Monday, December 8, 2008

Bring me to you

Victorio Reyes has travelled the country, offering workshops, readings and presentations.

For information on how to bring Victorio to your spot, shoot him an email:



Victorio Reyes is an activist and artist living in Albany, NY.  Reyes was featured in the anthology of emerging writers: Chorus, published by MTV Books and edited by Saul Williams.  He holds an MFA degree from The Vermont College of Fine Arts and teaches poetry classes at Siena College. His poems are forthcoming or have been published in the Acentos Review, Mobius, Word Riot, The Pine Hills Review, The Homework Project and the anthology It Was Written: Poetry Inspired by Hip Hop. In 2014, Reyes served on a panel entitled "Uncovering Hip Hop Poetry" at the AWP Conference. Reyes also explores the role of activism in art evidenced in his essay “A Personal Journey for Justice”, published by the feminist blog She Breathes. Blending his writing and activism, Reyes has also been the executive director of The Social Justice Center of Albany (SJC) for the past 10 years.

What's this blog about?

This blog includes poetry and political commentaries on current events.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Slaves and the White House

Sorry I haven't been around for awhile but...

This just in:

Slaves helped build the white house:

If you read the article you will find out that slaves built the white house. You will also find a few tidbits about "our" presidents that used to own slaves. Anyway the article essentially explains how we are at a historical turning point because Barack Obama and more importantly in this case Michelle Obama will be living in the White House. I mention Michelle because she is the ancestor of slaves from South Carolina. I know we should be proud that America has grown sooo much. But...

This sort of gets to the crux as to why I'm not terribly excited about Barack Obama becoming president.

On one of the many occasions that Malcolm X was chosing to criticize civil rights leaders he said something to the affect of: why would you beg to sit on the toilet next to someone who doesn't want to sit next to you? I keep hearing that over and over in my head. I feel like we have been beggin' America for Political representation and now we've got it. But it doesn't feel good to me.

That's because the building was still built by slaves and Obama's election doesn't erase that. But more importantly The papers that govern that building were written by slaveowners. The entire political system was created by slave owners. The basic fundamental aspects of governing in the United States were created by slave owners that didn't recognize the humanity of black people, native people, and women. Imagine that the Israeli constitution was written by Hitler. The situation I'm describing is absolutely at that level and never analyzed from that prism by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Keith Olberman, John Stewart or Barack Obama.

I look at the injustice in our world and more specifically our country. And I say of course. We are functioning in a society that is run by pieces of paper that were written by psychotic, sadistic, evil men. How the hell can we be surprised? None of this changed on November 4th. And that's why I'm not happy.

Eliminate the glorification of these slave masters from our currency, our buildings, cities, counties, and schools. Tear up the papers that they wrote and develop a new concept of governance that is generated by people of all backgrounds. At that point than I will feel that progress has been made. But the truth is I don't believe we are any closer to that than we were 8 years ago.

The Zapatistas, revolutionaries from southern Mexico, said we are not looking to climb the stairs, we are looking to eliminate them.

That's what I'm talking about.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Troy Davis part two

Thanks to amazing lawyer Kathy Manley (seriously there are some lawyers that are for the people and she is definitely one of them.) We have this info about Troy Davis from Amenesty International. Obama is president now. So no one is too busy to save this man's life. Let's make it happen people.
Another stay of execution for Troy Davis

Troy Davis

© Georgia Department of Corrections

29 October 2008

Troy Davis was granted a provisional stay of execution on Friday, just three days before he was scheduled to be put to death. He has been on death row for 17 years for a crime he maintains he did not commit.

Troy Davis had exhausted his ordinary appeals against his conviction and death sentence, and the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles had denied clemency. On 22 October, his lawyers applied to the 11th Circuit Court for an emergency stay of execution and for permission to file a second habeas corpus petition, maintaining that his execution would be unconstitutional.

In its decision issued on Friday, the three-judge panel concluded that Troy Davis had met the burden for a provisional stay of execution. The court then ordered the parties to address the question of whether Troy Davis can satisfy "the stringent requirements" under federal law to get back into court for further appeals on his innocence claim.

Davis’s lawyers have to file their written arguments within 15 days of the 11th Circuit’s order. After receiving this brief, the government has 10 days to file its response. If the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decides that Troy Davis has not met his burden under the federal statute to be able to pursue further appeals, the State of Georgia could again move to set another execution date.

More than 300,000 people in the USA and around the world have appealed for executive clemency for Troy Davis. Among them are former US President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Pope Benedict XVI; the European Union, the European Parliament, and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.
Read More
USA (Georgia): Further information on Death penalty/Legal concern: Troy Anthony Davis (m) (27 October 2008)
Stay of execution for Troy Davis (News, 24 September 2008)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Election, me, and John McCain

So first things first. My girlfriend Laura, told me I was rude to all you in my last post about Troy Davis. My apologies. In the next couple of days I will write more about Troy Davis so please check in. We have to save this man's life...

So yesterday Jory and I (Jory is my bandmate. That's right I'm in a band that is touring the country as we speak) were driving through Phoenix with a hitchhiker. (Yeah a hitchhiker with in IPhone.) Anyway it's around 6pm and we are passing Phoenix airport. We noticed that traffic stopped slightly in front of us. However the highway was completely opened up just in front of where traffic was stopped. There were two helicopters circling the highway... Although I was unable to see the motorcade. We are fairly certain that we ran into John McCain's motorcade. The police cars that were stopping traffic waited a few minutes and began escorting traffic forward at about 30 miles per hour. The highway in front of them completely open. Than of course we met up with John and Cindy and consoled them through this difficult time.

Well finally the time has come. We have elected the first black president. All I have to say is that I hope I am totally wrong about him. Unfortunately, I don't believe I am...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Troy Davis

Alright, time to take a break from election talk, but first a answer to a previous question.

Who are you voting for?

Well I’m not voting because I forgot that I’m gonna be in Arizona on election day partying with John and Cindy.

But if I were voting it would be for… drumroll…

Cynthia Mckinney and Rosa Clemente of the Green Party.

I don’t have time to give much explanation because we have a very important issue to discuss.

So I will say it like this. Rosa Clemente is a good friend of mine and I know she believes as I believe that the US prison system is a continuation of the US Slave system. Period. No presidential candidate for the republicrats would admit this indisputable fact.

So I will explain this assertion eventually but for now I’ll just let the thirteenth amendment speak for me:

"Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, EXCEPT as a punishment for crime where of the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

Speaking of slavery, can we speak about Troy Davis. For those of you that have never head of him, it is time to find out. He is an innocent man that could be executed by the State of Georgia in a few weeks. He was scheculed to be executed more than once but he has received several stays of execution.

OK so when I say innocent, I mean INNOCENT. Seven of the nine witnesses that testified against him have recanted their testimony and acknowledged that their original testimonies were a result of police coersion.

Why is an innocent man about to be executed you ask? Well there are a lot of factors, like the horribly racist criminal justice system in “Georgia but for a moment let’s thank one of the people most influential in this total travesty, Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton the great non-republican helped to create the anti-terrorism/anti-death penalty act. What does this have to do with Troy Davis you ask? Well the ATEDP Act made it so it is easier to execute people. It doesn't allow convicts to appeal based on factual disputes rather focuses solely on constitutional and procedural issues. This has resulted in the execution of Innocent People. For example David Wayne Spence was executed in 1997 even though the Police Lietenant that handled the case said: "I do not think David Spence committed this crime." The Supreme Court didn't intervene citing that the ATEDP, tied their hands.

Yeah well Bill Clinton didn’t occupy Iraq but he has been responsible for the execution of hundreds of people since the passing of this act.

What have you done in the past few weeks. Have you spent anytime trying to convince people to vote fro Obama? Campaigning, making phone calls, or donating money. What have you done for Troy Davis?

Well now is the time to forget about the elcction, (news flash: Obama is going to win),

And save Troy Davis’ life. I just went to revisit his website and it seems to be down. Hopefully that is temporary. Either way read about his case, write letters, develop support committees on his behalf. Save this man's life!!! Please!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Responses to various posts

Ok well I'm glad you are all with me. It is greatly appreciated. I'm gonna post a new blog soon.
In the meantime let me get back to some of you out there:

Trees, Fine you win. My next blog will be about my community work. But I'm really upset that you are making me take a break from pontificating about the election and the financial crisis.

Annonymous you wrote:

"It is not important to consider the alternative, however little the difference may seem? What I mean is, by casting a vote FOR someone, you may, in effect, cast one AGAINST another."

I will answer your question while also responding to the famous TGT who said sarcastically:

"But, yeah, Obama and McCain are like totally the same."

First of all I'm not actually condemning the act of voting just as I don't think people should condemn the act of not-voting. I don't believe that walking into a booth and voting accomplishes a whole lot but I don't think walking into a booth does much damage. The next step for most that follow this line of logic is "well why not vote?" I get it. I just don't subscribe to it for the most part.

I'm not condemning voting, I'm condemning the corporate capitalist, two party power structure and there bullshit elections. I believe that voting for a democrat today is voting for a republican tomorrow. I think people miss is a key piece of what the candidates are saying. If you don't vote for me, vote for the other guy. The republicans and democrats rule the United States of America with a partnership. Meaning they run the country together. Neither party ever challenges that basic principle. Sure Republicans and Democrats probably hope that they win every seat in congress and completely take over the government but they realize in reality that they will always share power. And that works for them. So what I'm saying is, if you vote for Jimmy Carter in 1976 you are also voting for Ronald Reagan in 1980. And if you vote for GW Bush in 2000 than you are also voting for Barack Obama in 2008. People often say imagine where we'd be if Gore had won the election in 2000. It actually isn't that hard to figure out. Al Gore would have been crucified by the republican congress and Fox type media. He would have lost to John McCain who would have run as a moderate and his VP wouldn't be Sarah Palin. I know it's conjecture but not really. This stuff is pretty easy to see. Barack Obama would not have become famous so quickly because the democratic convention in 2004 would have been focused on Al Gore and how awesome he was. (and for the record anything cool that Gore has ever done, didn't happen while he was vice-president and wouldn't have happened during his presidency.) After McCain's victory and four years of BS. The democrats wouldn't have looked to Barack Obama as they would need someone with experience to unseat President McCain, and that person would have been Hillary Clinton. And so now we'd have Hillary versus McCain.

Shortly after the re-election of GW Bush in 2004 I was listening to Rush Limbaugh courtesy of my father-in-law. And he warned his listeners that there will once again be a democrat in office. It's about to happen and guess what, I feel very confident in saying that there will once again be a Republican president. The reason is simple neither candidate challenges the other parties right to be plan B. And they will never change that basic dichotomy because works it for them...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Financial Crisis, Sarah Palin, and all that.

Last time I talked to you all, I took some time out of my day to fix the financial crisis.  I know, you don't have to say it.  It was a deep, well thought out, and clearly formulated plan.  What can I say, I'm a detail oriented person.

If you would like to have a clearer picture of my feelings about the crisis go here:

Basically what I'm saying is: "Yeah that's right... what she said."
No seriously read the article, it's written by the amazing Naomi Jaffe.  If you don't know who she is, do us all a favor and find out.  

Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin...

Let me count the ways in which you get on my nerves.  First of all you're making me look bad.  Don't you realize that one of my primary goals in life is to make liberals see that the Democrats and Republicans are all just part of one big party, that only serve the wealthy.  I'm still right, but damn Sarah you make it hard.  I mean wow.  Seriously wow. You basically are the New York times reading, latte drinking nightmare.  And yes I have been known to both read the New York Times and drink a latte simultaneously, but I'm not talking about me.  You know who I'm talking about. Sarah what is the deal? Huh?  My mom was a radical feminist that just so happened to come from the same place as you.  No she wasn't born in Sandpoint, Idaho, she was born in North Dakota and raised in Montana.  You know places where people hunt moose and stuff like that.  And just like you she was one tough cookie.  But I feel very confident in saying this: She would have despised you.  Yeah it's true.  She's the one that taught me that republicans and democrats are just one big party.  But I also feel confident in saying that she would have run to the polls to vote against you.  No I mean run, the only thing that would have happened first is she would have lit up a cigarette and grabbed a cup of coffee, and then she would have ran, no I mean sprinted.  My mom didn't run very often.  So what does all this mean Sarah?  No it doesn't mean I'm voting for Obama.  It just means I wish you would act a little more like a standard politician.  Say things like Gay people aren't sooo bad, and no I'm Tolerant of Gay people doesn't quite cut it, although I recognize that you were trying.  Just throw in a few lines about how you love everybody.  That way I can highlight how Joe Biden is a complet racist, gun carrying psycopath, and not seem like I'm missing something. Like you know the woman that might blow up the world because Jesus told her to do it.  

And also Sarah, this business about palling around with terrorists.  I just want you to know that last night my girlfriend made an amazing point.  Obama is palling around with terrorists because he served on a board of a charitable organization with a former member of the Weather Underground.  She said "doesn't that sound familiar?"  Hmmm "Yeah I guess it does".  Sarah I have a confession, my girlfriend and I serve on the board of charitable organization with a former member of the Weather Underground.  I'm telling you this in confidence, so I better not see you at some press conference talking about me palling around with terrorists.  Because if you do, I will say what Obama will never say.

The Weather Underground was NOT a terrorist organization.  They were a revolutionary organization, far from perfect, but revolutionary nonetheless.  And it was politicians like you, Sarah, that made them necessary.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fixing the Financial Crisis

Awesome day.  I get to stay home sick today.  And the best part is that I'm not sick.  For all of you that don't have kids but are planning to one day join the ranks of us "breeders" here is a little info.  When you're kids are too sick to go to school, you don't have to work.  You can take sick days for this.  It's true.  Now a friend of mine just sent me an email that her work has informed her that if she takes one more sick day with her kids that she will be fired.  So not everyone gets to work for bosses that are sane human beings or companies that have policies created by sane human beings.  Lucky for me I do.

So let's go ahead and fix this financial crisis:

Well I think we need to stimulate the private sector by injecting the economy with a substantial liquid investment.  Which would result in increased credit flow and mitigate current shortfalls while increasing prospects for future investment opportunities in diversified arenas.

No really.
I mean it.

OK so I'm not even sure I know what I just said.  And I'm fairly sure that if I do know what I just said, I don't agree with it. 

Here is the real solution:

Completely disconnect from this corporate economic structure and simultaneously detach from the policital power structure and create reasonable sized autonomous communities that focus on sustainable development in terms of technological and social concerns.  These communities can be organized into larger collectives that can make decisions regarding more broader reaching issues such as trade.  This organizational structure would be committed to consensus based direct democracy.  The end result would be a society that lives on egalitarian principles, applying the  "seven generation" model to create a living system that exists in harmony with the environment.

Wow that wasn't so hard.

Let me know if you need anything else.

Happy to help...

ps.  One thing that might not save the economy but would go along way to restoring my sanity, would be if the United States politicians and media members would immediately cease and desist from using the words Main and Street together.  For example "The Wall St. bailout must protect Main St."  I grew up in Binghamton N.Y.  a half block from Main St.  I'm not sure why these people are so focused on Binghamton.  I mean I've been saying for years that Bingo could use a shot in the arm.  But this is a little much don't you think?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Soul Music

Where on earth would we be without soul music from the seventies? Seriously, I want you to imagine a world where 2% of the worlds population owns over half of the world's wealth. Where the richest 10% of the population owns over 80% of the land. A world where most everyone has to struggle just to survive. A world of inequality...

Now I want you to imagine that same world without the music of Stevie Wonder, Roberta Flack and Marvin Gaye...

...That's just scary.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Why Reverse-Racism Doesn't Exist

First I recognize it is 9/11 and that I should probably write something about any of the myriad of issues that come up as a result of mentioning this topic. But since I'm not going to write about the topic today you should probably go here:

To check out this amazing poem written by Emmanuel Ortiz, my friend and brother in the struggle.

Anyway, Does Reverse-racism exist?
Ok see you next week...

Fine you win. I guess I’ll say a few words.
But first in keeping with the upcoming election let’s have a quote from Joe Biden:
“In Delaware, the largest growth of population is Indian Americans, moving from India. You cannot go to a 7/11 or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.”

If you can't believe it check it out here:

Well on that note let’s define racism shall we?

a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.

a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.

hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

That’s according to When people are talking about reverse-racism the basic idea is that a white person is applying for a job and a black person gets it instead. The reason the black person gets the job is less about who is more qualified and primarily about "hiring a black person is the right thing to do", because: black people never get good opportunities, or because a black person will understand this job better or because mostly black people work in this office including the boss.

Isn’t this reverse-racism in action?
Well I think it depends on your definition. I think most people define racism consciously as “hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.” Based on this definition anyone can be a racist. However under this definition it is impossible to be a reverse racist because by definition, reverse racism would require a starting point to reverse from. You’ve never heard of the term reverse-hatred. If I hate you first and you hate me second it’s still just plain old vanilla hatred, possibly shared hatred but you wouldn’t say it’s reverse-hatred.
The concept of reverse racism recognizes a primary racism from which one reacts to, with more racism. This primary racism in the United States context would be the racism of white people against various groups including African, Native and Asian people. I think the reason that people believe in the concept of reverse-racism is that consciously or subconsciously most people in the United States recognize that white racism, that is racism historically executed by white people in the history of the US, has been worse than the so-called racism that from time to time is perpetrated on whites. Basically it was really, really bad that people with white skin hung people and enslaved and raped them, but it’s kind of bad when you call me a cracker, and if you continue down that path, you may one day, enslave me, and that would be REALLY REALLY REALLY BAD!(exclaims the white person) Point taken, except for the giant leap that involves white people being enslaved. For the record I’m not saying that white people have never been enslaved or lived in slave like conditions. I’m saying that white people have never been enslaved by people of color in the United States (Or the world for that matter, but let's stick with the US in case someone knows some obscure historical fact that I don't ) And therefore have not had such enslavement, sanctioned and facilitated, by the government. In other words I think racism in the United States has been: plantations, blankets filled with small pox, the burning of churches and the internment of American citizens with brown skin. And continues to be: the insane incarceration rates of Black Americans, the discrimination against immigrant Latinos, and the deplorable education system that disproportionately underserves children of color. White people, as a whole, have never lived in these conditions in this country. I think when defining racism you need to look at “a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.” Or as I chose do define it as: “domination of one race over another”. So if I say “Kill Whitey!” (And for the record, my white mama -RIP- would have laughed at that comment) And I have no governmental apparatus to facilitate my rallying cry or historical precedence of such institutional support, than they are merely words. However if one of our white readers decides to exclaim: “Kill Niggers!” Than they have a Four-Hundred-Year Archive of support. And even though the current laws are much less amicable to such a doctrine, the current social, economic, political and legal system was created by people that either actively or passively supported that very sentiment.

Therefore if your child goes to school and is beat up by some brown kids, you ought to be angry, in fact furious. You should confront the issue and ensure your child’s safety. But you shouldn’t cry reverse-racism because the evidence just isn’t there.

I apologize to those of you that hoped I would write a scathing indictment of the comments of Joe Biden but I think they speak for themselves.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Responses to: Why I'm not voting for Barack Obama 1 & 2

Hey y'all. Here's my response to some of the comments I recieved for my recent blogs. Be sure to check out my next blog: Why Reverse-Racism Doesn't Exist.

First of all we are worldwide. That's right, Eileen in China sent us a response. She thinks the world will like us more if Obama is President. I'm not gonna argue, after all she is in China.

Anonymous: Not so fast. Stay tuned and you'll see who I'm voting for and no I wouldn't vote for Obama if I lived in say, Ohio. But than again I live in New York, so for all you know, I might be lying.

TGT: You said that my "argument traffics in a false dichotomy". Ouch. Next time you should just say that "I'm ugly and my momma dresses me funny." And by the way you said that: "This is 2000 all over again, but with the distinctions much greater and the stakes much higher." If you mean by "2000 all over again" that Joe Biden is the second coming of Joe Lieberman, than I agree.

And by the way Trees, loquacious, Really? Have you read your brother's comments? (Those are the words of your sister) And for the record I prefer the term garrulous.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Why I’m not voting for Barack Obama- Part Two

So, last week I wrote to you about Barack Obama, you know the man who is about to speak to like 40,000 people at INVESCO Field in Denver, Colorado. Yeah that guy. I’m not voting for him and he’s really upset with me. OK I made that up, he doesn’t know I exist. And he wouldn’t care if he did.

Anyway Today I am going to make the only, almost legitimate, case I see for voting for Mr. Obama and probably be called a reverse racist in the process.

But first, a word on Joe Biden:

Never mind.

Sorry I know you must find me cynical. I really am a very hopeful person. I’m just not optimistic. To paraphrase Cornell West, my people remain hopeful but have no logical reason to be optimistic. Or even more importantly to quote Mr. West on Mr. Obama: “He’s got folk who are talking to him, that warrant our distrust.” That’s Joe Biden in a nutshell.

Finally, the only almost legitimate reason I can find for voting for Barack Obama. Drum roll…

He is Black.

There it is. I said it. The only thing that makes me consider voting for Mr. Obama is that he is black. I know you think I’m discriminating. I’m basically making it OK for white people to vote for people because they are white. Or making it OK to tokenize people because they are brown. Except, I’m not. Power dynamics and slavery make the concept of reverse–racism non-existent. If you need me to explain, I can’t right now. It’s a long process of deconstructing the concept of racism, and explaining 400 years of colonialism. I don’t have time for it. So for now just agree or disagree with me, whichever you chose.

For the record, (Geraldine Ferraro – I’m talking to you) Black Americans as a voting bloc do not vote for someone just because they are black. If we did, Al Sharpton and Carol Moseley Braun would have scared the crap out of John Kerry.

Ok so back to voting for Barack because he is black. Now first I have to preface this concept with a few ground rules. Voting for someone because they are black does not apply to all black candidates, i.e. Alan Keyes, Clarence Thomas, and Condoleezza Rice. Such a concept contains basic requirements. Like you can’t be black and run on a platform that says “I hate Black People.” Which, in a really over-generalized nutshell, is the basic mental attitude of the aforementioned African Americans. And you can’t be a crystal meth dealer or something like that. All things being equal between candidates... vote for the black person.

I understand why someone would think like this. This rationale is really simple: “someone is gonna be in the White House anyway, why not let it be a brother or a sister.” The reality is that at least once in his life, Barack Obama was probably called a nigger and as a result you could make an inference that he might do more to help those of us that are treated like niggers every single day. I’m perfectly fine with that argument except for one thing, history has shown us that it doesn’t work out.

Now we all think that Barack Obama’s candidacy is historic. This evening he became the first African American to be nominated for president by a major party. I think some of us forget that it wasn’t that long ago that the first black mayor of a major city was elected.

His name was Carl Stokes and he was elected mayor of Cleveland on November 7, 1967. On a smaller scale, his candidacy carried the same type of hope. Since his election there have been dozens of black mayors elected in major cities across the country. Most every major metropolis has had at least one African American mayor.

And guess what? Most every major city is segregated with Black Americans living in third world conditions. One in 15 black male adults is currently incarcerated compared to 1 in 106 white male adults. The vast majority of these incarcerations happen in large cities often under the purview of Black Mayors. In fact the presence of Black Mayors has had no impact on the growth of the black prison population.
For more info on that check out:

Now I’m not trying to imply that a mayor is as powerful as the president. I’m merely analyzing the success of Black Political Executives attempting to govern in a white dominated society. The long-term success has been limited at best. Furthermore sometimes really terrible things have happened during the tenure of Black Mayors.

Two of the most racially charged and disastrous events to take place in my lifetime were the LA Riots and the bombing of the MOVE organization in Philadelphia. The LA Riots also known as the LA Rebellion, happened as a direct result of the beating of Rodney King by several white LAPD Officers. The officers were caught on videotape and the horrific brutal attack was transmitted to every household in the United States. When the trial of the Police Officers was moved to Simi Valley, the officers were acquitted by a jury made up of ten white jurors and zero black jurors. The mayor of Los Angeles at the time was a black man named Tom Bradley. In fairness to Mr. Bradley, he was adamantly opposed to the brutality of the officers and fought to have them convicted. But the point remains that this event happened on his watch and he didn’t have the authority to prevent it or the power to implement justice afterwards. In response, many people in South Central L.A., lit the city on fire. Mayor Bradley appeared to have no ability to prevent this from happening.

On May 13, 1984, another horrendous event took place, the bombing of the MOVE Organization in their home on Osage Ave. in Philadelphia, PA. MOVE is a radical organization made up of mostly black members. In 1984 they came into conflict with the city of Philadelphia. For years MOVE had been the target of brutal attacks by the Philadelphia Police Department. During this particular conflict, the city attempted to execute warrants for the arrest of several MOVE members. MOVE refused to cooperate. The city’s response was to drop a bomb on the roof of the MOVE House. Subsequently officials decided to let the house burn instead of putting out the flames; even though the fire department had poured tens of thousands of gallons of water on the house earlier in the morning. Eventually the house became fully consumed with flames. When people tried to escape the house with their children they were shot at. Six adults and five children were killed. Sixty houses were burned to the ground leaving an entire city block in rubble. The Mayor at the time was none other than Wilson Goode, Philadelphia’s first Black Mayor. Unlike Mayor Bradley, Mayor Goode ordered this brutal and unnecessary attack.

So on second thought, we can’t vote for someone simply because they are black, tempting as it may be. And even if the candidate is well intentioned the system and its powerful interests are not. I’m not voting for Barack Obama. If I can’t trust the system he represents than I can’t trust him, even if he is Black.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Why I’m not voting for Barack Obama.

First I have to admit that I’ve voted once in my life, and it was for me and two other community activists that were running for the school board. I was twenty-five years old at the time. That undertaking is a long story. I would say that although it was an interesting learning experience, it’s not something I would do again.

The reason I’ve made a conscious and informed decision not to vote is pretty basic, I don’t trust the political system. It’s that simple. But why?

Good question. Beats me I was just smoking weed one day and thought it sounded cool to say: “I don’t trust the system, man.” (I’m just kidding. I haven’t smoked weed this entire millennium. Seriously it’s true.) I don’t have time to go into detail about all of the reasons that I don’t trust the political system. After all the entire liberal world is waiting desperately to find out why I’m not voting for Barack. Well maybe not the entire liberal world, I’m sure one or two of them already know why I’m not voting for Mr. Obama. So amazingly I’ve written an entire paragraph without coming close to answering the question I just posed.

OK, I’ll give it a shot. Here goes. I will try and be concise:

…I believe that politicians represent a second tier of power, far less powerful than the first tier which is made up of gigantic corporations (Think Haliburton, Walmart, Microsoft, Exxon/Mobil) and the wealthy class of individuals that control them. Therefore, I believe we are given the illusion that we have a choice of selecting the people that control our fate. Basically I’m saying that rich people are more powerful than politicians and we don’t get to vote for them…

Now for the heck of it, assume what I just said is true.

Now that answers why I don’t trust the political system but it doesn’t really address why I’m not voting. After all why not vote anyway, I mean the system exists. Doesn’t it still help to get someone on the powerful second tier that more closely represents your own beliefs? Umm… NO, but I’ll answer that in a second.

Why am I not voting for Mr. Obama, specifically? Isn’t that like rooting against Jackie Robinson? (It just dawned on me that there actually might be some people who might not know who Jackie Robinson is. I want to say Google it but I’m not going to.) First of all Mr. Obama is more than a “Black Candidate”. He is against the war in Iraq and Afghanistan; he is against the death penalty, and wire tapping and he is in favor of reparations. Wait, actually only one of those is true. He is against the Iraq War. Lucky for him it just so happens to be a time when being against the Iraq War is politically convenient.

But all of that aside, let’s face it, the guy is pretty cool. I mean he’s kind of blown the whole Bill Clinton playing the sax on Jay Leno thing out of the water. He’s been on the cover of Rolling Stone twice. One of my favorite bands, TV on the Radio, had his picture on their MySpace site in place of their own. And the man can speak. I don’t mean that in the “he’s a very articulate black man” sort of way. More like in the historical gigantic figure sort of way. Hey truth be told, I’ve been caught mesmerized by his words once or twice. But after you analyze all those words and check out his positions as I noted earlier, he’s just not all that progressive. He’s pretty moderate. And that’s kind of why people like him. He doesn’t seem like some whacko lefty like Dennis Kucinich. This is what makes him electable.

And that brings me to why I’m not voting for him. He has to play the game to get elected. He needs to say things that don’t offend the top tier of power. I mean the man counts names like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase as major contributors. Those are not exactly grassroots organizations. It is a logical assumption that he will have to enact policies that support the wishes of some of these Mega Corporations.

Ultimately the reason that I am not supporting his candidacy is that we have to play the game to. To the tune of $500 million dollars (I can’t help but think of Dr. Evil when I say that). That is the probable number that Mr. Obama will raise for his election bid, when all is said and done. That’s five hundred million dollars that could be spent on grassroots organizing to address the root causes of oppression. The money could provide anti-racism trainings, Safehouses for GLBTQ youth, workshops on sustainable inner city living and a slew of other amazing possiblities. The truth is people working at the most grassroots level make wonderful things happen with pennies on the dollar and create more positive change than any president ever has. That’s my opinion.

To elect this man it will take a whole lot of money and also human energy. And all of this to appoint the “most powerful man in the world” that has no control over the “most powerful people in the world” and has no plan in anyway shape or form to attempt to alter this basic stratification. Which means ultimately no sustainable change can take place. That’s a whole lot of energy for no sustainable change. And a gigantic distraction from the important grassroots work that true progressives exercise everyday. So no it’s not worth it even if he appears to be closer to me on the political spectrum than say Strom Thurmond. Not at this price.

And I know what some peace activists are thinking, what about Iraq? Well it’s quite possible that our good buddy G.W. will negotiate troop withdrawal for 2011 before Obama even gets in. And you can’t say definitively that Mr. Obama will not invade Iran and you can say definitively that he will escalate the conflict in Afghanistan. That doesn’t seem like a significant assurance of peace to me.

I will say that I’m convinced that Barack Obama will be the 44th President of the United States. (Barring some Spitzer/Edwards like revelation) He’s just not gonna get there with my help. I’m sure he’s pissed…

Ironically this will be the first time that I will be voting in a presidential election and no, this doesn’t mean I’m voting for John McCain… But that is for another day.