Systematic racism

I think this says so much…

Black communities have been telling the nation, for more than a century, that they have been targeted, beaten, falsely accused and killed by the police and other institutions meant to protect them.

They have not been believed until recently, when the rise in camera phones and social media finally enabled them show and disseminate proof.

Even after the video of George Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, there remains defensiveness and denial among white Americans and institutions—a defensiveness that prevents change to the root of the problem: systemic racism. In this video, eight powerful voices share perspectives on blackness in America, and why white inaction and white politeness must end.

To learn more about what you can do to end the racist status quo, educate yourself and take action. Here is Robin DiAngelo’s list of resources: https://robindiangelo.com/resources/

What happened in Tulsa “Black Wall Street”?

I heard about what happened in Tulsa a long while ago but didn’t really understand fully what it meant. Then during the Watchmen TV series I saw the Tulsa 1921 massacre play out and looked it up for the first time.

Shocking stuff even for 1921.

So why am I thinking about this? Well for many reasons plus it was 99 years ago yesterday the massacre happened

If you can’t get access to HBO, here is a video which explains the first episode and why Tulsa.

Unconscious bias kills black lives

There is so much I have been thinking about in the last few days. I found Baratunde’s discussion with Leo quite relaxing to listen to. While America is on a knife’s edge with Trump once again making things much worst. Thankfully his Democratic opponent Biden is right on edge extending his ears and heart to understand.

On May 29th one of my favorite cities in America, Minneapolis’ police killed George Floyd because he was accused of buying cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. The new york times have a good video explaining what happened using a number of different camera views including security footage. I’m not going to share because its a very difficult watch and been shared widely.

The almost the same day Amy Cooper (white lady) in central park calls the police on Christian Cooper (black man) saying shes an “African American” was threaten her. No one died thankfully, Amy was fired from her job and Christian makes clear its not about Amy but the systematic racism in our culture.

Don't forget white women voted for Trump
(If you didn’t get the Karen reference here is Bill Maher to explain it for you.)

Systematic or institutional racism as defined during the Stephen Lawrence case is exactly why so many black men and women in America have died at the hands of the people who are meant to be protecting us all. Heck even Ben & Jerrys knows its true! Its clear to me there could have been two deaths that day simply by calling the police out to a IC3 incident.

As Baratunde says we need everybody to get involved. This isn’t that tonedeaf all lives matter stuff.  I am humbled to see London, Berlin protest and see a sheriff rejecting orders from the white house.

Complicated and complexity

The most recent Team Human is full of thoughtful conversation. One thing which made me think is what Douglas said about roundabouts/traffic circles. and recognizing complex things vs true complexity (google live transcribed, so not perfect)

…another key great insight from the book is, the way you explain the difference between, complicated things and true complexity the way that I’ve always talked to people about it, is  in the in the West in America, we have traffic lights, and it’s very complicated all our traffic lights turning red and green and all the electricity and switching systems.

And a traffic circle is actually complex, you know, it requires just a little bit of coordination and cooperation between people but then you’ve got everybody going around this circle and getting exactly where they need to so much better and more fluid. .

The complication of the American traffic system blew my mind when I traveled around the states. Lots of start stop and lots of trying to beat the lights. Its clear roundabouts are safer, more efficient but they do require coordination and collaboration. They are complicated but not complex.

What american’s think of socialised health care?

I did find this short video of voxpox’s on the streets of New York interesting. Not only to hear what they think of the NHS but also the difference between the people interviewed.

In US news and current events today, NowThis News hit the streets of New York to ask everyday Americans about the universal health care debate. A recent video featuring British people commenting on the health care system in America went viral, consider this video the answer. These people gave their thoughts on private healthcare vs public health care. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, health insurance is more available in the U.S., but without a public health care or National health care system like the U.K. or Canada, many people in the U.S. will still be uninsured and at risk.

Poor rich America, the first nation?

I was reading why America is the World’s First Poor Rich Country by Umair and was pretty much agreeing with everything he wrote.

The crux of his blog is about the basics of life which you need to pay for in America.

In Europe, Canada, and even Australia, society invests in all these things — and the costs of basic necessities societies don’t provide are regulated. For example, I pay $50 dollars for broadband and TV in London — but $200 for the same thing in New York — yet in London, I get vastly more and better media for my money (even including, yes, American junk like Ancient Aliens). That’s regulation at work. And when basic goods like healthcare or elderly care or education are provided and managed at a social scale, that is when they are cheapest, and often of the best quality, too. Hence, healthcare costs far less in London, Paris, or Geneva — and life expectancy is longer, too.

So if you are earning $50k in America, it is a very different thing than earning $50k in France, Germany, or Sweden — in America, you must pay steeply for the basics of life, for basic necessities. Thus, incomes stretch much further in other countries, which enjoy a vastly higher quality of life, even though people there earn roughly the same amount, because they pay vastly less for basic necessities. Americans are rich, but only nominally — their money doesn’t buy nearly as much as their peers does, where it matters and counts most, for the basics of life.

I remember many friends moving to America and reporting the wages they were getting as a result.

One friend for example said he was earning 6 figures as a contractor and I replied great, are you paying health insurance? He replied no, he will be fine. I said GET health insurance because one slip and you are so screwed.

America is pioneering a new kind of poverty. The kind of poverty that’s developed in America isn’t just bizarre and gruesome — it’s novel and unseen. It isn’t something that we understand well, economists, intellectuals, thinkers, because we have no good framework to think about it. It’s not absolute poverty like Somalia, and it’s not just relative poverty, like in gilded banana republics. It’s a uniquely American creation. It’s extreme capitalism meets Social Darwinism by way of rugged self-reliance crossed with puritanical cruelty.

Its a big deal and Umair is right. I do have a worry that the UK is sleep walking in the same direction too!

Been thinking about this a lot as the Brexit drama turns into full on insanity. Really good to finally watch Noam Chomsky’s Requiem for the American Dream.

https://twitter.com/cubicgarden/status/1105614199512883200

The city mouse and the county mouse from Bill Maher

Bill Mahar’s piece about City, Country and Trump is spot on (it doesn’t seem to be geo-blocked in the UK for me). Funny, insightful and sadly true. You can apply a similar idea to the Brexit vote.

if you want to understand why America is so divided don’t talk about Republicans and Democrats or red states and blue states read the story the city mouse and the country mouse currently being sold under the new titled what happened but the original was about two mice who learn that you’re either one of the other city or country and the same really could be said for America when you fly over it you don’t see red states and blue states you see vast stretches of land where there’s nothing and then every once in a while a city.
Its also interesting to contrast this with City Boy and Country girl discussion had for the listening project.

Paul Revere Williams architect to many

Some of Paul Williams architecture in LA

I was listening to 99 percent invisible’s latest podcast episode about Paul Williams, the famous architect who was never really mentioned or credited in history. His story is quite incredible to hear from many different points of view.

It’s hard to say exactly what motivated Williams to pursue architecture. He didn’t know of any other architects as he was growing up, and didn’t really know that architecture was a profession. He did have a natural talent for drawing, and then somehow decided that this was the job for him.

Hudson says that her grandfather’s high school guidance counselor advised him not to pursue architecture, telling him “he should not try to be an architect. He should be a doctor or a lawyer because black people would always need doctors and lawyers. And white people would not hire him as an architect and black people couldn’t afford him.” Still Williams refused to let go of this ambition.

I always wondered what would have happened if I pursued architecture too, I was put off by 7 years of college, although 6 years of design focused education wasn’t far off.

…some clients were taken aback when they first met Williams — people who “came because they may have read about him,” Karen Hudson explains, “but didn’t realize he was black.” They weren’t sure whether to sit next to him or even whether to shake his hand. To put them at ease, Williams would keep his distance, sitting across the table from them, and as he asked them what they wanted in their home,  he would draw preliminary sketches upside down, so they could see their vision evolve as he drew. This helped put them at ease but was also just impressive in itself.

I have gotten this a few times in the past, mainly before you could look me up online. The name Paul Williams and even Ian Forrester could be anyone but I guess unconscious bias makes people think white males?

The distance thing is also something I’m very aware of… as a black man. Being able to draw upside down is super impressive and I imagine he had a lot of practice.

Williams wasn’t the first or only architect to draw upside down, but his consistent use of this skill illustrates the lengths he went to accommodate his white clients. He dressed impeccably, worked tirelessly, and tried to excel in all respects, simply to be accepted.

Enough said, but sadly…

Despite his vast volume of work (and being the first black member of the American Institute of Architects) Williams has remained relatively unknown, at least until recently. “Every black architect I know is familiar with Williams,” say Phil Freelon. “And I haven’t met a white architect yet who knew who I was talking about if I were to mention that name. And we need to change that.” This is why Freelon nominated Williams for the AIA’s highest individual award: the Gold Medal.

This is basically the award that welcomes an architect into the cannon of all-time greats. Past winners include Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Thomas Jefferson. Now, 37 years after his death, Paul Williams will officially join their ranks.

This award means a lot to Freelon and other African American architects in terms of general visibility. “There are very few African American architects working in this country, relatively speaking,” says Freelon. Just “2% of licensed architects in this country are black. And one of the ways you would want to combat that is to raise the visibility. [You] make sure people know this is a great profession and that young people see it as a possibility and as an option for them.”

Hopefully blogging this will encourage people to listen or read the transcript. Its a short story with lots of interesting links and discussion.

 

Don’t play the trump card… America

https://twitter.com/cubicgarden/status/753660985542672384

As American’s goes to the polls to vote for the next president, I along with many others urge americans to make sure they don’t get complacent about Trump not getting into office. Just like #Brexit which we thought wasn’t really a possibility, we were wrong (although it hasn’t actually been triggered yet and the recent court case could bring some interesting challenges). It can happen!

Don’t be leave it to chance, make sure you did everything you can to stop this thug? from taking one of the highest offices in the world. The rest of the world will thank you plus you can sleep better at night; knowing you haven’t just given a green light to a crazed dictator which will inflict endless damage to the states and the world as a whole.

What’s been troubling recently, #Ferguson

Ferguson Protest in Palo Alto: Stanford Students Shut It Down

Everytime I hear about Ferguson, I grow that little more angry. There are literary no words I can say which sum up the feeling of unease,  worry, fear and anger. While most of the people around me carry on their lives not really thinking about the massive injustice which is happening again over the ocean, I wonder about the progress we have and have not made. I wonder about the corruption and how we are going to tackle that? Boycotting Black Friday is a start I guess.

I wasn’t going to write anything because I couldn’t really put it down (The closes thing I could compare it it to was the killing of Stephen Lawrence, something which keeps on giving) and there is so much better people to hear from.

But then after watching the guys behind singleblackmale.org talking over email, I needed to break the silence on my part and join the rest of the people in solidarity… As Dr J writes…

None of the bloggers on this blog have been immune to interactions with police officers. Most, if not all of us have encountered white police officers in our travels. What troubles me about this issue is that I’d like to think that our police officers are here to keep us safe. What we know now is that isn’t always the case and it’s not an exaggeration to say we feel like feeling safe is a minority opinion for Black men in this country…

…People always ask me how I’m doing and my response is the same, “Given my circumstance, the best that I could be.” That holds true today. Now brothers and sisters in the fight; Black, white or indifferent please channel your efforts positively or at least effectively…

Ferguson protest in downtown St. Louis

Celeste Little’s email caused me to breakdown for a bit while reading it on my phone.

…All I could think about, as I was walking along 7th avenue with the 1600 other people who were hurt and appalled by the decision, was my grandmother.

She was born in Mississippi into a family of sharecroppers and when she witnessed President Obama’s 2004 win, she was thrilled, to say the least. She died several years later, and as she was passing all she talked about was how she was happy all of her children and grandchildren were well taken care of.

That’s what all of our ancestors have prayed and wished and died for– that we would be better taken care of. And it is absolutely suffocating to think that, after all this time, we might not be.

Ferguson-10

So I wrote this…

I wanted to share a little perspective from outside the America.

I was really shocked and appalled to hear what happened, I didn’t know what to think really and what can a foreigner bring to the table what you guys don’t already know?
Nothing much, but there has been a whole discussion about police with cameras and using technology to aid solutions in the British media.

Every time I hear this my hand gets a little tense, as using technology to aid or solve human problems is not a good idea.

Its far too easy to turn off cameras and get around systems which are only there to keep those who play by the rules.

You only have to look at piracy to understand this.

Ferguson protest in downtown St. Louis

Talking of rules, what makes things worst is the rules don’t seem to apply to the police in the states.
You don’t think a police officer which has no problem gunning down innocent black men, wouldn’t break the camera lens, remove the power or find another way?

Technology can help but only when people are willing to be helped. Its like an addict, you have to admit you need help before you can be helped.
The police are clearly not willing, the courts are clearly not willing and the system just backs them up.
Lawrence Lessig a Stanford lawyer turned his head to understanding the endemic corruption and although not directly applicable is worth thinking about when talking about what’s wrong.
I’m not saying the UK is any better but the system out there is so corrupt and so broken, something has got to give…

Keep on fighting the good fight people and never give up.

#MichaelBrown - #‎TCShutItDown #‎ShutItDown #JusticeForMikeBrown by Fibonacci Blue, on Flickr" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fibonacciblue/15691932038">Minneapolis rally for <a rel=#MichaelBrown - #‎TCShutItDown #‎ShutItDown #JusticeForMikeBrown" width="500" height="375" />

Miss America Pageant gives more scholarships to women than any other?

Somebody pointed me at John Oliver’s Last week Tonight show, the other day. They said I will be spitting blood watching it. And to be honest they were not wrong.

Unfortunately to watch it, you need to be in America or on a VPN as its geo blocked.

However basically its all about how The Miss America Pageant claim to give more scholarships to women than any other organisation in America. And if you like me and John Oliver are thinking this has got be bollox. You would be wrong!

Yes a organisation which objectifies women, parades them around like dolls, dismisses women who have had children and many other things. Gives out more scholarships to women than any other…. in America!

Seriously wtf! *sad face*

America and the beautful game?

Canada vs Team USA Woman's Semi-Finals in Football

What is it with the United States of America and the “beautiful” game of Football?

I like many others always wondered why American’s just don’t get football. Interestingly on the eve of the World Cup, those freakonomics guys explores the issue with some substantial depth and some things I never really considered… Well worth a listen.

With the 2014 World Cup getting underway in Brazil, we’ve just released an episode called “Why America Doesn’t Love Soccer (Yet).”

A variety of TV networks now broadcast European club matches all year long. MLS, or Major League Soccer — the U.S. and Canadian professional league – continues to grow. Next year it will add a twentieth team,NYC-FC, or New York City Football Club, which is co-owned by the New York Yankees and Manchester City,which has won England’s Premier League two of the last three seasons.David Beckham, the sport’s biggest star of the past few generations, is trying to start another MLS team, in Miami.And indeed, if you take a look at a magazine rack this week, it’s hard to find a magazine without the World Cup on its cover. Every four years, we hear the same mantra: this time, soccer will really take root in the U.S., the way it’s taken root elsewhere in the world. But let’s be honest. It probably won’t. Many of the people who are most fanatical about the sport in the U.S. have some kind of ties to Europe or South America or Africa.

My own experience also has me puzzled.

When I first met Sarah, I went to the states in 2002 and besides the mild culture shock. The lack of news about Football was shocking. You got a major world wide event and there was little to no mainstream coverage! Heck the funny thing was, America actually made it to the quarter finals that world cup. But no one in America seemed to be aware or cared. I think I actually found out more about the American team in Wired magazine at the time.

Also during the London 2012 Olympics, there was very little interest. I think the female football may have gotten more support than the male one? Of course they then went on and won the female football competition… Will Football one day make up America’s top 5 sports? Maybe but its going to be a long while before I can see that happening. Which seem a bit of a shame…

The BBC a long while ago did some research into people and tv sport. There were a few different groups, and the group I recognized myself in was the ones who get caught up in big sporting events like the worldcup and olympics. I feel the universality of it really unites and ignites something in most people around the world. Even those who don’t normally follow sports.

Solomon DUBNER: Well, it definitely unites the whole world because it’s in some ways it’s a universal language. Almost everywhere in the world plays and follows football, in every country pretty much. And it just unites everyone somehow, it’s kind of crazy.

A flashback: Hurting America

Theres quite a few things which I have mentioned in the past few weeks. One of them is the Jon Stewart vs Crossfire incident.

In the middle of October, Jon Stewart took his usual complaints about partisan hackery to his appearance on CNN’s Crossfire (transcript here | streaming video here). From the beginning of the discussion, Stewart took aim at Crossfire and other media shows, saying (at first with a smile) that they “hurt America” by making politicians’ lives easier by failing to “hold their feet to the fire.” The gist of Stewart’s complaint was that shows that were purportedly “hard” and “cutting” were really only theatrical performances of talking points and sensationalism. The incident is now famous, and little needs to be said about it.

Such a great point in media and news… Something we really shouldn’t forget ever!

The rally to restore sanity

Rally to restore sanity

There is something about Jon Stewart’s Rally to restore sanity which I kind of like. Sure it started off as a reply to the whole tea party movement but its certainly spun off into something much larger and actually quite smart.

Jon Stewart really draws together a huge audience of people who fit into the democratic/liberal stand point but not only that, he’s also somewhat respected by some of the middle ground of America. The genius thing is he has made the rally about something you can’t really argue with. It means you can easily have these diverse groups of people rallying together without a problem.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this rally to restore sanity becomes a major date in the calendar. I wouldn’t mind seeing a similar protest/rally in the uk, sanity would be great right now.