New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

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…)

The Color Maroon

April 29, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Guest Author, Politics

Lessons on Life, Liberation from Imprisoned Activist Russell Shoatz

Russell Maroon Shoatz is a former leader of the Black Panthers and the Black freedom movement, born in Philadelphia in 1943 and originally imprisoned in January 1972 for actions relating to his political involvement. With an extraordinary thirty-plus years spent in solitary confinement — including the past twenty-three years continuously — Maroon’s case is one of the most shocking examples of U.S. torture of political prisoners, and one of the most egregious examples of human rights violations regarding prison conditions anywhere in the world. His “Maroon” nickname is, in part, due to his continued resistance — which twice led him to escape confinement; it is also based on his continued political analysis, including recent writings on ecology and matriarchy that are found in his recently published book: Maroon the Implacable: The Collected Writings of Russell Maroon Shoatz.

This interview was conducted via correspondence by Lisa Guenther, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University. (more…)

The Original Abolitionists

March 05, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, David Swanson, Politics

Lessons from a Movement for Rights and Dignity 

by David Swanson

If you’re like me, there are some things you would like to abolish.  My list includes war, weapons, fossil fuel use, plutocracy, corporate personhood, health insurance corporations, poverty wages, poverty, homelessness, factory farming, prisons, the drug war, the death penalty, nuclear energy, the U.S. Senate, the electoral college, gerrymandering, electronic voting machines, murder, rape, child abuse, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and the Washington Post.  I could go on.  I bet you can think of at least one institution you believe we’d be better off without.

All of us, then, can almost certainly learn a thing or two from the men and women in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in England who abolished first the slave trade and then slavery within the British empire.  I highly recommend watching a film about them called “Amazing Grace.”  If you like it, you’ll love a book called Bury the Chains. (more…)

Diversity Is Strength

April 20, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Joel Olson, Politics

Whiteness and the 99 Percent

by Joel Olson

{Editor’s note: This is one of the last pieces written by NCV Contributor Joel Olson, who recently passed away and left us far too early. This essay, written in October 2011, indicates both Joel’s deep-seated radicalism and his abundant kindness of spirit. As Joel always reminded us with his words and deeds alike, “The only thing that can stop us is us.”}

Occupy Wall Street and the hundreds of occupations it has sparked nationwide are among the most inspiring events in the U.S. in the 21st century. The occupations have brought together people to talk, occupy, and organize in new and exciting ways. The convergence of so many people with so many concerns has naturally created tensions within the occupation movement. One of the most significant tensions has been over race. This is not unusual, given the racial history of the United States. But this tension is particularly dangerous, for unless it is confronted, we cannot build the 99%. The key obstacle to building the 99% is left colorblindness, and the key to overcoming it is to put the struggles of communities of color at the center of this movement. It is the difference between a free world and the continued dominance of the 1%. (more…)

Partners in the Freedom Struggle

March 23, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Matt Meyer, Politics

Why Nonviolent Activists Should Follow John Brown

by Matt Meyer

“The lack of historical consensus regarding John Brown,” asserted longtime labor, racial justice, and international activist Bill Fletcher, “speaks to the ideological confusions we continue to face.” Fletcher — a columnist for Black Commentator, Senior Scholar for the Institute for Policy Studies, and former president of TransAfrica — noted that John Brown was anti-slavery, but not just that; he was anti-racist, but there were others at the time who were anti-racist as well. As Fletcher suggested that Brown’s difference was his dramatic defense of enslaved Africans, people he actually befriended and liked, he summarized the dividing line question which still remains: “Was Brown a terrorist or was he engaging in an emancipatory practice?”

This year’s Left Forum — the annual coming together of a broad spectrum of left and progressive intellectuals, activists, academics, organizations and the interested public, the largest in the US — was a different one than usual for me. Award-winning and beloved science fiction writer and old buddy Terry Bisson asked me to join his panel on a favorite topic of ours: the legacy of abolitionist John Brown. (more…)

Time for Jubilee

August 22, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Family, Politics, Randall Amster

Let’s Forgive, Forget, and Find Some Genuine Relief for a Change

by Randall Amster

If we’re truly looking for paths toward managing debt and promoting economic stimulus — which is about stimulating optimism as much as anything else — then we ought to consider getting closer to the source and stop nibbling around the edges of governmental machinations and corporate malfeasance. Instead, let’s directly incentivize and bring relief to actual people, giving them a new start by wiping the ledgers clean and ensuring that their future decisions will never again have to be governed by the demons of debt. For the price of two massive bank bailouts, and in the face of an austerity regime that mostly punishes working people, we could essentially “bail out” every American from under a mounting pile of indebtedness. (more…)

The New Jim Crow

May 18, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Diane Lefer, Politics

Remedying the Harsh Realities of ‘Incarceration Nation’

by Diane Lefer

“Drug prohibition is the biggest failed policy in the history of the United States, second only to slavery.”

Maybe that was not a surprising claim to hear at the Pasadena-Foothills ACLU chapter’s public forum held at Neighborhood Church on May 10th. After all, the chapter was co-sponsor of Michelle Alexander’s appearance in March at the Pasadena Public Library where she reported, as detailed in her book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, that largely as an intentional consequence of the “war on drugs,” there are more African American men under correctional control now than were enslaved in 1850. What was maybe unexpected was to hear the claim from James P. Gray — a white guy from Orange County who is a retired judge, former Navy man, and a former federal prosecutor who put people away after major drug busts.

Gray was a featured speaker, along with Pasadena police chief Phillip Sanchez and public defender Shelan Joseph. Each brought a distinct perspective to address how to respond to the mass incarceration of men (and women) of color. (more…)

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