Tag Archives: Racism

Democracy Now! — Monday, Aug. 1, 2016


It’s been a good week for voter rights. Image: video still

Voting rights advocates have won a number of major victories that could reshape the November election. Over the past 10 days, a series of court rulings have struck down new voting restrictions in North Carolina, Wisconsin, Kansas and Texas. In North Carolina, judge Diana Motz wrote, “We cannot ignore the recent evidence that, because of race, the legislature enacted one of the largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolina history.”

Meanwhile in Wisconsin, U.S. District Judge James Peterson also struck down a voting rights law, writing that the objective of the law was to “suppress the reliably Democratic vote of Milwaukee’s African Americans.” A week earlier, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit struck down a Texas law which has been described as the nation’s most restrictive voter ID law.

For more, Amy Goodman spoke with Ari Berman, senior contributing writer for The Nation, where he covers voting rights. Berman’s recent piece for The Nation is called “The Country’s Worst Anti-Voting Law Was Just Struck Down in North Carolina.”

Last week in Philadelphia, a caravan of Nuns on the Bus pulled up to the Democratic National Convention after visiting 13 states, where they hosted conversations with ordinary Americans on both sides of the political spectrum in an effort to bridge the divide. To learn more about their journey, Amy Goodman sat down with the caravan’s leader, Sister Simone Campbell. She’s a lawyer and poet and the executive director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice.

Last week at the Democratic National Convention, one of the most powerful speeches came from Khizr Khan, the father of a U.S. soldier who died serving in Iraq in 2004. Onstage in Philadelphia, Khan asked Donald Trump whether he’d ever read the U.S. Constitution, and he offered Trump his own copy. In response, Trump attacked Khizr’s wife, Ghazala Khan, who appeared onstage alongside her husband. Trump’s comments sparked widespread outrage—including from the Khans themselves, who denounced Donald Trump, saying he is “totally unfit for the leadership of this country.”

We are honored to offer this broadcast as part of our affiliation with the Pacifica Network. Democracy Now! is a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program hosted by journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez.


Eric is busy creating the new 2016 Midyear Reading, BALANCE. Covering Jupiter in Libra and other forthcoming astrology, this exciting reading will carry you well into 2017. Get all 12 signs today for just $57. Image from the 2012 Blue Marble by NASA GSFC.


Monday, July 11, 2016. Outside of going to the gym and making a round for the groceries, my house saw a lot more of me than it’s used to. I live upstairs in a duplex in Oakland, CA, where outside my front porch is an 80-year-old spruce tree that’s three stories high. Outside my bedroom window is a golden plum tree, the twin to the other plum tree that accompanies the spruce on the porch side.


Squirrels make their journey from tree to tree, using my roof and the redwood deck railing as frontage roads on their scamper from tree to tree. They never touch the ground. In the morning, I have my first cup of coffee sitting on the front porch — which is large enough to be a patio — to listen to the birds sing. Based on my own advice from last Friday, and the consistent writings of our PW team these last few days, I have heeded the advice of the planets and allowed my home to be my personal form of medicine.

I needed it. The thought of watching or listening to the news this weekend was so disturbing that my insides ached even at the thought of it. I can’t hear one more news anchor argue about or even talk about last week. My bullshit meter is so hot right now, I can’t afford the time to blow another gasket over yet the same old arguments and same old framework used in an attempt to explain, contradict or analyze the killings of the two African-American men in Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights, or the five policemen in Dallas.

Right now, and apropos to our current Cancer Sun, the animal I most see myself as is a nautilus, a mollusc in the same family as octopus and squid, but it has a shell as its outer body. Its shell grows out in a logarithmic spiral as it matures, adhering to its basic shape yet expanding out. As its tentacles reach out to forage and hunt in the ocean, its tender inner body remains inside.

If this description seems like I am retreating into a shell, let me assure you I am not, as this very article’s presence and my willingness to write about this self-induced introspection should prove. If anything, I am absorbing the lessons of my life and our lives in this day and age.

One Daily Kos diarist, dkmich, said it this way in a diary on July 8:

I need a new lexicon for this. I can engage in this differently. I can find common ground. I can be sad about officers killing unarmed civilians AND, at the same time, be sad about heavily armed civilians killing officers protecting citizens. And posing with protesters in pictures.

As of this week we are further along than we’ve ever been on discussing the disproportionate deaths of African Americans by police. We are now in our sixth day of this topic in the news cycle. NRA members are openly questioning their leadership as to why they are not defending the rights of a black gun owner, Philando Castile. Conservative websites Redstate and Daily Caller are having serious discussions on the recent deaths; and Mike Rawlings, the mayor of Dallas, complained open carry laws endanger more lives than protect them. Well, duh. But believe me, to say that in Texas is a big fucking deal.

I hope we are not settling for easy answers. Easy answers — lone shooter, rogue cop, suspicious black man going for his gun — got us to Alton’s death, Philando’s death and the deaths of the five Dallas police officers who work under a black chief of police — a police chief who runs a police department that has a good reputation with the black community.

Easy answers and assumptions based on biased viewpoints crafted over the years got us to this point. We are reaching — literally and figuratively — a dead end. Having had time to reflect and not react, it feels like we’re in a self-imposed nautilus shell. An easy answer is not acceptable.

The trauma of last week’s events are forcing us to work on releasing ourselves from the previous chambers of old and worn-out ideas about race and culture, policing and gun violence in America. Are we undergoing logarithmic growth? Can we begin to expand on our old understanding of race without resorting to defensiveness or having to limit ourselves to thoughts and prayers for more of those shot dead?

I am a person of color in America. I feel fortunate to have a front porch where I can drink my morning cup of coffee and reflect on the state of our country and the world. Too many do not. We need to think, feel and act on the conflicting feelings we feel to begin to come to terms with the roots of this insidious tree of racism and violence that threatens to choke us. And we need to do more than pray. We need a new way of thinking.

The late, great Fannie Lou Hamer once said: “You can pray all you want, but unless you get up and try to do something, God is not going to put it in your lap.” It’s a good time in the aftermath of the most recent tragedies to work to provide some meaning to the lives and deaths of those lost last week — and in the weeks, months and years before. We need to do the logarithmic growing from the left-behind-smaller-space of our former shell to become greater, and overcome this.


The Planet Waves Boutique has plenty of balm for your soul. Come pay us a visit, put your feet up, and enjoy discovering all the wonderful readings we have to offer.