you slip up and verbally call me a nigger the way you have been doing mentally all you have to do is clean up the image of the context. In one advisement Agnes addresses the mishap of Miguel who ranted on twitter that “Black people are the most judgmental people in the world.” Agnes’ advice was that Miguel didn’t have to apologize if he swiftly explaining why he said what he said. She states: “he didn’t have to apologize. He opened the door for an intellectual conversation.” Let me mention here that I have never been sure that I would classify Miguel’s statement as racist given that he is bi-racial. However, Agnes’ advice for this mishap is supposed to be able to apply to other contexts and what it suggests is that sometimes it is okay to not apologize for racist comments. So is this to imply that angry responses to racism are an emotional issue??

 The Point

There is something very disturbing about a Black publication encouraging the notion that racist statements are minor oopsies for which a little damage control and public relations savvy can remedy. Of all angles to take on this subject they chose some corny gimmick (the play off Scandal) that actually promotes the neutralizing – not eradicating – of racial discrimination.

We are on a slippery slope in the struggle battle against racism and the struggle against post-racial ideology. This could not have been a worse time to present such notions to the world. Certainly to some this may seem like not a big deal but it will be a big deal because it is indicative of what can be expected if those supporters of a post race society are successful. If the idea that America, right now, is a post racial society becomes an accepted notion, then we will have reduced the conversation about racism to minor faux pas that can be cleaned up with savvy PR tactics.

I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man

 

 

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The Story
This tale begins with a revolution. Thirteen British colonies decided to reject the authority of Parliament and break from the empire. The motivation was a wave of liberal thinking that refused to support the aristocracies of Britain. This was the American Revolution which resulted in the Declaration of Independence and the establishment of the United States of America.
The ideology that fueled the revolution and set the tone for the national identity of the United States is best described by the philosophers of the time:
To understand political power right, and derive it from its original, we must consider, what state all men are naturally in, and that is, a state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and person, as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave, or depending upon the will of any other man.
A state also of equality, wherein all the power and jurisdiction is reciprical, no one having more than another; there being nothing more evident, than that creatures of the same species and rank, promiscuously born to all the same advantages of nature, and the use of the same faculties, should also be equal to one amongst another without subordination or subjection, unless the lord and master of them all should, by any manifest declaration of his will set one above another and confer on him by an evident and clear appointment, an undoubted right to dominion and sovereignty.
– John Locke, Second Treatise of Civil Government
But there is another and great distinction for which no truly natural or religious reason can be assigned, and that is the distinction of men into KINGS and SUBJECTS. Male and female are the distinctions of nature, good and bad the distinctions of Heaven; but how a race of men came into the world so exalted above the rest, and distinguished like some new species, is worth inquiring into, and whether they are the means of happiness or of misery to mankind.
                     – Thomas Paine, Common Sense
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It was the revolutionaries hope to convince and assure the colonists that there was no reason that they should be held under the will of Great Britain. They sought to do so by dismantling the notion of aristocracy and the ‘God-given right to rule.’ In order to do so, they took a stance on society that suggested that all men are created equal by natural design. Once independence was achieved, the United States continued to develop their national identity according to the ideology that had won their independence. This is how we can see the appropriateness of the poem that was placed onto the Statue of Liberty:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
– Emma Lazarus, New Colossus
It is then easy to see why the United States would create a national identity that is built on being a refuge for the oppressed. The United States fashioned itself as a global crusader of justice and equality.
Imperialist White-Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy
(4:26 – 8:41)

This term was coined by Bell Hooks to describe the interlocking systems of oppression that are all functioning simultaneously at all times. Hooks’ genius has offered us a completely revolutionary way to think about our place in society. Often we stratify the systems of oppression in society and choose to place those that directly affect us at the top of the list. However, at all times, all of these forms of oppression are at work and an individuals place in society is affected in some way by these systems. It is these systems that make up the framework for the America’s national identity. In order for any American to understand their station in this country, they must at all times consider the systems at work and the way that they affect every person living within them.

One of the most important things to remember when discussing American Nationalism is to remember that it is not actually about identity in the way we would usually think of it. Often we think of individuals as having identities. So we think about imperialism, white-supremacy, capitalism, and patriarchy as aspects of individuals personalities or the things that certain individuals do. This is incorrect. These things are social systems.
The crucial thing to remember about patriarchy or any other social system is that it’s something that people participate in. It’s an arrangement of shared understandings and relationships that connect people to one another and something larger than themselves.
– Allan G. Johnson, Patriarchy, the System
American Nationalism is formed through social systems which require participation is significant because it then suggests that without social acceptance, these systems will fail. In order to gain social acceptance from individuals institutions, such as family, religion, academia, legal systems, and mass media, are infused with the characteristics of American Nationalism. Then the institutions convince individuals to believe in and buy into American Nationalism of their own free will.
The Problem

The fact that the United States sought to create a national identity was not the problem — that part is logical for a fledgling country. The problem is that America sought to force its identity upon its inhabitants and its ideology on the world. America required. It was originally thought that the United States would unify the oppressed peoples of the world and give them a place where they could be treated as human beings. It was expected that the people who fled to the United States would adopt the national identity in place of their own ethnic heritage.

The power of American Nationalism, for its defenders, is that it has enabled the “widening of we.” — This process allowed for the incorporation of not-quite-white, but not-quite-not-white Irish, Jewish, and Southern and eastern European immigrants into the canons of whiteness through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries making them Americans first in a legal and then in a cultural sense.
– Nikhil Pal Singh, Black is a Country
It was expected that there would be a universal American identity that all citizens would  want to ascribe to. Much like their British predecessors, the American forefathers never once considered that any ideology other than their own could be right. They believed that everyone would want to ascribe to their philosophies. When they didn’t; America forced them. The problem is that American nationalism is about domination: dominating the inhabitants, dominating the economic market, dominating women, dominating non-White races, and dominating foreign countries. America may have begun as a crusader of oppressed people but somewhere along the line America became the very thing that the original colonists had sought to oppose.
The Point
Any American seeking to explore the truth about who and where they are in this country must begin with an understanding of who this country is. This brief account of the development of American Nationalism is by no mans all encompassing; however it provides a rudimentary understanding of who America is and how we came to be who we are.
When we explore where we began and the intentions that we began with, we can then explore where we are and the huge disparity between the two. This contradiction in the American identity is crucial to understanding, on an individual level, why various individuals are where they are and why it seems that they can never escape the circumstances surrounding their situation. It is because despite what the American philosophy espouses about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness the truth is that the systems that are holding this country together are in complete opposition to those ideals. Those systems are about limitations, control, and reproduction of the system.
We have to constantly critique imperialist white-supremacist patriarchal culture because it is normalized by mass media and rendered unproblematic.
– Bell Hooks, Homegrown: Engaged Cultural Criticism
Americans in general are fairly ignorant in regards to international relations and, therefore, usually have no idea what America looks like in the eyes of the world. We assume — because we are socialized to — that America is a great world leader with global power that is undeniable. Perhaps at one time. What we have become is a global bully with delusions of grandeur. And much of what the individual feels on a personal level is a backlash of the pushing of an international and national agenda that America has to tell the world — including its own citizens — one thing and to behave as another. And every act of activism in this country is about holding America accountable for the promises that it has made; about reminding America of how far she has fallen from her admirable beginnings, in the hopes that she will see the error of her ways and return to those ambitious hopes upon which she was built.
I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,
An Angry Black Man
References
Hooks, Bell. Homegrown: Engaged Cultural Criticism. South End Press. February 2006.
Johnson, Allan G. Patriarchy, the System.
Paine, Thomas. Common Sense.
Lazarus, Emma. New Colossus.
Singh, Nikhil Pal. Black is a Country: race and the unfinished struggle for democracy. First Harvard University Press. 2004.

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The Story

Since Republicans hostile take over of the United States government ended in futility, they have now decided to slander the Affordable Care Act to death.

There has been a massive media assault on the bill attributed to President Barack Obama and derogatorily called “Obamacare.” Part of the reason there has been such an assault on the new legislation is that America has been in need of healthcare reform for decades and while many have taken up the cause, President Obama has been the only one to make any substantial step towards achieving the goal. In short President Obama is creating a legacy beyond just being the first Black person elected to the highest office of America. The right wing may not be able to take his racial identification and the damn sure couldn’t take his second term so now they are attacking the man’s legacy (because far be it that the only Black man to be elected president might actually be qualified, able, and proven to have been worthy of the position. It would sit better for them to write him off in history as an affirmative action case — he got it because we were in need of diversity on the presidential roll call and he slipped in under lower standards).

However, party politics aside, this fight against the Affordable Care Act unveils a much bigger problem for the American public: ignorance. A problem the people have had for years and it has allowed politicians and policy makers to rule unchecked and has led to the collapse of our economy, a recession, gulf of disparity in class differences, and a resurgence of racial tensions.

Obamacare

“Once it’s working really well, I guarantee you they will not call it Obamacare”

– President Barack Obama

The term Obamacare was coined by the GOP to discredit the legislation and distance it from what it really is: healthcare reform (much needed reform at that). However, President Obama embraced the term in order to steal the sting of the punch the GOP was throwing. President Obama’s main concern was being able to relay to people how he intended to reform healthcare and if that meant using the term that the GOP created and the media was throwing around, then so be it. But the point to recognize in this is that the creation and acceptance of that term has allowed the right wing to do just what they wanted to do: distract the public from the intention of the bill. The bill is very appropriately called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The name is not creative but it gets the point across. This bill is meant to protect the American people from the healthcare institutions that have all but held them hostage for the past few decades. The bill is meant to empower the people and give them some leverage in deciding how to care from themselves. Instead of being beholden to some high price, scrutinizing, forever denying HMOs that specialize in finding reasons to not cover medical expenses to people who give money out of their hard earned paychecks, now the people would have choices and the power to say ‘if you don’t give me the care I need, I will go elsewhere.’

But the attention is placed on President Obama himself. Obamacare makes everyone believe that this is solely President Obama’s legislation (as if he could pass a bill without it going through the House and Senate). By calling it Obamacare, highlighting the flaws of the bill, manufacturing crisis, and using fear tactics to scare some of the American people into believing that this one bill could destroy the country, people are focusing on President Obama and their critique of his tenure as president instead of looking at the legislation and evaluating it on its own merit. I don’t imagine the bill is perfect. I’m certain it has its flaws and kinks to be worked out, but what I know is that we have been promised healthcare reform for a long time and now its finally here. We can definitely critique the bill and challenge it to be better but we can’t do that by refusing to accept it or by thinking that denying the bill is going to make some new and better legislation appear out of nowhere. We gotta start somewhere.

The Problem

One problem is that most people who oppose The Affordable Care Act do not even know the details of the bill.

As demonstrated by Jimmy Kimmell. Did you see the looks of disgust as they talked about how they hated “Obamacare” and they couldn’t even explain why. This is the kind of damage that is done by the propaganda that Republicans are perpetuating.

According to a poll conducted by the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation, many Americans want the elements that are in the Affordable Care Act and are not aware of how many healthcare changes, that they favor, are included in this bill.

ACA8

Tax credits for small businesses to buy insurance: 88% in favor, but only 52% are aware that this is included.

Closing the Medicare drug benefit doughnut hole: 81% in favor, but only 46% are aware that this is included.

Extension of dependent coverage to offspring up to age 26: 76% in favor, 69% are aware that this is included.

Expanding Medicaid: 71% in favor, 59% are aware that this is included.

Ban on exclusions for preexisting conditions: 66% in favor, 53% are aware this is included.

Employer mandate: 57% in favor, 71% are aware this is included.

Extension to the age of 26 for children to be covered by parents’ insurance: 76% in favor, 69% are aware that this is included.

Subsidy assistance to individuals who cannot afford coverage: 76% in favor, 62% are aware that this is included.

Individual mandate penalty: 40% in favor, 74% are aware this is included.

What this data shows is that aside from the 2 or 3 elements that the right wing continues to use to vilify the Affordable Care Act, most Americans are unaware of what is included. And many of the things that we have wanted are included in this law. That is a problem in and of itself.

Fugitives of Justice

What a republicans are not saying in their slandering sound bites is that most of the faults they are finding with The Affordable Care Act are not flaws within the legislation but the egregious acts that are being taken by businesses to avoid complying with the demands of the law. These demands are made because for decades businesses have made no moves towards offering their employees affordable quality healthcare coverage. The law forces them to offer a myriad of options for employees to choose from. Instead these businesses have decided to punish employees by reducing their hours, canceling insurance plans and other measures to avoid adhering to the requirements.

There is a mandate within the legislation that requires a company with more than 50 employees to offer all employees who work at least 30 hours week health coverage.

Stores such as a Forever 21 have told employees that it planned to reduce hours and reclassify some full time workers as part time. Sea World has decided to cap part time hours at 28 hours a week instead of 32. Trader Joe’s and Home Depot have decided to stop offering part time employees medical coverage. A survey by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans published last month, found that 15% of large employers (50 or more employees) and 20% of smaller employers had plans to adjust hours so that fewer employees qualify for full-time medical insurance under the ACA.

Investors.com released a list of businesses by state that are reacting to the Affordable Care Act by attacking their employees. so while the right wing suggests that President Obama and the Affordable Care Act are responsible for the egregious reduction of fulltime workers in the employment market, the truth is the companies are responsible because they are refusing to be accountable and responsible employers and offer their employees much needed access to healthcare.

The Point

“A nation of well-informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved, it is in the region of ignorance that tyranny begins.”

– Benjamin Franklin

Americans have become so blissfully ignorant that we do not actually take the time to get the facts and draw our own conclusions before we start taking sides and throwing punches. That is why the controlling powers in this country have gotten to be so strong and threaten the very existence of this republic. If we would take the time to become more informed and not rely on the soundbites and talking heads of pundits who twist the facts to support their own political agenda, we could turn our anger onto the people who deserve it and at least offer our support where it is most needed. We cannot just see the Affordable Care Act as it is…why have to be able to envision what it could be with some tweaks and improvements.

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I know we are all busy: we have lives and obligations. And I know that for many in this country day-to-day survival is like having a second full-time job. But this is not the time for ignorance. This is not the time to tire of seeking and acquiring information. The future of our country is in our hands and if we cannot find the time or the passion to give a damn about what’s really going on, well, then if we really want to see who’s responsible we need look no further than the nearest mirror. This is our country. We are all responsible for the way it is and the way it will be.

I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man

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So, here we are in 2013, in the middle of a recession and the government is what? Shutdown!

The Historical Facts about the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)

I do try to be diplomatic. So on that note, let’s start with the facts. In February of 2009, President Obama announced his intention to reform healthcare for the United States. Throughout the year of 2009, President Obama negotiated with Republicans on what should go into the new healthcare bill.

By December 2009, despite opposition from Senate Republicans, the bill passed through in a 60-39 vote. After a year long debate in the House of Representatives, the bill was passed in a 219-212 vote in March 2010. President Obama signed the bill into law that same month. In August of 2011 the 11th Circuit Court ruled that parts of the law were unconstitutional. The law is appealed and the United State Court of Appeals ruled that the law was constitutional. Then a petition took the law to the Supreme Court (the highest court of our land) and after 3 days of debate in June 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the law was constitutional, therefore, making it officially a law.

That is how our legislative process works. All legal and constitutional efforts that could be taken in opposition of the Affordable Care Act (derogatorily called Obamacare) were taken. In spite of President Obama stating in 2009 that he did not want healthcare reform to wait another year, he allowed Republicans to fight the bill for 2 years. Ofcourse, this was in the interest of bipartisanship and allowed the opportunity for Republicans to express their concerns. However, those concerns and objections were dismissed. That was over a year ago.

Conservative Objections to The Affordable Care Act

Conservatives, ever the dog carrying a bone, just won’t let go. They continue to object to The Affordable Care Act with ambiguity. While they argue that it is unwise spending and that it calls for a raise in taxes, they have not explained how better to fund the bill. They most definitely do not discuss the fact that the bill calls for a gradual raise in taxes that takes place before the scheduled spending that the bill requires. This means that the taxes would pay for the spending and will not actually increase the debt or our general spending.

Conservatives also argue that the bill represents “socialized medicine” and “big government.” Both of these terms are merely propaganda to provoke negative public opinion. The truth is that our government already is big and many of the issues conservatives lobby for actually offer more power to the government (i.e. making abortion illegal, making birth control ineligible for insurance coverage, banning sagging pants). “Big government” as they call it is not necessarily a bad thing, given the irresponsibility of most of our institutions…have we forgotten how this recession began and the collapse of Wall Street.

The Problem

In recent efforts to thwart the already effective law, Republicans have staged a coup to force The White House to defund, derail, or in some way dismantle the bill. Because the Obama Administration refuses to make any revisions to the bill, the Republican-dominated Senate is refusing to fund the government until the Democrat-dominated House of Representatives approves amendments to the bill (one suggestion delays the enactment of the law for another year).

For the first time since 1995, the government is “shutdown.” This means that 800,000 government employees will be sent home without pay. Government employees who work in agencies that are deemed essential will continue to work; however, their paychecks will be delayed.

When questioned about these extremist actions, Republicans spout a righteously indignant rant about protecting the will of the American people; however, the facts contradict this philosophy.

The facts shown through polling data expose the 2 major Republican lies that are their only defense for dragging the country into this condition.

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A poll taken by CNBC on the night before the shutdown began showed that 38% of the country opposes The Affordable Care Act and 44% is in favor of the bill. Hence, the majority of the American people want the act (Republican lie #1).

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The poll also showed that of the 38% who oppose the bill 19% were willing to the government shutdown in order to defund the bill and 59% did not want such an extreme action taken just to oppose The Affordable Care Act. Hence, the majority of Americans who agree with Republicans view if the bill are not in favor of these tactics (Republican lie #2).

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The Point

What Republicans are doing is actually unconstitutional. It is an act of treason and/or sedition against the country. Quite honestly once this battle is resolved I think those officials responsible should be tried in court for their actions.

In order to have “small government” the general social consensus would have to include some measure if social responsibility that would inspire people to do “the right thing.” However in a capitalist country (where competition rules supreme), it almost impossible to foster the sense of community that would make people choose the greater good over their own interests; therefore, in a case like that the government had to force a social obligation such as what the Obama administration is doing with The Affordable Care Act. America is a long way off for have a majority interest in providing for and caring for the public. We use this antiquated notion about America being a place where anyone can make it to justify our selfishness and individualism. But how asinine is it to believe that country built on capitalist competition, ridden with prejudice and discrimination, and hellbent on selfish individualism has interest in the greater good of the people and can and will create a sense of unity and community. It can’t. The people’s best shot is having leaders like President Obama who can see beyond their own well being and fight for the interests of the people. I am not in favor of or pleased with the government shutdown but I do think Democrats should allow this country to fall face first before they give in to the Republicans. Those liars have proven that they would cut off their nose to spite their face.

I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man