Monday, January 23, 2006

The Death of Civil Rights ???

"I'd name Coretta Scott King mayor of the cities and converts feens to Willies..." -Nas- If I ruled the world
Today Coretta Scott King passed away in her sleep. She was of course the wife of MLK Jr, but she also left quite a legacy in her own right.

Unfortunately today also marked the confirmation of Samuel Alito. What a sickening irony. Well, the Supreme Court is full again... here's to some bleak years ahead.

The Daily also recently reported on STOP BAMN, By Any Legal Means. The article suggests that there may be some affirmative action supporters in this group... yeah, just like the folks who support the "MCRI" support "affirmative action" but not "preferences." Rhetorical tricks are so interesting. Surely anyone who supports affirmative action and dislikes Bamn will soon find themselves running in the opposite direction of this group. A quick facebook search demonstrates that the group is certainly pro-MCRI with quotes like
The ONLY thing that can stop us from being on the ballot now is a direct order from the Supreme Court, which will never happen.
and links to the "Michigan Civil Rights" site, Zarko's blog, and an new anonymous anti-bamn blog, you can see the ideological direction. It's an interesting strategy, they even cite the U-M NAACP's denouncement of BAMN on their site. Hope too many folks don't fall for this group's foolishness.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Ballot Proposal Language Accepted

The proposed language for the ballot proposal that affects affirmative action was approved by the Board of Canvassers.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Who is making the dream?

So annually the nation decides to celebrate the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Junior (well everywhere except Utah where it's also Human Rights Day) but you get the idea. I was unfortunately under the weather for this year's MLK celebration at U of M so I didn't see much besides a doctor... who wasn't Dr. King. Despite my sickness, I thought about 2005 when I did a poem for an open mic that SMES-G (Society for Minority Engineering Students- Graduate Component)held to honor Dr. King's legacy. The poem is really long and is linked here. I may even podcast it, if I decide to explore that technology. I rarely do spoken word stuff anymore, so it was a nice release for some of my creative side (as if writing a dissertation isn't creative ;)

On Sunday night, the Boondocks had a fresh episode called Return of the King. The plot essentially has Dr. King returning to the current day after being awoken from a coma. In my opinion it was masterfully done for 4 reasons.

1) I think McGruder and company really captured the tensions between the commodification of MLK and his dream and the contemporary political environment. He would quickly be lambasted as un-American and touted onto ever political talk show to get insulted perpetually. The catch line of "I really should have had approval over this ..." is hilarious for two reasons to me. The image of Dr. King has two extremes, one which is completely over used and misused without consideration and the virtual death grip that a few individuals/organizations hold on texts and audio rights to Martin's speeches. Either way, I'm sure he would be completely disappointed by the current state of his archival legacy.

2) Uncle Rukus' contempt for MLK and civil rights. It's easy to forget that not all Black folks believed in the CRM. Besides reading, I also asked my grandfather about this a couple of years ago (he was in Selma at the time of the modern CRM) and he verified fear of change and the fear of loss were powerful polarizers in the community.

3)The potential role of the media in social movement formation. Cuba Gooding Jr. as MLK, Spike Lee pissed he didn't get tapped to direct the bio pic... accurate. The "urban" promotions firm that was hired, was right on point. That's all I got to say about that.

4) King's speech at the end of the episode. So this obviously the most controversial part to many. But I think it all hatches back to McGruder's Diabolical Plot. The N-word is likely here to stay. It's hard to reckon with, but McGruder did a great job of King using it to grab attention, to define, and collapse it in the same moment. A number of folks have commented that they didn't think Black folks would react that way to the speech. My response: Hell, this episode was based on a dream. Can we continue suspension of disbelief till the end of the darn episode?

My only beef ... why did Martin Luther King look so much like Ward Connerly?

Overall, I thought the episode should have elicited a range of emotions, which I believe it did. I really am glad to see that the Boondocks has "come around." I'm still trying to remember if Boondocks was originally slated for a 10 episode season or a 15 episode season. I would be overjoyed it were designed for 10 episodes, that way we would have closed season one on this high note, well a boy can dream, can't he?

Here at U of M, Michael Eric Dyson was the speaker at the Ross School of Business. 1) I didn't really care to see him speak, seen him before, not thinking I'm going to be amazed. 2) He spoke at the B school... are you serious? 3) I know he got PAID for speaking there on MLK day - take em' to the cleaners! Here is a webcast of it if you wanted to check it.

And only because I think they should be mentioned, here are two pieces that should get you thinking about the current state of Michigan and King's Legacy. First, an article from the Metrotimes (yeah I know, that's the paper you look at for concerts, not social commentary) and then a piece by Brian Dickerson which is a blueprint... for failure.

Oh, and guest contributors are on the way... be on the look out.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Back from the East.

My little hiatus on the East was nice to have, but now it's back to the grind. Well kinda, I guess if I'm posting to my blog life is not too hectic! Regardless (not irregardless- which I really hate to hear), there have been a couple things of note that should be talked about mainly Coca-Cola, environmental justice, the ballot initiative, and the MLK symposium. Now that you've read my customary intro, vamonos!

Over the winter break, U of M announced that it has suspended its contract with Coca-Cola effective 1/1/06. This is pretty great news on the social justice front. Good work by the Coke Coalition that has been working on this for a long time. We'll see who C-C responds when its all said and done.

The Healthy Environment, Vibrant Communities- Campaign for State Action on Environmental Justice has been hard at work developing a statewide executive order on environmental justice. Now you can help them gather steam. Just click here and send an e-postcard to Gov. Granholm demonstrating your support. Wow, research, policy, and activism from the comfort of your keypad ;)

So the "Michigan Civil Rights initiative" also known as the "California Initiative" has been on the radar of a lot of people over break. The state board of canvassers has repeatedly not placed the ballot initiative on the Nov 2006 ballot. Though it is unclear what, if anything, will appear on the ballot, there is new proposed language. Since issues of language, by in large, what the actual wording is very important. Cases from California to Colorado have demonstrated that words matter. The proposed language includes both the terms affirmative action and preferences. My gut reaction is that the language provides a lot more clarity than the previous versions which were "tailored" to cling to CRA language. Yes, I am critical of the CRAs wording and the ways in which discrimination and anti-discrimination have been constructed (just give Critical Race Theory for further explanation- happy reading!). I'll keep ya'll posted.

Soon MLK day will be upon us and the inevitable attempt of conservatives to co-opt Dr. King's voice and messages will occur. The schools 19th annual MLK symposium is here. I haven't figured out where I'll be yet, but I'll be around ;)