Category Archives: Congressional Black Caucus

The Novocaine Effect | Obama and Black America | By Kevin Alexander Gray

“It’s like when you go to the dentist, and the man’s going to take your tooth. You’re going to fight him when he starts pulling. So he squirts some stuff in your jaw called novocaine, to make you think they’re not doing anything to you. So you sit there and ’cause you’ve got all of that novocaine in your jaw, you suffer peacefully. Blood running all down your jaw, and you don’t know what’s happening. ’Cause someone has taught you to suffer – peacefully.”

Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X), Message to the Grassroots (1964).

There’s a picture of Barack Obama next to one of Jesus in the front window of the small, black art gallery that I drive past almost every­day. And I still see someone wearing an Obama t-shirt maybe once a week, but sometimes it’s the same guy. If you’re looking, you can a find a variety of shirts in just about every corner store where I live. They’re on the wall, next to the Bob Marley, Tupac, Biggie Smalls and Al Pacino “Scarface” t-shirts. You can get an Obama hat and a presidential calendar there too. There are still a few Obama yard signs in the neighborhood, usually in a window. A few people still have an Obama bumper sticker on their cars. Not as many as some might think. Certainly not as many as the number of Confederate flags on vehicles in this part of the country.

Racial solidarity is the mood that helped get Obama into the White House. The traditional source of power and sur­vival among blacks, it is also the novo­caine of the moment, a numbing agent as people suffer through what, despite the more hopeful official forecasts, feels like a full-blown depression where I live. The pride is real, but so is the pain, and it’s coming in sharp stabs despite the shot. The novocaine is still working, just not so well, and the result is a discomfiting confusion.

In late September I spoke at a ‘‘Black Male Summit” about 80 miles north­west of Columbia in Rock Hill, South Carolina, which is famous in civil rights’ lore as the first stop in the Deep South for the Freedom Riders testing the 1960 Supreme Court decision outlawing ra­cial segregation in all interstate public facilities. Rock Hill is where Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) activist John Lewis and another man stepped off the bus and were beaten by a white mob. The town is mentioned in Chuck Berry’s “Promised Land” – only the “poor boy” on the Greyhound is lucky as his bus “bypassed Rock Hill” in the song. Things are still tough in the town just south of Charlotte. Since February of 2008 the number of jobs here has fallen by 15 per cent, and the average salary for people lucky enough to be employed is about $28,000. In June of this year, Yvette Williams, a 15 year-old black girl, was shot and killed by two police officers after she robbed a grocery store. The two of­ficers fired on Williams five times after she pointed a gun at them and refused to drop it, according to Rock Hill Police Chief John Gregory. He said he felt the police response was justified. A witness who lives across the street from where the shooting happened, told the local paper she was in bed when she heard shots and got up, looked out her window and saw the girl fall to the ground. She said she then saw an officer shoot again.

The theme I was asked to speak on in Rock Hill was “How do we restore dignity back to black communities?” My initial response was I didn’t know we’d lost it. But I knew the idea was a nod to Obama’s tough-love trick bag. “Post-racialism” is nonsense, but as an ideological concept it’s real, with real political consequences. On the right, it is license for white blow­hards to go on any racist tirade they like so long as they don’t actually broadcast the word “nigger.” In the black communi­ty it’s alive wherever blacks argue among themselves as to whether they are indi­vidually or collectively responsible for the conditions they face, or if they’re as criminal or immoral or lazy or violent or promiscuous or stupid as racists believe them to be. Sherman Porterfield, one of the organizers of the event, was quoted in the local paper, “Obama talked about it,” this claimed loss of dignity; “he has challenged us. The question now is, are we up to the challenge? Our young peo­ple are dropping out of school in record numbers, and it’s our fault. Nobody is shooting water hoses at us anymore. But we are allowing our young brothers to shoot each other. And that is not accept­able.” Continue reading

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Filed under 1ST LOOK | KAG 2009 Essays, American Politics, American Progressive Politics, Black Politics, Civil Rights, Congressional Black Caucus, Economics, Human Rights, Obama Administration, Pan Africanism | Afrocentrism | Africana Studies, Political Ideology, racism, The Bush Administration, The Obama Administration, Third Party Politics, white supremacy

Rep. Donna Edwards | Why Obama Needs Tough Love

Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md.

Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md.

Representative Donna Edwards (Maryland) provides a look into the Congressional Progressive Caucus and urges progressives to speak up and challenge the Obama presidency to deliver innovative and powerful legislation. Edwards discussed the state of the presidency at the “Obama @ 100: A Progress Report from The Nation” forum April 22 in Washington, DC.

Edwards believes the president is taking the U.S.  in the wrong direction in Afghanistan. She argues that Obama has no plan for winning and no strategy for getting out.
Congress “failed” its responsibility to challenge George Bush ‘s policies in Iraq, Edwards said in an interview. “And we can’t make that mistake with President Obama.”  
 

Edwards Q & A   

Edwards (D-Md)

Edwards (D-Md)

Edwards discusses her background and the current political climate in Maryland, her home state, and on Capitol Hill.  [CSPAN December 10, 2008]

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Filed under American Politics, American Progressive Politics, Black Politics, Congressional Black Caucus, Feminist Leaders, Friends & Comrades, Obama Administration, The Obama Administration

Barbara Lee | On the 6th Anniversary of the Iraq War

Barbara Lee
Barbara Lee
(photo by Ayesha Walker)

US Congresswoman representing the 9th Congressional District of California (CA-09). [Oakland, Berkeley, Castro Valley, Emeryville, Ashland, Cherryland, Fairview, Piedmont, Albany, and parts of San Lorenzo and Hayward.]

March 19, 2009 – Lee speaks on the floor of the US House of Representatives on the 6th Anniversary of the invasion and continuing occupation of Iraq.

http://www.commondreams.org/views01/0923-04.ht

Published on Sunday, September 23, 2001 in the San Francisco Chronicle
Why I Opposed the Resolution to Authorize Force
by Barbara Lee
ON SEPT. 11, terrorists attacked the United States in an unprecedented and brutal manner, killing thousands of innocent people, including the passengers and crews of four aircraft. Like everyone throughout our country, I am repulsed and angered by these attacks and believe all appropriate steps must be taken to bring the perpetrators to justice. We must prevent any future such attacks. That is the highest obligation of our federal, state and local governments. On this, we are united as a nation. Any nation, group or individual that fails to comprehend this or believes that we will tolerate such illegal and uncivilized attacks is grossly mistaken.

Last week, filled with grief and sorrow for those killed and injured and with anger at those who had done this, I confronted the solemn responsibility of voting to authorize the nation to go to war. Some believe this resolution was only symbolic, designed to show national resolve. But I could not ignore that it provided explicit authority, under the War Powers Resolution and the Constitution, to go to war.

It was a blank check to the president to attack anyone involved in the Sept. 11 events — anywhere, in any country, without regard to our nation’s long- term foreign policy, economic and national security interests, and without time limit. In granting these overly broad powers, the Congress failed its responsibility to understand the dimensions of its declaration. I could not support such a grant of war-making authority to the president; I believe it would put more innocent lives at risk.

The president has the constitutional authority to protect the nation from further attack and he has mobilized the armed forces to do just that. The Congress should have waited for the facts to be presented and then acted with fuller knowledge of the consequences of our action. Continue reading

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Filed under American Politics, Black Politics, Congressional Black Caucus, Peace