Class action lawsuit filed against debtors’ prison for juveniles

“Youth who can’t pay for alternative programs may enter the juvenile justice system when a wealthier peer would not.”

#juveniles #debtorsprison #criminaljustice #inequality

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Debtor’s prison for juveniles is still a big problem in the United States. Essentially, it is a justice system that allows people to stay out of jail, depending on their racial or financial status.

Read more about it here, and watch a Vice documentary on the subject below.

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Bernie shouldn’t be opening the Women’s Convention, and they know that

“When I saw the Black Panther trailer, I was struck by the unmitigated chocolate involved. Just a crap ton of melanin – dark, DARK-skinned people – being warriors and superheroes and sh**, and not apologizing about it. That shock or surprise, because of how few spaces represent people of color, is exactly why it’s helpful to properly center events on the identities involved (especially if your contention is that those voices are not heard enough.)”

#WomensConvention #Women #Feminism #HillaryClinton #BernieSanders

If we all know one thing for sure, it’s that the 2016 campaign revealed divisions in America’s political thought that many were content to ignore for too long – especially in the Democratic Party. And no one accomplished more for that goal than Senator Bernie Sanders.

His campaign sent a consistent message that the establishment (the DNC) had ignored the will of the people (his supporters) and nominated Hillary Clinton against their wishes. Later on, Bernie helped foster the idea that his loss in the primaries was due to the all-powerful DNC, which Kurt Eichenwald of Newsweek describes as “an impotent organization with very little power.”

Hillary Clinton has even admitted that Sanders’ caustic rhetoric took a toll on her campaign, and many women have spoken out about the online harassment that they faced from his supporters, many of whom are self-described “progressives.”

So why give him the primetime spot at a “women’s convention?”

Choosing Bernie over representation

I wrote a piece a while ago about the white imagination, and how white supremacy manages to edge its way into the lives of all, rendering young black people unable to even imagine worlds centered on themselves.

When I saw the Black Panther trailer, I was struck by the unmitigated chocolate involved. Just a crap ton of melanin – dark, DARK-skinned people – being warriors and superheroes and shit, and not apologizing about it.

That shock or surprise, because of how few spaces represent people of color, is exactly why it’s helpful to properly center events on the identities involved (especially if your contention is that those voices are not heard enough.)

I would also not choose John Green (though he’s made killer videos on the topic) to open an event on racial injustice and inequality, either, nor do I believe he would accept. (And I LOVE me some John Green.)

Representation is bad enough as it is, without having a white man open an event meant to be about women.

What choosing Bernie says

Sec. Clinton would’ve been an obviously good choice, given the vast swaths of women who supported her and have felt victimized by this presidency in the time since she has lost.

It could’ve been especially meaningful to black women, 94% of whom voted for Clinton, and many of whom did so, not because they felt that she was the lesser of the two evils when compared to Donald Trump, but that she was actually a good option.

There are those who say that feminism isn’t about solely women, and it’s also about male allies who bolster the cause.

This is true-ish, but Sanders has shown a checkered understanding of women’s issues in the past.

With his post-election insistence that Democrats eschew identity politics and not just say “I’m a woman, vote for me,” he very clearly stated that HRC’s gender was all she had to offer voters, (a not-so-subtle dig at a woman with thrice his résumé in a third of the time in national politics.)

During the campaign, he offered a brusque dismissal of Planned Parenthood’s endorsement of HRC, calling Planned Parenthood “the establishment,” which through the framing of his campaign of outsider vs. establishment, we could reasonably read as “the enemy.”

It’s worth noting that Sanders’ comments – which he has since apologized for – came at a time when they were besieged by crises daily, and a calculated attack by the right wing of the federal government. Planned Parenthood endorsed who they trusted on women’s issues – and it wasn’t Sanders.

Is this the “progressive” man you want opening your event?

It didn’t have to be a politician

Even if we were to take into account comments by Tamika D. Mallory, one of the event’s organizers, on their announcement that Sanders would open the convention, and if we believed that they reached out to high-profile, accomplished, and successful women to no avail, we cannot believe that every high-profile, accomplished, and successful woman in the country was “busy.”

“They were busy” does not cut it. All of them were not “unavailable.”

Furthermore, everyone mentioned in that tweet was a politician, but politicians don’t happen to be the only women with thoughts worth hearing about progressive politics. It could have easily been an opportunity to uplift a woman that maybe participants were unaware of before.

Perhaps an investor to talk about the market, or a doctor to talk about what changes to the ACA mean for you. A conservationist to talk about climate change. An immigration lawyer who has worked with Dreamers and illegal immigrants to give insight on a process citizens don’t have to go through.

Response to backlash

Several moves the WC has made since make it apparent that they knew their choice was indefensible, as they announced Sanders’ inclusion after the refund date. Whatever you want to say about the situation, be it that they were right or wrong to invited Sanders, that…is shady.

If you’d like to have a Bernie Sanders rally, do it. But don’t trick women thinking they’re headed for a female empowerment event only to be treated with a stump speech for Sanders 2020, after they can’t take their money back. This move suggests that the WC knew what they were doing wasn’t right.

The WC then contended that Sanders was not a focal point of the event, and attempted to contain the damage by pointing out the small number of men at the conference relative to women, but…they gave Sanders the opening speech spot.

Most likely, they believed that his presence would garner further interest, higher attendance, and more money, but when they received a negative reaction, stated that Sanders wasn’t a centerpiece.

I have no doubt that, had the reaction been more amicable, the WC may have pushed even more Sanders PR as a draw to the event.

 

A “women’s convention” should be about uplifting and amplifying the voices of women, and the WC had to know that inviting Sanders, locus of attention that he is, would distract greatly from that point. It’s quite the stretch to suggest that you didn’t think Bernie would be, umm, noticeable.

Not to mention:

  • Sanders has spent his post-election tenure appearing on Stephen Colbert to promote his book, something that he has criticized Clinton for.

  • His wife, as part of his 2020 campaign, attempted to connect the sexually depraved behavior of Harvey Weinstein to Hillary Clinton.

 

  • The Women’s Convention, an outgrowth of The Women’s March demonstration a day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, uses the quote “Women’s rights are human rights,” a quote attributable to Hillary Clinton, without attribution.

What kind of message does the convention believe it’s sending to women beleaguered by sexist trolls online to invite a man that does very little to tamp them down? 

Conclusion

There should not be a man opening a “Women’s Convention,” given the already absurd lack of credence that women’s words are given compared to men, and the unfortunate lack of spaces available for them to make their words count.

What could have been an uplifting experience is now pockmarked by the fact that after contacting 3 senators, the Women’s Convention apparently decided the pool of women with valid thoughts on progressive politics had run dry.

Further, it definitely shouldn’t be this man, with his penchant for smearing a woman that many women and especially women of color, in the U.S. and around the world, admire and respect.

Even if Barack Obama himself, beacon of progressivism and beloved by all, were to speak at the convention, he’d better only be there to introduce Michelle.

Thanks so much for reading – subscribe and come back regularly for more posts! Follow me on Facebook or Twitter, and if you’d like a great read, you can buy my book here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screw Donald Trump: There will be art [Guest Post]

“There is an ever-present role for art in the era of increasing tyranny, fear, and irrational untruths, spearheaded by Donald Trump.”

#DonaldTrump #Art #Artists

Today, I’ll share with you a post that I wrote for my other blog, TimothyHucks.com!

It is about the ever-present role for art in the era of increasing tyranny, fear, and irrational untruths, spearheaded by Donald Trump. I hope you enjoy the piece and remember that the need for an artist’s voice does not diminish with adversity – it only increases.

Thanks so much for reading – subscribe and come back regularly for more posts! Follow me on Facebook or Twitter, and if you’d like a great read, you can buy my book here.

 

For many white liberals, politics is a game with zero stakes

“This white liberalism, under the guise of ‘fairness’ or ‘balance’ might include ferociously defending the free speech rights of neo-Nazis, but using your indoor voice to defend protesting NFL players.”

#Liberals #Democrats #Racism #Protests #NFL

Directly following the election of Donald Trump, many white liberals attempted to placate their friends of color. They said things like, “We’ve survived other presidents; we’ll survive this one” or “We have checks and balances.”

An interviewer asked Susan Sarandon, a passionate supporter of Bernie Sanders,  whether or not she would feel any contrition or regret were Trump elected president over Hillary Clinton. Her response?

“No matter who gets in, they don’t address these things…so for me it doesn’t matter.”

Does it matter yet, Susan?

Spicer at the Emmys

I won’t waste a lot of time here, as I’ve already written a piece on what I considered to be a bad move by Stephen Colbert to invite Spicer to the Emmys. When Spicer worked for, humanized, defended, normalized, and flagrantly lied for the President of the United States and shows no contrition for doing it, why would he be rewarded prestige and laughter at one of Hollywood’s most elite nights?

I’ve been called out for “faux outrage” at Spicer’s appearance and told, “There are more important things going on” just as I’ve been told that when focusing on racial justice in the NFL or the suspension of Jemele Hill on ESPN.

Why, Stephen?

Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck has been the center of controversy surrounding the recent exposé of Hollywood insider Harvey Weinstein, exposing Weinstein’s brutal and harassing behavior towards women over three decades.

Affleck issued an acknowledgement of the situation Weinstein finds himself in, given that he’s worked closely with him before.

Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 5.58.12 PM

 

Actress Rose McGowan, another name rising in the wake of the Weinstein debacle, calls Affleck’s comments denouncing sexual harassment disingenuous, claiming that the actor knew.

 

Why, Ben?

Stuck between two idealisms

Before the election, I wrote a piece about the tough spot that minorities found themselves in, stuck between conservatives who wished the world dragged into the past, and liberals who lied about living in a future that has not arrived yet.

Many white liberals espouse to be on the side of racial justice and standing for the dispossessed, but when faced with choices…

  • Susan said, even knowing the terror Trump could inflict on communities of color she claims to care for, that it made no difference to her who won the election.
  • Stephen invited Spicer to the Emmy stage, who he criticized daily for lying to the American public, without a hint of apology.
  • And Ben Affleck may have tacitly covered for a serial sexual abuser.

These aren’t liberal principles, are they?

The problem is that for many white liberals, politics is a zero stakes game. It includes voicing your support for movements and people of color, but not for listening to what they say, or changing because of it.

These forms of white liberalism might cheer Black Lives Matter in public, and then mutter to themselves in private about BLM hurting their own cause. They might involve standing against sexual assault in rhetoric, but standing with systems of white supremacy in action. They might involve calling for more “diversity,” without wanting to lose your seat on the board to accomplish it.

This white liberalism, under the guise of “fairness” or “balance” might include ferociously defending the free speech rights of neo-Nazis, but using your indoor voice to defend protesting NFL players.

This is what happens when you have players in the game with zero stakes, people who will be perfectly fine if the change requested doesn’t happen. People who will “survive.”

But “we” won’t survive anything, and we never have.

Thanks so much for reading – subscribe and come back regularly for more posts! Follow me on Facebook or Twitter, and if you’d like a great read, you can buy my book here.

 

 

“The absence of tension” – A Batman theory of resistance

“Negative peace, however awful it feels under the thumb of thugs and criminals, allows us to go on. Positive peace commands our attention.”

#Batman #MLK #Justice #Protest #NFL #Weinstein #Peace

“Things are worse than ever!”

In The Dark Knight, at a town hall, a citizen of Gotham stands up to shout this about the caped crusader.  Ostensibly, he’s referring to the wave of crime now invited into the city, the casual destruction of property, or the increased viciousness of the mob since Batman’s explosion onto the scene of justice.

Here’s the thing: None of that is Batman’s fault. (For the time being, we’ll ignore all the citizen and police casualties we see in the Nolan films, because we know they’re just there to give us a little Hollywood magic.)

What Batman does is confront injustice. So why does this citizen think otherwise?

Negative Peace vs. Positive Peace

286477008_9e81cd5681

In his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King posited that there were two different kinds of peace, and outlined the levels on which they operate.

“First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate…who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.

His point was that in order to be purveyors of justice in our society, it is not enough that we seek to quell injustice when it happens, but that we be committed to the lifelong project of creating systems of justice for all.

His words ring true every time the media hunts for causes to what seem to be like singular incidents, like the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, until they find that a history of systemic abuse of minorities (and white people) in that county left them open to such incidents. This takes what seems like the singular and connects it to a pattern.

Nor is it enough, like the Mayor of Ferguson, to say, “I think that they [race relations] are definitely more strained than they’ve ever been in a long time here in this community.”

How can the mayor reasonably believe that race relations were not strained before the Ferguson shooting?

Ambra Battilana Gutierrez and Harvey Weinstein

After an explosive exposé by the New York Times on the deplorable behavior of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, people have taken to learning something about his victims. One of the most notable is an Italian model named Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, who Weinstein admitted to groping in 2015.

The New York Post ardently led the charge to question the credentials of Ms. Gutierrez back in 2015 when the charges were brought, with a series of grotesque articles. They leave one with the feeling that she is opportunistic, not truly a victim of Weinstein’s, and simply seeking to use sexual harassment as a means to further herself socially or financially.

Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 5.21.48 PM
(P.s. The Post editorial board’s current official position is that liberals ignoring the signs is why Harvey Weinstein got away with it.)

Even now, after having truly disturbing audio released by The New Yorker of Weinstein’s desperate and harassing attempts to get Gutierrez alone with him, she faces questions like this.

Why would a woman reporting on a crime done to her receive such condemnation and extreme skepticism? (Well, there are several, but…)

We like Gotham

The answer to all of these questions is the same. The citizen who thinks that Batman is responsible for the increase in crime, the mayor who ignores systemic issues until a shooting incident, and those who ask why women like Gutierrez didn’t report sooner have one things in common: They like Gotham. 

joker-TA
Remember that Gotham is run by criminals like this.

Remember that Gotham is a city overrun with criminals of the blue and white collar. Remember that every portion of it is controlled by bankers and mobsters who can extort the people any time they wish. Remember that this was the case long before there was any Batman to oppose this injustice.

And the people liked it that way, because destruction increases when evil is opposed.

 

It’s because the negative peace, however awful it feels under the thumb of thugs and criminals, allows us to go on, and it’s far easier to destroy Batman for standing up to injustice than it is to destroy the Joker for causing it.

Positive peace (NFL protests, criminal justice reform, or speaking out against a violent sexual abuser) commands our attention, and brings the clown car of society to a grinding halt.

Negative peace greases the wheels. Positive peace is by nature and intent, disruptive. And those who resist the system pay a far higher price for doing so than those intent on keeping the car going.

The people of Gotham prefer a negative peace. And so do we.

Thanks so much for reading – subscribe and come back regularly for more posts! Follow me on Facebook or Twitter, and if you’d like a great read, you can buy my book here.

 

“Et dona nobis pacem” – The destruction of women will grant us peace

“After listening to that audio, it’s amazing that the media mob would be more interested in asking questions of what they suspect (with scant evidence) Meryl Streep knew than vigorously attacking The Weinstein Company, who we know knew. ”

#HarveyWeinstein #MerylStreep #SexualAssault #feminism

The year is 1482, the days when the might of the military and the authority of the Church weaved together like asps in a pit. Upon entering the city of Paris, a young gypsy girl named Esmeralda quickly runs afoul of the archdeacon of Notre Dame, Judge Claude Frollo. At the Feast of Fools, an annual celebration of debauchery and excess, the crowd relentlessly tortures Quasimodo (the hunchback) for his haggard appearance. Frollo allows it. Esmeralda does not.

“All Paris burns for Esmeralda.”

Over the course of the show, Esmeralda becomes a blank canvas on which to paint the hopes, dreams, fears, and sometimes wicked caprices of Paris itself. Rather than what she is, she is beholden to the image created of her. Frollo is successful in convincing the townspeople that Paris’s freedom and Esmeralda’s are indeed mutually exclusive.

Through acts of kindness, sexual liberation, and speaking out against societal injustice, she makes herself the target of a witchhunt, and by her destruction, goes the argument, Paris will be healed.

Harvey Weinstein

After the New York Times reported that Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein had been harassing and abusing women for years and paying to cover it up, there was a ferocious outcry. Conservatives lambasted Democrats and Hillary Clinton for apparently “letting” Weinstein get away with this. (Weinstein was a big Democratic donor.)

The witchhunt then cycled to Meryl Streep, Hollywood royalty who has worked with Weinstein on multiple films.

It’s not an accident that the first targets of the witchhunt were women.

Listen, if you can (and consider this a very strong trigger/content warning because this is highly disturbing audio) to this heinous interaction between Weinstein and Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez.

After listening to that audio, it’s amazing that the media mob would be more interested in asking questions of whether or not Meryl Streep knew than vigorously attacking The Weinstein Company, who we know knew.

Et dona nobis pacem

During the song “Esmeralda,” the mob searches high and low for her, at Frollo’s behest. As Frollo, the townspeople, and soldiers raid every corner of Paris looking the gypsy girl (whose crimes include entering Paris illegally (commentary) and practicing “witchcraft”), they sing:

“These are the flames of Esmeralda, the night is singing of Esmeralda.”

But these aren’t the flames of Esmeralda. Frollo is the one literally setting homes ablaze in hopes of finding her. Frollo is the one that Paris burns for. And as Quasimodo figures out by the end of the play, Frollo is the one who is desperately wicked, not Esmeralda.

The townspeople never catch up to that. They sing in Latin behind Frollo, saying, “Et dona nobis pacem” or “And grant us peace.” The crowd believes that the death of Esmerelda will bring that.

Just before burning her at the stake, Frollo issues his final decree:

“For the justice of the realm and for the salvation of Paris, it is my sacred duty to send this unholy demon back to hell.”

Frollo explicitly connects the idea of the salvation of Paris to the destruction of a woman, because it seems our salvation is always dependent on such.

Conclusion

It’s easier to harass and harangue Meryl Streep or Hillary Clinton for what people (with little evidence) suspect that they knew than to entangle ourselves in the righteous struggle against power structures that empower Harvey Weinstein, and men like him.

It’s easier for us to pretend that destroying Streep, whatever we believe her to be a symbol of, will bring an era of lasting joy throughout the land, or somehow provide restitution for the damage that has been caused, but that responsibility lays sharply at the feet of Harvey Weinstein.

Justice didn’t come to Paris when Esmeralda died. It came when Frollo did.

Thanks so much for reading – subscribe and come back regularly for more posts! Follow me on Facebook or Twitter, and if you’d like a great read, you can buy my book here.

Sexual assault is not a political tool, so stop using it like one

“Sexual assault is not a partisan issue, and those who treat it as one are neither fit nor deserving to be advocates against it, and should be ashamed of pretending to be.”

After a bombshell report by the New York Times, famed Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has been fired from the company he founded, concerning allegations of decades of sexual abuse against women. Depending on what you knew about Harvey Weinstein, the news is either shocking or not, but the point is that we know now.

The fallout, however, is a whole different story.

Hours after the report, the RNC slammed Democrats for their silence on Weinstein. Donald Trump, Jr and Sean Spicer both criticized Hillary Clinton on Twitter for what they perceived as a silence on the issue.

I have some notes on the inanity of asking this.

  1. Hillary Clinton is a private citizen, not required to “issue statements” on anything.
  2. Insisting that she speak out on this issue does not jive with overwhelming admonitions just a month ago that she “go away.”

    Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 11.11.58 AM.png
    That’s just page 1 of Google.
  3. Weinstein being a Democratic donor indicates his endorsement for the party, not the other way around.
  4. If I were Sean Spicer, I might keep my mouth shut about sexual abuse, given that he worked for, lied for, attempted to humanize, defended, normalized, and praised a man who openly bragged about sexually assaulting women.
  5. As for Donald Trump Jr., he seems quick on the draw when it comes to a Democratic donor embroiled in a sexual assault scandal, but when asked about women that suffer sexual harassment in the workplace, he said that women who couldn’t handle it would be better off teaching kindergarten.Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 10.42.33 AM.pngAnd we’ve been talking about politics this whole time. But what was the name of the Italian model Weinstein assaulted in March 2015?

Sexual assault is not a political tool

Even though Weinstein’s abuses have now been widely reported, these jabs at naked opportunism show that the GOP is hardly concerned with the actual victims of sexual crimes, seeing them as but pawns in a game (as evidenced by the time Donald Trump literally met with Bill Clinton’s accusers prior to a debate, presumably to “throw off” Hillary.) But they’re not.

In March 2015, Mr. Weinstein had invited Ambra Battilana, an Italian model and aspiring actress, to his TriBeCa office on a Friday evening to discuss her career. Within hours, she called the police. Ms. Battilana told them that Mr. Weinstein had grabbed her breasts after asking if they were real and put his hands up her skirt, the police report says.

Ambra Battilana is a real person who was assaulted by a man with a lot more influence, money, and power than she had. As Lauren O’Connor, Weinstein’s former employee, aptly put it in a memo distributed to higher-ups at the company:

Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 11.50.59 AM

Sexual assault is not a political weapon to be used at your disposal. It’s not up to us to say “I don’t like Donald Trump” or “I don’t like Bill Clinton” or “I like Bill Cosby” and choose whether or not we believe the victims of assault based on our preferences.

People who dismissed Donald Trump’s infamous Access Hollywood comments as just “locker room talk” or defend, as Don Jr. did, “a guys’ place” can hardly righteously denounce Harvey Weinstein for engaging in practices they are actively encouraging.

This move is especially egregious if we, at no other time, show interest or commitment to stopping this kind of behavior through legislation or culture.

According to End The Backlog, tens of thousands of rape kits go untested every year. Where do calls for legislation to aid victims in that way come from? Oh, right, from a comedian.

From whence comes the resistance? GOP officials like Georgia state senator Renee Unterman, who killed legislation designed to reduce the amount of untested rape kits. It was voted in unanimously by the House prior to reaching her committee.

Where is the adamant denunciation for that kind of behavior by a member of your own party? Why are Spicer and Don Jr. badgering a woman that lost an election a year ago? Perhaps their commitments to justice for victims of sexual harassment/assault and rape are only skin deep, as your convictions might have to be to condemn others while serving Donald Trump himself.

Sexual assault is not a partisan issue, and those who treat it as one are neither fit nor deserving to be advocates against it, and should be ashamed of pretending to be.