Thursday, September 27, 2007

Headin' to "the Selma of the North"

I'm heading to Milwaukee tomorrow for the 40th anniversary celebration/commemoration of that city's landmark open housing demonstrations. From 1966-1968, housing, along with police brutality, was one of the most important, but contentious, issue in the northern struggle for racial justice. In 1966, thousands of white erupted in violence outside of Chicago when Martin Luther King led a march for fair housing. In Milwaukee, from August 1967 through April 1968, Vel Phillips, Fr. James Groppi, the NAACP Youth Council and Commandos led 200 consecutive nights of marching in order to force passage of a city-wide fair housing ordinance. In response, thousands of hostile local whites attacked peaceful marchers on the white ethnic south side of the 16th street viaduct in scenes eerily similar to the violence at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, in 1965. Yet, local activists and their supporters were not deterred. When Fr. Groppi made an ecumenical call for support, hundreds of people from across the country poured into the city to bear witness and march. With Black Power sweeping the Movement, the Milwaukee open housing campaign was seen by many as a "last stand for an integrated, non-violent, church-based movement." In the wake of King's assassination in early April, 1964, the Milwaukee Common Council finally passed a tough local ordinance barring racial discrimination in the sale or rental of local property. The Milwaukee campaign also contributed to passage of the historic 1968 Fair Housing Act.

One of the interesting dynamics of the Milwaukee civil rights era is the unique leadership of Fr. James Groppi, a white Catholic priest who served as the advisor to the local NAACP Youth Council and Commandos. Groppi grew up on the city's heavily Catholic white ethnic South Side, so was seen as a religious and race traitor by many. The Youth Council constituted the shock troops of the local Movement. The Commandos were a self-defense group formed in 1966 after a Klan bomb blast destroyed the Milwaukee NAACP office and thousands of angry whites threatened violence in suburban Wauwatosa during a peaceful protest outside the home of Judge Robert Cannon. The Commandos practiced what they called "not violence." They walked along the outside of march lines, didn't carry weapons or start any violence, but fought back if provoked or attacked by white onlookers or racist police. In this way, they offered a compelling tactical alternative to pure Kingian non-violence as well as other Black Power groups, like the Black Panthers, who carried weapons, or advocated revolutionary violence as a tool for liberation. Together, Groppi, the Youth Council and Commandos stood at the vanguard of Milwaukee struggle for racial justice from 1965 through 1969.

Oh, there are lots of fascinating dynamics to the Milwaukee Movement story, but you'll have to wait until my book comes out to read all about 'em... (smile)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Kaya "Phoenix" Jones

Well, it has been a dramatic few days around these parts. On Monday morning at 7:30am, Kaya Jones was hit by a car in front of our house. The story is too long to recount here, but it had something to do with screaming Catholic school girls, an elicit pile of poop, and my own fumbling hands. The end result was Kaya darting directly into the path of an on-coming Honda CRV. Fortunately, she was hit from the center of the car and thus avoided having a tire run over her. In addition, because the CRV sits a little higher than your average car and Kaya is still small, the bumper missed her, which probably saved her from having smashed bones. And, the driver slammed on his brakes as soon as she ran in front of him, so she did not travel all the way under the car and out the other end. In fact, she only made it a foot or two under the car. In essence, the car contorted Kaya and flipped her over and over as it skidded to a halt over her. She bounced right up and ran to our porch, where she left a small pool of blood, and then inside, up our stairs, into the bedroom and under our bed, leaving a disturbing trail of blood the whole way. I scooped her up and raced to the animal hospital where they immediately tranquilized her... daddy could have used a little of that, as well!

Kaya tore up her back left paw and leg quite badly. Her paw required a number of stitches to put it back together. Beyond that, though, we got extremely lucky: no broken bones, no internal damage, no head trauma, no rib displacement, etc. As someone who watched the calamity unfold, I am shocked she isn't much worse off.

Because Kaya appears to have escaped the clutches of death, we have re-christened her with a new middle name. She is now Kaya "Phoenix" Jones. Like the mythic bird, Kaya has risen from what very well might have been the ashes of death out there on J Street. Or, maybe she is just part cat and we are now on life #2... regardless, all are happy to have her home again and on the mend.

Kaya will not be conducting any interviews at this time. She has withdrawn from all upcoming doggy races and squirrel chases.

Here are the latest images... (click any image to enlarge)


Home again, home again...

We had to get her a bigger "cone collar." Question, do those things collect sound? If so, that has got to be kinda trippy.

Mommy likes to spoil the baby. Guess who had to sleep on the couch?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Thich Nhat Hanh - "Peace is Every Step"

Thich Nhat Hanh is an amazing buddhist monk from Vietnam. He came to prominence during the Vietnam war and has played a central role in bringing buddhist teachings to the West. Thich Nhat Hanh is one of the great global peace activists of the last 30-40 years. In fact, Martin Luther King, Jr., nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Below is the trailer for a new documentary on this profound man and his vision for a more humane way of being...

We could all use more of his compassion and love.

If you enjoyed this trailer, here is the entire documentary (52 minutes)

If you'd like to read one of Thich Nhat Hanh's books, you might consider starting with the one that shares the name of this documentary, "Peace Is Every Step."


Sunday, September 23, 2007

This summer...

This summer, we got cool new bicycles. My favorite thing to do on a bike is tool around, so we got old-style cruisers.

Drea's bike:

My wheels:

She got a cool bell:

... and basket:

I got a chrome rack:

... and nifty double-wide tires:

Oh, yeah, we got a dog, too. Introducing Kaya Jones:

... peace dog:

Kaya (pronounced keye-ya) is part lab, party husky (a "labusky," or is it "huskabrador"?) and currently weighs 19 pounds. She is five months old. We estimate her birthday is May 5 (Cinco de Mayo!). She has one dark brown eye and one sky-blue eye. In Rastafari, Kaya means "enlightenment." In Sanskrit, Kaya refers to the three forms of the Buddha, body, mind and spirit. So, our Kaya is destined to be a very deep and spiritual dog! Maybe she is the reincarnation of some ancient lama? She definitely lives in the moment...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Jena Rally Sparks White Supremacist Rage, Lynching Threat


This is sad and disturbing, but probably not surprising. For all those out there who believe America is "beyond race," read this and weep... literally. The racists are getting riled up over the amazing, positive, non-violent protest in Jena yesterday:
Hatewatch article about racist response to Jena 6 protest on Thursday

Here is the white supremacist website that suggests the Jena 6 should be lynched:
Racists suggest Jena 6 should be lynched

Here is the follow-up piece that includes the addresses of the Jena 6 and their families:
Racists publish Jena 6 addresses

In a separate incident:
"Two Arrested in Noose Incident Near Jena, LA"

And, to add insult to injury:
"Court Rules 'Jena 6' Defendant to Stay Behind Bars"

But, here is a more nuanced story about the situation in Jena:
"Black and White Becomes Gray in Louisiana Town"

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Classic Political Ad: Daisy Girl (1964)

The NYTimes has called Lyndon Johnson's infamous 1964 "Daisy Girl" ad "...probably the most controversial TV commercial of all time." In it, Johnson's people deftly exploited Cold War fears of nuclear annihilation and the view that his rival, Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, had a screw or two loose to help their candidate cruise to one of the largest landslides in U.S. history. At the time, LBJ told the Texas Governor, "I just shudder to think what would happen if Goldwater won it. He's a man that's had two nervous breakdowns. He's not a stable fellow at all." Goldwater reacted to the ad by stating, "The homes of America are horrified and the intelligence of Americans is insulted by weird television advertising by which this administration threatens the end of the world unless all-wise Lyndon is given the nation for his very own." The head of the ad firm that did the spot justified it with: "Rules are what the artist breaks; the memorable never emerged from a formula." Of course, one of the ironies of the '64 election (anjd the Daisy Girl ad) is that Johnson campaigned as the peace candidate, yet he took us deeply into the quagmire of all quagmires, Vietnam. Regardless, the ad is a lesson in the powerful ways that politicians exploit fear for their own advantage. In that respect, it speaks loudly to our own time...

Recently, Conelrad, a really cool website dedicated to all things creepy and fascinating in the atomic post-WWII period of American history, has put together a comprehensive history of the Daisy Girl ad, including interviews, documents, reactions, etc. It is a great resource, a fascinating window into 60s-era politics and the nexus of Cold War paranoia and pop culture.

Check it out: Daisy: The Complete History of an Infamous and Iconic Ad

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Free the Jena 6

Support today's national day of protest in support of the Jena 6. Wear black. Talk to your friends and neighbors about this incident. Oppose racism in all forms, in Louisiana and in your own backyard...

A few resources:
"Free the Jena 6" website
Color of Change
Black Commentator article
Alternet article #1
Alternet article #2
Final Call article

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Map of Abortion Laws Worldwide

Click the above map to see an enlarged version. The map shows the legal standing of abortion across the globe.

When you look at the map, what patterns do you see...? What meaning(s) should we take away from this map?

For more information on women's rights in a global context, you might consider poking around at the Human Rights Watch website. From the front page, you can go to the homepage for "women's rights" by pressing the appropriate button along the left side of the front page.

NOTE: This map was originally posted by my cousin Phil, who runs a really popular blog, "Finland for Thought," about being a young libertarian ex-pat in Finland. If you are interested, you can check it out here: Finland for Thought. Phillip snagged the map, originally, from the Wikipedia entry on abortion.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

☮ UNL NFP Leads Game Day "Die-In"

The UNL chapter of Nebraskans for Peace lead a "die-in" today on campus before the nationally televised USC-UNL football game. The idea behind the protest was to take the peace movement to people who are outside of the "choir" and to confront them with the question, "What will you DO to end the occupation?" About 30 people, including some members of the Lincoln Coalition for Peace, put their bodies on the ground in symbolic protest of the ongoing Iraq war. The response from the sea of red and white passers-by was often indifferent, but of those that gave a response, I would say that more than half were positive and supportive and only a few were hostile or angry. At one point an older gentleman engaged two of the protesters and later a young vet angrily jawed at the group. In both cases, the demonstrators talked back in calm and deliberate tones and, I think, won the day. Both the older man and the younger military guy softened their views (retreated, in fact) by the end of the exchange. Special credit should be given to Nic Swiercek, a first year graduate student in the History Department, who deftly defused the angry military guy. It was a good event and all of the participants should feel very positive about it!

Here is what the Daily Nebraskan had to say about the "die-in":
Daily Nebraskan on "die-in"

Here are a bunch of photos (click any photo to enlarge):