Listen to Kimberly Jones

There’s been a lot said lately about the Black Lives Matter movement, police brutality, the militarization of police forces, rioting, local budgets allocating absurd amounts of money to police departments instead of social services, education, the arts, etc etc. But the clarion call above all others, for me at least, came from author and Black Lives Matter advocate, Kimberly Jones.

As a white person I don’t feel I really have much to say here except that black lives matter, black lives are equal to white lives, black lives have value, black lives have power, black lives have purpose and black lives should have their voices heard. The fact that I’m writing this is, to me, an insult just as it was an insult when it was deemed newsworthy that gay lives mattered, that gay rights were human rights.

So I’m not really going to say anything more on this and instead let Kimberly Jones use her voice. I get chills every time I replay her words through my head. Watch to the end. Listen to Kimberly Jones. 

And they are lucky that what black people are looking for is equality and not revenge.

On Saturday May 30th filmmaker and photographer David Jones of David Jones Media felt compelled to go out and serve the community in some way. He decided to use his art to try and explain the events that were currently impacting our lives. On day two, Sunday the 31st, he activated his dear friend author Kimberly Jones to tag along and conduct interviews. During a moment of downtime he captured these powerful words from her and felt the world couldn’t wait for the full length documentary, they needed to hear them now.

Source

How Can We Win

By Kimberly Jones, author of “I’m Not Dying with You Tonight

So, I’ve been seeing a lot of things, talking of the people making commentary. Interestingly enough, the ones I’ve noticed that have been making the commentary are wealthy black people, making the commentary about we should not be rioting. We should not be looting. We should not be tearing up our own communities. And then there’s been an argument of the other side of, we should be hitting them in the pocket. We should be focusing on the blackout days where we don’t spend money, but I feel like we should do both, and I feel like I support both. And I’ll tell you why I support both.

I support both because when you have a civil unrest like this, there are three type of people in the streets. There are the protesters, there are the rioters, and there are the looters. The protesters are there because they actually care about what is happening in the community. They want to raise their voices, and they are there strictly to protest.

You have the rioters who are angry, who are anarchists, who really just want to fuck shit up, and that’s what they’re going to do regardless. And then you have the looters. And the looters almost exclusively are just there to do that, to loot. Now, people are like, “Well, what did you gain? Well, what did you get from looting?”

I think that as long as we’re focusing on the what, we’re not focusing on the why, and that’s my issue with that. As long as we’re focusing on what they’re doing, we’re not focusing on why they’re doing it. And some people are like, “Well, those aren’t people who are legitimately angry about what’s happening. Those are people who just want to get stuff.”

Okay, well then let’s go with that. Let’s say that’s what it is. Let’s ask ourselves, “Why, in this country, in 2020, the financial gap between poor blacks and the rest of the world is at such a distance that people feel like their only hope and only opportunity to get some of the things that we flaunt and flash in front of them all the time is to walk through a broken glass window and get it? That they are so hopeless that getting that necklace, getting that TV, getting that change, getting that bed, getting that phone, whatever it is that they’re going to get, is that in that moment, when the riots happen, and if they present an opportunity of looting, that’s their only opportunity to get it?”

We need to be questioning that why. Why are people that poor? Why are people that broke? Why are people that food insecure, that clothing insecure, that they feel like their only shot, that they are shooting their shot, by walking through a broken glass window to get what they need?

And then people want to talk about, “Well, there’s plenty of people who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and got it on their own. Why can’t they do that?” Let me explain it to you something about economics in America. And I’m so glad that, as a child, I got an opportunity to spend time at PUSH where they taught me this, is that we must never forget that economics was the reason that black people were brought to this country. We came to do the agricultural work in the South and the textile work in the North. Do you understand that? That’s what we came to do. We came to do the agricultural work in the South and the textile work in the North.

Now, if I, right now, if I right now, decided that I wanted to play Monopoly with you and for 400 rounds of playing Monopoly, I didn’t allow you to have any money. I didn’t allow you to have anything on the board. I didn’t allow for you to have anything. And then we played another 50 rounds of Monopoly, and everything that you gained and you earned while you were playing that round of Monopoly was taken from you. That was Tulsa. That was Rosewood. Those are places where we built black economic wealth, where we were self-sufficient, where we owned our stores, where we owned our property, and they burned them to the ground. So that’s 450 years.

So for 400 rounds of monopoly, you don’t get to play at all. Not only do you not get to play, you have to play on the behalf of the person that you’re playing against. You have to play and make money and earn wealth for them, and then you have to turn it over to them.

So then for 50 years, you finally get a little bit and you’re allowed to play. And every time that they don’t like the way that you’re playing, or that you’re catching up, or that you’re doing something to be self-sufficient, they burn your game. They burn your cards. They burn your Monopoly money. And then, finally, at the release and the onset of that, they allow you to play and they say, “Okay, now you catch up.”

Now, at this point, the only way you’re going to catch up in the game is if the person shares the wealth, correct? But what if every time she shared the wealth, then there’s psychological warfare against you to say, “Oh, you’re an equal opportunity hire.”

So if I played 400 rounds of monopoly with you, and I had to play and give you every dime that I made, and then for 50 years, every time that I played, if you didn’t like what I did, you got to burn it, like they did in Tulsa and like they did in Rosewood, how can you win? How can you win? You can’t win. The game is fixed. So, when they say, “Why do you burn down the community? Why do you burn down your own neighborhood?” It’s not ours! We don’t own anything! We don’t own anything.

Trevor Noah said it so beautifully last night. There’s a social contract that we all have, that if you steal, or if I steal, then the person who is the authority comes in, and they fix the situation. But the person who fixes the situation is killing us. So the social contract is broken. And if the social contract is broken, why the fuck do I give a shit about burning the fucking Football Hall of Fame, about burning a fucking Target?

You broke the contract when you killed us in the streets and didn’t give a fuck! You broke the contract when for 400 years, we played your game and built your wealth. You broke the contract when we built our wealth again, on our own, by our bootstraps, in Tulsa, and you dropped bombs on us. When we built it in Rosewood, and you came and you slaughtered us.

You broke the contract, so fuck your Target! Fuck your Hall of Fame! As far as I’m concerned, they could burn this bitch to the ground, and it still wouldn’t be enough. And they are lucky that what black people are looking for is equality and not revenge.

Image courtesy Johnny Silvercloud.

Death and Taxes 2014: US Federal Budget Infographic

I received an email today from the good folks over at Visual.ly. One of the charts they sent, really an infographic, is one depicting the United States Federal Budget as proposed by President Obama. There has been a good bit of controversy on the 2014 budget. Not just because of the content of the budget but because of how late it was.

Obama presented his first budget on May 11, 2009, a month and two days longer than President George W. Bush’s budget was released during his first year in office. However, every year after that his budget was delivered in February, just like George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton. This year, on the other hand, Obama was two months late. Not the end of the world but this was the latest submission by an incumbent president as far as I could go back, 1923. Continue reading

The Real Cost of the 2012 Election

Today is the day that millions of Americans will cast their vote for the next President of the United States, for members of congress and thousands of other state and local issues. And as with any election, the most important thing you can do is get out and make an educated vote for the candidate and issue that matters most to you. That being said, here is something I meant to tweet out today but realized would not fit into 140 characters.

I’m going to keep this as short as possible but here’s the gist of it. Remarking only on the presidential election, here is why I am voting to re-elect Barack Obama as President. I would list the accomplishments of his first term but The Washington Monthly already did that. Read that.

My argument for Obama isn’t all the great things he has done and it isn’t all the great things he will do. It’s also not just because I can’t stand to stand for the ever changing ideals of Governor Romney or ignorant beliefs of Paul Ryan. Yes, those are incredibly important factors, however there is something of great consequence that will out-last his presidency and many more that follow. The Supreme Court.

  • Anthony Kennedy (Reagan) – 76 years old
  • Antonin Scalia (Regan) – 76 years old
  • Clarence Thomas (George H. W. Bush) – 64 years old
  • Stephen Breyer (Bill Clinton) – 74 years old
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Bill Clinton) – 79 years old
  • John Roberts (Chief Justice) (George W. Bush) – 57 years old
  • Samuel Alito (George W. Bush) – 62 years old
  • Elena Kagan (Barack Obama) – 52 years old
  • Sonia Sotomayor (Barack Obama) – 58 years old

There are of course nine justices on the Supreme Court. President Obama was given the opportunity to appoint two in his first term, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. He elected two of the only four female justices in history.

Four of the current Surpreme Court Justices are 74 years or older and it is expected that two, and even perhaps all four, will be replaced through retirement or for health reasons by the end of 2016. If Obama does not get re-elected, this gives Conservatives up to four more Supreme Court justices on their side of the issues. Two of the four potential retirees were appointed by Bill Clinton. The rest (excluding Sotomayer and Kagan) were appointed by President Reagan, President George H. W. Bush and President George W. Bush.

That means, if Mitt Romney wins the election, he will be given the opportunity to replace as many as half of the Democrat-appointed justices with Conservatives. That means the 5:4 split we currently have could become a 7:2 split.

What does a 7:2 split mean? It means Marriage Equality would be dead for 15-30 more years. That Roe v. Wade could likely be repealed. It means horrible legislation like Citizens United will stand. That immigration reform and dozens of other civil rights issues will be dust in the wind. That healthcare reform would be repealed.

I’m voting for President Barack Obama’s reelection because I want to get married. Because I respect my female friends and family. I’m voting for President Barack Obama because without healthcare reform, I cannot get insurance.

I’m voting for President Barack Obama because I’m afraid of what would happen to my rights and the future of civil rights for decades to come should Mitt Romney win.

A Bad Lip Reading of the First 2012 Presidential Debate

Big thumbs up to Thomas Sanchez who posted this on Facebook earlier today. It is, by far, the funniest thing I have seen all week. And believe it or not, Denver debate moderator Jim Lehrer seems more in control of the debate in this parody video than in real life. Ok so that isn’t so hard to believe. Sadly President Obama still loses this debate, bad lip reading or not.

This was created by the brilliant people over at Bad Lip Reading. Can’t wait to see what they do with the next debate. Hopefully President Obama will bring his A Game instead of whatever that was he brought to Denver. Oh and, you’re welcome.

Jason Mraz on I Won’t Give Up

Jason Mraz Love is a Four Letter Word

I’ve been a huge fan of Jason Mraz for the last eleven or so years. His music has always spoken to me and his personality on stage, in interviews and in person is as authentic and kind as anyone could hope him to be.

Anyways, his new album came out yesterday (link to download in the image above) as did an interview with CNN. I Won’t Give Up was the first single off of the album and when asked what the song was about Jason explained:

Traditional marriage between a man and a woman, and trying to put that into a law or a rule, is basically saying that gay people aren’t real. Well, gay people are very real. It is treating our gay and lesbian citizens like second-class citizens. I think it is the final step in the civil rights movement.

So that’s pretty cool. I’ll leave you now with the video for I Won’t Give Up.

Now if only we can get the loud minority of this country to agree with him.

The Gay Rights Movement

I just stumbled upon this video through a friend’s Facebook update and immediately felt compelled to share here. It’s a trailer for a documentary titled “Second Class Citizens” which you can sponsor via Kickstarter.

This documentary is something that is very near and dear to me; someone who is considered by my state and country a second class citizen. By extension, I am a second class citizen to all my friends and family members who continue to vote for people who fight against equality, donate money to organizations and churches who cast aspersions on who I am and look the other way all the while.

Explaining what it is like to be gay isn’t easy. I kept it a secret until I was 18 years old because I feared that I might be made a victim of harassment beyond what I was already experiencing in junior high and high school. I was so stressed out about being gay that I became physically ill; acid reflux, debilitating migraines, panic attacks & major depression.

If it wasn’t for the friends I made in college, I don’t know that I would have survived to be where I am today. Far too many people like me don’t make it through the bullying. They are commit suicide or are murdered because they or someone else was unable to accept the person they were born to be.

I can’t tell you the number of times I was verbally or physically harassed, my property vandalized and my life threatened. My first semester in college a neighbor in the dorms threaten to hang me in the stairwell because I was gay. Try explaining to your parents why you have to switch dorms when that is your reason. I never did because I never had the courage to do so.

Ryan James Yezak is hoping to produce a documentary titled “Second Class Citizens” and has created a Kickstarter campaign to help fund it. I implore you to check it out and if you find it worthy, to invest in his film. I am going to do that right now.

Rick Perry disgusts me

I try not to make it a habit of writing purely political posts but the new Rick Perry YouTube video threw me over the edge. If you like the video, you probably won’t like this post.

There is no shortage of reasons I don’t think Perry should be a presidential candidate for the Republican party. I don’t even think he should be the Governor of Texas. It’s not just because he’s a goof who embarrases most people from Texas, like myself, it’s the way he markets himself as a candidate.

For whatever reason, the loud, far right conservative politicians on the scene these days treat culture and intelligence as negative attributes. They forget that Christian law, much like Sharia law, is not United States law. They forget that smart people create solutions where others can’t. They forget a lot of things, many of which were their founding principles. I’m not talking about all Republicans, I’m talking about people like Rick Perry.

Continue reading