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A Socially Speaking Commentary from Perry Redd

A Socially Speaking Commentary from Perry Redd

It’s been some years since I swore off my allegiance to corporate entities. I used to get a kick out of shopping (pick a holiday). I used to search high and low for my favorite brand name; hell, I used to love the NFL! Things have changed since I’ve grown up—and out of love with exploitation and corporate expediency.

I think my transition began around the time corporations went robot on me. I used to call customer service and a human being would answer. We would banter around before they would transfer me to a supervisor. It was 50-50 if I got what I deserved. One thing for sure: times have changed. If I kept dickering around with corporations that place profits over people, I’ll surely get what I deserve. It’s abundantly clear that corporations only respond to the people after their profits are in danger.

Just think of all of the corporations that did the right thing only after they were forced to—not because they were responsible corporate citizens: In the BP Oil Spill of 2010, more than 200 million gallons of crude oil was pumped into the Gulf of Mexico for a total of 87 days, making it the biggest oil spill in U.S. history, yet, BP kept saying it wasn’t their fault. They executed a “BP’s Making It Right” PR campaign in lieu of admitting the truth. Just a few days ago, a federal judge found oil giant BP “grossly negligent” for its role.

So here we find ourselves staring this grand hypocrisy in the eye, yet again. The National Football League’s Baltimore Ravens have elected to suspend their star running back, Ray Rice, indefinitely. Effectually, he’s been fired. They’ve released him from his contract and ending their contractural obligations to him…he’s about to undergo a major money shortage. The Ravens—and the NFL—did it for the right reason: Rice knocked his then fiancée out cold.

So there’s no hypocrisy, you say? Well, the Ravens—and the NFL—only cut Rice after the gossip website TMZ released a second video of Rice actually punching his woman out. The first video showed the couple in conflict, and then Rice dragging her out of a hotel elevator. It was evident that she didn’t faint. The allegations made by the woman were adequately substantiated by the video—months ago! The league chose to suspend Rice for two games. What’s worse is that the state of Maryland chose not to charge Rice with assault.

It was clear that the man had hit the woman, though the first video didn’t show it. The couple admitted that there was a violent act as well. Some people were upset by the act of “domestic violence,” but it died down after a while. That’s how corporations conduct “damage control” campaigns. The public (you and I) are led to believe that there’s outrage and something will be done as punishment. Corporate surrogates—including the press—put faces in front of us to tell us, “You don’t want to ruin his entire life.”

I ask, what about the life of the victim? What I’ve come to learn is that with corporate interests, individual lives are simply collateral damage. That’s the principle of conservative thought; just read Ayn Rand. Well, as far as I’m concerned, people matter. Not punishing Ray Rice immediately after the incident was injustice. Ray Rice’s protectors need to be in jail along with him. Shielding a batterer is akin to sin in the Christian vernacular.

Just like the Catholic Church with its series of allegations, investigations, trials and convictions of child sexual abuse crimes committed by Catholic priests, nuns and members of Roman Catholic orders against children as young as three years. Even though they’ve paid out millions in hush settlements, they’re still denying it to this day!

Now, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley wants to have him prosecuted, when the governor was silent on the issue when the revelation first came to light. He’s the Chief Executive of the state and failed to call for this high-profile prosecution…solely because he’s a huge booster of a corporate contributor to the state.

Listen, we cannot continue to allow ourselves—especially as the working-class of this country—to be stomped on by the corporate class. Crime is crime, no matter who commits it; injustice is injustice, no matter who is denied it…or at least, that’s the way it should be. This is just another example of corporations doing the right thing only because it’s expedient to do so. You know it’s wrong, they know it’s wrong. You know they won’t do right by you unless someone’s watching them. That’s the corporation to cut out of your life—while it’s expedient to do so.

A Socially Speaking Commentary from Perry Redd

A Socially Speaking Commentary from Perry Redd

I watched and listened to a host of political pundits opining on the Ferguson, Missouri police shooting of Michael Brown and the citizen unrest in the aftermath. Many issues previously swept under the rug have re-appeared as usual. Of course, I’m sick of the repeat performances and delay in justice; but what’s pervaded my subconscious is the fact that, in the capital of the free world, Washington, DC, the events in Ferguson, Missouri are just an incident away.

Each day, as I travel to and fro throughout the Capital city, I see telltale signs of racial unrest. It’s been simmering just below the surface for close to a decade now and I can see just down the road, the pot bubbling and eventually boiling over.

We all see it, but like so many American integrated cities, there will be a spark to light the powder keg. The explosion will shock America—the world—but it won’t shock me. I saw it coming. There are five socio-political facets of this boil over:

Racial composition
Though the Black population is still predominant, at 49%, that’s down from the 1980’s—pre crack epidemic era—of almost 80%. Chocolate City is no longer where whites now make up 36% of DC’s residents. With that population change comes a change in the school system, community development and jobs picture. Blacks aren’t fairing well.

Wealth disparity
DC features the wealthiest high-income strata among big U.S. cities and more poor people than the national average, which looks much like the larger U.S. economy. The top 5 percent of households had average incomes of $473,000, highest among the biggest 50 U.S. cities, while the poorest fifth averaged less than $10,000. At 18.2 percent, the District of Columbia’s poverty rate is more than 2 percentage points above the U.S. average, according to a 2012 Census Bureau analysis.

This disparity bleeds into other areas that make up the “quality of life” standards. Just look at housing: the number of low-rent apartments costing $750 a month or less halved from 2000 to 2012, while the stock of those renting for $1,500 or more tripled. With that said, where are Blacks expected to live? Moving more of them out to the suburbs of neighboring Prince George’s County is not an option.

Employment and Unemployment
Middle-class jobs hollowed out by the 2007-2009 recession have failed to come back and Blacks in DC have felt the brunt of this lack of jobs. The District’s employment training programs are mere shells of viability and leaves a void in viable employment for low-income residents and without labor skills. The District is gradually raising the minimum wage to $11.50 an hour, well above the federal minimum of $7.25. Our legislative leadership was adverse to raising the floor until I ran for a vacant Council seat in the spring of 2013 when I pushed the other candidates—and the city—with my proposed $14.50 an hour wage (sure, I’m taking credit for that). While we wait for higher minimum wages, what’s the plan to relieve unemployed and underemployed workers of this financial strait jacket?

A flood of mostly young, educated newcomers has helped revitalize once-blighted neighborhoods, but is wiping out low-cost housing within sight of the Capitol. The chiefly white newcomers have brought upscale bars and restaurants, condominium developments, bike lanes and dog parks, but those sweeping changes have translated into serving only the newcomers who brought it. While adding roughly 1,000 new residents to this city/state every month since 2008, the clear invasion is drawing a simmering resentment from the people who resided here and whose legacies and heritage are embedded in the city’s fabric. How long will longtime residents stand to be ignored, disrespected, and marginalized?

Political leadership
Although the District of Columbia has a Black population of just over 50%–down from 79% in the 1980’s—it’s legislative body of 13 members is now over 50% white. Recent indictments and convictions of at least three council members have tipped the balance in favor of 7 whites on the Council. This year, the mayoralty is poised to swear in its first white mayor. Just from the aforementioned points of contention I make, it is evident that Blacks in DC have been ignored when Blacks held the majority within the leadership ranks; now, with a growing majority of white legislators, its guaranteed that elected leadership—who don’t look like you—will not be sensitive to the interests and plight of low- to moderate-income Black residents. I urge you to ask yourself, ‘What candidate during this election cycle is empowering Blacks in DC to do something different and reverse status quo politics? With status quo politics, Ferguson coming to DC won’t be an if, but a ‘when.’

Criminal Justice disparities
eight of 10 adults arrested in the District are black, disproportionate to the racial breakdown of residents — roughly 47 percent black and 43 percent white. Nine of 10 people arrested on the charge of simple drug possession are black, the study found. And eight of 10 charged with disorderly conduct are black. Just looking at 2010, in DC, the equivalent of 30 percent of the District’s adult male population were arrested, compared with 2 percent of the white residents. These disparities breed distrust, distrust breeds response—volatile response.

All of these factors taken together weigh heavily on the real lives of the underclass—Black people—of the District. The fact that Washington, DC has no true political, budget nor legislative authority—no statehood—doesn’t make things, at any degree, better. White congressional from other states are fighting to undermine DC’s gun control laws. White people who are silently living in fear because of their actions to gentrify are supporting those efforts.

Under the surface are angering tensions that are bound to explode. When the police force is white and the people being policed are Black, only time will dictate the confrontation. What you witnessed in Ferguson will be child’s play when DC bubbles over.

A Socially Speaking Commentary from Perry Redd

A Socially Speaking Commentary from Perry Redd

If I were you, I’d be suspicious. People are out there dying…just not your people. The World Health Organization’s website says between August 2nd and 4th, a total of 108 new cases of Ebola virus disease (laboratory-confirmed, probable, and suspect cases) as well as 45 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. Guess what? None reported in the United States, although Americans are involved. I’m very suspicious.

Don’t you find it strange that the only people—on earth—to contract the Ebola virus are people in Africa…and the only people—on earth—with a “Ebola serum” are in the United States?

Oh, come on! Anyone with half a brain would be suspicious! Countries, cultures and ethnic groups have always been weary of these Euro-do-gooders who come into their countries bearing gifts and good tidings. Recorded history has shown that the gifts they leave range from smallpox to cholera. In Uganda, shortly after the arrival of European colonists, there was an explosion of epidemics of hitherto unknown diseases of smallpox, plague, gonorrhoea and syphilis; later measles, cholera and typhoid.

Wait a minute! President Barack Obama said he lacks enough information to green-light a promising drug to treat the deadly Ebola virus, so the U.S. ain’t giving it up and that the initial response should focus on public health measures to contain the outbreak. Okay, if people are dying, then experimental drugs are the next best thing to prevention! If the drugs don’t work, then dying people lose nothing! The worst part of that line of reasoning is that the US will try it on their people, but not try it out on the people affected? Yes, I’m highly suspicious.

“We’ve got to let the science guide us and I don’t think all the information is in on whether this drug is helpful,” the president said at a media conference. “The Ebola virus both currently and in the past is controllable if you have a strong public health infrastructure in place.”

Okay, in the richest country on earth, I’d figure you can crap and chew gum at the same time. Nothing wrong with strengthening public health prevention measures, but why wouldn’t you work on stopping death at the same time? Maybe, just maybe, someone wants someone else dead! Maybe, just maybe, there’s a profit motive. You know, we have to make sure it works, before we can sell it to the Africans. When domination and imperialization are imminent, then de-population is the next best weapon to war.

I know, you want to call me a conspiracy theorist, right? I’d implore you to call me correct, if not on time for dinner! I’ve said nothing wrong. Captain James Cook took typhoid to Hawaii in 1779. Spaniards took smallpox to Mexico in 1520 and by 1618 Mexico’s population had reduced from 20 million to only 1.6 million. Mexico hadn’t been the same since…

In 1839, according to British medical records, six infectious diseases accounted for almost all deaths in Britain: TB, typhus, typhoid fever, cholera, dysentery and smallpox. No record or history of such diseases exists outside Euroasia before the advent of European adventures. Guess who ended up dying from those diseases?

If you wonder why other countries don’t like us, here’s a damned good reason. Everywhere Americans visit, they leave an ugly footprint. Just think about it, no other country tries to “open free markets” in America. Free market capitalism is what did in the Hawaiians. Dole pineapples weren’t always Dole pineapples, you know…it wasn’t until the US military crushed the Hawaiian population did we get crushed pineapples—by Americans! That’s why Captain Cook had to be dealt with.

Fake do-gooders always seem to proceed terrible results. Remember the killing of Osama Bin Laden? The CIA organized a fake vaccination program in the town where it believed Osama bin Laden was hiding in an elaborate attempt to obtain DNA from the wanted al-Qaida leader’s family. After that revelation, no one in their right minds would trust Americans.

My memory isn’t lost on the Libyan incident that left a bad taste in the mouths of world. In February 1998, nurses arrived to take jobs at Al Fateh Children’s Hospital in Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city. By August that year, children at the hospital began testing positive for H.I.V. Health authorities soon realized they had a major problem. Dozens of Bulgarian medical workers were arrested and a videotaped search of the apartment of one purported to turn up vials of H.I.V.-tainted blood. At least two of the nurses eventually confessed, but said later that they had been forced to do so under torture. Whatever the case, the incidences of H.I.V. significantly—and mysteriously?—decreased…funny how that happens.

Libya changed the medical workers’ sentences to life in prison after the families of the infected children each received $1 million. Of course, the medical workers claim they did nothing wrong. Wouldn’t you?

I know, it’s all coincidental, right? Hell no, the pattern is consistent, and following the laws of logic, white people cause a hell of a lot of drama when they want something. Lying and cheating are never out of the question when resources are at stake. Poison by disease is a long-documented tool of oppressors and colonizers. Someone is guilty. Ebola didn’t just wake up one day in West Africa and say, “I’m going to kill some people.” Ebola got there somehow. If you connect the dots, you’d say, “Don’t Ebola Me, bro’!”

The weekly socio-political commentary from activist, Perry Redd

The weekly socio-political commentary from activist, Perry Redd

You’ve heard the phrase, “Keep Hope Alive.” Well, when it comes to Israel’s occupation of Palestine, I don’t. I’m not keeping hope alive. Hell, killing human beings indiscriminately doesn’t keep hope alive. I’m not a pessimist, but I am a realist. Misplaced hope is only mind sugar for fools. It gives an immediate “up,” then makes for a terrible crash.

The Palestinian death toll in Gaza has topped 600 as the Israeli siege and bombardment has entered its third week. Over 75% of those killed are civilians; more than 100 are children. Israel says it has lost 27 soldiers since the ground invasion began last week. These are matters of fact. The Western media—led by Jews—are hard at work framing the bombardment and assault on the Gaza Strip as an even-handed contest of combatants, where the Palestinians are losing. These reports are far removed from fact. Israel confirmed the remains of one of its soldiers presumed to have been killed in Gaza had still not been found. Hamas has said it captured the soldier.

The most recent siege on Gaza is predictably similar to the last one…and the one before it. As long as money and preferred status dominate Western societal thought, Gaza will remain marginalized and enslaved. Observers might be challenged, but will be encouraged to take the coward’s way out: ignorance. As long as feigning ignorance to a dire socio-political ill is deemed possible and acceptable, the reality of Israel’s siege on Gaza, will remain with us.

The mainstream media (which I have termed “accepted media”) are line reporting that it’s not clear why NBC’s talented foreign correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin, who witnessed the killing of four Palestinian cousins in Gaza and was removed from his post later that day, then reinstated. We all know why he was removed, but are afraid to often the people who hold the pursestrings of America. Mohyeldin was pulled by NBC because he was reporting facts on the ground—of the Palestinian plight. As far as white Westerners—especially white Americans—facts be damned.

Facts have been elusive in the “accepted” media. For those who choose to know, the facts in this conflict are important:

· The Gaza Strip is an internment camp…the expectations that people will stay locked-in is a non-sequitor; the socio-political discourse has been framed in such a way that Americans are led to ignore that initial and basic truth…The Jewish mantras “Never Again” and “Let Us Never Forget” culminate in the Israeli Jews doing the same thing the Nazis did to them
· The attack on Gaza is no less than mass murder and ethic genocide; a comparative analysis of , human resources, weapons caches and body counts clearly demonstrate war crimes committed by Israelis…the attacks on Gazans are demonstrably an attempt at ethnic cleansing
· Occupiers will always deny that they are occupying; the enclosed borders of Gaza—Israel on one side and Egypt on the other—speaks for itself; the policies of starving the democratically-elected government of Hamas guaranteed its failure to govern; the Israel/US-led coalition of nations
· Israel claims it has a “right to defend itself”…yet the reality that Palestinians—Gazans—don’t, is simply a misleading framing of the human condition; during Jim Crow America, black people held firearms to defend themselves against terroristic white people. It is not unreasonable to expect people living under violent and oppressive occupation to not fight their way out of oppression
· Denying another’s “right to exist” is impotent when the one you are denying has all the resources—especially weapons; the Palestinians’ resistance to Israel’s existence doesn’t mean Israel will exist and using it as justification to murder people is disingenuous
· Propaganda wars will always be won by the ones with the most money (i.e., Citizens United in the US under the guise of free speech); Hamas cannot make its case to the general public when it is starved of fiscal resources (just like the people cannot fairly compete with US corporations in elections); the Jewish community dominates the news outlets with human and fiscal resources—and that’s not coincidental
· The attack on Gaza is underwritten by the unspoken theory racial superiority…simply watch the news (better yet Democracy Now or Al jezeera) and examine the skin complexion of the sufferers
· The attack is undergirded—and encouraged—by the United States; when Americans are allowed to join and fight alongside Israeli soldiers, then Americans are complicit and equally guilty of mass murder
· Regarding humanity, Israel will never have an “attack of conscience”;never have white people throughout world history ever allowed their morality to overpower their conquests…the concept of “moral high ground” is too often conflated with responding out of fear, thus fear can serve as justification for immoral acts—and Israel could care less about acting moral
· This volatile opposition between Palestinians and Israelis will not be solved during my lifetime…and Israel doesn’t want it to be

As long as Israel can keep expanding settlements, holding nuclear arms and avoid the facts of their occupation, the principles of justice and equality are footnotes in theory. Don’t subscribe to the same mainstream framing of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Once you are grounded in the facts of the matter, you’ll realize you get your information from alternative sources, empathize with those who suffer (‘cause you’ll be maligned) and walk on the right side of history.

The weekly socio-political commentary from activist, Perry Redd

The weekly socio-political commentary from activist, Perry Redd

Have you got a pair yet? Cat’s got your tongue again, huh? I know you can’t really talk about that around the watercooler at work. Well, someone else can—and is—talking about it…the obvious. We all know it, but scared to death to say so. Our Attorney General told the world, that the only reason anyone views he and the president as “ineffective” is because they’re Black. About damned time!

Attorney General Eric Holder went on the ABC Sunday morning talk show and said he sees “racial animus” in strident Republican opposition to some Obama administration policies. Conservatives in the media realm say he’s playing racial politics. I wonder why they’d say that? When we’re examining why nothing substantial is moving in congress, why is it not possible to unearth all of the rocks that cause our flowers not to bloom? Why wouldn’t we pull all of the weeds when looking for what’s chocking out our vegetables?

Look, I’ve always said that, when all is said and done, race and racism is the culprit for all of America’s ills. Whether poverty, unemployment, fiscal instability or debt, race always underlies the holes in The American Dream. Nothing in this country will work right—including congress—if you don’t solve the race problem. I didn’t stutter; never will.

You can holler economics all you want. Under every economic rock is racial inequality. Whether is the national debt, lending practices, personal wealth, inheritances, under-funding of social programs, or cutting government spending, it’s always predicated by who won’t get the lion’s share of the money…Black people.

What I am relieved about is that he didn’t recant anything. He said, “there’s a certain level of vehemence, it seems to me, that’s directed at me (and) directed at the President. … There’s a certain racial component to this for some people.” Look, even Stevie Wonder can see that. You’ve got elected leaders, nationwide, making nigger jokes to detract from his character and accomplishments. These childish pranks take children’s eyes off the work that the president is trying to do—even if those children are adults.

Although some folks might have gotten selective amnesia, the AG spoke about this race-hating a few years back. Holder said he also stood by comments from a 2009 speech in which he said America is a “nation of cowards” on race and sees a crop of new voter identification laws, many of them passed by GOP-controlled state legislatures, as a way to disenfranchise Black voters. If anyone denies that race plays a significant and opaque role in the drive to legislate negatively of late, don’t trust ‘em any father than you can throw ‘em!

It is wholly disingenuous to speak about the opposition to President Obama’s pro-people policies and not mention the racial components. Raising the minimum wage for working class Americans cannot be seen as a bad thing, nor could opposing it be an election time benefit, but Republicans find a way to demonize such policies. Former Illinois Republican congressman turned conservative radio host Joe Walsh Tweeted: “Simple question for Eric Holder and all others who use race to protect Obama: Is it possible to oppose Obama and not be a racist?” I say, protect him from what? White males still attack his person, as opposed to his policies, right after making mention of the policy.

They talk about his fitness to lead, as if he’s an invalid. He takes executive actions to their dismay, then these same joes won’t entertain immigration reform—in it’s fullness—but attack Obama’s ability to lead? It’s alright if you don’t want to follow, but please give valid socio-political reasons why!

Then comes the former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s call to impeach Obama…you gotta be kiddin’ me! She doesn’t even read newspapers (remember that?)! That factors into the hot air surrounding race and politics, according some pundits. You can best believe that if they could Ray Nagin him, or Kwame Kilpatrick him, or Jesse Jr. either of them, they would. I’m not saying they weren’t guilty, but I am saying that, Obama is conducting his presidency the same way his predecessors did. Sure, I hate that, but I’m going to stick to the facts.

People are out there still talking birth certificates and “muslim.” This is all about white racists reminding their people that he’s not one of us!” I’m here to tell you, they’re right! Who would want to be a mean-spirited, hate-mongering, truth-twisting, history-denying person? When it comes to race, the only way to eradicate it is to face it, own up to it and speak it out of existence. The horse is out of the barn now, but conservatives are scared that the horse is a black one.

Our weekly commentary from Socially Speaking

A Socially Speaking commentary from social change activist and author, Perry Redd

This battle for respect is nothing new. Washington’s professional football team said as much. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled that the Washington Redskins’ name is “disparaging of Native Americans” and should be stripped of trademark protection — a decision that puts powerful new financial and political pressure on the NFL team to rename itself. But they won’t, because they believe that they are “exceptional.” Now, where do you think that came from?

Daniel Synder is ridiculously resistant to changing the name of his football team. He, as owner of a professional sports franchise, is an overt racist (as opposed to former NBA, LA Clipper owner Donald Sterling, who was revealed to be a covert racist). Snyder has brought forth insane defenses for keeping a disparaging name and mascot in place, without drawing the ire of fellow NFL owners. You notice that this is the only group you haven’t heard from? These other owners have tacitly approved this practice of defending racism. Is it because he is a Jew?

I don’t profess to know the entire Jewish story. What I do know is that, because of their arrogance (believing and teaching that they alone are the “chosen” race by God), and their claim to “exceptionalism,” Jews were threatened with evisceration, decimation, and thus, extinction, by the Aryan Germans during the 20th century. It took another group believing in the concept of “exceptionalism” to save them from decimation, Americans.
Let’s get it straight, I stand with anybody who was on the brink of extermination at the hands of racists. Once that bridge is crossed, we have to make fully certain that we don’t become the thing that we hate. It’s evident that Jews have done just that. It is time for people with a conscience—especially Jewish people—to reverse course.

This same drive toward extinction—at the hands of terrorists—is exactly what happened to the Black man of Africa brought to the Americas on slave ships and the native dwellers of the said Americas by European invaders. These are facts. There is no valid argument against what I just said. Many will be offended and feign offense. You can’t argue facts.

There is nothing exceptional about being an unjust people. Whether holding people in racist subjection in Palestine or using twisted logic to degrade an entire race of people (no matter how small a population they may now be), there can be no claim to exceptionalism. In America, because of our Constitution (which white males hold in high esteem), there is no wiggle room for the racist variety of branding your football team.

We know from the CNN interview that Donald Sterling did with Anderson Cooper, that he believes that his Jewishness affords him certain privileges where which others are not worthy. In his interview, he voiced the subjugation that Blacks in America should accept because of the superior way Jews conduct business, as opposed to Blacks. I didn’t say it, he did.

Unfortunately, this attitude of exceptionalism is contagious. Other Jewish Americans will subscribe to this conflictual logic. If Dan Synder is allowed to use the Donald Sterling reasoning veiled by capitalism—which the Trademark ruling indirectly addresses—then we poison the well of progress in racial equality in America. I’d like to be wrong in my observation, but when I see damned near everyone deemed “credible” in the press is a Jew or every person of significance—in front of or behind the cameras in Hollywood—is a Jew or every foreign policy decision that our country makes falls to the benefit of the Jewish state, then I have to wonder of what well I’m being coerced to drink from.

Look, some of my life’s favorite people and mentors are Jews. To this day, DC activist and educator, David Schwartzman is among my “favorite Jews.” I love Schwartzman, not only because he is a champion for justice and opposes the Palestinian occupation, but because of his sincere humility. When he is wrong, he doesn’t go on an apology tour like Donald Sterling and makes excuses, he goes directly to the source of the offense. A real man’s man.

It’d be nice if Dan Snyder was a David Schwartzman kind-of-guy, but it ain’t happening. The battle for respect will be won in the court of popular will—and corporate profit margins. The sports fan of America must realize that sports helped guide our collective conscience. Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey set a stage for change in 1947. Dan Snyder and Washington’s football team’s break with tradition, will do it today…and not because he’s a Jew, but because it’s the American thing to do.

A Socially Speaking Commentary from Perry Redd

A Socially Speaking Commentary from Perry Redd

I see little kids go off on their parents in retail establishments all the time. I can’t imagine talking back, throwing tantrums or even less, pouting, when my mother would tell me anything when I was a kid. I think that far too seldom, American kids don’t receive adequate and appropriate discipline from their caretakers these days. My mother used to tell me, “You’d better not act up in here, ‘cause I will embarrass you.”

Acting up is what conservative Republicans have been doing for the past six years—since Barack Obama won the presidency. Not the kind of acting up that amounts to activism that makes America “more perfect,” but the kind of activism that brings America’s progress to a screeching halt. This “acting up” has brought the government to a shutdown, restricted voting and reproductive freedom and rolled back landmark legislations that made this country proud.

That very acting up appears to have shook the foundation of the Republican Party establishment. House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, suffered a stunning electoral upset by a political newcomer, Randolph-Macon College economics professor Dave Brat. Now, the reasons for Cantor’s loss at the ballot box will be debated, but what is undisputable, is that recalcitrance is often met with a spanking! It could be looked at as the voters of Cantor’s district thought he wasn’t conservative enough. I doubt it, though Brat appears that he will be ideologically worse.

I attribute his loss to two things: 1) the crappy open primary system that allowed Democrats to vote in a Republican primary (which political pundits won’t talk about as a possibility) and 2) Cantor was a politically arrogant brat that went to Washington and made sure—along with anti-Obama Republicans—nothing got done.

Not that I place any stock in polls, but eighty percent of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing, while just 12 percent approve. At this point in the 2010 election cycle—when Democrats were in the majority—congress’ approval rating was 15 percent, not much different than it is today. Just notice this: as our country slides further and further to the right, the approval ratings drop further south. Conservative “principles” only bankrupt the country, rob our children, harm the majority. Though we’re not talking much about unemployment right now, it’s harder and harder to find a job; even harder to find a good-paying one! That only works out for big employers. The common man of America is hurt by that.

There are times when change, for the sake of change, has to take place. The new Brat, like DC’s Mayor Vincent Gray, doesn’t represent change…only a transition to change. It’s also unfortunate that the new brat, will be worse than the old one, because he campaigned to be more conservative. Though the voters of Virginia’s 7th Congressional district say they want that, just wait until it happens. They’ll be calling for his “do nothing” head on a platter too. Then what?

Those voters will come to realize that they’ll have to move closer to the middle—in order to get something done. They can’t keep politicking to the right to move this country forward…even if they choose to stay behind. They too, cannot be brats. I don’t even think they realize that they’ve taught themselves a lesson. Though, it took a Brat to beat one, anyone that is a brat, will surely end up getting spanked.

A view from the other side of the tracks...since 2002

A Socially Speaking view from the other side of the tracks…since 2002

The need for mental health facilities is growing to levels of the greatest necessity in the past 50 years but not because of mass shootings of late. No. The baseless defense of “mental health” increases conservative Libertarians’ propaganda as the answer to making a healthier America, but the premise doesn’t apply exclusively to guns…add the insanity of opposing a Living Wage.

One of the best known cures for an illness is direct action. Sickness rarely gets better by doing nothing. That’s what free market capitalists are arguing at this monumental time in history. The Seattle City Council unanimously approved a $15 minimum wage, giving its lowest-paid workers a path over the next seven years to the nation’s highest hourly pay. Not raising the minimum wage—in the richest country on earth—is insanity.

This raise of the minimum wage (to a Living Wage) was a bold step forward in the name of humanity, fairness, justice and equality. There are some—calling themselves Americans—vehemently opposed to these tenets. In the past, it was honorable to practice humanity. Allowing a systemic means of keeping people poor should be shameful, but when one is insane, there shall be no shame.

Though I am pleased at the raise agreed to by the Seattle council, I am not pleased about the time it will take to implement it. Seven years to bring this greater degree of income equality is a travesty. Free Market conservatives know this. Their aim is always to water down progressive legislation to the point of sheer ineffectiveness. The proponents of sanity are collecting signatures for a charter amendment that would speed up the phase-in to three years. It took our country—not city council but nation—three days to pass the USA PATRIOT ACT! On the fourth day, they began implementation.

What’s more insane is that the oligarchic restaurant lobby unashamedly cheers for poverty. Americans hear them, but like walking past homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk, they consciously look straight ahead as they walk by and do nothing. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray praised the council vote as a bold step to address what he called more than three decades of economic policy that has resulted in a dismantling of the middle class. Keeping wages low was successful as an end only because destroying unions was successful as a means.

Rich people commit insane acts to protect their wealth. Instead of paying their workers better, they pay lawyers and lobbyists to protect their profits. Within minutes of the vote, an organization representing national franchises vowed to sue of their inclusion under the new law as large businesses.

We had a similar battle here in DC where the restaurant lobby worked tooth-and-nail to dismantle a raise to the minimum wage (where Walmart was the centerpiece but not the only piece). They claimed that they—large retailers—were defenseless “victims” of an assault by labor activists. Well, excuuuuuse meeeee! Large retailers and restaurateurs have gotten away for decades with exploiting laborers by keeping minimum wages minimal and reaping obscenely huge profits. That’s why so many more restaurants have opened during this period.

The fact is that workers have gotten poorer, thus smashing the middle class. A raise in the minimum wage benefits any sub-set of American society. Circular economics dictates that if workers have more money to spend, they will. The retailers that pay those higher wages will see an increase in their sales. Governments benefit because less people—workers—will need government subsidies for healthcare, childcare and food. The number of taxpayers increases, so governments gain more revenue from taxable income. Workers benefit because their standard of living increases.

What’s more bold is that alternative leadership is necessary to make something like this happen. Municipalities all over the country have seen only marginal electoral victories by politicians out of the status quo. Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant, whose election in November on a $15-an-hour minimum platform helped galvanize the Seattle effort. Those opponents of raising wage standards contribute hugely to candidates that will vote for working class poverty. Sawant’s win was a “shock the world” proposition that has rocked the nation—for good!

Here in DC, we’ve got a council election with a candidate who also proudly champions the “Fight for $15” banner. Eugene Puryear has made this same battle a centerpiece of his campaign. I find it funny how the protectors of poverty tried to slander Sawant as a Socialist—which she is—and she still won! Now, it has washed out that regardless of the slander, the people—and thus, Seattle—have benefitted. A win for the people should always be the overarching objective.

It’s a shame that more working class Americans aren’t supporting this effort to bring back the middle class. Though Seattle has made history, the history is far from over. In the law are three provisions: a training wage for teenagers and disabled workers, the counting the cost of tips and health-care benefits toward the $15 for up to 11 years and move the start date from January to April. Sawant tried to cut those out, but the restaurant lobby got to most on the Council first. They did the same thing here in DC. Political contributions talk while the humanity of workers walk.

As we see this ray of sunshine, there’re clouds still looming. The International Franchise Association announced plans to sue Seattle to overturn the ordinance. They’re like the national “Repeal and Replace” Republicans that obsess about Obamacare and keep our country sick. We cannot allow free market conservatism to keep this country from getting the mental health care it needs by letting poverty wage insanity keep us from the cure of a Living Wage.

A Socially Speaking Commentary from Perry Redd

A Socially Speaking Commentary from Perry Redd

Once again, the voices are sad and pitiful; and once again the voices of hope are inarticulate and unlearned. Yet another hardluck story for public consumption placed before us by the spawns of NPR. More relevant is the fact that the story of poverty is being told by the very perpetuators of the sad condition. So when Black people are down on their “luck,” you know who will come save the day.

I find it appalling that our local NPR affiliate, WAMU, is propagandizing the plight of Black DC residents in its expose on the homeless families currently housed at the former DC General hospital site. Though WAMU is a media outlet, they have played a most instrumental role in influencing the very state of gentrification that has lead to the homelessness those families find themselves in.

Years have gone by where WAMU has given “great weight” (a favored term of DC re-development) to the developers and political party that has championed the “economic growth” of Washington, DC and the demolition of “native Washingtonians” that find themselves at the mercy of the freight train called progress. The very people who are on the tracks are the ones who either failed to, or were systemically iced out of the process of neighborhood re-development.

Now, the “white, male savior” shows up in the wake of a child’s apparent murder and we are to believe that, not only that WAMU cares, but can foster the solution to the dire and imminent circumstance of these pitiful people. WAMU, NBC4 and other local outlets have egged along the one-party rule in DC that made the DC General homeless shelter the behemoth that it is.

Yes, I am angry. I am angry to see the very people who caused so many people to find themselves homeless, are the same ones unashamed to shelter children in the shadows of a jail. Just like the dreadful image children living in the Woodland Terrace housing project in southeast DC wake up to daily facing DC’s largest halfway house of previously convicted men. Children live just feet away—in both instances—adjacent to the very people that white, male saviors have told us are throw-away, undeserving and dangerous people; yet our locally elected Democrats have, year after year, promoted this condition. The “right and good” white gentrifiers of the city (because they covertly stifle the idea of statehood) don’t want to vote for, nor appropriate truly affordable housing or a tilt toward economic equality, especially if it lands in their backyards.

Sure, Washington, DC should be ashamed, but embracing Ayn Rand principles never allows shame to surface. It is reported that there are more than 600 families housed at the DC General homeless shelter. This should be unacceptable in a city that ended fiscal 2012 and 2013 with $417 and $321 million budget surpluses, respectively, a windfall that illustrates how the fiscal climate in the nation’s capital leaves no excuses for extrication of the natives. In other words, money’s no barrier to providing responsible services to the people you are gentrifying.

Each year, they say that, “higher-than-expected tax revenue” — some of it new income taxes from the 1,100 new residents moving to the District each month — account for a big chunks of the surplus. It’s now 2014 and it ain’t unexpected. The lame duck mayor proposed his “500 Families, 100 Days” effort to house those now in shelter beds. Last time I did the math, there’re over 600 families in that shelter, so someone will be left behind. How American of you…apparently, our government—and “right and good” gentrfiers could care less.

I have to ask you, how could you stand by and consume this storytelling travesty further perpetuated by WAMU? How could you, knowing that this circumstance is diametrically oppositional to the American principles of justice, equality and fairness elect the same people who caused this mess? How could you further perpetuate the injustices of poverty and degradation? Allowing the systemic homelessness of these people is criminal—and you are an accomplice.

I know, just like the colonizers of North America, you don’t want to take responsibility for your role in this travesty, but will offer your pity in this tragedy. Your pity only soothes your conscience; it is worthless in the grand scheme of things. Going over to interview the same people you’ve helped screw over is in no way consolation, nor reparation. It’s simply propaganda toward further harm, pain and destruction.

In case you were unaware or under-informed, propaganda is derogatory information, especially of a biased or misleading nature; it’s used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view. You are being hoodwinked. The Democrats you continue to elect (and now, the faux Democrats posing as independents) are taking in exorbitant salaries, ingratiating their friends, de-funding affordable housing and staving off income equality in this city. I said this repeatedly in my run for the DC Council in the spring of 2013. Something has changed though…the inequality has gotten worse.

Only when someone dies does deprivation and neglect get in the news. Just like Cedric Mills, who died just feet from a firehouse while DC firefighters neglected to help him, the propaganda vultures came out of the woodwork. Only then did our media illuminate the ongoing failures of the DC’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Those sheltered at DC General have complained for years about the deplorable conditions they have to accept as homeless people.

The “right and good” residents of DC don’t want homeless people sheltered in their neighborhood; the cowardly elected leaders of this city have not the political will to solve an obvious ill…that would be too much like right. More to the point, we all know its wrong. If you are expecting the usual savior to come to the rescue, you are sadly mistaken. This savior only saves himself.

A Socially Speaking Commentary from Perry Redd

A Socially Speaking Commentary from Perry Redd

Never thought you’d see the day, did you? It’s about time. The conservatives, with their Tea Party activists in tow are getting their behinds kicked. A federal judge struck down Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage today, making it the latest of about a dozen states in which such bans have been declared unconstitutional in the past year. This is medicine that doesn’t go down well with conservatives.

As far as I’m concerned, anything that disturbs political conservatives is a win for me. Though I’m not gay, I am all for the equal rights of individuals who might be. This is the true definition of equality in America. No matter how you slice and dice it, it is right and just. US district Judge John E Jones didn’t stutter when he rendered his decision today: “When confronted with these iniquities in their own states, (these federal judges) have concluded that all couples deserve equal dignity in the realm of civil marriage,” Jones wrote. It is clear, and without equivocation, that the tide is changing.

I have to applaud the work and effort of the gay-rights community. They have been persistent, cunning, unwavering and tireless in their efforts to see constitutional justice afforded to their lot. This is the point in history where I wish that Black people would have as much persistence, cunning and tirelessness in the battle to maintain the civil rights that have been fought for over the past 50 years…no such luck.

As diligent as other states have been to adjudicate correctly on the issue of equality for all Americans—including this issue of marriage—some states have tried to defer the matter by stays during appeal, but Jones issued his order permanently, barring authorities in Pennsylvania from preventing same-sex couples from getting marriage licenses. That means individuals could apply for licenses right away. This is yet another punch in the mouth for the conservative right.

It is amazing to me how anyone could look at the 14th amendment to the Constitution, and still justify denying another American citizen any right that they enjoy. Conservatives say that they stand proudly upon the Constitution of the United States—until it offends their traditions. What we know from American history is that the traditions of conservatives have greatly offended people of color, and constituencies previously shunned by the purveyors of racism, sexism and homophobia.

As their numbers diminish, the lives of other people grow and flourish. The ability to hinder others from realizing the American Dream is growing dimmer and dimmer for the traditional conservative of America. For all of those who thought that the battle for voting rights protections was all but in the landfill, stop the garbage truck right there! The fight for constitutional protections is about to go into hyper drive. Yes, I am upset that affirmative action had a leg chopped off by conservative Supreme Court, but the only thing that can beat insane conservatism—even at the judicial level—are the people.

When I say “the people,” I don’t necessarily refer to referendums. You see, referendums give the opportunity for the majority to disenfranchise the minority; that’s unacceptable. When I say the people, I referred to the larger popular will that moves in the best interest of the entire country. That’s what the civil rights movement of the last century was about. Although it may not go down well, it is good medicine in the end. There are many of us who were opposed to same-sex relationships, but came to the understanding and realization that any resistance to denial of another’s personal choice of liberty is just as bad as any racist during the Jim Crow era of American history.

The embracing of this new era of change in America denotes the personal growth of any American. Undertaking the uncomfortable is a mark of boldness. I am elated to see the crunched up faces of neocons pissed off by progressive policies being implemented—from wherever they may come. Judge Jones will be accused of “judicial activism” by tomorrow morning. Just mark my words, the weekend’s Sunday morning talk shows will be rife with that language. My only hope is that progressives come to the mic prepared for linguistic battle.

The lawsuit, and others like it, followed the June U.S. Supreme ruling that legally married same-sex couples are entitled to federal benefits. The decision also cleared the way for same-sex marriages to resume in California. Since then, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Hawaii and Illinois have enacted laws allowing for same-sex marriage. New Mexico’s Supreme Court also issued a ruling allowing same-sex marriages, bringing to 17 the number of states in which gays and lesbians are allowed to wed. Colorado allows civil unions. The tidal wave has begun, and the conservatives that I have a surfboard.

As I take a step back and view the path of this issue’s history, I see that some Americans have grown up by taking their medicine, and some are still children…in need of a good dose of castor oil.