Repost: Native Americans note progress under Obama

Editor’s Note: Have to agree with this. For Natives, Obama has had an AMAZING year. We got more than photo ops and henchmen!!! Oddly enough, President Obama has been the most accessible Presidente for Natives since…>drum roll< Nixon???? ESPECIALLY big thanks for a few godsends from Indian Country–Kim Teehee, (my hero) Jodi Gillette, Yvette Robideaux, Wizipan Garriotte, Nicole Willis, Del Laverdure…these are Native people doing it at the highest level.

Anway, the story from The Sante Fe New Mexican:

President Obama is scheduled to deliver the State of the Union address this week, marking his first year in office. Although opinion is divided on how the president has acted upon his campaign promises and his slogans of "hope and change," the overwhelming response from Indian Country is that Obama, so far, has kept his promise to change the way the U.S. government deals with Native Americans.

"This has probably been the best year for Native Americans in a long time," said Congressman Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican who is an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Tribe and the only tribal member now in Congress. "Certainly, in my experience, I have never seen anything like it."

Obama first outlined his Indian policy during a campaign stop on the Crow reservation in Montana in '08. He said the government-to-government relationship between the U.S. and tribal nations would be a top priority under his administration, as well as ensuring that the federal government was meeting their treaty obligations, and that Native people would be given a voice in the White House.

He promised that he would "appoint an American Indian policy adviser to his senior White House staff to work with tribes." He said he would "host an annual summit at the White House with tribal leaders to come up with an agenda that works for tribal communities."

It took awhile, but in November, the Tribal Nations Conference was held and representatives from 564 federally recognized tribes were invited. The President signed an executive memorandum on tribal consultation. This order directs federal agencies, and the executive branch, to engage in regular and meaningful consultation with tribal officials in the development of federal policies that have tribal implications.

President Obama signed a bill about a week earlier that contained the biggest spending increase for the Indian Health Service in 20 years. Earlier he had installed Yvette Roubideaux, from the Rosebud and Standing Rock Sioux tribes from South Dakota, as director of IHS. It marked the first time an Indian woman has held that post. He also named Jodi Archambault Gillette, also from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, as a deputy associate director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, the first Indian woman to hold that position.

He named Kim Teehee of the Cherokee Nation as the Indian policy adviser he promised. He appointed Larry Echohawk, from the Pawnee Tribe and former attorney general in Idaho, as assistant secretary of Interior at the Bureau of Indian Affairs and just last week he nominated two more Native people to serve in his administration, including Cynthia Chavez Lamar of San Felipe Pueblo.

The Indian Health Care Improvement Act is attached to both the Senate and House versions of health care reform as an amendment. This law, which provides the framework for health care delivery for the nation's 2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives, has not been reauthorized in more than a decade. The bill will help the government meet its treaty obligations to provide quality health care to Native Americans. The Tribal Law and Order Act was passed to help with public safety concerns in Indian Country, beef up law enforcement, and focus on the high rates of violence against Native women.

So as Americans continue to worry about high unemployment, the national debt, foreclosures and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Native Americans are finally starting to see a president and federal government that lives up to its word and is giving voice to Native people. We have to keep that momentum going as we move forward.

We, as Native people, need to push for appointments in non-traditional areas, not just the "Indian offices." Who knows, with two Supreme Court justices rumored to be retiring at the end of this session, a Native justice is not beyond the realm of possibility.

Harlan McKosato, a Sauk/Ioway, is host of the syndicated radio show Native America Calling, which airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on KUNM, 89.9FM.

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Published in: on January 29, 2010 at 5:08 pm  Comments (2)  

Repost: Obama’s State of the Focus Group Speech From Arianna Huffington

Editor’s Note: Arianna Huffington is pretty hot–a political cougar. She’s a pretty decent writer too. But I digress. Anyway, her take on the State of the Union.

“The president, we were told, spent a good deal of time in the days leading up to his State of the Union address, going over it with a fine-toothed comb, making changes and additions in longhand.

But judging from the speech, he also spent a lot of time going over the results of focus groups and polls. Indeed, the speech, despite its charm, humor, and occasionally impassioned rhetoric, had the feel of being focus-grouped within an inch of its life. There was a decidedly paint-by-poll-numbers air about it.

Focus group participants say they are concerned about the deficit? Then let’s throw in a 3-year spending freeze, delivered with a populist spin. “Like any cash-strapped family,” the president said, “we will work within a budget to invest in what we need and sacrifice what we don’t. And if I have to enforce this discipline by veto, I will.”

Sure, the freeze will actually have little impact on the multi-trillion dollar deficit, exempts budget-bloating defense spending, and, as Steve Clemons puts it, “will essentially forfeit America’s growth future to China.” But “spending freeze” moved the test dials — so spending freeze it is!

Remember when serious health care reform was going to be the main path to long-term budget deficits? Not anymore. Now we’re going to freeze spending — except, of course, on the wars of choice we are fighting, at a cost of $250 billion a year, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The president and his team know that the spending freeze is little more than what The Economist’s Ryan Avent calls “a bright shining gimmick.” And no one in the administration could really have believed that conservatives would suddenly swoon and fall into line at the mere mention of “freezing discretionary spending.”

Indeed, the reaction of Republicans to his announcement that the freeze won’t take effect until 2011 was so derisive that Obama fired back with a caustic ad lib: “That’s how budgets are done.”

The truth is, the American people are not angry because of all the money the government has spent this year — except, of course, the people who believe Obama was born in Kenya, is a Muslim, and a Socialist. The rest of the people, the ones Obama has a chance of reaching, are angry because the vast majority of that money went to — and continues to go to — rescuing Wall Street, which has thanked taxpayers by reducing lending, recording record profits, paying out massive bonuses, and using our money to pay lobbyists to scuttle financial reform. That is what is putting voters on the electoral warpath.

The president’s Pander-palooza continued with the middle class-friendly initiatives he announced on Monday and touched on again during the SOTFG (State of the Focus Group). As I wrote earlier this week, these modest tax credits and subsidies “are all very good ideas, but hardly commensurate with the deep crisis America’s middle class is in.” The New York Times labeled them the “opposite of bold.”

They are also incredibly similar to the “middle class bill of rights” Bill Clinton rolled out in the wake of the mid-term shellacking Democrats took in 1994. Obama has apparently decided that he’ll cut to the chase and preemptively follow Clinton’s third-way strategies. So get ready to wave goodbye to the Big Bang agenda, and say hello to bite-sized programs — Obama equivalents of school uniforms, extended hospital stays for new moms, and midnight basketball leagues. But when Wall Street was in trouble it didn’t get a bunch of micro ideas, it got a huge bailout.

But 2010 isn’t 1994. Robert Reich, who, as Clinton’s Secretary of Labor had a front-row seat to that time, lays out the vast gulf between then and now, writing on HuffPost that in 1994 “the U.S. economy was coming out of a recession. It was of no consequence that Clinton’s jobs proposals were small or that he moved to the right and whacked the budget, because within a year the great American jobs machine was blasting away and the middle class felt a lot better… Today, though, there’s no sign on the horizon of a vigorous recovery.”

President Obama is not going to be able to micro-trend his way out of this recovery. And he’s not going to be able to win back the confidence of the American people with worthwhile but small bore initiatives like child care tax credits. And he’s got to make sure his team doesn’t go around making claims like the one Austan Goolsbee made on MSNBC the other morning, when he told Chuck Todd that child care is “highly tied to the job market” and that many people are out of work because they can’t afford to get someone to take care of their children. But people aren’t out of work because they can’t afford a baby sitter; they’re out of work because there are six applicants for every job opening.

And while most State of the Union speeches have a bit of a kitchen-sink feel to them, this one seemed particularly so with its blink-and-you-missed-it mentions of “earmark reform” and cracking “down on violations of equal pay laws — so that women get equal pay for an equal day’s work.” It felt less like an overriding vision for the country, and more like an attempt to deliver at least one applause line for every constituency in the country.

That’s not political leadership. Obama clearly understands this. It’s why he ended his speech by mocking politicians who “do what’s necessary to keep our poll numbers high, and get through the next election instead of doing what’s best for the next generation.” And he just as clearly has the ability to articulate a bold vision for the nation and lead it where it desperately needs to go.

But he didn’t do it tonight.

P.S.: It was great to hear the president embrace the Move Your Money concept, “proposing that we take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat.”

Published in: on January 29, 2010 at 8:03 am  Comments (1)  

Paul Shirley: (Donated) food for thought?

Initially this article made me mad.

Reluctantly, I read it again. The second time I read it, I thought it was actually pretty interesting, and despite some coarse/buttheaded language, it actually raised some extremely valid, if unpopular, points. Paul Shirley is a former NBA player who has some pretty provocative laissez faire views–and he articulates those arguments fairly well.

Not saying that his viewpoint is nice, or even humane. But it makes some sense.

I’ve heard Shirley’s criticism before–and I cringe everytime I hear them. Now, of course I felt compelled to give money to this effort in Haiti (primarily because of my ridiculously sad bleeding heart liberal disposition), as well as many other “bleeding heart” causes. Still, I cringe because, well, despite my not wanting those arguments to make sense–the arguments make sense. Still, I tend to give until it hurts to these “causes” because I have such a hard time accepting the conclusion (as opposed to the premises), that “the victims of disasters are responsible for their suffering”–even though it’s staring me right in the face…>sigh<

Anyway, here’s the crux–check it out, and try this little exercise-replace “Native” for “Haitian” in the article:

From flipcollective.com


I can’t help but wonder why questions have not been raised in the face of this outpouring of support. Questions like this one:

Shouldn’t much of the responsibility for the disaster lie with the victims of that disaster?

Before the reader reaches for his or her blood pressure medication, he should allow me to explain. I don’t mean in any way that the Haitians deserved their collective fate. And I understand that it is difficult to plan for the aftermath of an earthquake. However, it is not outside the realm of imagination to think that the citizens of a country might be able to: A) avoid putting themselves into a situation that might result in such catastrophic loss of life. And B) provide for their own aid, in the event of such a catastrophe.

Imagine that I’m a caveman. Imagine that I’ve chosen to build my house out of balsa wood, and that I’m building it next to a roaring river because I’ve decided it will make harvesting fish that much easier. Then, imagine that my hut is destroyed by a flood.

Imagining what would happen next is easier than imagining me carrying a caveman’s club. If I were lucky enough to survive the roaring waters that took my hut, my tribesmen would say, “Building next to the river was pretty dumb, wasn’t it?.” Or, if I weren’t so lucky, they’d say, “At least we don’t have to worry about that moron anymore.”

Sure, you think, but those are cavemen. We’re more civilized now – we help each other, even when we make mistakes.

And also a parting shot:

Dear Haitians –

First of all, kudos on developing the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Your commitment to human rights, infrastructure, and birth control should be applauded.

As we prepare to assist you in this difficult time, a polite request: If it’s possible, could you not re-build your island home in the image of its predecessor? Could you not resort to the creation of flimsy shanty- and shack-towns? And could some of you maybe use a condom once in a while?

Sincerely,

The Rest of the World

This gets right back to the “give a man a fish” discussion of a couple of weeks ago–how much better are we really making a person/nation/tribe if all we do is bail them out when they get into trouble?

Anyway–this IS “The Thing About Skins”–therefore, it’s fair to ask what is the relevance of Shirley’s article to Natives? Well…I’ll tell you.

See, I hear “intergenerational trauma” arguments over and over and over. I hear that the reason why Natives consistently serve as the poster children for FAS, teen suicide, alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence is because of what happened to us in the distant AND not-so-distant past…ok, I can dig that. That makes some sense (and I’ll hold any questions regarding whether ALL people have gone through some trauma in the past).

Still–like in Haiti–at some point we have to ask the question, “Despite the intergenerational trauma, how much of our pain/suffering is of our own creation?” I venture that the answer is “more than we like to admit.”

Thing is, if we use that intergenerational trauma rationale as the reason for our continued struggles/destruction, exactly where does it get us? Dead, but with a great excuse for our demise?? Drug addicted, but with a great excuse for our addiction?? A people filled with teenaged mothers, but with a great excuse for why we simply perpetuate the same cycle? See, we can continue to use, like Haiti, colonial mistreatment and governmental antipathy as an excuse for every failure under the sun–but it doesn’t help any of our kids to get college degrees or any of our teens to get out of the suicide-laden rut that we’re in. Excuses will not help us to escape our rut–they only provide our children another reason to believe that they are not equal with non-Natives.

So yeah, we can ramble on and on about how Natives have been screwed historically and that some poverty is a by-product of that; we wouldn’t be lying. Still, we can also say, since we’re being so honest, that we really don’t use condoms nearly enough and we create more acute poverty because of our lack of self-control. Further, yes, we can honestly say that Natives got the short end of many sticks. But can we can honestly say that Natives, collectively, do a good enough job proactively teaching teaching drug and alcohol prevention?

I think that if we were to answer that question honestly, the answer might make us mad. It would be one that we wouldn’t want to agree with. But the answer would be there, looking us dead in the eye.

Anyway…Paul Shirley is not important in life. He’s a sucker, a nobody…probably IS a racist, and meant his abrasive questions in the worst ways possible. Still, that doesn’t mean that the questions that he raised are not legitimate.

Published in: on January 28, 2010 at 6:56 am  Comments (15)  

Smoking Hot Fridays

My beautiful son and his rather hottish mother’s people come from Zuni Pueblo. They like spicy food down in Zuni–matter of fact, posole or stew WITHOUT chili??? Get out of here…that’s like cornflake without the milk (© Oran Juice Jones). They are, in two words or less, “chili people.”

Still, my suspicion is that even my son’s fellow chili people would not be as silly as the below experiential learners; similarly, back home in Montana, we have a joke that if ever approached by a grizzly bear, you just show him your Indian ID card. Seemingly, Natives rarely get mauled by grizzly bears. I’m literally laughing, watching these videos…>some people< See if you notice any similarities among the people eating these…do you?

Published in: on January 22, 2010 at 6:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

Journey Tribute–Rez Rules #1

In order to live/appreciate/know the Rez, you have to live/appreciate/know Journey. All you Santa Fe weirdos dying your hair black and figuring out your Cherokee grandma stories (or keeping your Navajo last names that you got during your six month marriage), you’re barking up the wrong tree. All you white kids at college who are trying to get in touch with your “tribal roots,” don’t wear the corny choker and some leather fringe. Please don’t. (or if you do, send me the pictures–I need a good laugh sometimes).

Rez life starts with the music. Whether pow-wow, rock, rap or country–you can tell a lot from a man’s cassette player (yes, I STILL rock cassettes–what????) Grass dance outfits to Jean jackets with the sleeves cut off, mullets and wristbands.

Yeah, like that.

And no other music signifies Rez life like Journey.

Sure, there’s groups/artists like Dio, Ronnie Milsap, Metallica and Tupac that CERTAINLY get big love on the Rez. And granted, I grew up breakdancing at pow-wows–getting really, really dusty doing flares to “Jam On It” (that’s a story for later on). Still, this is Rule #1 of the Rez Rules–nothing says “you grew up eating beef stew/cow tongue and farina” like rocking Journey.

Enjoy:

Published in: on January 21, 2010 at 8:58 am  Comments (8)  

“PAT ROBERTSON MADE A DEAL WITH THE DEVIL” or “I Know Why The Hunted Pig Squeals”

It would be really easy to simply dismiss Pat Robertson as a senile, old racist—a typical redneck “good ol’ boy” with a decrepit mind that hates gays and wants political leaders assassinated. Y’know, an albino Clayton Bigsby.

But that would be a mischaracterization—Pat’s not blind. He’s not albino either—he’s just really, really, really pale.

It would likewise be very convenient to simply blame Pat’s infirmed and failing thought process for saying that Haiti’s current turmoil and pain and suffering was because Haiti, collectively, “got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, we will serve you if you’ll get us free from the French. The devil said, okay it’s a deal.” It would be very comforting to think that Pat wouldn’t honestly believe that this devastating earthquake that killed at least 50,000 people was a “blessing in disguise” if he were in his right mind.

But that would be inaccurate; Pat’s said stuff like this before. More importantly, however, is that this sort of disgusting religious thought–essentially, “the Hatians had it coming”–has existed for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Don’t get it twisted: lots of people believe what Pat said is dead right–he’s just the only one idiotic/courageous enough to say it on television. Granted, my personal interest is that this same racist and self-righteous viewpoint was used to justify horrific acts against Natives for hundreds of years. Still, I’d be remiss NOT to point out this same racist thought process that is responsible for slavery, stealing millions of acres of Native land, dismissing suffering by Haitians and many other people’s subjugation as well.

But I’ll get back to that later on; at that point we’ll discuss why Christians performing the Great Commission always seems to end in people of color being broke or enslaved or killed. In the meantime–since we’re talking about deals with the devil–I’d like to tell you a bit about Pat Robertson’s great barter.

In fact, something happened a long time ago in Lexington, Virginia and most people do not want to talk about it. See, around 1930 a United States Congressman named Absalom Willis and his wife Gladys had a baby; the baby was allegedly born with two odd horn-shaped protrusions on his head. The reportedly horned baby would later become the noted gay-basher/Haiti-hater Pat Robertson. In an ironic twist of fate, his parents gave the aspiring homophobe the slightly effeminate moniker “Marion.” Apparently that wasn’t “manly” enough for young Marion, so he decided to go by “Pat.” For purposes of this story, we’ll refer to him as Marion/Pat.

When young Marion/Pat was about 8 years old, as the story goes, he went out to the woods during the autumn with about 8 of his fellow Junior Woodchucks for a berry-picking/circle jerk session. When they were done with their messy group activity, young Marion/Pat got separated from the rest of the group as the rest of the group passed out immediately afterwards. Therefore, Marion/Pat wandered off. While walking, he thought that he heard a wild boar in the distance, and since there were only two directives in the Bible that Marion/Pat did NOT obey [those commandments are 1) do not eat pigs and 2) to love his neighbor as himself] he did his renowned “pig-call” with intentions of shooting the boar. Now evidently (according to some fellow Junior Woodchucks), young Marion/Pat’s pig call was the best in the whole state of Virginia, not counting the colored people. In fact, his pig call was so effective that people wondered if he might’ve had inappropriate relations with a pig in exchange for the knowledge of how to so effectively seduce them been mentored by a generous pig at some point in his early childhood.

But those people who questioned the propriety of his pig call might’ve just been what we today call “haters.”

According to sources, when Marion/Pat walked jelly-legged over to track the boar, he smelled something burning in a little clearing in the woods. He walked a bit closer to the burning smell–a young pudgy kid, he thought someone might be bar-b-qing some racoon or possum or whatever it is that rednecks in Lexington, Virginia eat. Simply put, Marion/Pat did not want to miss a free meal. When he got over to the clearing, however, he saw a little guy that looked like the future Vice Prez Dick Cheney riverdancing and playing a flute. Marion/Pat walked closer.

“Hey kid. You want some candy?” the Dick Cheney look-a-like asked.

Young Marion/Pat checked out Dick Cheney look-a-like’s butt and noticed that he had a tail. He looked at his head and he had horns. Since Marion/Pat could relate to the “horns” thing, he trusted Dick Cheney-clone and said, “Sure. Do you have any fudge?”

Dick Cheney-dude made some fudge miraculously appear out of the air, “Voila!”

Even at this age, from all indications, Marion/Pat was not that smart. So he asked in between bites of fudge, “Are you a leprechaun? I heard about you guys–you Irish dips. If this fudge wasn’t so darn tasty, I wouldn’t even be talkin’ to ya.”

The Dick Cheney fella said to Marion/Pat, “No, I am not a leprechaun. I don’t like the Irish either. My name is Satan. But you can call me “Stan.”

Marion/Pat spit out the fudge that he was working on, “Pfffffffftttt!!! You ain’t Satan, Stan!! Satan’s RED!! Like an Injun!”

Dick Cheney/Satan looked back indignantly, “I am too! I’m only red during the summertime. Popular misconception.”

Marion/Pat obviously still did not believe Dick Cheney/Satan and dared him, “Ok, ok >chuckle<…if you're Satan, Stan, you're supposed to have some powers. If you're Satan, I'll make a deal with you. If you give me some power to rule weak people's minds, we can work something out. It has to be this though: you let me be a complete douche and talk horribly about any race of people and let me make predictions that NEVER come true, but people will still believe me; if you let me tell people that they can deflect hurricanes by prayer…if you let me do ALL that, and STILL keep my power over those senseless people, you can have my soul."

Dick Cheney/Satan said, "Look…I hate to tell you this Marion/Pat, but you don't have a soul. Don't you remember? You already traded it for some friends!! Remember?? Nobody liked you, and you said that you'd give "anything" for some friends…?? Well, I didn't show myself back then, but you DO have your Junior Woodchucks now, right?"

Marion/Pat's face lit up, as if he remembered exactly when Dick Cheney/Satan was talking about. He looked despondent. Then, he conjured up an idea. "Look," Marion/Pat said, "I'll teach you how to do a pig call as good as I do if you give me that power."

Done deal.

Apparently, Dick Cheney/Satan LOVES pulled pork.

To this day, from all accounts, Dick Cheney/Satan is STILL the best boar hunter in the world (the friend that he shot, apparently, is morbidly obese and closely resembles a pig), and Marion/Pat Robertson got his influence over the masses.

Now, back to Pat Robertson’s racist/senile thought process and Haiti:

Look, I admittedly know very little (and, indeed, cared very little) about Haiti pre-seven days ago. Heck, outside of my dude Carl Chery, my dude Big Pat from Harlem, Wyclef’s “The Carnival” and that little part of David Blaine’s show where he was working with the cards, I never bothered to even think about Haiti. Still, even I know not to kick someone when they’re down. Further, outside of Haiti specifically, I recognize what that Pat Robertson’s doing when he says that Haiti had to make a deal with the devil to defeat a white Navy. He’s doing the exact same thing that many white conservatives do when they cannot explain or understand or are not invited to some fly and beautiful people of color stuff. That’s why they develop these stupid theories of aliens helping Egyptians and Central American Natives make pyramids or of black Haitians needing deals with devils and voodoo to defeat a white Navy.

This stuff isn’t new.

And what happens is that, because Marion/Pat Robertson is corny and cannot understand that people of color are perfectly capable of amazing things without the assistance of white people, Marion/Pat Robertson and people like him demonize what they do not understand. It’s not just him, by the way–there are a lot of people, Christians and otherwise, who do that. But a WHOLE bunch of them are the “ol’ time” Christians who haven’t figured out that the world is not flat anymore.

I’ve met many.

As an example, when I was a teenager, I was involved in a shooting (as a victim). That is, I was with my friend when he got shot. Since my mom thought that I was a goner and was gonna get my cap pealed any day, she thought taking me out of public school was the safest idea. I went to this little tiny very conservative Christian school. I actually enjoyed it, but I remembered the day that I checked out of “ol’ time” religion mentally and spiritually–the pastor/principal and I had a discussion, and I said that I thought it was a good idea to separate the message and the messenger. He asked me why would I do that? I told him that the messengers of Christianity have been horrible and hypocritical toward Natives–killing, raping, and plundering. He told me, in response, that Natives should be thankful for any and everything that happened. He said, “before Christianity Induns were worshiping the devil and different spirits, and in my opinion, anything that happened was worth it because y’all got to hear the Gospel of Jesus. Induns were cursed, and the Gospel lifted that curse!” Like Marion/Pat, this redneck thought that the killing, raping and plundering was a “blessing in disguise.”

Ouch. Wow.

But his viewpoint is not original. My mom tells me of when she began to be interested in going to church, when I was a teenager. She tells me about how she quickly stopped being interested in those churches because she found the same ignorance and judgment in nearly all of them. “Pow-wows are evil.” “Native ceremonies are witchcraft.”

It seemed, to those rednecks like Pat Robertson, that all things Native are cursed. According to folks like him–rednecks and other folks who don’t want to understand anything other than ol’ time religion and Dog the Bounty Hunter–when devastating things happen to us, like this earthquake in Haiti, it’s a “blessing in disguise.”

So evidently, this earthquake is Haiti’s penance, just like the past 500 years of murder/thievery and hypocrisy have been Natives’ penance. Still one has to wonder: exactly how does one get out of a deal with the devil? I have no clue, and I’m a lawyer.

See, my naivete always led me to the conclusion that God loves Natives, Haitians and yes, even rednecks, equally. I’m Native and I don’t plan on changing my cursed and/or heathen ways anytime soon. Still, I guess that If the “deal with the devil” thing is true, Natives, the people of Haiti AND Marion/Pat Robertson are all truly cursed. But in the meantime and until he goes scuba diving in that lake of fire, Marion/Pat Robertson and ALL the many rednecks who think like him can kiss my cursed ass.

Published in: on January 18, 2010 at 6:19 pm  Comments (8)  

Lawyers, Haiti, Natives, etc…

No wonder lawyers are paid so much money (and will likely continue to make egregious amounts of money in the future); people who follow pop culture (e.g., all Americans) relate to us, and our usual legal process. See, our (typical) legal process is but a microcosm of the pop culture world: 1) find an urgent/cataclysmic situation, I’ll call it a “man without a fish,” 2) react in a way that “gives a man a fish,” but doesn’t change the underlying structure that allowed that man to be fishless in the first place, and 3) move on.

I see it in all pop culture AND legal capacities; we love vulnerable people. It makes good stories and for lawyers, well, it makes good money. Heck, for many Americans, there’s a win/win–we scour the cnn.com and anyghettousa.com headlines for some poor suckers who just lost their house, we give some money/clothes/facebook headlines to the cause du jour, and voila (!), we have a conversation piece for our liberal friends for a few weeks, and our consciences are simultaneously absolved. Yet after those clothes are gone and the facebook statuses are long forgotten, little DuQuan Jenkins from the hood is, well, still in the hood and we haven’t really made his life any better.

For lawyers, the equation is slightly different–we scour hospitals/barber shops/old lady’s conversations for some poor sucker who is in a horrible position (perhaps a small mom and pop business who is being sued for a slip and fall), we give a bit of our time and pretend that we’re really friends with these folks, and then voila(!)–we hit them with a bill for “X” thousands of dollars, and their immediate emergency is over but they’re really not any better off for our involvement in their issues.

Is this a problem? Maybe. I mean, who knows–perhaps people really just like getting a fish instead of learning how to fish. I know that if I hire some people of particular ethnicities to do some yardwork for me, well, I don’t really want to pull any weeds. I want them to pull the weeds–that’s a skill that I really don’t want to have! So maybe always playing the populist role is a bit dramatic and there’s a time to temper the expectations of teaching a man to fish…

Still, when I see tribes contracting out for exactly the same thing over and over and over–paying the same white guy (or sometimes Native guy–sometimes!) thousands of dollars thousands of times I start thinking, “shouldn’t we just in-house that service–learn how to do it ourselves?”

Anyway, the reason that I bring this up at all is this whole Haiti thing. Two days ago (or maybe 3) NOBODY cared about Haiti. The dude from the Miami travel agency that books flight to Haiti didn’t care about Haiti. But now everyone does…and good…we should show some empathy in a time like this. Certainly. God bless and have mercy on the folks there…but here’s the 100% real talk thing about that–like a lawyer’s interest who has a retainer, Americans’ interest will be there approximately 5 days. Then we’re on to something else–Brangelina or Octomom or some chick giving birth to a kitty or some craziness.

Then what? Haiti’s no better off. They don’t know how to fish.

Published in: on January 15, 2010 at 7:56 am  Comments (6)  

New Post, New Year/Multiculturalism

Okay, I’ve been remiss in my posting.  My apologies.  No excuses–I just need to take the time to be disciplined and post new materials.  These first few weeks, my focus will be primarily on how to put certain things on here: videos, links, pictures, etc.  Of course, I want it to be good. 

For this new post, here’s a link to a story that I did for another blog.  As the editor of that blog will tell you, I’m still very ambivalent about writing for it.  Not because I think it’s not worthwhile, mind you–mainly because I’m not sure about the foundations for the page.  It’s about multiculturalism, diversity, etc.  Those are certainly worthy goals, obviously…still, I’m not sure that that’s my focus at this point in my life. 

To wit–I do a fair amount of public speaking.  I was invited to speak at a local school, in observation of MLK JR day, to speak about diversity.  Certainly there are very good things about racial diversity and integration and all of that stuff.  Still, I cannot help but feel that there’s something slightly disingenuous about the way that it’s being taught nowadays.  Perhaps, then, my charge is to change the way that it’s being taught?

In either event, I’m torn.  I’m a bleeding heart liberal, but I don’t always know the principles behind being a bleeding heard liberal.  I’ll write more later, but here’s a few links to the stuff that I’m working on right now for other sites.  This other site, mind you, is for an institute at Ohio State University, so it’s SLIGHTLY more academic than the stuff that I typically write.  But not much.

http://www.race-talk.org/?p=1635

http://www.race-talk.org/?p=1296

Talk to you soon.

G

Published in: on January 11, 2010 at 11:04 pm  Leave a Comment