“Stop Killing Us” 3 Things to Do With Your Grief and Rage


Police dressed in riot gear accost peaceful protester in sundress. Baton Rouge. Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Reuters.

To be candid, this past week I’ve struggled to write Field Notes. As you know, at Progressive Pupil we strive to remain optimistic. A steadfast faith in the power of collective action and community-based leadership, rooted in the successes of social movements in the past, drives our work. Hearing the news of the killing of Philando Castile in Minneapolis, Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, and Delrawn Small in New York, as well as witnessing the grief of their children, tested that faith.

I lost my mother and grandfather (who was a surrogate father to me) a few years ago and understand the pain of losing a parent as an adult. I can only begin to imagine the despair losing a parent causes a child. Seeing Alton Sterling’s 15 year-old burst into tears, nearly collapsing from grief, while his mother expressed outrage about his father’s death overwhelmed me with sadness and frustration. At a press conference, they stood in front of a sign that read “Stop Killing Us.”

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The Greatest

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                           Muhammad Ali (l.) and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (r.) in Louisville                                 (AP Photo via The Nation)

“Like Muhammad Ali puts it, we are all—black and brown and poor—victims of the same system of oppression.” – Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Happy Birthday Muhammad Ali! Mainstream media continues to revere him for his extraordinary achievements as an athlete and his influential oratory style (How many of us have alleged to “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”?).  However, Ali is beloved to the progressive community and the African diaspora for his candid criticism of racial discrimination and poverty as well as his refusal to be inducted in the US Army during the Vietnam War due to his religious beliefs.  Ali could have exercised his class privilege, entered the army and fought entertaining exhibition bouts without ever being in any physical danger.  Instead, he chose to take a principled stand which in the short run cost him millions of dollars and some of his peak years as a boxing champion.  In the long run, Ali’s example made him a legend.

To learn more about Muhammad Ali, see the Academy Award-winning film When we Were Kings, or read this Dave Zirin article in The Nation.

Derrick Bell’s After We’re Gone: Prudent Speculations On America In A Post-Racial Epoch

Professors and Teachers: Derrick Bell’s After We’re Gone: Prudent Speculations On America In A Post-Racial Epoch is a must have for teaching your students about African-Americans and Racism in America. Use our complete syllabus guide to help plan out your classes!

http://blackandcuba.tumblr.com/CollegesandUniversities

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Cedric J. Robinson’s Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition

EDUCATORS: Bring Black and Cuba into your classroom with Cedric J. Robinson’s Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition today! Integrate it easily into your classroom with our complete syllabus guide based on Black and Cuba!

http://blackandcuba.tumblr.com/CollegesandUniversities

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Glossary: Womanist

Photograph of Meigan Medina, "Vibration," courtesy of Brandon Hicks.

Photograph of Meigan Medina, “Vibration,” courtesy of Brandon Hicks.

“Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender” – Alice Walker.

 Alice Walker, a poet and activist, who is mostly known for her award-winning book The Color Purple, coined the term Womanist in her 1983 book In Search of Our Mothers’ Garden: Womanist Prose. Walker defined a womanist as “Womanish, the opposite of girlish…Being grown up…A Black Feminist or Feminist of Color…A woman who loves other women, sexually and/or non-sexually.  Appreciates and prefers women’s culture, women’s emotional flexibility (values tears as natural counterbalance of laughter), and women’s strength.  Sometimes loves individual men, sexually and/or non-sexually”. The complete text of the definition can be seen here.

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Colorblindess vs. ColorBRAVE

In her Ted Talk, Mellody Hobson, a Financial Executive, discusses her stance on colorblindness. She opens the Ted Talk by acknowledging that race in our country is an uncomfortable subject. However, by using her personal experiences as a successful Black women in a field dominated by White men, she provides compelling arguments as to why we should no longer be colorblind, but start the conversation of race in the workplace.
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Glossary: Supermax Prison

A prisoner in solitary confinement. Alabama, 1979, by Sean Kernan. Image courtesy of seankernan.com.

A prisoner in solitary confinement. Alabama, 1979, by Sean Kernan. Image courtesy of seankernan.com.

Human rights activists as well as the legal community consider that supermax confinement constitutes torture under international law and cruel and unusual punishment under the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution mandates humane prisons and the Eighth Amendment prohibits against punishment that is “incompatible with ‘the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society” or “involve the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.”

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Fact of Fiction: Overspending or Just Living

Bryan Cranston as Walter White from a GQ photoshoot. Image courtesy of GQ.com

Bryan Cranston as Walter White from a GQ photoshoot. Image courtesy of GQ.com

No matter what generation, there is always a subset of the population living above their means. But, when is enough, enough?

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A Walk in Their Shoes

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How dare she? At first glance Korean American artist Nikki S. Lee may come off as a mockery. She explores the subject of identity through photography. In her seminal series titled “Projects,” you see her disguised as a member of a number of American sub-cultures and social identities: senior citizen, Korean school girl, swing dancer, lesbian, exotic dancer, and a skate boarder, amongst many others. Above you see her as a Latina woman. I was slightly offended when I saw her portraying a black woman with corn rows chillin’ wit da homies, or squeezed between her two home girls with a face full of exaggerated makeup. I questioned whether or not she was just posing for fun, or if there was a deeper meaning. To understand her better, I watched a short clip where she, in her native Korean language, talked about her artwork. She talked about how everyone has layers to their personality and how a closer examination reveals even more layers. “The work I do always needs to involve others, and that’s mainly because of my views about my own identity. I realized I could not understand who I am without the people around me. I believe that it is only through my relationships with others that I can see myself. The people around me allow me to fully express myself,” says Lee as she explains her methodology.

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What is a Womanist?

Photograph of Meigan Medina, "Vibration," courtesy of Brandon Hicks.

Photograph of Meigan Medina, “Vibration,” courtesy of Brandon Hicks.

“Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender” – Alice Walker.

 Alice Walker, a poet and activist, who is mostly known for her award-winning book The Color Purple, coined the term Womanist in her 1983 book In Search of Our Mothers’ Garden: Womanist Prose. Walker defined a womanist as “Womanish, the opposite of girlish…Being grown up…A Black Feminist or Feminist of Color…A woman who loves other women, sexually and/or non-sexually.  Appreciates and prefers women’s culture, women’s emotional flexibility (values tears as natural counterbalance of laughter), and women’s strength.  Sometimes loves individual men, sexually and/or non-sexually”. The complete text of the definition can be seen here.

(more…)