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robertogreco : ferguson   27

Cornel West on state of race in the U.S.: "We're in bad shape" - CBS News
[via: "Showed kids 60 Minutes with Cornel West last night. ("I'm unimpressed by smartness.") http://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-cornel-west-on-race-in-the-u-s/ "
https://twitter.com/ablerism/status/711908596540379136

"+ See also West on Mandela: "a militant tenderness, subversive sweetness and radical gentleness." http://www.cornelwest.com/nelson_mandela.html "
https://twitter.com/ablerism/status/711908847695368192 ]

"Cornel West is a different kind of civil rights leader. His below-the-radar presence at racial flash points across America recently, stands in stark contrast to many of the more traditional civil rights leaders and their bright light press conferences.

Some of the new generation of African-American activists seem to be gravitating towards West, a charismatic academic scholar who doesn't lead an organization or have an entourage.

Cornel West has a message about how poor and disadvantaged Americans are being treated today and he can be searingly provocative on matters of race, never more so than when he criticizes President Obama.

Cornel West: When I call the president a black puppet of Wall Street, I was really talking about the degree to which Wall Street had a disproportionate amount of influence on his policies as opposed to poor people and working people.

James Brown: Why use such harsh language with-- showing no respect for the office of the president?

Cornel West: I tend to be one who just speaks from my soul, and so what comes out sometimes is rather harsh. In that sense I'm very much a part of the tradition of a Frederick Douglass or a Malcolm X who used hyperbolic language at times to bring attention to the state of emergency. So all of that rage and righteous indignation can lead one not to speak politely sometimes.

Eight years ago, Cornel West was a fervent supporter of candidate Barack Obama. Today, he blames the president for not doing more on issues like income inequality and racial justice. A product of the turbulent sixties, West has joined protests led by civil rights groups like Black Lives Matter. Here in Ferguson, Missouri, he was one of many arrested for civil disobedience.

James Brown: The young people who are leading the Black Lives Matter charge, you're all behind them?

Cornel West: Oh, very much so. I think that's a marvelous new militancy that has to do with courage, vision. The fundamental challenge always is will their rage be channeled through hatred and revenge or will it be channeled through love and justice. You got to push 'em toward love and justice.

James Brown: Why do you think you have that kind of currency with young people?

Cornel West: They know that I take their precious lives seriously. When I go to jail in Ferguson and say quite explicitly, "I'm old school, and I want the new school to know that some of us old folk love y'all to death" and they hear that and say, "Well, dang, you know, we might not always-- agree with this brother, but this Negro looks like a fighter for justice."

[March: This is what democracy looks like. Justice!]

Nyle Fort: I think a lot of young people really gravitate towards him not only because he's a giant of an intellectual, he is somebody that you want to be around.

Nyle Fort is a 26-year-old activist and religion PhD student at Princeton. He first saw West speak at a rally four years ago.

James Brown: The manner in which Dr. West has been criticizing the president. Your reaction?

Nyle Fort: I think it's important for us to listen to the substance of his argument. And I think that his critiques not just of President Obama, but of our current state of democracy in this country, the current state of the world, is something that we need to pay attention to.

A favorite on the lecture circuit, we were with him at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, when the crowd of 1,500 broke into applause before he said a word.

Then, for more than an hour, an extemporaneous journey filled with biblical passages and quotes from philosophers and poets about decency and virtue. All in support of West's warning about the dangers of inequality.

Cornel West: I have nothing against rich brothers and sisters. Pray for 'em every day. But callousness and indifference, greed and avarice is something that's shot through all of us.

Cornel West has diverse influences to say the least; crediting jazz giants John Coltrane and Sarah Vaughan with helping him understand human suffering. West sees civil rights pioneer, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel as one of the great treasures of the 20th century.

Cornel West: It's never a question of skin pigmentation. It's never a question of just culture or sexual orientation or civilization. It's what kind of human being you're going to choose to be from your mama's womb to the tomb and what kind of legacy will you leave.

Cornel West was born 62 years ago in Oklahoma, but grew up in Glen Elder -- a predominantly black neighborhood near Sacramento, California. He is the second of four children. His father, Clifton was a federal administrator and his mother, Irene was a teacher. They were a close-knit, church-going family.

Cornel West: I feel as if I have been blessed to undergo a transformation from gangster to redeemed sinner with gangster proclivities.

James Brown: You actually were a thug when you were a youngster?

Cornel West: Oh absolutely, I got kicked out of school when I was seven-- seven years old.

James Brown: Doing what, Dr. West?

Cornel West: I refused to salute the flag because my great uncle had been lynched with the flag wrapped around his body. So I went back to Sacramento and said, "I'm not saluting the flag." And teacher went at me and hit me, and I hit back. And then we had a Joe Frazier/Muhammad Ali moment right there in the third grade.

Clifton West: He was the only student I ever knew that came home with all As and had to get a whipping.

Clifton West is Cornel's brother, best friend and was his role model growing up. He says behind his little brother's bad behavior, was a relentlessly curious mind.

Clifton West: We had this bookmobile. And we would come out, and check out a book, and go on back in the house and start reading it. So Corn, at one point, I don't know how long it took, he had read every book in the bookmobile.

James Brown: Excuse me?

Clifton West: I don't know it had to be 200 books, easy. And the bookmobile man, who was a white guy, went to all the neighborhoods, little chocolate neighborhoods, saying, "There's this guy in Glen Elder that read every book in here."

Anecdotes like that convinced teachers to give their troubled student an aptitude test. West's recorded IQ: 168.

Cornel West: I got a pretty high score. So they sent me over all the way on the other side of town. Mom used to drive me all the way to school and then drive back to her school where she was teaching first grade.

The new school had a gifted program that challenged his mind and changed his behavior.

James Brown: Was that when you first grabbed hold of the notion that you were smart?

Cornel West: You know, I never really thought I was that smart. Because there was so many other folk in school that I was deeply impressed by. But I'll say this, though, that I've never really been impressed by smartness."
cornelwest  barackobama  race  2016  via:ablerism  love  activism  socialjustice  blacklivesmatter  generations  inequality  values  nylefort  jamesbrown  cliftonwest  eddieglaude  decency  virtue  callousness  indifference  greed  avarice  jazz  suffering  humanism  abrahamjoshuaheschel  life  living  legacy  religion  belief  ferguson  racialjustice  racism  civildisobedience  wallstreet  intellectualism  intellect  curiosity  poverty  policy  language  malcolmx  frederickdouglass  rage  indignation  civilrights  johncoltrane  wisdom  smartness  sacrifice  conformism  sarahvaughan 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Mask: To Be Young, Disaffected, and Black
"It’s been one year since the murder of Mike Brown in the suburban Midwest drew a fault line across the US. So much has been written on the subject, that I’ll spare you the retrospection and simply say that the militant uprising in Ferguson, MO following Mike’s killing represents a kind of historical milestone. Ferguson stands as the point in time after which all discussion about racialized extrajudicial police murder must also include a certain sympathy for the insurrection that will inevitably erupt.

A year later, I’m troubled by Mike’s ghost. Specifically, the specter of his figure in a graduation gown. For most white Americans in my peer groups, college was a kind of grand farce. A place they went. A concession to their parents for which they are deeply indebted. I can count on one hand the number of educated white people my age that I know who currently have a job that their undergraduate degree enabled. The education system and its financial structure are indisputably and profoundly broken. Yet, most of the discourse around racial inequality still holds education as the “way out” of the cycle of poverty for poor people of color. That’s what I was told, anyway. Post-secondary education is seen as a kind of missing ingredient in the “elevation” of communities of color, and a metric for how likely a person of color is to escape the hell of precarious service labor in a nation that measures economic recovery in Dunkin’ Donuts jobs.

This double-standard is fascinating. It’s as if Mike Brown’s murder was more tragic because he was robbed of the rare opportunity of escape, even though that escape was college, a farce under any other circumstance. “But he was about to escape!” We are not allowed even the apparition of escape.

*****

I was one of those kids who got good test scores but never did my homework. In secondary school, I tested into the advanced classes, but then got Ds. I can’t remember a single instance of handing in a piece of homework. It’s not that I hated school per se, I just didn’t see the point. I grew up in rural Middle America as a working class black kid in a mostly white town – we’re talking 95% white. I had a very dim view of what I could do with my life.

Eleven Augusts ago, I was sixteen and I spent all of my money on a one-way bus ticket to an international anarchist gathering in Iowa farmland. Stepping out of my little world, leaving behind the abjection of white conservative modesty and “well-meaning” racialized social constructions. What I experienced there changed my life forever. I returned home with plans to drop out of high school and drop out of whatever I was fated to become.

By the next January, I had left high school. I had left my hometown to publish radical literature (on newspaper in those days) in a larger adjacent city. I taught myself to design, to prepare files for offset printing, to distribute literature on the internet. I organized a nationwide tour of small nowhere towns like mine, to search for other kids like myself. The following summer, I was a seventeen-year-old anarchist criminal, eating from the garbage, fleeing the police, going on adventures with people I had just met. Meeting people all across the country who, like me, had decided to drop out in one form or another.

I spent the next ten years designing radical literature and producing websites to the same ends. Building community spaces, breaking little laws, orchestrating tensions. I was living from odd-job to odd-job, not really thinking about my career or education as contiguous or even existent. Yet, the whole experience left me with what I now realize is the most valuable piece of knowledge in life: You can teach yourself how to do anything that can be done.

That was the ethic of the DIY culture of the late 90s and early 2000s. It was a culture of thousands of kids – we organized show spaces, produced our own books and newspapers, maintained deep networks from city to city such that any wide-eyed young person could enter into it and travel from place to place, and find a couch, or guest bed, or boat to sleep on. These were the days before AirBnB, before “Do I know anyone in Boston?” Facebook posts. It was a dropout culture that has since scattered: disintegrated into young urban professionalism, entered into the seclusion of high political critique, or settled into lumpen criminality.

I count myself among the disintegrated. The skills I built during that era of my life happen to correspond with real jobs, real career opportunities. I’m a designer and developer, but more so I’m self-taught with a decade of experience, which these days is ironically much more valuable than a design or computer science degree. I can find work that interests and challenges me, and I can get paid. I have friends with master’s degrees who serve drinks, and when I think back on how much skepticism I got from loved ones for dropping out of high school and living the life that I did, it’s honestly bizarre.

*****

If I learned anything between chugging gallons of dumpster-dived carrot juice and stealing electricity from lamp-poles, it’s that dropping out prepares you to survive coming economic crises in ways you can’t even anticipate. Sure, I thought I was preparing for an imminent ecological collapse and can therefore make my own rope, compost, and weapons – but it also taught me how to build websites and distribute information quickly. That latter thing has proven to be more useful to me than guerrilla gardening was, and points to a more insidious reality about the “margins”. Namely, that being marginalized taught me more skills for surviving in the new economy than the education system could.

When the flames were finally extinguished at the QT convenience store in Ferguson a year ago, participants in the riots, neighbors, criminals, the criminalized, looters, church moms ... all came together in its wreckage to play music and celebrate the first true victory against police occupation of the era. The fantasy of every anarchist dropout for the last decade happened there on the streets of West Florissant.

I no longer agree that one can ever really “drop out” of society, nor that dedicating oneself to trying to is without its problematics. But I do know that attending that shady anarchist gathering when I was 16 saved my life, and dropping out of high school opened my world to a new possibility of life in opposition to authoritarian power. DIY anarchist punk can’t do that today, but something can. And should.

This is the Dropout Issue, where we tap our pencils, anxious for the bell to ring. We’ll take a close look at different dropout movements, personal accounts of student rebellions large and small. We’ll throw a side-eyed glance at economic assimilation, but glare equally suspiciously at those who think a new world is possible. Our elders will suggest that we “keep our doors open” and we will completely ignore that advice. Thanks for your patience with this late issue, the dog ate our homework."
tylerreinhard  youth  dropouts  education  race  us  society  anarchism  anarchy  economics  diy  ethics  work  labor  careers  unschooling  deschooling  culture  resilience  survival  margins  marginalization  disaffection  ferguson  highered  highereducation  poverty  class 
december 2015 by robertogreco
The Architecture of Segregation - The New York Times
"Fifty years after the creation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development — and nearly that long after the passage of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 — the fight against the interlinked scourges of housing discrimination and racial segregation in America is far from finished. Economic isolation is actually growing worse across the country, as more and more minority families find themselves trapped in high-poverty neighborhoods without decent housing, schools or jobs, and with few avenues of escape.

This did not happen by accident. It is a direct consequence of federal, state and local housing policies that encourage — indeed, subsidize — racial and economic segregation. Fair housing advocates have recently been encouraged by a Supreme Court decision and new federal rules they see as favorable to their cause. Even so, there will be no fundamental change without the dismantling of policies that isolate the poor and that Paul Jargowsky, a professor of public policy at Rutgers University-Camden, and others call the “architecture of segregation.”

As things stand now, federally subsidized housing for low-income citizens, which seems on its face to be a good thing, is disproportionately built in poor areas offering no work, underperforming schools and limited opportunity. Zoning laws in newer suburbs that rest on and benefit from infrastructure built with public subsidies prevent poor, moderate-income and minority families from moving in. Discriminatory practices exclude even higher income minority citizens from some communities.

The economic expansion of the 1990s brought wage increases and low unemployment, diluting poverty and cutting the number of people living in high-poverty neighborhoods by about 25 percent. Many policy experts believed at the time that the era of urban decay was coming to an end. But as Mr. Jargowsky observes, that’s not how things worked out. In a new analysis of census data, he finds that the number of people living in high-poverty slums, where 40 percent or more of the residents live below the poverty level, has nearly doubled since 2000.

Meanwhile, he writes, poverty has become more concentrated: More than one in four of the black poor, nearly one in six of the Hispanic poor and one in 13 of the white poor now live in a neighborhood of extreme poverty. Impoverished families are thus doubly disadvantaged — by poverty itself and by life in areas ravaged by the social problems that flow from it.

The Fair Housing Act was supposed to overcome these problems. But presidents in both parties declined to enforce it vigorously, and governments at all levels simply ignored it. No one knows that story better than former Vice President Walter Mondale, a co-sponsor of the act, who spoke eloquently at a fair housing conference at HUD on Tuesday.

“When high-income black families cannot qualify for a prime loan and are steered away from white suburbs, the goals of the Fair Housing Act are not fulfilled,” he said. “When the federal and state governments will pay to build new suburban highways, streets, sewers, schools and parks, but then allow these communities to exclude affordable housing and nonwhite citizens, the goals of the Fair Housing Act are not fulfilled. When we build most new subsidized housing in poor black or Latino neighborhoods, the goals of the Fair Housing Act are not fulfilled.”

Among the recent positive moves, in a June ruling the Supreme Court reminded state and local governments that housing discrimination is illegal even when unintentional and that the Fair Housing Act bars them from spending federal money in a manner that perpetuates segregation.

The following month, HUD ended decades of equivocation by issuing new rules under a provision of the act that requires state and local governments to “affirmatively further” fair housing goals by making legitimate efforts to replace “segregated living patterns with truly integrated and balanced living patterns.”

These actions, plus growing concern over racial isolation in places like Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, have inspired hope among fair housing advocates. But given the high social costs of entrenched segregation, governments at all levels must do far more."

[via: https://twitter.com/quilian/status/640508410325282816 ]
poverty  racism  realestate  zoning  us  segregation  discrimination  hud  housing  cities  urban  pauljargowsky  urbanplanning  fairhousingact  ferguson  baltimore  race  economics  politics 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Another case for museums as public forums | Public History Commons
"I have always thought of public history as a tool to assist us in mediating unchartered territory. More specifically, museums can serve as public forums to tackle persistent forms of oppression that have escaped clear resolve. This vision seems particularly relevant today. There is a wide gap between understanding the inaccessible civil liberties and rights black people struggled for and acknowledging operations of oppression that persist into the present day. Rather by willful ignorance, genuine unawareness, or fear, much of the American public lives in that gap. Through exhibits, collections, community outreach projects, and continued dialogue, museums can assist the public in mediating that gap where we have not gained much traction.

Following the election of the first black president, many members of the public entered a post-racial trance. Many Americans no longer felt a sense of urgency to deal with our country’s deepest moral ill. They believed Barack Obama’s election was the most convincing evidence of triumph over a racially contentious past. This trance was disrupted by highly publicized incidents of white police officers killing unarmed black males in Beavercreek, Ferguson, Staten Island, and Cleveland. Yet most museums remain disconnected, rather than navigating outside the status quo. Not making any moves may seem like an apolitical, objective, and conflict-free approach, but this approach is indeed problematic. It actually suggests an intentional silencing. Museums have demonstrated a pattern of actively muting uncomfortable conversations.

There seems to be a wave of museums attempting to engage more visitors with race in their interpretive plans, but this tendency to actively mute uncomfortable conversations still seems pretty loud. It became most noticeable when I began hosting a monthly Twitter conversation with a colleague, with the goal of dissecting how museums can respond to Ferguson.[1] In our first chat, many participants indicated that their employers gave them specific directions not to discuss race or the recent events. One even noted that she had never seen such a large group of people with some variation of a “views are my own” disclaimer on their Twitter profile page, drawing a clear delineation between the institution they worked for and their personal views.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the chat showed that museums, especially history museums, shy away from tackling contemporary events–especially controversial ones. A more critical dialogue would seek meaningful and long-lasting ways to incorporate current events that have deep-rooted pasts. Pushing that critical dialogue a step further would entail asking why contemporary issues dealing with race seem to be the first that museums mute.

[image]

The Twitter chat has highlighted some of the exemplary examples of museums that responded to Ferguson. We discussed the Missouri History Museum’s town hall meetings and their commitment to collecting Ferguson protest artifacts as significant steps to preserving and constructing a complete narrative for the future.[2] We have also discussed the Northwest African American Museum, primarily because it still produces meaningful conversations. Studying the Northwest African American Museum combats the popular excuse that certain museums should not address Ferguson because events in their community did not reflect what was going on there. Museums can help us navigate this uncharted land, demonstrating that what happened in Ferguson is not so far-fetched or foreign to other parts of the country. - See more at: http://publichistorycommons.org/another-case-for-museums-as-public-forums/#sthash.oVqHDt2A.dpuf

[image]

Museums can serve as forums. Rather than hiding from the controversy, they can facilitate conversations about the United States’ long history of excessive police force and racism. Mississippi’s Parchman Farm provides a compelling example. In Worse than Slavery, historian David Oshinsky’s examination of Parchman from the cotton-field chain gang days after the Civil War to the 1960s, Oshinsky argues that the American legal system never intended to punish those who exploit or murder black people. An institution notorious for its convict lease system, Parchman disproportionately incarcerated black males. Indeed, Michael Brown is not an isolated figure, and Ferguson, Missouri, (where despite having a nearly 70% black community, just three of fifty-three police officers and, until the municipal election on April 7, only one of six city council members were black) is not an outlier. Urban outlets across America experience a similar racial uneasiness bubbling just underneath the surface. Acknowledging this uneasiness, at the very least, provides the public with a truer and more useful narrative.

The blood of Amadou Diallo, Malcolm Ferguson, Timothy Thomas, Alberta Spruill, and Sean Bell–all unarmed black people killed by police within the last two decades–has spattered our contemporary history. Yet, community engagement programs rarely speak of their lives, and many people do not recognize their names. Collections, or the tactile representation of their experience, are scarce. There is no intellectual or practical integrity in leaving out these narratives. On the most basic level, regardless if the public believes their deaths were justified or not, they are all a part of a growing matrix of black people whose deaths have been protested in a desperate call for a recalibrated justice system. It is impractical for museums to start or maintain relevance with the black community while dismissing one of their most salient issues since Jim Crow. By joining the conversation as listeners, then collaborators, public historians, and museums have the opportunity to do work beyond paternalistic or superficial frameworks.

Forums are not always smooth. Sometimes they have prickly edges. Museums have a stronger chance at remaining relevant by not fearing the discomfort that comes with embracing our contested past and present. The process can be murky and uncomfortable, but it is not our job to be comfortable about the sources we uncover and the stories that are different from our own experiences. Becoming familiar with the discomfort in this process is what will close the gap between understanding the inaccessible civil liberties and rights black people struggled for and acknowledging persistent operations of oppression. Closing that gap is also a crucial part of healing."
aleiabrown  2015  publichistory  history  museums  forums  race  discourse  politics  twitter  ferguson  discomfort 
june 2015 by robertogreco
▶ Struggle, success and celebrating Selma - YouTube
"In this episode of The Illipsis, Jay Smooth honors the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement marches in Selma, Alabama and explains how the struggles of activists and leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. can inform how we make progress today. (It’s not always easy.) “When you commit some part of your life to activism…you’re basically committing to a lifetime of work that might, if you’re lucky, contain a few fleeting moments of triumph,” he says. “In those last years of Martin Luther King’s life, he was struggling…[but] he kept showing up even though he knew that there would be no more perfect plans, no more grand victory. He knew there was no more glory to be found but he kept picking himself back up and showing up every day because he knew now more than ever, this was the work, and this was the only way we get to true justice and true equality.”"

[text via: http://fusion.net/video/59234/struggle-success-and-celebrating-selma/ ]
jaysmooth  civilrightsmovement  selma  ferguson  2014  vision  activism  time  martinlutherkingjr  generations  effort  longview  progress  inequality  struggle  mlk 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Ferguson Report - The Atlantic
"The residents of Ferguson do not have a police problem. They have a gang problem. That the gang operates under legal sanction makes no difference. It is a gang nonetheless, and there is no other word to describe an armed band of collection agents."



"What are the tools in Ferguson to address the robber that so regularly breaks into my house? One necessary tool is suspicion and skepticism—the denial of the sort of the credit one generally grants officers of the state. When Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown there was little reason to credit his account, and several reasons to disbelieve it. The reason is not related to whether Michael Brown was "an angel" or not. The reasons are contained in a report rendered by the highest offices of the American government. Crediting the accounts of Ferguson's officers is a good way to enroll yourself in your own plunder and destruction.

Government, if its name means anything, must rise above those suspicions and that skepticism and seek out justice. And if it seeks to improve its name it must do much more—it must seek out the roots of the skepticism. The lack of faith among black people in Ferguson's governance, or in America's governance, is not something that should be bragged about. One cannot feel good about living under gangsters, and that is the reality of Ferguson right now.

The innocence of Darren Wilson does not change this fundamental fact. Indeed the focus on the deeds of alleged individual perpetrators, on perceived bad actors, obscures the broad systemic corruption which is really at the root. Darren Wilson is not the first gang member to be publicly accused of a crime he did not commit. But Darren Wilson was given the kind of due process that those of us who are often presumed to be gang members rarely enjoy. I do not favor lowering the standard of justice offered Officer Wilson. I favor raising the standard of justice offered to the rest of us."
2015  ta-nehisicoates  ferguson  race  racism  whitesupremacy  police  government  lawenforcement  corruption  oppression  injustice  darrenwilson  dueprocess  justice 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Ai Weiwei is Living in Our Future — Medium
'Living under permanent surveillance and what that means for our freedom'



"Put a collar with a GPS chip around your dog’s neck and from that moment onwards you will be able to follow your dog on an online map and get a notification on your phone whenever your dog is outside a certain area. You want to take good care of your dog, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the collar also functions as a fitness tracker. Now you can set your dog goals and check out graphs with trend lines. It is as Bruce Sterling says: “You are Fluffy’s Zuckerberg”.

What we are doing to our pets, we are also doing to our children.

The ‘Amber Alert’, for example, is incredibly similar to the Pet Tracker. Its users are very happy: “It’s comforting to look at the app and know everyone is where they are supposed to be!” and “The ability to pull out my phone and instantly monitor my son’s location, takes child safety to a whole new level.” In case you were wondering, it is ‘School Ready’ with a silent mode for educational settings.

Then there is ‘The Canary Project’ which focuses on American teens with a driver’s license. If your child is calling somebody, texting or tweeting behind the wheel, you will be instantly notified. You will also get a notification if your child is speeding or is outside the agreed-on territory.

If your child is ignoring your calls and doesn’t reply to your texts, you can use the ‘Ignore no more’ app. It will lock your child’s phone until they call you back. This clearly shows that most surveillance is about control. Control is the reason why we take pleasure in surveilling ourselves more and more.

I won’t go into the ‘Quantified Self’ movement and our tendency to put an endless amount of sensors on our body attempting to get “self knowlegde through numbers”. As we have already taken the next step towards control: algorithmic punishment if we don’t stick to our promises or reach our own goals."



"Normally his self-measured productivity would average around 40%, but with Kara next to him, his productiviy shot upward to 98%. So what do you do with that lesson? You create a wristband that shocks you whenever you fail to keep to your own plan. The wristband integrates well, of course, with other apps in your “productivity ecosystem”."



"On Kickstarter the makers of the ‘Blink’ camera tried to crowdfund 200.000 dollars for their invention. They received over one millions dollars instead. The camera is completely wireless, has a battery that lasts a year and streams HD video straight to your phone."



"I would love to speak about the problems of gentrification in San Francisco, or about a culture where nobody thinks you are crazy when you utter the sentence “Don’t touch me, I’ll fucking sue you” or about the fact this Google Glass user apparently wasn’t ashamed enough about this interaction to not post this video online. But I am going to talk about two other things: the first-person perspective and the illusionary symmetry of the Google Glass.

First the perspective from which this video was filmed. When I saw the video for the first time I was completely fascinated by her own hand which can be seen a few times and at some point flips the bird."



"The American Civil Liberties Union (also known as the ACLU) released a report late last year listing the advantages and disadvantages of bodycams. The privacy concerns of the people who will be filmed voluntarily or involuntarily and of the police officers themselves (remember Ai Weiwei’s guards who were continually watched) are weighed against the impact bodycams might have in combatting arbitrary police violence."



"A short while ago I noticed that you didn’t have to type in book texts anymore when filling in a reCAPTCHA. Nowadays you type in house numbers helping Google, without them asking you, to further digitize the physical world."



"This is the implicit view on humanity that the the big tech monopolies have: an extremely cheap source of labour which can be brought to a high level of productivity through the smart use of machines. To really understand how this works we need to take a short detour to the gambling machines in Las Vegas."



"Taleb has written one of the most important books of this century. It is called ‘Anti-fragile: Things That Gain from Disorder’ and it explores how you should act in a world that is becoming increasingly volatile. According to him, we have allowed efficiency thinking to optimize our world to such an extent that we have lost the flexibility and slack that is necessary for dealing with failure. This is why we can no longer handle any form of risk.

Paradoxically this leads to more repression and a less safe environment. Taleb illustrates this with an analogy about a child which is raised by its parents in a completely sterile environment having a perfect life without any hard times. That child will likely grow up with many allergies and will not be able to navigate the real world.

We need failure to be able to learn, we need inefficiency to be able to recover from mistakes, we have to take risks to make progress and so it is imperative to find a way to celebrate imperfection.

We can only keep some form of true freedom if we manage to do that. If we don’t, we will become cogs in the machines. I want to finish with a quote from Ai Weiwei:
“Freedom is a pretty strange thing. Once you’ve experienced it, it remains in your heart, and no one can take it away. Then, as an individual, you can be more powerful than a whole country.”
"
aiweiwei  surveillance  privacy  china  hansdezwart  2014  google  maps  mapping  freedom  quantification  tracking  technology  disney  disneyland  bigdog  police  lawenforcement  magicbands  pets  monitoring  pettracker  parenting  teens  youth  mobile  phones  cellphones  amberalert  canaryproject  autonomy  ignorenomore  craiglist  productivity  pavlok  pavlov  garyshteyngart  grindr  inder  bangwithfriends  daveeggers  transparency  thecircle  literature  books  dystopia  lifelogging  blink  narrative  flone  drones  quadcopters  cameras  kevinkelly  davidbrin  googleglass  sarahslocum  aclu  ferguson  michaelbrown  bodycams  cctv  captcha  recaptcha  labor  sousveillance  robots  humans  capitalism  natashadowschüll  design  facebook  amazon  addiction  nassimtaleb  repression  safety  society  howwelearn  learning  imperfection  humanism  disorder  control  power  efficiency  inefficiency  gambling  lasvegas  doom  quantifiedself  measurement  canon  children 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Mimi Zeiger asks why architects are silent on Ferguson
"Architecture as a practice sits at the juncture of hegemonic structures and the community it serves. It's an uncomfortable position and architecture's social agenda is often viewed as a failure when compared to its formalist counterpart. At times it seems easier to retreat into academia or simply pick one side of the spectrum: tactical urbanism or Dubai high-rises, senior centres or luxury condos, community-based processes or computation. Polarisation, however, hurts the whole discipline.

In 2011, Occupy Wall Street and Cairo's Tahrir Square protests sparked the publication of a spate of architectural texts on the use of public space, the rise of a democratic network culture, and the rethinking of public policy. Perhaps some processing time will produce something similar this time around. Indeed, there is a growing interest in the political as an area of architectural thought.

Recently the Architectural Association hosted the event How is Architecture Political? It featured political theorist Chantal Mouffe in conversation with a quartet of top architectural thinkers: Pier Vittorio Aureli, Reinhold Martin, Ines Weizman and Sarah Whiting. But the deaths of black citizens in New York, Florida, California, Missouri, and others, have yet to incite architectural discourse."



"What about this time? I asked her. At first, McEwen pointed me back to her text where she rallied designers to take on issues of race, violence, and inequality with the same attention that is given to other problems outside the direct scope of architecture, such as climate change or stormwater run-off. And then she weighed in:

"Architects and urban designers can take the #BlackLivesMatter campaign as an opportunity to look deeply into the ways that the tools of the discipline have been defined through attempts to erase black people from American cities," she said. "I don't mean 'in conjunction with', but actually the tools of the discipline emerging through the very acts of controlling, erasing, and displacing black bodies."

These are embedded structural issues that need to be addressed within architecture and design from all sides. Body cameras are not the solution, nor are the smart, tech-centric urban fixes they represent. Koolhaas may have noted that we are past the time of manifestos, but that's no reason to play dumb."
mimizeiger  remkoolhaas  design  3dprinting  architecture  smartcities  urban  urbanism  manifestos  blacklivesmatter  ferguson  2014  surveillance  tacticalurbanism  power  control  security  displacement  police  lawenforcement  force 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Interdome - Race and Capital
"Separating economics from racism is something that I’ve been hearing lately. There are numerous good reasons for this. Economic oppression is not the same as racial oppression. The experience of suffering economic oppression is not the same as suffering racial oppression. Even if a component of racial oppression is suffering a disproportionate amount of economic oppression, the two are not equal and will never be. And while protests against economic oppression have followed a certain trajectory over the last few years, protests against racist oppression are following a different trajectory, bringing new protests and new leaders to the foreground, who have different experiences because of the context that is bringing them into the street.

However, let’s not forget that economic oppression is used as racial oppression, and is its lifeline. Nothing happens in this country without money spent to support it. The fight to raise the minimum wage, while benefiting all workers everywhere, will most initially support a class of workers who are disproportionately of color. Economics is indivisible from racism. This is the entire argument for monetary reparations.

People have been saying that #BlackLivesMatter isn’t about anti-capitalism—and this is correct, because anti-capitalism is not the reason these protests have started, and anti-capitalism is not the motivation, or the goal. But, the fight against racism in this country is about capitalism, because capitalism is the perpetuating force of the racism we are fighting.

The militarization of the police exists because of the military-industrial profiteers of the defense industry. They are the reason the weapons were made, and they are the reason the weapons will continue to come to police departments. Congress dropped its efforts to stop the flow of weapons. Think about who has money in the congressional races to stall that. It’s not the KKK.

The lack of oversight for police forces across the country stems from similar economics. The District Attorney who purposefully botched the grand jury in Ferguson has long ties to the police and to Democratic party politics in the area. There are rumors about even more troubling ties than that. But what is the machinery that keeps him in office? Local donors to the political machine, who want their police force and courts run the way this man is running them. Local businesses pay for the police. That they are local, does not make their money any less harmful. The same goes for any other city. Our government and police forces run on money, and the money tells them which way to turn their heads.

Nearly every stereotype about black people (and it holds true for other minorities as well) has an economic anchor. What is the bigoted view of black people in America? They are “thugs”, “lazy”, “angry”, “on drugs”, and “violent”. What are these demons, if not economic demons? They don’t work hard enough, they take your stuff, they are too emotional to be productive in the workplace, they waste their money, they can’t be counted on, which is the essence of a contract. Therefore, black people are hired less, paid less, fired more often. There is redlining, there is gentrification. There is abuse at the hands of a for-profit medical system. There is the prison system, a system filled with people of color because they don’t have the resources to fight back legally, because they can be sapped for what resources they do have and no one will stand up for them. These long-held, deep-seated bigotries that white people have against people of color cannot walk the face of the earth without kicking over the stacks of money that they generate, that props up these bigotries, that keeps people holding the worst of these bigotries in positions of power.

So yes: let us remember and repeat how this current movement is not about anti-capital. But let us also remember that the history of American racism is entirely inseparable from capital. If we are going to do something about the former, we will eventually have to tangle with the latter."
racism  capitalism  2014  ferguson  economics  blacklivesmatter  race  us  policy  militaryindustrialcomplex  oppression  schooltoprisonpipeline  protests  adamrothstein 
december 2014 by robertogreco
The American Justice System Is Not Broken
"In July, New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo choked unarmed black man Eric Garner to death, in broad daylight, while a bystander caught it on video. That is what American police do. Yesterday, despite the video, despite an NYPD prohibition of exactly the sort of chokehold Pantaleo used, and despite the New York City medical examiner ruling the death a homicide, a Staten Island grand jury declined even to indict Pantaleo. That is what American grand juries do.

In August, Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown to death in broad daylight. That is what American police do. Ten days ago, despite multiple eyewitness accounts and his own face contradicting Wilson's narrative of events, a grand jury declined to indict Wilson. That is what American grand juries do.

In November 2006, a group of five New York police officers shot unarmed black man Sean Bell to death in the early morning hours of his wedding day. That is what American police do. In April 2008, despite multiple eyewitness accounts contradicting the officers' accounts of the incident, Justice Arthur J. Cooperman acquitted the officers of all charges, including reckless endangerment. That is what American judges do.

In February of 1999, four plainclothes New York police officers shot unarmed black man Amadou Diallo to death outside of his home. That is what American police do. A year later, an Albany jury acquitted the officers of all charges, including reckless endangerment. That is what American juries do.

In November of 1951, Willis McCall, the sheriff of Lake County, Fla., shot and killed Sam Shepherd, an unarmed and handcuffed black man in his custody. That is what American police do. Despite both a living witness and forensic evidence which contradicted his version of events, a coroner's inquest ruled that McCall had acted within the line of duty, and Judge Thomas Futch declined to convene a grand jury at all.

The American justice system is not broken. This is what the American justice system does. This is what America does.

The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates has written damningly of the American preference for viewing our society's crimes as aberrations—betrayals of some deeper, truer virtue, or departures from some righteous intended path. This is a convenient mythology. If the institutions of white American power taking black lives and then exonerating themselves for it is understood as a failure to live out some more authentic American idea, rather than as the expression of that American idea, then your and my and our lives and lifestyles are distinct from those failures. We can stand over here, and shake our heads at the failures over there, and then return to the familiar business, and everything is OK. Likewise, if the individual police officers who take black lives are just some bad cops doing policework badly, and not good cops doing precisely what America has hired and trained them to do, then white Americans may continue calling the police when black people frighten us, free from moral responsibility for the whole range of possible outcomes.

The murders of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Sam Shepherd, and countless thousands of others at the hands of American law enforcement are not aberrations, or betrayals, or departures. The acquittals of their killers are not mistakes. There is no virtuous innermost America, sullied or besmirched or shaded by these murders. This is America. It is not broken. It is doing what it does.

America is a serial brutalizer of black and brown people. Brutalizing them is what it does. It does other things, too, yes, but brutalizing black and brown people is what it has done the most, and with the most zeal, and for the longest. The best argument you can make on behalf of the various systems and infrastructures the country uses against its black and brown citizens—the physical design of its cities, the methods it uses to allocate placement in elite institutions, the way it trains its police to treat citizens like enemy soldiers—might actually just be that they're more restrained than those used against black and brown people abroad. America employs the enforcers of its power to beat, kill, and terrorize, deploys its judiciary to say that that's OK, and has done this more times than anyone can hope to count. This is not a flaw in the design; this is the design.

Policing in America is not broken. The judicial system is not broken. American society is not broken. All are functioning perfectly, doing exactly what they have done since before some of this nation's most prosperous slave-murdering robber-barons came together to consecrate into statehood the mechanisms of their barbarism. Democracy functions. Politicians, deriving their legitimacy from the public, have discerned the will of the people and used it to design and enact policies that carry it out, among them those that govern the allowable levels of violence which state can visit upon citizen. Taken together with the myriad other indignities, thefts, and cruelties it visits upon black and brown people, and the work common white Americans do on its behalf by telling themselves bald fictions of some deep and true America of apple pies, Jesus, and people being neighborly to each other and betrayed by those few and nonrepresentative bad apples with their isolated acts of meanness, the public will demands and enables a whirring and efficient machine that does what it does for the benefit of those who own it. It processes black and brown bodies into white power.

That is what America does. It is not broken. That is exactly what is wrong with it."
us  justice  law  legal  racism  2014  ferguson  michaelbrown  darrenwilson  nyc  nypd  danielpantaleo  ericgarner  ta-nehisicoates  institutionalracism  race  history  amadoudiallo  samshepherd  police  lawenforcement  politics  policy  power  whitepower 
december 2014 by robertogreco
The touching hug photo from Ferguson protests is a blatant lie | Jonathan Jones | Comment is free | The Guardian
"A picture does not have to be staged to be a lie. It just has to be massively unrepresentative of the wider facts and enthusiastically promoted to iconic status in a way that obscures those facts. This photograph, which first appeared in the Oregonian newspaper, was taken after Hart stood on the protest line with a banner that said “Free Hugs”. Portland police sergeant Bret Barnum got talking to the boy and asked if he could have a hug as well.

What a photo opportunity. In terms of straight news values, this tender moment offered a bit of variety from glum scenes of protest. Yet it instantly had a deep appeal to those looking for a soft focus view of race in America.

A woman in the background is taking her own picture of the warm scene. She can’t wait to share it. What a heart-stopping, iconic, totally emotional photograph. Add a weeping emoticon or whatever seems eloquent to you.

Sentimentality used to be the preserve of musicals and Hollywood: now it shapes the news. Photographs are no longer carefully chosen by newspaper picture editors to craft the story. Of course, the traditional media are no strangers to manipulating reality – consciously or unconsciously – with photographs. But when news images are given life and meaning by the number of times they are shared on Facebook, the only editorial control is sentiment. This picture is cute, therefore popular, therefore true.

Has truth itself become a popularity contest now? Countless photographic images are produced every day, recording multitudinous events. The process by which a few of those pictures become “iconic” is not rational and does not have any responsible superego in charge of it. It surely seems absurd – given the seriousness of what happened in Ferguson – that a nation’s new, yet old, encounter with its most destructive division can be summed up by this soppy picture of a tearful hug.

Liking this picture as a definitive image of America’s race crisis is the equivalent of locking yourself in and turning up the volume to weep at Frozen while the streets are burning outside. Which is exactly what white Americans apparently want to do. Truth is a flimsy thing. It can be destroyed by a hug."
photography  ferguson  propaganda  2014  manipulation  truth  race 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Ferguson & The Design Dimension: Exploring Makeshift Tear-Gas Masks on BBC Radio 4 | Victoria and Albert Museum
"In a recent interview for BBC Radio 4’s programme, The Design Dimension, co-curator Catherine Flood discussed an exciting development from Disobedient Objects. Since our exhibition has been open, the team has received anecdotal evidence of social and political movements deploying our How-To Guides around the world.

Amongst our How-To Guide users are people protesting in Ferguson, a struggle sparked by the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by a police officer in Missouri.

You can learn more about our guides and their deployment in Ferguson by clicking on the clip below, and the full radio programme can also be heard via this link. Additionally, an article featuring co-curator Gavin Grindon and the global deployment of DIY Tear Gas Masks can be accessed via this link."
teargas  gasmasks  duy  ferguson  disobedientobjects  2014  howto  tutorials 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Ferguson: White Bodies Bearing Witness » Cyborgology
"The mobile phone camera has become an embedded tool of protest. It has given rise to the citizen journalist and is a key mechanism by which surveillance is countered with sousveillance. In a New Media & Society article earlier this year, Kari Andén-Papadopoulos names this phenomena citizen-camera witnessing. This is a ritual through which bodies in space authenticate their presence while proliferating images and truths that contest with the stories told by The State. The citizen camera-witness is not merely witnessing, but bearing witness, insisting upon articulating, through image, atrocities that seem unspeakable. Indeed, as W.J.T. Mitchell compellingly claims: Today’s wars and political conflicts are to an unparalleled extent being fought on behalf of, against and by means of radically different images of possible futures.

The failure to indict Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown and the protests that continue to follow, set the stage for drastically different futures. The way we tell this story will guide which future is most plausible, most logical, and most likely.

The key image makers include State representatives, mainstream media, Darren Wilson supporters, and those protesting against the Grand Jury decision. These voices vie for space in the construction of the Michael Brown/Darren Wilson story. The story told by those in the first two categories is largely one of violence and mayhem at the hands of an unruly crowd. The story told by Wilson supporters is similar, but with a clear reverse-racism twinge. The story of those in the last category is one of systemic oppression, a story in which black bodies—especially black male bodies—are in persistent danger of physical harm, inflicted by those charged with public protection.

I stand with this last category, and am committed to promulgating their version of the story. But in watching this story and in spreading it, I’m struck by the method of its telling. In particular, the citizen-camera witnesses not only point their camera phones at the crowds, at the police, and at the built environment, but also point the camera at themselves. They don’t merely imply their presence through video footage, but explicitly locate themselves—their own bodies—at the heart of the story.

I want to make the case for citizen-camera witnesses to be thoughtful in their use of this videographic tactic. In particular, I call for these witnesses to consider their own bodies, and what it means to have particular kinds of bodies within the imagescape. I argue that the role of protestors with white bodies, those antiracists who stand in solidarity, should be one of quiet support. White voices and faces already overpopulate public discourse. Absolutely turn your camera outward on injustice. Always do this. But think carefully before turning the camera on yourself.

The war for possible futures, fought in images, has far reaching consequences; for some, those consequences are literally life and death. The stakes are highest for those with bodies of color. These are the bodies in danger. These are the bodies that should be at the center of the story."
photography  videography  testimony  witness  bearingwitness  2014  jennydavis  citizenship  protest  ferguson  video  photographs  discourse  voice  cooption  ethics  solidarity  allies  listening  support  howto 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Hypertext as an Agent of Change on Huffduffer
"Thomas Pynchon. The Anthropocene. Ferguson. Geoheliocentrism. Teju Cole. Thomas Kuhn’s theory of paradigms. Antigone. A wall. The sixth extinction.

The ways we transmit information—and the ways in which that information accumulates into narratives—is changing. And if we aren’t careful, it may not change in all the ways we want it to."

[Full text: http://aworkinglibrary.com/writing/hypertext-as-an-agent-of-change/ ]
mandybrown  change  dconstruct  dconstruct2014  storytelling  antigone  tejucole  thomaspynchon  anthropocene  2014  ferguson  michaelbrown  geoheliocentrism  thomaskuhn  perspective  paradigmshifts  context  framing  metcontexts  transcontextualism  transcontextualization 
september 2014 by robertogreco
How municipalities in St. Louis County, Mo., profit from poverty - The Washington Post
"Until recently, the Florissant court was one of many that had barred outsiders from its proceedings. After critics like the ArchCity Defenders pointed out that this violated the Missouri Constitution, a circuit court judge ordered these towns to change their policies. Defense attorneys say some courts still haven’t gotten the message. But in Florissant, the city council had a particularly odd response to the order. Town officials claimed the old courtroom was too small to accommodate all the defendants and attorneys, plus journalists, families, and observers. In addition to moving its municipal court to a gymnasium, just last week the council voted to add a $10 fee to every ordinance violation to fund a new, larger courthouse.

After all the recent national attention on Ferguson, local attorneys are floored. “It’s just completely tone deaf,” says Khazaeli. “They got caught violating the law. So in response they’re going to build themselves a new courthouse, and they’re going to finance it on the backs of the poor. It’s incredible.”

Harvey says there’s a much easier way to address the crowded courthouse problem. “They could just hold more court sessions. That would easily take care of the overcrowding. It would also make life a little easier for the people who have to come to court. But that would cost the city money. So instead they’re just going to slap a new tax on the poor.”

Still, local attorneys say that even before the rule change, the lines for municipal court sessions in these towns — particularly the poorer towns — could often outside the courthouse doors and wind down sidewalks for blocks.

Florissant is one of the larger towns in the county, with a population of about 52,000. It’s also a bit more affluent, which an average household income above the state average, although its employment rate is slightly lower. Last year the town issued 29,072 tickets for traffic offenses. Florissant collected about $3 million in fines and court costs in fiscal year 2013, about 13 percent of its 2013 revenue. As of June of last year, Florissant’s municipal court also held more than 11,000 outstanding arrest warrants.

For comparison, consider Lee’s Summit, a suburb of Kansas City in Jackson County with a population of 92,000. Yet despite being nearly twice Florissant’s size, in 2013 Lee’s Summit issued a third as many traffic tickets (9,651), and collected less than half as much revenue from its municipal court ($1.44 million) as Florissant. As of June of last year, Lee’s Summit held 2,872 outstanding arrest warrants, only one fourth as many as Florissant.

There are many towns in St. Louis County where the number of outstanding arrest warrants can exceed the number of residents, sometimes several times over. No town in Jackson County comes close to that: The highest ratios are in the towns of Grandview (about one warrant for every 3.7 residents), Independence (one warrant for every 3.5 residents), and Kansas City itself (one warrant for every 1.8 residents).

Just inside the courthouse/gymnasium door in Florissant, two police officers and a court clerk check people in. In the middle of the gym, about 200 chairs sit neatly aligned in rows. Court has been in session for over an hour now, but most of the seats are still occupied. About 80 percent of the people in the gym tonight are black, even though blacks make up just 27 percent of the town. According to statistics compiled by Missouri’s attorney general’s office, 71 percent of the people pulled over by Florissant police in 2013 were black. The search and arrest rates for blacks were also twice as high as those rates for whites, even though whites were more likely to be found with contraband, a contradiction that has also been widely reported in Ferguson.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, blacks make up less than eight percent of the Florissant police force. The judge and both prosecutors are white. In nearly all the towns in St. Louis County, the prosecutors and judges in these courts are part-time positions, and are not elected, but appointed by the mayor, town council, or city manager. According to a recent white paper published by the ArchCity Defenders, the chief prosecutor in Florissant Municipal Court makes $56,060 per year. It’s a position that requires him to work 12 court sessions per year, at about three hours per session. The Florissant prosecutor is Ronald Brockmeyer, who also has a criminal defense practice in St. Charles County, and who is also the chief municipal prosecutor for the towns of Vinita Park and Dellwood. He is also the judge – yes, the judge — in both Ferguson and Breckenridge Hills. Brockmeyer isn’t alone: Several other attorneys serve as prosecutor in one town and judge in another. And at least one St. Louis County assistant district attorney is also a municipal court judge.

“I had a felony criminal case in state court a few weeks ago,” says a local defense attorney, who asked not to be quoted by name. “Sometimes criminal cases can get contentious. You have to do everything you can to defend your client, and sometime your interaction with a prosecutor can get combative. A few days later, I was representing a client who had a few warrants in a municipal court where the same prosecutor I was just battling with is now the judge. Is my client is going to get a fair hearing? You hope so. But it sure looks like a conflict to me.”"

Florissant is one of the larger towns in the county, with a population of about 52,000. It’s also a bit more affluent, which an average household income above the state average, although its employment rate is slightly lower. Last year the town issued 29,072 tickets for traffic offenses. Florissant collected about $3 million in fines and court costs in fiscal year 2013, about 13 percent of its 2013 revenue. As of June of last year, Florissant’s municipal court also held more than 11,000 outstanding arrest warrants.

For comparison, consider Lee’s Summit, a suburb of Kansas City in Jackson County with a population of 92,000. Yet despite being nearly twice Florissant’s size, in 2013 Lee’s Summit issued a third as many traffic tickets (9,651), and collected less than half as much revenue from its municipal court ($1.44 million) as Florissant. As of June of last year, Lee’s Summit held 2,872 outstanding arrest warrants, only one fourth as many as Florissant.

There are many towns in St. Louis County where the number of outstanding arrest warrants can exceed the number of residents, sometimes several times over. No town in Jackson County comes close to that: The highest ratios are in the towns of Grandview (about one warrant for every 3.7 residents), Independence (one warrant for every 3.5 residents), and Kansas City itself (one warrant for every 1.8 residents).

Just inside the courthouse/gymnasium door in Florissant, two police officers and a court clerk check people in. In the middle of the gym, about 200 chairs sit neatly aligned in rows. Court has been in session for over an hour now, but most of the seats are still occupied. About 80 percent of the people in the gym tonight are black, even though blacks make up just 27 percent of the town. According to statistics compiled by Missouri’s attorney general’s office, 71 percent of the people pulled over by Florissant police in 2013 were black. The search and arrest rates for blacks were also twice as high as those rates for whites, even though whites were more likely to be found with contraband, a contradiction that has also been widely reported in Ferguson.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, blacks make up less than eight percent of the Florissant police force. The judge and both prosecutors are white. In nearly all the towns in St. Louis County, the prosecutors and judges in these courts are part-time positions, and are not elected, but appointed by the mayor, town council, or city manager. According to a recent white paper published by the ArchCity Defenders, the chief prosecutor in Florissant Municipal Court makes $56,060 per year. It’s a position that requires him to work 12 court sessions per year, at about three hours per session. The Florissant prosecutor is Ronald Brockmeyer, who also has a criminal defense practice in St. Charles County, and who is also the chief municipal prosecutor for the towns of Vinita Park and Dellwood. He is also the judge – yes, the judge — in both Ferguson and Breckenridge Hills. Brockmeyer isn’t alone: Several other attorneys serve as prosecutor in one town and judge in another. And at least one St. Louis County assistant district attorney is also a municipal court judge.

“I had a felony criminal case in state court a few weeks ago,” says a local defense attorney, who asked not to be quoted by name. “Sometimes criminal cases can get contentious. You have to do everything you can to defend your client, and sometime your interaction with a prosecutor can get combative. A few days later, I was representing a client who had a few warrants in a municipal court where the same prosecutor I was just battling with is now the judge. Is my client is going to get a fair hearing? You hope so. But it sure looks like a conflict to me.”

Many of the appointed judges and prosecutors not only don’t reside in the jurisdictions they serve, they have very little in common with the people who do. For example, in the tony town of Clayton, there’s a sheen office building on South Bemiston Avenue with darkened, opaque windows. On the second floor, behind a grand oak door, is the law firm of Curtis, Heinz, Garret, & O’Keefe. The firm employs several attorneys who serve as either prosecutor or assistant prosecutor for at least nine different municipalities. One of the firm’s attorneys, Keith Cheung, is the municipal prosecutor for the towns of Velda City, Hazelwood, and St. Ann, and is also the municipal judge for the city of Ladue. The firm also includes attorneys who serve as the official city attorney in several more … [more]
law  legal  poverty  inequaliity  politics  2014  ferguson  stlouis  race  corruption  courts  lawyers 
september 2014 by robertogreco
“I am not afraid to die”: Why America will never be the same post-Ferguson - Salon.com
"Movements rarely appear to be movements in the midst of them. We have the benefit of hindsight now as we look at the core years of the Civil Rights Movement from 1954 to 1968. But I am sure that in some key moments, particularly the period from 1955 to 1961, the time between the Montgomery Bus Boycotts and the Freedom Rides, it might not have always seemed clear what the “movement” was. Surely people felt the tides changing, but they could not foresee the trajectory.

We should, I think, not miss the moment trying to theorize the movement. We have to leave certain conversations to history.

Yet, having spent time in Ferguson this weekend, marching, standing in community over the site where Mike Brown’s body lay unceremoniously uncovered for four hours, and organizing with activists in the basement of a local church, I am clearer now that this is a movement."



"Mike’s death, his blood seeping out and onto the pavement, has created the fertile soil of movement. It has remixed the nihilism of the sagging pants generation with a new message.  These generational sons and daughters of Tupac and Biggie still have little to no “fucks to give” as the colloquial saying goes.  They might not be “ready to die” but they are “unafraid to die.” They aren’t knocking on death’s door but they will not retreat when it knocks on theirs. For them, having nothing to lose is more clearly iterated in the words some of us recited as we held hands around Mike Brown’s street memorial:  “We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

To this new generation of voices, I became the elder sister sitting in the back of the bus, being consulted about what it “was like when Rodney King happened.” I was only 10 years old when Rodney King “happened” but everyone in movement work knows that the young movers trust no one over 30. One of our riders, a 17-year-old high school senior named Nia, let me know in no uncertain terms that “young people have always led the revolutions.”

As someone not quite ready to be too old and not nearly seasoned enough to claim the status of elder, I am reminded that MLK was 34, the age I’m soon to be, the age of Michael Brown’s mother, when he gave the “I Have a Dream” speech. Still, a real test of our movements will be whether we will be able to hold intergenerational space for all the wisdom and all the limitations that all of us bring to the table.

We went to Ferguson with a simple message: Black Lives Matter. All black lives. And we are prepared to have our nation hear that message with all the fullness, complexity and responsibility that it entails. In the words of Trayvon Martin’s mom to Michael Brown’s mom: “If they don’t hear us, we will make them feel us.” We will make them hear us, see us and feel us. Or we will die trying."
ferguson  movement  civilrights  2014  brittneycooper  fear  purpose  movements 
september 2014 by robertogreco
something is rotten in the state of...Twitter | the theoryblog
"Some of this is overt hostile takeover – a trifecta of monetization and algorithmic thinking and status quo interests like big brands and big institutions and big privilege pecking away at participatory practices since at least 2008.

<i>…Oh, you formed a little unicorn world where you can communicate at scale outside the broadcast media model? Let us sponsor that for you, sisters and brothers. Let us draw you from your domains of your own to mass platforms where networking will, for awhile, come fully into flower while all the while Venture Capital logics tweak and incentivize and boil you slowly in the bosom of your networked connections until you wake up and realize that the way you talk to half the people you talk to doesn’t encourage talking so much as broadcasting anymore.</i> Yeh. Oh hey, *that* went well.

And in academia, with Twitter finally on the radar of major institutions, and universities issuing social media policies and playing damage control over faculty tweets with the Salaita firing and even more recent, deeply disturbing rumours of institutional interventions in employee’s lives, this takeover threatens to choke a messy but powerful set of scholarly practices and approaches it never really got around to understanding. The threat of being summarily acted upon by the academy as a consequence of tweets – always present, frankly, particularly for untenured and more vulnerable members of the academic community – now hangs visibly over all heads…even while the medium is still scorned as scholarship by many.

[image of @bonstewart tweet: “academia, this whole “Twitter counts enough to get you fired but not hired” mindset is why we can’t have nice things.”]

You’re Doing It Wrong

But there’s more. The sense of participatory collective – always fraught – has waned as more and more subcultures are crammed and collapsed into a common, traceable, searchable medium. We hang over each other’s heads, more and more heavily, self-appointed swords of Damocles waiting with baited breath to strike. Participation is built on a set of practices that network consumption AND production of media together…so that audiences and producers shift roles and come to share contexts, to an extent. Sure, the whole thing can be gamed by the public and participatory sharing of sensationalism and scandal and sympathy and all the other things that drive eyeballs.

But where there are shared contexts, the big nodes and the smaller nodes are – ideally – still people to each other, with longterm, sustained exposure and impressions formed. In this sense, drawing on Walter Ong’s work on the distinctions between oral and literate cultures, Liliana Bounegru has claimed that Twitter is a hybrid: orality is performative and participatory and often repetitive, premised on memory and agonistic struggle and the acceptance of many things happening at once, which sounds like Twitter As We Knew It (TM), while textuality enables subjective and objective stances, transcending of time and space, and collaborative, archivable, analytical knowledge, among other things.

Thomas Pettitt even calls the era of pre-digital print literacy “The Gutenberg Parenthesis;” an anomaly of history that will be superceded by secondary orality via digital media.

Um…we may want to rethink signing up for that rodeo. Because lately secondary orality via digital media seems like a pretty nasty, reactive state of being, a collective hiss of “you’re doing it wrong.” Tweets are taken up as magnum opi to be leapt upon and eviscerated, not only by ideological opponents or threatened employers but by in-network peers…because the Attention Economy rewards those behaviours. Oh hai, print literacies and related vested interests back in ascendency, creating a competitive, zero-sum arena for interaction. Such fun!

[image of @bonstewart tweet: “the problem with 2014 Twitter, short version: being constantly on guard against saying the wrong thing leaves no much left to say.”]

Which is not to say there’s no place for “you’re doing it wrong.” Twitter, dead or no, is still a powerful and as yet unsurpassed platform for raising issues and calling out uncomfortable truths, as shown in its amplification of the #Ferguson protests to media visibility (in a way Facebook absolutely failed to do thanks to the aforementioned algorithmic filters). Twitter is, as my research continues to show, a path to voice. At the same time, Twitter is also a free soapbox for all kinds of shitty and hateful statements that minimize or reinforce marginalization, as any woman or person of colour who’s dared to speak openly about the raw deal of power relations in society will likely attest. And calls for civility will do nothing except reinforce a respectability politics of victim-blaming within networks. This intractable contradiction is where we are, as a global neoliberal society: Twitter just makes it particularly painfully visible, at times."

[See also: http://edcontexts.org/twitter/behind-something-is-rotten-in-the-state-of-twitter/ ]
academia  competition  fear  twitter  bonniestewart  2014  participatory  branding  institutions  corporatization  socialmedia  corporatism  gutenbergparenthesis  thomaspettitt  lilianabounegru  performance  orality  oraltradition  communication  digital  digitalmedia  media  attention  attentioneconomy  print  literacies  literacy  subcultures  legibility  participation  participatorymedia  networkedculture  culture  walterong  donnaharaway  emilygordon  ferguson  participatorculture  networkedpublics  stevensalaita  secondaryorality 
september 2014 by robertogreco
The Expanding World of Poverty Capitalism - NYTimes.com
"In Orange County, Calif., the probation department’s “supervised electronic confinement program,” which monitors the movements of low-risk offenders, has been outsourced to a private company, Sentinel Offender Services. The company, by its own account, oversees case management, including breath alcohol and drug-testing services, “all at no cost to county taxpayers.”

Sentinel makes its money by getting the offenders on probation to pay for the company’s services. Charges can range from $35 to $100 a month.

The company boasts of having contracts with more than 200 government agencies, and it takes pride in the “development of offender funded programs where any of our services can be provided at no cost to the agency.”

Sentinel is a part of the expanding universe of poverty capitalism. In this unique sector of the economy, costs of essential government services are shifted to the poor.

In terms of food, housing and other essentials, the cost of being poor has always been exorbitant. Landlords, grocery stores and other commercial enterprises have all found ways to profit from those at the bottom of the ladder.

The recent drive toward privatization of government functions has turned traditional public services into profit-making enterprises as well.

In addition to probation, municipal court systems are also turning collections over to a national network of companies like Sentinel that profit from service charges imposed on the men and women who are under court order to pay fees and fines, including traffic tickets (with the fees being sums tacked on by the court to fund administrative services).

When they cannot pay these assessed fees and fines – plus collection charges imposed by the private companies — offenders can be sent to jail. There are many documented cases in which courts have imprisoned those who failed to keep up with their combined fines, fees and service charges.

“These companies are bill collectors, but they are given the authority to say to someone that if he doesn’t pay, he is going to jail,” John B. Long, a lawyer in Augusta, Ga. active in defending the poor, told Ethan Bronner of The Times.

A February 2014 report by Human Rights Watch on private offender services found that “more than 1,000 courts in several US states delegate tremendous coercive power to companies that are often subject to little meaningful oversight or regulation. In many cases, the only reason people are put on probation is because they need time to pay off fines and court costs linked to minor crimes. In some of these cases, probation companies act more like abusive debt collectors than probation officers, charging the debtors for their services.”

Human Rights Watch also found that in Georgia in 2012, in “a state of less than 10 million people, 648 courts assigned more than 250,000 cases to private probation companies.” The report notes that “there is virtually no transparency about the revenues of private probation companies” since “practically all of the industry’s firms are privately held and not subject to the disclosure requirements that bind publicly traded companies. No state requires probation companies to report their revenues, or by logical extension the amount of money they collect for themselves from probationers.”"



"Poverty capitalism and government policy are now working on their own and in tandem to shift costs to those least equipped to pay and in particular to the least politically influential segment of the poor: criminal defendants and those delinquent in paying fines.

Last year, Ferguson, Mo., the site of recent protests over the shooting of Michael Brown, used escalating municipal court fines to pay 20.2 percent of the city’s $12.75 million budget. Just two years earlier, municipal court fines had accounted for only 12.3 percent of the city’s revenues.

What should be done to interrupt the dangerous feedback loop between low-level crime and extortionate punishment? First, local governments should bring private sector collection charges, court-imposed administrative fees and the dollar amount of traffic fines (which often double and triple when they go unpaid) into line with the economic resources of poor offenders. But larger reforms are needed and those will not come about unless the poor begin to exercise their latent political power. In many ways, everything is working against them. But the public outpouring spurred by the shooting of Michael Brown provides an indication of a possible path to the future. It was, after all, just 50 years ago — not too distant in historical terms — that collective action and social solidarity produced tangible results."
poverty  capitalism  government  privatization  debtslavery  2014  thomasedsall  prisonindustrialcomplex  law  legal  policy  inequality  ferguson  tombeasley  lamaralexander  honeyalexander  incarceration  prisons  poverycapitalism 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Your Rage (with tweets) · rogre · Storify
"Your Rage” by V.V. Ganeshananthan (@Vasugi)

[See also: http://the-toast.net/2014/08/15/regulations-rage/

"Please keep your rage polite and orderly.

Please make sure your rage stands in the queue and waits for its turn.

Please advise your rage to say “Excuse me” when interrupting others’ conversations, regardless of their topics. Do this even if on fire.

Please ensure your rage follows the dress code. Rage must be tidily dressed, & must say “sir” and “ma’am,” even if called “boy” or “girl.”

We would prefer that your rage be punctual and arrive neither too early nor too late.

Your rage should be constructive and look for solutions, rather than simply existing for itself.

Your rage can be something when it grows up.

Please make sure your rage is logical rather than emotional. Your rage will have a hard time if it is overly sensitive.

We would advise your rage that it should bring along a resume and/or CV with a timeline of proof.

If only your rage had had two parents. Think what it could have done!

Your rage should take the time to educate others about what has made it so inexplicably angry.

If your rage uses that word, why can’t I?

When your rage behaves like this, why is it surprised that others react badly to it? When we profile your rage we are reacting to the facts.

Rage should shave its beard and unwind its turban. Rage should smile at catcallers.

Your rage should speak English and ask for permission before crossing the border to flee a dangerous situation. Is your rage over 18?

We will process your rage eventually, but the meantime, it should wait in a small boat in the middle of the ocean.

Your rage should have known! We were only joking!

We’re so sorry, but your rage isn’t… This isn’t the right neighborhood for your rage. Your rage doesn’t really like this apartment.

We will give your rage back the house in which it has lived for generations after we have taken care of matters of national security.

Your rage should play its music at an acceptable volume.

If your rage expects handouts, we would prefer that it check with us before spending on frivolous items.

Your rage wasn’t even born there. Why does it care so much?

Your rage should be careful about its terms: terrorism, genocide, occupation, regime.

Doesn’t your rage know we were democratically elected?

How did your rage get so tired? Your rage should take a break. Doesn’t your rage ever just… relax? Take a load off?

This facility isn’t equipped to accommodate your rage’s body.

Would your rage mind refilling this drink? Does your rage work here?

No, we weren’t following your rage around this store…

Oh, goodness—was your rage standing there? Didn’t even see it!

We will be happy to talk to your rage when it is done sobbing.

Why didn’t your rage just call the police?

Your rage looks just like that other rage! Do they know each other?

Your rage should know we were doing our best to avoid civilian casualties."]
feminism  privilege  race  rage  vvganeshananthan  emotions  2014  ferguson  storify 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Policing by consent
"In light of the ongoing policing situation in Ferguson, Missouri in the wake of the shooting of an unarmed man by a police officer and how the response to the community protests is highlighting the militarization of US police departments since 9/11, it's instructive to look at one of the first and most successful attempts at the formation of a professional police force.

The UK Parliament passed the first Metropolitan Police Act in 1829. The act was introduced by Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel, who undertook a study of crime and policing, which resulted in his belief that the keys to building an effective police force were to 1) make it professional (most prior policing had been volunteer in nature); 2) organize as a civilian force, not as a paramilitary force; and 3) make the police accountable to the public. The Metropolitan Police, whose officers were referred to as "bobbies" after Peel, was extremely successful and became the model for the modern urban police force, both in the UK and around the world, including in the United States.

At the heart of the Metropolitan Police's charter were a set of rules either written by Peel or drawn up at some later date by the two founding Commissioners: The Nine Principles of Policing. They are as follows:

1. To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.

2. To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.

3. To recognise always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing co-operation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.

4. To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.

5. To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour, and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.

6. To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public co-operation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.

7. To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

8. To recognise always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the State, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.

9. To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.

As police historian Charles Reith noted in 1956, this philosophy was radical when implemented in London in the 1830s and "unique in history and throughout the world because it derived not from fear but almost exclusively from public co-operation with the police, induced by them designedly by behaviour which secures and maintains for them the approval, respect and affection of the public". Apparently, it remains radical in the United States in 2014. (thx, peter)"
history  police  politics  consent  2014  jasonkottke  kottke  ferguson  robertpeel  1829  lawenforcement  power  publicservants  law  legal 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Ari Kohen's Blog — On the left is a paragraph from the New York...
"On the left is a paragraph from the New York Times about Mike Brown’s “troubled” teenage years; on the right is a paragraph from Rolling Stone about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombers.

What could possibly account for the difference in presentation of these two teenagers?

And let’s remember that one was unarmed when he was shot to death by a police officer who stopped him for walking in the street after allegedly stealing some cigars and pushing a store clerk, while the other was taken alive after allegedly setting off a bomb at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing a police officer, engaging in a shootout with a host of other police officers, and then hiding from a full-scale manhunt."

[See also: "Besides Michael Brown, Whom Else Does The New York Times Call “No Angel”?"
http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2014/08/michael-brown-no-angel-new-york-times ]
michaelbrown  dzhokhartsarnaev  ferguson  2014  race  nytimes  obituaries  judgement  racism  media 
august 2014 by robertogreco
How to Teach Kids About What's Happening in Ferguson - The Atlantic
"A crowdsourced syllabus about race, African American history, civil rights, and policing

When the unrest in Ferguson erupted, my husband made an observation that broke my heart: “The kids were supposed to start school today.”

For me, the perfume of synthetic fibers and freshly sharpened pencils always signals the start of a new school year, and it makes me ecstatic. As a child, the ritual began with a trip to the uniform store. My older sister and I trekked onto Clark Street via a city bus. Each year, we found ourselves before the counters of what had to be the world’s largest purveyor of Catholic school uniforms. “St. Margaret Mary, please,” we would say. The elderly salesman would fetch my mostly polyester wardrobe for the upcoming school year—a plaid jumper, pleated skirts, Peter Pan-collared blouse, acrylic cardigans—carefully folded in individual plastic bags.

I loved the preparations for the first day of school so much that I became a college professor. I’ve spent most of my 34 Augusts anticipating a school year.

From the beginning of the situation in Ferguson, news reports alerted the public that Michael Brown was to start college soon. Before surveillance videos and photographs of protestors with their hands up were available, people saw a stoic Brown in a bright orange, probably acetate graduation gown. He will not have a first day ever again. And for the children of Ferguson, who have yet to have their first day, they may remember the smell of death, the odor of tear gas, the stench of an American tragedy.

In this kind of situation, people all say, what can I do? I have few talents in a crisis, but I do know I’m pretty good at teaching, and I knew Ferguson would be a challenge for teachers: When schools opened across the country, how were they going to talk about what happened? My idea was simple, but has resonated across the country: Reach out to the educators who use Twitter. Ask them to commit to talking about Ferguson on the first day of classes. Suggest a book, an article, a film, a song, a piece of artwork, or an assignment that speaks to some aspect of Ferguson. Use the hashtag: #FergusonSyllabus.

From a children’s book about living with someone with PTSD to maps of St. Louis’s school-desegregation struggles to J. Cole’s “Be Free,” the Ferguson archive was tweeted, re-tweeted, mentioned, and favorited thousands of times. A small community has formed; the fabric of this group is woven across disciplines and cultural climates. Some of us will talk about Ferguson forcefully, others gingerly, but from preschool classrooms to postdoctoral seminars, Ferguson is on the syllabus.

The following list was compiled by a community of teachers, academics, community leaders, and parents to teach about some aspect of the national crisis in Ferguson, Missouri. This is a snapshot of the recommendations that has been edited. The contributions continue on Twitter."
ferguson  teaching  education  race  2014  marciachatelain  history  us  civilrights  leadership  activism  journalism  policing  violence 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Michael Brown's Unremarkable Humanity - The Atlantic
"The New York Times has a feature today looking at the brief life of Michael Brown, informing us that he was "no angel." The reasons for this are many. Brown smoked marijuana. He lived in a community that "had rough patches." He wrote rap songs that were "by turns contemplative and vulgar." He shoplifted and pushed a store clerk who tried to stop him. These details certainly paint a portrait of a young man who failed to be angelic. That is because no person is angelic—least of all teenagers—and there is very little in this piece that distinguishes Brown from any other kid his age.

What horrifies a lot of us beholding the spectacle of Ferguson, beholding the spectacle of Sanford, of Jacksonville, is how easily we could see ourselves in these kids. I shudder to think of my reaction, at 17, to some strange dude following me through my own housing development. I shudder to think of my reaction, at 17, to some other strange dude pulling up next to me and telling me to turn down my music.

And if Michael Brown was not angelic, I was practically demonic. I had my first drink when I was 11. I once brawled in the cafeteria after getting hit in the head with a steel trash can. In my junior year I failed five out of seven classes. By the time I graduated from high school, I had been arrested for assaulting a teacher and been kicked out of school (twice.) And yet no one who knew me thought I had the least bit of thug in me. That is because I also read a lot of books, loved my Commodore 64, and ghostwrote love notes for my friends. In other words, I was a human being. A large number of American teenagers live exactly like Michael Brown. Very few of them are shot in the head and left to bake on the pavement.

The "angelic" standard was not one created by the reporter. It was created by a society that cannot face itself, and thus must employ a dubious "morality" to hide its sins. It is reinforced by people who have embraced the notion of "twice as good" while avoiding the circumstances which gave that notion birth. Consider how easily living in a community "with rough patches" becomes part of a list of ostensible sins. Consider how easily "black-on-black crime" becomes not a marker of a shameful legacy of segregation but a moral failing.

We've been through this before. We will almost certainly go through it again."
ta-nehisicoates  michaelbrown  2014  language  children  teens  youth  demonization  nytimes  race  ferguson 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Cornel West: “He posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency” - Salon.com
"TF: So that’s my first question, it’s a lot of ground to cover but how do you feel things have worked out since then, both with the economy and with this president? That was a huge turning point, that moment in 2008, and my own feeling is that we didn’t turn.

CW: No, the thing is he posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency. The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free. The war crimes in the Middle East, especially now in Gaza, the war criminals go free. And yet, you know, he acted as if he was both a progressive and as if he was concerned about the issues of serious injustice and inequality and it turned out that he’s just another neoliberal centrist with a smile and with a nice rhetorical flair. And that’s a very sad moment in the history of the nation because we are—we’re an empire in decline. Our culture is in increasing decay. Our school systems are in deep trouble. Our political system is dysfunctional. Our leaders are more and more bought off with legalized bribery and normalized corruption in Congress and too much of our civil life. You would think that we needed somebody—a Lincoln-like figure who could revive some democratic spirit and democratic possibility.

TF: That’s exactly what everyone was saying at the time.

CW: That’s right. That’s true. It was like, “We finally got somebody who can help us turn the corner.” And he posed as if he was a kind of Lincoln.

TF: Yeah. That’s what everyone was saying.

CW: And we ended up with a brown-faced Clinton. Another opportunist. Another neoliberal opportunist. It’s like, “Oh, no, don’t tell me that!” I tell you this, because I got hit hard years ago, but everywhere I go now, it’s “Brother West, I see what you were saying. Brother West, you were right. Your language was harsh and it was difficult to take, but you turned out to be absolutely right.” And, of course with Ferguson, you get it reconfirmed even among the people within his own circle now, you see. It’s a sad thing. It’s like you’re looking for John Coltrane and you get Kenny G in brown skin.



"TF: What on earth ails the man? Why can’t he fight the Republicans? Why does he need to seek a grand bargain?

CW: I think Obama, his modus operandi going all the way back to when he was head of the [Harvard] Law Review, first editor of the Law Review and didn’t have a piece in the Law Review. He was chosen because he always occupied the middle ground. He doesn’t realize that a great leader, a statesperson, doesn’t just occupy middle ground. They occupy higher ground or the moral ground or even sometimes the holy ground. But the middle ground is not the place to go if you’re going to show courage and vision. And I think that’s his modus operandi. He always moves to the middle ground. It turned out that historically, this was not a moment for a middle-ground politician. We needed a high-ground statesperson and it’s clear now he’s not the one.

And so what did he do? Every time you’re headed toward middle ground what do you do? You go straight to the establishment and reassure them that you’re not too radical, and try to convince them that you are very much one of them so you end up with a John Brennan, architect of torture [as CIA Director]. Torturers go free but they’re real patriots so we can let them go free. The rule of law doesn’t mean anything."



TF: One last thing, where are we going from here? What comes next?

CW: I think a post-Obama America is an America in post-traumatic depression. Because the levels of disillusionment are so deep. Thank God for the new wave of young and prophetic leadership, as with Rev. William Barber, Philip Agnew, and others. But look who’s around the presidential corner. Oh my God, here comes another neo-liberal opportunist par excellence. Hillary herself is coming around the corner. It’s much worse. And you say, “My God, we are an empire in decline.” A culture in decay with a political system that’s dysfunctional, youth who are yearning for something better but our system doesn’t provide them democratic venues, and so all we have are just voices in the wilderness and certain truth-tellers just trying to keep alive some memories of when we had some serious, serious movements and leaders.

TF: One last thought, I was talking to a friend recently and we were saying, if things go the way they look like they’re going to go and Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee and then wins a second term, the next time there’ll be a chance for a liberal, progressive president is 2024.

CW: It’d be about over then, brother. I think at that point—Hillary Clinton is an extension of Obama’s Wall Street presidency, drone presidency, national surveillance, national security presidency. She’d be more hawkish than he is, and yet she’s got that strange smile that somehow titillates liberals and neo-liberals and scares Republicans. But at that point it’s even too hard to contemplate.

TF:I know, I always like to leave things on a pessimistic note. I’m sorry. It’s just my nature.

CW: It’s not pessimistic, brother, because this is the blues. We are blues people. The blues aren’t pessimistic. We’re prisoners of hope but we tell the truth and the truth is dark. That’s different."
cornelwest  barackobama  progressivism  liberalism  billclinton  hillaryclinton  us  thomasfrank  2008  2014  blues  hope  pessimism  optimism  alsharpton  democrats  neoliberalism  militaryindustrialcomplex  security  surveillance  drones  war  inequality  ferguson  class  race  statusquo  politics  policy 
august 2014 by robertogreco
In praise of the terrible live stream — The Message — Medium
"Still images — and here I’m thinking particularly of the work of great photojournalists — can be a lot of things: honest, striking, darkly beautiful. They can act as primary documents — evidence — and they can also become symbols: powerful shorthand in communication and argumentation.

However, there’s one thing they can’t provide.

Photojournalists compose. They crop. Most crucially, they select. From a pile of hundreds of images, sometimes thousands, they choose one or two. Why? Because they convey something essential about a scene, certainly — but also because they are striking and/or darkly beautiful. Photojournalists choose the images that will please their employers and impress their peers. This is totally normal. It’s what professionals do.

But precisely because they are so carefully composed, so stingily selected, these images do not — cannot — convey the real lived experience of a scene.

Maybe someday in the far future, there will exist a device that can override your senses and put you, convincingly, in another place, with all its sights and sounds and smells, free to follow your own gaze. Maybe someday before that, we’ll have a kind of 3D telepresence delivered through VR goggles.

Until then, this is our telepresence, and it’s a precious thing.

The terrible live stream is precious because, of all the formats available to us now, it selects least. It resists the narrative compression of “news.” It shows a scene that, for all its intensity, is mostly slow-moving and confusing. It forces us to sit through the in-between minutes that an editor would cut. The live stream, uniquely among formats, is free to be muddled and boring, with no clear storyline and no assurance that This Is All Going Somewhere.

Just like life."

[See also (via CaseyGollan):
"In Defense of the Poor Image"
http://www.e-flux.com/journal/in-defense-of-the-poor-image/ ]
2014  robinsloan  livestreams  livestreaming  presence  multisensory  journalism  filtering  communication  photography  video  photojournalism  ferguson 
august 2014 by robertogreco
What Happens to #Ferguson Affects Ferguson: — The Message — Medium
"This isn’t about Facebook per se—maybe it will do a good job, maybe not—but the fact that algorithmic filtering, as a layer, controls what you see on the Internet. Net neutrality (or lack thereof) will be yet another layer determining this. This will come on top of existing inequalities in attention, coverage and control.

Twitter was also affected by algorithmic filtering. “Ferguson” did not trend in the US on Twitter but it did trend locally. [I’ve since learned from @gilgul that that it *briefly* trended but mostly trended at localities.] So, there were fewer chances for people not already following the news to see it on their “trending” bar. Why? Almost certainly because there was already national, simmering discussion for many days and Twitter’s trending algorithm (said to be based on a method called “term frequency inverse document frequency”) rewards spikes… So, as people in localities who had not been talking a lot about Ferguson started to mention it, it trended there though the national build-up in the last five days penalized Ferguson.

Algorithms have consequences.

Mass media, typically, does not do very well covering chronic problems of unprivileged populations, poor urban blacks bear the brunt of this, but they are not alone. Rural mostly white America, too, is almost always ignored except for the occasional “meth labs everywhere” story. But yesterday, many outlets were trying, except police didn’t let them. Chris Hayes says that police ordered satellite trucks off the area so that they could not go live from the area. Washington Post was only one outlet whose journalists were arrested — citizen journalists were targeted as well.

On the scrappy live feed kept up by frequently tear-gassed, coughing citizen journalists, I heard the announcements calling on them to “turn off their cameras.”

But maybe in the future, they don’t have to bother to arrest journalists and force cameras off. In California, legislation is being considered for “kill switches” in phones — a feature I honestly cannot imagine a good use for this in the United States.

The citizen journalists held on, even as choked from the gas, some traditional media started going live from the region, and today, it’s on the front page of many newspapers.

Maybe, just maybe, there can be a national conversation on these topics long-ignored outside these communities. That’s not everything: it may be a first step, or it may get drowned out.

But at least, we are here.

But I’m not quite sure that without the neutral side of the Internet—the livestreams whose “packets” were fast as commercial, corporate and moneyed speech that travels on our networks, Twitter feeds which are not determined by an opaque corporate algorithms but my own choices,—we’d be having this conversation.

So, I hope that in the coming days, there will be a lot written about race in America, about militarization of police departments, lack of living wage jobs in large geographic swaths of the country.

But keep in mind, Ferguson is also a net neutrality issue. It’s also an algorithmic filtering issue. How the internet is run, governed and filtered is a human rights issue.

And despite a lot of dismal developments, this fight is far from over, and its enemy is cynicism and dismissal of this reality.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

What happens to #Ferguson affects what happens to Ferguson."
zeyneptufekci  censorship  internet  netneutrality  twitter  facebook  news  media  2014  ferguson  algortihms  class  race  economics  television  tv  citizenjournalism 
august 2014 by robertogreco

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