New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Bike Lanes to Somewhere

October 24, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Jay Walljasper

On Race, Health, and Equity

by Jay Walljasper

Rev. Kenneth Gunn’s ministry at Chicago’s Bread of Life Church encompasses both the Bible and bicycles. He organized a bike club that regularly rides from the South Side church to Lake Michigan and along the Lakefront Trail. In his spare time, Gunn repairs donated bikes that he gives to kids in the predominantly African-American neighborhood.

Rev. Gunn believes biking offers great benefits to the community. “Besides good recreation, biking is economical,” the 70-year-old minister explains, especially in a city where many people don’t own cars and transit fares are rising. “But health is the number one reason to ride a bike. It’s good for your coronary, your respiratory and your blood pressure. And I find it’s good for my arthritis.”

Gunn welcomes the new protected bike lanes popping up across Chicago’s South Side as a way to encourage more African-Americans to bike. “The city is becoming more and more bike friendly. The new lanes on 55th Street are super-safe and I love it.” (more…)

Stop Stop-and-Frisk

August 20, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

From Outside Occupation to Community Engagement

by Robert C. Koehler

Stopping crime before it happens is a great idea, but stopping young men for “walking while black” — touted by true believers as the same thing — is a game played by an occupying army.

The tactic is called stop-and-frisk. As practiced by many police departments, including New York’s, it amounts to blatant racial profiling. Stop-and-frisk makes it impossible for young men of color to lead normal lives, to walk outside without fear of preemptive police harassment. The long-term hatred and tension it engenders does far more harm to a community than all the questionable good that proponents ascribe to it. Security based on racism is a sham. (more…)

Love Crowds Out Fear

August 09, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Guest Author, Politics

On Trayvon Martin and the George Zimmerman Verdict

by Valerie Elverton Dixon

I waited. My tears waited…

In March 2012 when the story of Trayvon Martin’s murder became national news, I waited to comment. Like those who took to the streets in hoodies, I could not understand how George Zimmerman could shoot and kill an unarmed teenager who was simply walking home from the store, be taken into custody by the police, and then go home to sleep in his own bed the same night without being charged with a crime.  Zimmerman told the police that he acted in self defense, and that was enough. Trayvon Martin’s family had to hire a lawyer and the lawyers had to contact national civil rights leaders before a prosecutor brought charges. I did not comment.

Trayvon Martin’s parents said they had faith in the criminal justice system. They wanted a trial. The trial happened and a jury of six women found their son’s killer not guilty. When I learned of the verdict on Sunday morning, July 14, my delayed praying tears ended their wait. I wept. I grieved for Trayvon Martin and for all the teenagers whose lives are lost to gun violence, and I grieved for our criminal justice system and for our nation. (more…)

My Dinner with Bernie

July 29, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Family, Missy Beattie

The More Things Change…

by Missy Beattie

“That sounds like something Bernie would do. This is Bernie,” I’d said to Charles, years ago. He shook his head no.

Before we met, Charles lived in NYC, where he got his PhD. That’s how he knew Bernie, both at NYU in the department of nuclear engineering. My husband collected characters, and Bernie was one. Charles had plenty of Bernie stories but disagreed with my realization, couldn’t fathom that one of his friends could do what struck me as obvious.

A few years after Charles and I married and were living in Kentucky, Bernie visited. He drove a rental car from Manhattan to Lexington, on his way somewhere. He stayed a few hours and had dinner with us. (more…)

Embedded Racism

July 23, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Time to Build a New System Based on Healing and Inclusion

by Robert C. Koehler

Did the ghosts of our slave-holding and Jim Crow past high-five each other in the Florida courtroom on Saturday? George Zimmerman was acquitted, but does that mean that American history was, too?

The experts who weighed in on the legal battle essentially noted that, in the absence of any witnesses other than Zimmerman, the prosecution couldn’t prove what had happened, or more to the point, couldn’t convincingly counter-argue his version of events — that he was returning to his car when Trayvon Martin assaulted him and threw him to the ground, forcing him to kill the boy in self-defense. Trayvon was dead; that left him, legally, voiceless and out of luck.

Hmm . . . wasn’t that the case anyway? (more…)

Dead or Alive?

July 19, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Devon G. Pena, Ecology, Economy, Politics

Reflections on 30 Years of the Environmental Justice Movement 

by Devon G. Peña

I was having a very serious conversation this morning with a University of New Mexico graduate student preparing for her dissertation proposal defense when talk eventually turned to the question of the status of the environmental justice movement (EJM). My colleague — who is a highly respected activist in New Mexico — declared that the movement is largely dead. The EJM, she explained, is a casualty of defunding and especially the loss of financial support for the various national and regional networks. There is no national movement, she argued, because the funders abandoned their commitment to the EJ organizations.

I can vouch for at least aspects of this view in that sense that many of the larger, trend-setting grantmakers like the Ford Foundation refused to fund what would have been the Third Environmental Justice Summit we had planned for 2012; with the painful absence of Ford, no other funders stepped into the void to continue supporting an earth-shaking, history-making event. (more…)

Toward a Maroon Society

June 12, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Fred Ho, Matt Meyer, Politics

Working Together to Build a New World

by Fred Ho, with Matt Meyer

{MM: The following piece was written by a founder and a supporter of the organization Scientific Soul Sessions, a majority oppressed nationality revolutionary group. Wrestling with the question of white membership, they have been engaged in recent struggles which have revealed how pervasive, entrenched and odious “whiteness” is even in these contexts. This article was penned in the course of those struggles.}

“Anti-racist whites” are against some of the right things, but what are they for? As we fight for a society of more than just tolerance and “equality” but for true justice and liberation, our goal is to escape the Matrix of the current systems. Like the historic maroons of the past, and the contemporary political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz who continues to resist from behind enemy lines, we must build for a Maroon militancy that fully rejects the shackles of the past as we build for a new tomorrow.

“Anti-racist whites” may believe in color-blindness, but we know that this is an impossibility in American society. Any obfuscation that believes that a “post-racial” society can be achieved simply by ignoring or eradicating the notion of “race” is fundamentally mistaken about the roots of racism and the function it serves: the social reproduction of assimilation (and therefore control) within the American Empire. (more…)