March 29, 2007 by Marc Lamont Hill
Today’s video of the day shows Laila Ali and Maksim Chmerkovskiy getting their Mamba on for ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars.” If this is any indication, they just might win!!!!
March 28, 2007 by Marc Lamont Hill
For the past year, little Shaquanda Cotton has been sitting in a juvenile detention center. After allegedly shoving a hall monitor in a dispute over entering the school building early, the 14-year-old girl was not only disciplined by the school, but also tried in juvenile court for “assault on a public servant.” Although Shaquanda did not have a prior arrest record and the hall monitor (a 58-year-old teacher’s aide) was not injured, she was sentenced to 7 years in prison!!!!!!!!!!
Just in case you’ve missed the racism so far, the same judge (Chuck Superville) gave probation to a 14-year-old white girl who burned down her family’s home 3 months earlier.
Like many juvenile prisons, the Ron Jackson Correctional
Plantation Complex allows for early release if prisoners display appropriate contrition and development. According to prison officials, little Shaquanda’s sentence has been repeatedly extended because she refuses to admit her guilt and because she was caught with “contraband” in her cell.
What kind of contraband you ask? An extra pair of socks.
It is absolutely critical that we resist the desire to view this tragedy as merely a case of bad luck, bad acts, or bad people. Rather, we must view little Shaquanda’s unjust incarceration as an extension of the current proto-fascist public education system. With increased militarization, surveillance, and zero-tolerance policies, public schools have created an increasingly efficient school-to-prison pipeline for the nation’s most vulnerable populations. Such a pipeline is essential for nourishing the insatiable appetites of global capitalism. We must also attribute Shaquanda’s absurd imprisonmemt to an increasingly expansive criminal (in)justice system that now reaches directly into urban schools in order to fill its beds.
While some argue that the 14-year-old White arsonist should be sitting in prison instead of (or at least next to) Shaquanda, we must think beyond punishment. In the case of the White arsonist, Judge Superville gave an appropriate punishment for a first time offender: care, compassion and, ultimately, a second chance. Why? Because as a judge he understands that prison operates as a punishment industry rather than a rehabilitative space.
The tragedy (and the racism) is that such possibilities are systematically denied to Black and Brown people.
While this phenomenon demands greater analysis, we must not forget about the little girl who is sitting in the belly of the beast. If you do nothing else today, please write Texas governor Rick Perry and demand the immediate and unconditional release of Shaquanda Cotton!!!! Then, write a letter to little Shaquanda so that she knows we love and support her!!!!!
Office of the Governor Fax: (512) 463-1849
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428
Office of the Governor
State Insurance Building
1100 San Jacinto
Austin, Texas 78701
Ron Jackson Correctional Complex
Unit 2, Dorm 4
P.O. Box 872
Brownwood, Texas 76804
March 28, 2007 by Marc Lamont Hill
By Peter Rothberg
Alaskan wood carver Mike Webber unveiled his “Shame Pole” this past Friday in Cordova to mark the 18th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which devastated the area and ruined lucrative herring and salmon fisheries.
The pole tells the grim story of the spill: sea ducks, a sea otter and eagle float dead on oil. A sick herring with lesions is featured. There’s a boat for sale with a family crew on board, commemorating fishermen who went belly up, and a bottle of booze to remind people that Joe Hazelwood, who was captain of the Exxon Valdez, had been drinking before turning the helm of the ship over. Topping the pole is the upside-down face of former longtime Exxon CEO Lee Raymond, sporting a Pinocchio-like nose.
None of these apocalyptic images were the hardest part of the job however, as Webber told the Anchorage Daily News. “No, the toughest part was etching the words ‘We will make you whole again’ from the trunk of yellow cedar,’ said the Alaska Native carver. That infamous promise was made to the state’s inhabitants after the spill by Don Cornett, formerly Exxon’s top official in Alaska.
The reality is that after eighteen years and countless false promises, ExxonMobil has still not paid the billions of dollars in punitive damages that the courts have determined it owes the spill victims–this despite the fact that the company posted the most profitable year in 2006 of any corporation in history. In 1994, a federal court in Anchorage, Alaska, awarded $5 billion in punitive damages to fishermen, Native Alaskans, and other plaintiffs in a class action suit against the oil giant. But rather than accepting its obligations Exxon has been fighting the verdict, employing hundreds of lawyers, filing countless appeals and effectively buying science that supports its claims.
March 28, 2007 by Marc Lamont Hill
The parents of a severely disabled 9-year-old girl subjected her to a series of nonessential surgeries. Though their decision was made out of love, this case raises too many troubling questions about medical ethics and public policy to withhold judgment.
Quality of Life: Who Should Decide for Disabled People?
By Patricia Williams
For the last several months, I’ve been fretting about the policy implications of the case of Ashley, Seattle’s so-called “pillow angel.” Ashley is a 9-year-old child who was born with a debilitating disorder that caused her brain to stop developing at about the age of three months. She is sensate, she smiles, she seems at times to recognize her family members and to enjoy music. But she can barely move and will never learn to speak. When she was 6, Ashley’s parents subjected her body to a series of interventions ostensibly designed to keep her small, easy to lift and thus less prone to bedsores and to render her permanently childlike.
To these ends, her breast buds were removed, in part because of a family history of breast cancer but, more immediately, to accommodate the harness straps that hold her upright. According to her parents’ blog, “developed breasts … would only be a source of discomfort to her.” Her appendix was removed because were she to get appendicitis it was feared she would not be able to communicate her distress. She was given sufficiently high doses of estrogen to insure that her growth plates would close, limiting her height. This, despite the fact that estrogen at such doses carries other risks, most significant an increase in the incidence of blood clots; but her parents felt that being able to easily lift her outweighed that possible detriment. Her uterus, too, was removed, to spare her the pain of menstrual cramps “or pregnancy in the event of rape.”
I think this course was wrong for Ashley. Who of us, with full capacity to consent, would undergo the painful invasiveness of a full hysterectomy just to prevent cramps or as a prophylactic against rape’s violations? Why then should it be permitted in the case of someone who has no capacity to protest? Even assuming a life at the hands of sexual predators were so predestined a fate, why not birth control pills?
This was also very wrong as a matter of ethics and public policy. There seems to be, in the national debate about this case, a popular consensus that the parents were well motivated, so who are the rest of us to judge? That sentiment is expressed loftily, as in Peter Singer’s New York Times op-ed (”she is precious not so much for what she is, but because her parents and siblings love her and care about her”), and crudely, as in an anonymous online posting to the disability rights organization FRIDA (”I think your group is a pain in the neck … if and when something happens to the caregiver, who will take care of the disabled person … your group or the state who really does not give a hoot.”)
March 28, 2007 by Marc Lamont Hill
Now That I Have Found You
By Cynthia Fuchs
Chris Rock’s decision to remake Eric Rohmer’s 1972 comedy, Chloe in the Afternoon, suggests the two films have something in common. They do share some manifest themes, including middle-class/midlife restlessness, men’s self-serving cluelessness, women’s alluring mysteriousness. Like the original, I Think I Love My Wife presents a not-so-happily married man, here Richard (Rock), caught between his glorious wife Brenda (Gina Torres) and luscious obsession-object Nikki Tru (Kerry Washington). Again, the two women are arranged to form a common moral dilemma for the man: will he stray or stay?
Still, the movies aren’t exactly the same, starting with the shift of emphasis in the titles. Rock and longtime cowriter Louis C.K. have refocused the male’s anxiety to suit a U.S. market: Richard worries about his feelings and needs incessantly, especially concerning his “possession,” the wife. That he’s not feeling precisely in control of his property is suggested in the updating of the marriage: this one, unlike Rohmer’s, has produced children, Kelly (Milan Howard) and a prop-baby still in diapers. The kids take up Brenda’s time and energy, and make her extra-intimidating, as she can handle all situations where dad occasionally looks incompetent (he can’t handle the diapering so deftly as mom).
Brenda not only manages the house and the kids’ cultural context (she’s going to join Mocha Moms, she announces, in an effort to provide her children with playmates of color, as they live in white Westchester), but also maintains a regular dinner menu suited to his tastes and looks fantastic at every moment. The camera looks down on them as they lie side by side in bed, untouching. “How can my wife not have sex with me,” he wonders in voiceover, “And then send me out into a world with so many beautiful women? It’s like dropping me into the ocean and asking me not to get wet.” Poor Richard.
To make his situation slightly less pathetic –or maybe it’s more pathetic—I Think I Love My Wife delivers to Chris Rock Fan expectations. Richard marks his blackness by way of frequent n-word jokes and broadly race-based comedy. He also makes clear his own fretful, voracious appetite regarding women: strolling through the park of his imagination, he comes on to every beauty who comes his way: “Would you like to have sex with me?” (”Yes!”) or again, “Can I bite your ass?” (for $1000, anything is possible). The movie is an erratic, noisy, and anxious paean to masculine desire. In a word, it’s all about dick.
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