Fascism rising…

September 8, 2018
STATEMENT: http://bit.ly/2CGZd3s
VIDEO: http://bit.ly/2CwIAaE 
HASHTAGS: #StopHinduFascism #WHC2018 
DISRUPTORS: @mansik@taraghuveer 
Last night six young people disrupted the World Hindu Congress in Chicago. They were choked, kicked, and spit on by attendees. Watch this horrifying video that exposes the danger of global and Hindu nationalism http://bit.ly/2CwIAaE #StopHinduNationalism #WHC2018
Six young people put their bodies on the line to oppose the militant nationalism promoted the World Hindu Congress #WHC2018 and its attendees. Read their statement on the violence they endured and why they protested to #StopHinduFascism: http://bit.ly/2CGZd3s
WATCH THIS VIDEO of six young people disrupting the World Hindu Congress in Chicago last night. The crowd’s violent reaction tore the mask off the fascism underlying Hindutva ideology and similar global nationalist movements: http://bit.ly/2CwIAaE
The World Hindu Congress is a part of a growing global fascism. Six young people took a stand last night to #StopHinduFascism and disrupt systemic and state violence in the US, India, and worldwide. They were brutally attacked: http://bit.ly/2CwIAaE

From “Black and Smart”

September 8, 2018


Posted on September 5, 2018 by Black&Smart

Gloria Ladson-Billings

By now you know that the Nike Corporation has decided to make Colin Kaepernick the face of the celebration of the 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” campaign. The reaction has been swift and predictable. Some people have vowed to not purchase another pair of Nike sneakers or athletic wear. Some have taken to the Internet to show their cuting up Nike socks and burning Nike sneakers. Is this really a patriot act or is it yet another example of anti-blackness that has become business as usual for these United States?

All through the US Open Tennis Tournament, Nike has been running an ad that juxtaposes Serena Williams as professional tennis player with video of her as a little girl learning the game. The voice over in the ad is that of her dad, Richard Williams coaching, cajoling, and encouraging her. At one point we hear Mr. Williams say, “hit it like you’re in the US Open!” The slogan that closes out the ad reads, “It’s only crazy until you do it!” Serena (and her sister, Venus) has been the victim of anti-black vitriol from the moment she took the tennis world by storm. The beads in her hair were too noisy. Her style was unorthodox having been taught the game by a non-professional like her dad. She has been body shamed and told she was unattractive. Her tennis brilliance has been attributed solely to her “athleticism” rather than hard work and skill. Just after the French Open we learned that her specially designed one-piece outfit to help her cope with life-threatening blood clots would be banned from future French Opens but in perfect Serena style and flare she showed up at the US open in a one-shoulder outfit with a tutu! Although she is undoubtedly the best athlete in the world (sorry LeBron) there was a time (2015) when she earned less in endorsements than Maria Sharapova despite dominating Sharapova on the court.

Now along comes Colin Kaepernick who has taken a brave and principled stance against racist police brutality. His refusal to stand for the National Anthem has cost him his career. We may soon learn that the NFL colluded against him to keep him from earning a spot on any NFL team. But he has become a hero to Black people everywhere. The slogan attached to his Nike ad reads, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything!” The social media response was swift with #JustDontDoIt and #JustBurnIt trending on Twitter.

Nike, Inc. is a $34 billion international corporation. If you think for one minute the company did not do its market research BEFORE releasing this campaign you are ignorant of how business actually works. Nike has already locked down a $1billion contract with the NFL for the next 8 years. Colin Kaepernick is still one of its clients and he is popular among young Black people. Nike is playing the long game. Having sat on a Division IA athletic board for 7 years I have seen this game from the inside. Colleges and universities have to clothe their athletes and the days of every sport on the campus picking their own supplier are over. One contract for the entire athletic program with lots of perks is standard operating procedure and Nike has been ruthless in this game. Nike underwrites AAU and prep athletes and sponsors countless urban athletic programs. (I know this as the grandmother of an elite basketball player who was regularly invited to the Nike Invitational Tournaments and outfitted with their shoes). While this sounds benevolent on their part, their goal is to steer these young people to colleges and universities with which they have contracts. Elite prep athletes who express interest in non-Nike schools receive all sorts of pressure to choose a “Nike school.” But the Nike shoe and apparel burners and boycotters do not seem to care about this side of the Nike story.

Earlier this year Nike attempted to rectify the pay disparity that exists between its male and female employees. Female employees at Nike regularly reported sexual harassment and unequal pay at Nike Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. But the shoe and apparel burners and boycotters do not seem to care about this side of the Nike story.

Nike like most of the athletic-leisure wear industry has a terrible track record when it comes to exploiting workers in developing countries. The sweatshop conditions that exist in Nike factories are well documented. The fact that children and women are working under harsh conditions for subsistence wages does not seem to bother these patriotic, “principled” consumers. They will not burn their sneakers or boycott the company over this.

Nike is not making a political statement. It is making a business move. It is clear on its target consumers. Those consumers are not the ones buying Nike Monarchs for $65 dollars at JC Penney’s or $39.99 at TJ Maxx. No, Nike continues to court inner city kids whose parents scrimp and save to pay over $100 for the latest version of Air Jordans. That a few White men (who may or may not be able to jump) burn their sneakers is a calculated risk that ultimately will not hurt their bottom line. Remember when people in Cleveland burned their LeBron jerseys? By the way, Nike also owns Converse, Vans, Cole Haan, Umbro, and Hurley so there’s a lot of burning and cutting they need to do!

The outrage over Nike is just one more salvo being fired in the anti-black campaign that the current resident of the White House has made his rallying cry. If it is about patriotism where were they when a presidential candidate claimed that Senator John McCain wasn’t a hero because he was captured? If it is about patriotism where were they when this same candidate maligned a Gold Star family? No, this is about Black people having the temerity to say that they are sick and tired of racism. This is about Black people exercising their right to protest injustice. This is a continuation of the anti-blackness that pervades every aspect of American life.

Stay Black & Smart!


After Cortez, Tlaib, and Omar Victories: What’s Next for Palestine Advocacy?

September 6, 2018
Tala Alfoqaha

Palestine Square
A proudly self-identifying Palestinian-American woman is poised to represent Palestinians in an institution that has treated them as invisible and expendable. Together with Ocasio-Cortez and Tlab, Congress will hear voices for Palestinian justice.



When Rashida Tlaib announced to a room full supporters in the pre-dawn hours of August 8th that she had won the Democratic primary in Michigan’s 13th congressional district, her mother draped a Palestinian flag over her shoulders. Before that moment, such a public display of identification with the Palestinian people had been a rare sight for a candidate with congressional aspirations, much less by a candidate whose aspirations had just been realized.

Where Palestine is concerned, Tlaib’s victory propels forward a shift already underway in U.S. politics, as do primary victories by New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar. Among the many progressive platform planks that Tlaib, Ocasio-Cortez, and Omar share is one key distinction: they have all pushed the discourse on Palestinian rights beyond what members of Congress have ever deemed permissible in the past.

“This is a massacre,” tweeted Ocasio-Cortez as the death toll of Palestinian protesters in Gaza killed by Israeli soldiers during the Great Return March rose. “Palestinian people deserve basic human dignity, as anyone else. Democrats can’t be silent about this anymore.” Ocasio-Cortez was not alone in commenting on the brutality of Israel’s response to the protests. A handful of Democrats and independents spoke out, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who released a series of powerfuvideos denouncing the killings, and Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), who posted a thread of tweets condemning Israel’s acts as a “horrific slaughter.” Yet Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet stood out. Posted in the midst of a grassroots campaign aimed at engaging overlooked, underrepresented communities, she introduced a word that otherwise lay untouched by members of Congress in their own statements: massacre.

After her victory, Ocasio-Cortez came under fire for that tweet and later tempered her criticism of Israel, referencing her lack of expertise on the issue and stating that she firmly believed in a two-state solution. The backlash from some pro-Palestine activists was swift, with some writing her off as yet another ally-turned-politician who would mince words to placate the Israel lobby. Tlaib, too, faced accusations of normalization and equivocation. As the first Palestinian-American woman poised to enter Congress, supporters stacked all their long-ignored hopes on her shoulders. Yet, as knowledge of J Street’s endorsement of Tlaib, featuring a line about her support of all aid to Israel slid into the public eye, celebrations of her victory—and by extension, the victory of Palestinian-Americans everywhere—were clouded.

Indeed, the public outcry among Palestinian-Americans and pro-Palestinian activists ultimately led Tlaib to clarify her positions, and to J Street’s withdrawal of their endorsement.

In spite of these rhetorical hiccups, these likely future members of Congress do nonetheless represent a fundamental break from the prevailing tenets of U.S. policy on Israeli-Palestinian issues. Ocasio-Cortez’s expression of her desire to learn about the Palestinian issue appears genuine: when asked in a subsequent interview if she supported a one or two-state solution, she didn’t rush to declare her allegiance to the latter; instead she said, “this is a conversation I’m sitting down with lots of activists in this movement on and I’m looking forward to engaging in this conversation.” Moreover, her instincts on the issue appear solid. Explaining her Gaza massacre tweet to The Intercept, Ocasio-Cortez situated her analysis of Palestine within an anti-colonial framework, drawing upon her heritage as a Puerto Rican. “Puerto Rico is a colony that is granted no rights, that has no civic representation,” she said. “If 60 of us were shot in protest of the U.S. negligence in FEMA, I couldn’t imagine if there were silence on that.” This recognition of global connections and parallels is a far more important indicator of her politics than her self-admitted lack of expertise on the issue.

And Tlaib, after clarifying that she absolutely opposes aid to Israel to fund injustice, later announced something wholly unprecedented in mainstream U.S. politics; upon declaring that “separate but equal does not work,” she came out in support of a one-state resolution and for the right of return for Palestine refugees, two third-rail issues that no member of Congress has dared to touch. Omar, too, doubled down on Israel’s separate-and-unequal system, tweeting that she was simply “drawing attention to an apartheid regime.” By making such bold statements and policy declarations even before entering Congress, Tlaib and Omar have already introduced new perspectives by centering the narrative around equality rather than borders or Israeli security, and by drawing parallels between the fight for equality for Palestinians and the struggle for civil rights here in the U.S.

The significance of these victories cannot be fully appreciated without underscoring the reigning discourse that the identities and statements of these candidates interrupt. Up until recently, expressing unwavering support of Israel to American voters has been a requirement to reach public office. Once in the seat of power, members of Congress are expected to constantly affirm Israel’s right to security, or, in less-coded language, Israel’s right to commit human rights violations against Palestinians unabated under the pretext of self-defense. Former President Jimmy Carter acknowledged this unspoken, yet strictly enforced, congressional code of conduct, writing that “it would be almost politically suicidal for members of Congress to espouse a balanced position between Israel and Palestine, to suggest that Israel comply with international law or to speak in defense of justice or human rights for Palestinians.” That was in 2006.

Twelve years later, in a quite stark contrast to Carter’s assessment, author and activist Phyllis Bennis writes, “it is no longer political suicide to criticize Israel.” Indeed, recent surveys suggest that Tlaib, Ocasio-Cortez, and Omar weren’t elected despite their politics on Palestine, but perhaps because of a dramatic partisan shift in attitudes. A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that nearly twice as many self-identified liberal Democrats sympathize more with Palestinians than Israelis. Additionally, current developments within Congress, such as the first-ever bill on Palestinian rights, introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) and sponsored by 29 fellow Democrats, signal that legislating for freedom, justice, and equality for Palestinians in Congress is, as Bennis suggests, not political suicide, but becoming part and parcel of a progressive agenda.

We still have miles to go. Yet, right now, the space for change is being created in a dramatic showdown between those with truly inclusive progressive politics and those who want to carve out an exception that would exclude Palestinian rights. For the first time ever, Palestinian rights are on the congressional agenda. For the first time ever, a proudly self-identifying Palestinian-American woman is poised to represent Palestinians in an institution that has historically treated them as both invisible and expendable.

Furthermore, there’s a good chance that Tlaib will be joined by new progressive members of Congress who view Israel as a colonial and apartheid regime. Among the public support and post-victory congratulations that Tlaib, Omar, and Ocasio-Cortez exchanged, Tlaib’s tweet to Omar best expressed their emerging solidarity, as she wrote, “I can’t wait to walk onto the floor of United States Congress hand in hand with you. So incredibly proud of you.”

This is exactly the type of change—at the highest levels of government—that advocates of Palestinian rights have long hoped to witness. And now that it appears to be coming to fruition, it’s incumbent upon these advocates to continue building the political power necessary to continue expanding their ever-growing circle of congressional allies and create a climate where Palestinian rights are regarded as fundamental.

Tala Alfoqaha is currently a Government Affairs Fellow at the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights as well as a full-time student, studying Math and Global Studies with a regional focus on the Middle East and thematic focus on human rights and social justice.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, which is a 501(c)(3) organization and does not endorse candidates. Nothing in this article expresses advocacy for or against any candidate for office.

The Overstory by Richard Powers

September 5, 2018

There are books that inform and educate, books that wake you up, snapping on the lights and ringing the alarm, and books that change your life. The Overstory did all that (and more) for me—it cracked me open, challenged me to rethink some fundamental beliefs and experiences, and demanded a fresh start. Richard Powers is an elegant writer—there are sentences on every page so dazzling that they invite a pause and a second look—and a superb storyteller. The vivid characters—wildly diverse, each one distinct and one-of-a-kind—are drawn together by an  invisible but irresistible force: life itself.

We all should know by now that exponential growth in any finite system will lead inevitably to collapse. What Richard Powers and some others know (and all of us are poised to learn) is that the earth is speaking to us, and our future depends on attending to the “inscrutable generosity of green things.” What do the trees know? How do they communicate with one another? What are they trying to tell us? How will we hear them in time?

The Overstory is a big, hefty novel about trees in the same sense that Moby-Dick is a big, hefty book about whales.

Read this book and you’ll never again behold a park or garden or woods in the same way.