Radley Balko has another stellar piece on Shaneen Allen, Race and Gun Control. Please read it, especially if you are a proponent of gun control.
Meanwhile, The Wingnut Collective in Richmond has a post about a new group called Anarcho-Rednecks Against Oppression (ARAO). They plan to go to gun shows and bring information about Copwatch, security culture, anti-racism, queerness, and other stuff. I’m looking forward to hearing the results.
ProPublica is doing a series of interviews for the anniversary of Freedom Summer. This one is of Rita Bender who was the wife of Michael Schwerner, one of the three civil rights workers killed working on a voting drive. Worth a read, if only because it isn’t all nostalgia and glory.
ProPublica is also starting an investigation into collection practices. If you have ever been sued over a debt, they want to talk to you.
You have probably all seen articles on those leaked documents that The Intercept got its hands on regarding the casual way our government has been labeling people terrorists. They aren’t just going after Muslims. You may have noted that property destruction is a terrorist act. However you feel about radical animal rights or environmental groups, do you really think kids who freed some minks are terrorists?
Accused terrorists in Bagram, that torture prison we have all forgotten about, have held numerous hunger strikes. And, over at Guantanamo, one mystery nurse with a bit of a conscience has refused to force feed hunger strikers.
Nobody at the Newark PD seems to be battling a conscience. The Justice Department report about the corruption, violence, racism, and theft in Newark is damning. Of course, nothing will actually change.
Much like nothing will happen to the prison guards at Rikers who beat on the mentally ill.
Here in DC, possession of a small amount of weed will just get you a fine. There was a lot of celebratory weed smoke in the air on the night that took effect. Of course, DC PD would like to remind you that they will still be arresting your ass.
Finally, on a positive note, this little video about the Emergence Community Arts Collective is great. That place is a treasure. Sylvia is great. If you live in DC you should support them. We need to keep this stuff from being killed by the gentrification. If you don’t live in DC, and you think it’s all military and political douchebags that live here, this is a short peek into what the actual city can be like.
A while back I came across this article about freeway removals. My first thought was – cool. My next thought was – I wonder what was there before the freeways. That got me thinking about Tulsa, Oklahoma.
For the Creeks, the trail of tears ended in what is now Tulsa. That tragedy of displacement is how Tulsa became part of Indian Territory. Some of those “Indians” who were driven to Oklahoma brought African descended slaves with them. Other black people came post reconstruction, trying to get a little land out from under the violence of the South. Some of those black immigrants were exodusters who set up entirely black communities in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Colorado. Mexican immigrants also arrived in larger numbers as the pre-civil war situation in Mexico became more dire.
The thing about small places with few riches and loose rules is that they tend to open up space for the kinds of relations that are forbidden and erased later. Our popular cultural narratives whiten everything so thoroughly. We think we are looking at the white supremacy of the past. And we are. But we are looking at it through the white supremacy of the present. When you actually read honest sources about “frontier towns” and early contact, you almost inevitably find that things were much more complicated and diverse than we are led to believe.
All of which is to say that early Tulsa wasn’t segregated. Several of the downtown businesses were owned by black people. But by the time Oklahoma got statehood in 1907, six years after oil was discovered and after an influx of white immigrants, Tulsa was on its way to becoming the most segregated city in America. Miscegenation was a felony. Blacks were required to take literacy tests before voting. Lynchings like that of Laura Nelson, who was gang raped before being hung with her young son, were photographed and advertised to terrify black people.
(Amazing what starts happening when somebody discovers oil and all the greedy shitbags in the world start descending on a place. I believe we are now referring to this as the “resource curse.”)
Two black men had purchased a bunch of Tulsa property at the turn of the century and sold parcels of it to other black people. The idea was to set up a black community that could provide some security and mutual support. That community became the Greenwood District. People referred to Greenwood as “The Black Wall Street.” But most people were far from rich. Many were dependent on the white families they worked for as domestics. Much like in poor, urban, black neighborhoods today; city services were nonexistent.
(If you want to see who a city cares about, see which neighborhoods get their trash picked up.)
In 1921 Tulsa, the Drexel Building had one of the only bathrooms that black people could use in the downtown area. The elevator of the building was operated by a white girl named Sarah Page. A shoe-shine boy named Dick Rowland got into the elevator. Stories differ on what happened next. But Rowland was accused of assaulting Page. And that is when all hell broke loose. Rowland was arrested and the Tulsa Tribune front page announced “Negro assaults a white girl!”
I won’t go into how often the black rapist lie has been used to justify atrocities. I’ve written about it before and probably will again. But I genuinely wonder if anyone has ever tried to compile a list of all the horrors that start out with some supposed violation of a white woman. That is never the real story, of course.
The real story is that Tulsa was a cesspool of racism. Also, by 1921, there was an active labor movement that was striking all over the place and powerful people were antsy. Black people who had served in WWI were coming home and expecting to be treated human. They were also armed and trained. In short, people were standing up for their rights.
So when rumors of a lynching started and a crowd of white people gathered in front of the courthouse and refused to disperse, the black community was not going to just hide. Black people in Greenwood, including veterans, got together to talk about how they could prevent a lynching. At 7:30, 30 armed black people went to the courthouse but were sent off by the black deputy. A couple hours later, 25 armed black people returned and demanded Rowland. By this time, Rowland’s innocence was confirmed by the accuser, but he supposedly couldn’t be released until a judge was available in the morning.
Later that night, white people started arming themselves and tried to break into an armory. Armed blacks followed. There was a struggle when a white man tried to get a black man’s gun from him. Black Tulsans retreated to the Greenwood District. There was fighting in the streets. The national guard was called in. “Deputized” white men roamed all over the city robbing stores and taking the law into their own hands. Greenwood was invaded. Homes were looted and set on fire. Airplanes few overhead. Many black witnesses say that those airplanes were dropping bombs on the city. Officials deny it to this day. Pictures of the aftermath speak for themselves.
Nobody has an accurate death toll from the riot. Some estimates go into the hundreds. But black Tulsans were not allowed to bury their dead. People don’t even know what happened to the bodies, though archeaologists have been trying to find out. Nobody faced consequences for the destruction. Donations were rejected by the city, which provided no help to those who tried to rebuild. Instead the city passed ordinances to make rebuilding difficult, worked on rezoning the area, and gave land away to whatever industry came along.
The history of the riots was completely erased by white Tulsa. School children knew nothing about it. No mention was made by officials. Then in the 1950s, as with so many other communities that the power structure found inconvenient, Greenwood was wiped out for an expressway.
Back when I was going to Tulsa quite often, I learned about the riots and decided to go see the area. That is how I found myself standing under a desolate highway overpass wondering how Oklahoma’s version of a pogrom could warrant so little attention. And that is why, when I hear about all these groovy projects for green spaces and bike lanes and farmers markets, I wonder what stood there before and how it was chased off.
Places change. People move on. Others move in. Buildings need to be replaced. Priorities change. But nobody should proceed as if the past never happened, much less actively work to erase it. All over, for as long as we have records and right up to the present, this violence and erasure keeps happening. Maybe you call it colonialism or gentrification or urban renewal or land grabbing. It’s all the same shit. People are killed. They are forced out. They are erased and their culture, history, and struggle is erased with them.
We always need to be asking what and who was there before. There is no hope of acting justly without understanding where we are now and how we got here.
Much of the info for this article came from James Hirsch’s book Riot and Remembrance: The Tulsa Race War and Its Legacy. Bit of the background came from Danney Goble’s book Tulsa: Biography of the American City.
There have been a slew of articles lately about how services like Airbnb and Lyft signal the “rise of the sharing economy.” Forbes says it is “unstoppable” and includes a cover that asks “Who wants to be a billionaire?” The Wall Street Journal profiles Airbnb’s founder as a young upstart who is rocking the boat of all those stodgy hotel chains. The economist wants cities and their pesky worrywarts to get out of the way.
Maybe the most interesting piece was in Wired. Wired thinks that this “sharing economy” has gotten people to trust each other. After all, as one Lyft driver said “It’s not just some person off the street.” These people have Facebook accounts and credit cards. They have online ratings. It isn’t like they are picking up hitchhikers (god forbid) or a person so poor they don’t have a MasterCard (gasp). These people must be o.k. right? You won’t be picking up anyone sketchy like John Waters.
And then there is this
Lyft cofounder John Zimmer goes so far as to liken it to time he spent on the Oglala Sioux reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. “Their sense of community, of connection to each other and to their land, made me feel more happy and alive than I’ve ever felt before,” he says. “I think people are craving real human interaction—it’s like an instinct. We now have the opportunity to use technology to help us get there.”
You know what. People are craving real human interaction, but a ride that you pay somebody for is not that. Is Zimmer claiming that the connection to the land he romanticizes was brought about by fee for service car rides? Am I really supposed to listen to some millionaire wax nostalgic about time spent on a reservation with the lowest life expectancy in the country and teen suicide rates 150% higher than the U.S. national average?
Kevin Roose’s response to Wired was that The Sharing Economy Isn’t About Trust, It’s About Desperation. Roose is right that the economy sucks, but I would hardly call the people profiled in the articles above “desperate.” If you have a luxury car or a house in San Francisco to rent out and you think you are desperate, you lead a very sheltered life.
In The Case Against Sharing, Susie Cagle describes how someone at a conference of these sharing economy climbers actually had the nerve to quote Audre Lorde. But when labor researcher Veena Dubal told them that rideshare companies contribute to a culture of precarious work and are therefore hurting workers, the reaction from these sharers was less than generous.
These companies are just exploiting our desire for connection and co-opting the real sharing and solidarity economies. Renting is not sharing. A business model that makes a couple of people billionaires and chases thousands of out of a city through gentrification on overdrive is not an economic model that should be romanticized. And there is absolutely nothing new about an economy based on sharing. It is a hell of a lot older than the economy we have now.
Gift economies are ancient. Workers started talking about workplace democracy since they started experiencing the workplace. Mutual aid societies have been essential survival tools for people all over the world. What are interesting and front page worthy are not the billionaire stories. What we should be paying attention to is the growth of the solidarity or social economy.
When artists start a co-op bed and breakfast in New York so that they can survive as artists, that is attention worthy. So is a time bank in Maine or a free store in Baltimore. What about hundreds of people gathering in Jackson to talk about “cooperative restaurants, child and elder care coops, cooperative grocery stores, cooperative factories, farms and more, all collectively owned and democratically managed by the same workers who deliver the service and create the value.”
Don’t be distracted by these “sharing” businesses that make a lot of money for their founders and a little bit of money for the relatively well off. Their new economy is the same as the old one. It leaves most people out in the cold – literally. The real sharing economy isn’t making anyone a billionaire. The real sharing economy means genuine relationships, workplace democracy, and social justice.
You might know by now that I stay on the Heritage Foundation email list for my daily dose of bullshit induced rage. Today’s rage comes courtesy of secret videos filmed in Planned Parenthood offices. They are very similar to the ones that took down Acorn. This time they are sending young women in to pose as underage girls who ask for advice about BDSM.
These are some really slimy tactics. And the anti BDSM scaremongering is repugnant. The people who work at PP are clearly trying to be non-judgmental to their patients. But they are also clearly not giving good advice. Nobody in their right mind should tell anyone of any age to read Fifty Shades of Grey for sex ideas. If you want to know why, feel free to check out the serial review of that monstrous book on The Pervocracy or this shorter (and hilarious) Goodreads review by Katrina Passick Lumsden.
As slimy as these tactics are, they are not wrong that these people are giving bad advice. Of course, I have very different ideas about what good sex advice would be.
This is going to go very badly for Planned Parenthood.
Next month I’ll be stopping in Phili for a quick minute at the anarchist book fair. Anybody else going?
Activists in Detroit are blocking the trucks that are sent out to shut off people’s water for nonpayment.
Cecily McMillan, the OWS activist who went to prison describes what it is like to be at the mercy of prison guards.
Bruce Reilly talks about how people treat you after you get out of prison.
And this ColorLines piece goes into even more detail about how hard it is to get work without connections and with all kinds of prejudices against you.
This guy managed to kick a drug habit, get off the streets, and get a law degree. But he cannot practice law in Florida because of his felony record.
There is a petition you can sign to support the people in prison in Pennsylvania who are asking for the most basic nutrition and rights.
People incarcerated in Georgia were getting sick after maggots were found in their food.
Thousands went on a hunger strike last month in Greek prisons.
A good summary on Balko’s blog of how parents are being targeted by the criminal injustice system.
Too bad that 1920s movement to outlaw flirting didn’t come to pass. Think of how many more we could have in prison.
This is essay about the writer’s rape – the male writer’s rape – is a must read.
You know how I wrote a while back that Cooperation is the Problem? Well, there is now science to prove that “more agreeable,conscientious personalities are more likely to make harmful choices.”
You might want to run your old phones over with a tractor. Or stop taking dick pics.
Buying homes is for rich people, really rich people.
The Department of Defense’s spending includes more than $380 million on erectile dysfunction drugs, $238 million on testosterone therapy drugs, at least $2.7 billion on antidepressants, more than $1.6 billion on opioid painkillers, and more than $507 million on Ambien and its generic equivalents.
I have to admit that I am someone who complains about bikers a lot. Yesterday, for instance, I lost it when some dumbass on a bike cut off a fire truck with its sirens on. But I must admit that this piece on Why Bikes Make Smart People Say Dumb Things makes some very good points.
And finally. Never, ever give money to the Red Cross.