Tuesday, August 30, 2005

White Whine: Reflections on the Brain-Rotting Properties of Privilege

"White Whine: Reflections on the Brain-Rotting Properties of Privilege" is an article written by Tim Wise.
This and other remarkable examples of his anti-racist writings can be found on his website. Just google on his name and it should be the first site you see. I believe he is white - it's extraordinary how clearly he sees the problems faced by African-Americans.

On another note -

To the English Major who likes to criticize folks' writing: We're just pleased as punch to have you on the blog. All of us reading here have undoubtedly been hoping for someone to show us the way, grammatically speaking. And it's so pertinent to the topic of the blog! We all know that the only people who have anything valuable to say are those who win spelling bees.

(PS - Anyone and everyone can post comments here - so far, many of the most interesting comments have not come from the English Majors.)

Sunday, August 28, 2005


This is an auspicious time for our nation. After a decade of peace, prosperity, and progress, we are met by the unexpected. Not just the peril of terrorism and war. We face the peril of self-delusion as well.
A few weeks ago, a newspaper in Washington carried a four-part series entitled "Black Money". It said that life for African-Americans has never been better, suggesting that the quest for racial equality in America was complete.
In fact, that is what most Americans believe. In a major national poll last year, a majority said when it comes to jobs, income, health care, and education, black Americans are doing just as well as whites.
Well, we looked at the facts. We asked, "What would life be like if the majority of Americans were right? What if the racial gap was closed? What would we gain?" So we did the math.
If Americans had racial equality in education and jobs, Afican-Americans would have two million more high school degrees, nearly two million more professional and managerial jobs, and nearly 200 billion more in income.
If America had racial equality in housing, three million more African-Americans would own homes.
And, if America had racial equality in wealth, Afican-Americans would have $760 billion more in home equity value. Two hundred billion more in stock market. One hundred and twenty billion dollars more in retirement funds. And $80 billion more in the bank. That alone would total over $1 trillion more in wealth.
These gaps demonstrate that the long journey of black Americans from an enslaved people to full participants in our
society - a journey that began well over 140 years ago - is far from complete.
We have come a long way. We have not won the equal rights to education, to employment, to housing, and to success. The racial gaps persist. Why is that? How can we close the gaps?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Support from the East Coast

via comments:

Rev Pinkney,I learned of the problems through an e-mail of global women`s strike in phila and i want to support you and the black community in Benton Harbor Mi.I lived in St. Joe for over twenty -five years.I know the attitude of the people in Berrien County.When it come to black people.You have a excellent blog,lots of information.Keep up the great work you are doing.

Barbara Loewen

Sunday, August 21, 2005


And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you not be troubled, for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines,and pestilences and earthquakes in diverse places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

The city of Benton Harbor is moving closer and closer to a great civil strife, unrest, and bloodshed. Although the residents of Benton Harbor are supposed to be of one nation, the division between labor and management is growing more intense. The division between haves and haves-nots is getting wider and wider and that breach is being filled with hatred. The division between politics, right and left, so-called Christian right and left, liberals, conservatives, and all of the many causes that people are giving to signs of bloodshed.

The people of Berrien County do not seem willing to argue their point and let truth prevail. But the frustration is leading to resolution of conflict by means of the gun. The weapons of war are being sold legally and illegally throughout the city of Benton Harbor in unprecedented numbers. The proliferation of assault weapons are mounting in Benton Harbor.

Civil unrest in the future will not be able to be handled by the police. The police will be supported by federal troops. When this day arrives, and it will, the breakdown of law and order will be so great in the city of Benton Harbor THAT IT WILL BE AS THE prophets foretold: a time of trouble such as never before. This is a terrible prophecy and it does not appear that it will be avoided or averted, though it can be.

Our youth are dying in unprecedented numbers and for the first time death by the gun is nearly outnumbering death by disease. Gang conflict is civil strife when we of the same racial and historical orgin are pitted against each other. It is not BLACK AGAINST WHITE. IT IS THE HAVES AGAINST THE HAVES-NOTS.

Benton Harbor: a city headed for civil war is controlled by four families. All of the crime, drugs, corruption and city jobs are within four families who are protected by the Benton Harbor police department, supported by Cornerstone Alliance and Whirlpool.

Welcome to Berrien County: The police, the prosecutor, the politicians, the judges, and the machinery of government are inexorably grinding away at individual liberties guaranteed to all Americans by the Constitution.

The government agencies in Berrien County often arrest without warrant, spy without legal authority, imprison without charge, and kill without cause.

Benton Harbor is a city headed for civil war. Judicial misconduct, prosecutorial misconduct, ethics violations, civil rights violations, human rights violations, and legal misconduct is Berrien County. Judges do not follow the law in Berrien County - they make up their own laws.

Did you know that since 1970, individual judges and appellate court panels cited prosecutorial misconduct as a factor when dismissing charges at trial, reversing convictions or reducing sentencing of 4,017 cases?

Wake up!Wake up!Go and work as hard as you can.We must have a mass movement. Go and tell your friends, your families, your children, your sons, tell white folks, tell black folks, the young college educated, and the young uneducated. Tell them we come to untie them. I AM COUNTING ON EACH OF YOU!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


It is apparent that the people need more than organization. We need mass organization with an action program - aggressive, bold, and challenging in spirt. Such a movement was our March on Washington.
Our first job then is actually to organize millions of people and build them into block systems with captains so that they may be summoned to action overnight and thrown into physical motion. Without this type of organization, the people will never develop mass power which is the most effective weapon the people can wield. Witness the strategy and maneuvering of the people of India with mass civil disobedience and non-cooperation and the marches to the red sea to make salt. It may be said that the
Indian people have not won their freedom. This is so, but they will win it. The central principle of the struggle of oppressed people like the blacks and others is not only to develop now, waging a world-shaking, history-making fight for independence. India`s fight is the peoples' fight.
Now, let us be unafraid. We are fighting for big stakes. Our stakes are liberty, justice, and democracy. Every person should hang his head in shame who fails to do his part now for freedom. This is the hour of the people. It is the hour of the common man and woman. May we rise to the challege to struggle for our rights. Come what will or may, let us never falter.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Reply to Anonymous, 8/11, 3:38pm


You commented on the Peoples Tribune article, and wanted to know how to bring the two halves of the article together - what BANCO has to do with poverty. I'm for some reason not able to add a comment, so i'll have to answer you on this post.
Thanks for your rational question - you sound like a reasonable, thinking person, who would like to debate/discuss ideas.

I'll take a stab at an answer, altho it may not be complete. It seems to me that the most urgent problem facing BH residents isn't the poverty, believe it or not. Yes, I think that's an enormous problem, but the corruption in the legal system is more immediate. There are a few pockets of this kind of extreme corruption around the country, and the results are always the same. Residents feel like their lives have been stolen from them. They no longer have freedom of motion. Every waking minute is consumed with worry: is there still a police stake out down at the corner? will the cops come to my door today to harrass my son? if i go to the grocery store will i get stopped? will my neighbor receive a prison sentence for the crime he was accused of and didn't commit? how many more people will I hear about today who are in trouble with the law?

Anyone living in these conditions may as well be living under occupation. If you don't feel like you're being protected by the constitution, you can't live a normal life. You can become an emotional mess. And, it affects some people worse than others. Getting a job can seem like an insurmountable task. When you live in a place where law enforcement is treating people like human beings, people can live normal lives, and have the energy to follow their dreams. Lifting oneself out of poverty becomes a possibility. This is why Rev. Pinkney has become a court watchdog. That's one place people can go to make a difference and get the system to behave in a fair and just manner. Only then can people live normal lives and rise out of poverty. Also, BANCO did make a huge attempt to bring a factory to BH. The business from out of state which was ready to make this happen said that dealings with city and county officials were so difficult that it couldn't work. I believe the owner has pulled out. BANCO also initiated a Pathways Program for youth.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Whirlpool Corp. Agrees to Pay $850,000 in Back Wages to Settle Discrimination Claims

LaborProf Blog: Whirlpool Corp. Agrees to Pay $850,000 in Back Wages to Settle Discrimination Claims

"The Department of Labor is reporting that Whirlpool has enter into a consent decree that settles the DOL's allegations that Whirlpool engaged in hiring discrimination from March 1, 1997 to February 28, 1998. The company admits no liability. In addition to paying the back wages, Whirlpool will hire 48 of the rejected African-American applicants."

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

From the People's Tribune, July 2005

The People's Tribune has offices in Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Atlanta, and Oakland, CA.

Benton Harbor, USA - Taking a Stand Against Corporate Power

There are so many moral outrages being perpetrated today against the American people by the wealthy and the corporations - and the government they control - that it's impossible to keep track of them all. But we at the People's Tribune want to call the attention of our readers to a particularly outrageous attack on the people of the southwest Michigan town of Benton Harbor, not the least because it represents what is happening, or will happen, to the majority of the American people if we don't stand up and fight.

Benton Harbor is a town of 12,000 that is 92 percent African American and with an unemployment rate of 70 percent. It is plagued by poverty and police brutality, and by the aarrogance of the Whirlpool Corporation, which is the largest employer in the area and dominates the local government. Community leaders, led by the Rev. Edward Pinkney of the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO), organized in recent months to urge voters to recall a city commissioner who is backed by Whirlpool. When the recall was successful, Pinkney was arrested April 18 on trumped-up "vote fraud" charges. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

The community is not taking this attack on its leaders lying down. They are actively resisting, with marches and rallies, and with demands for an investigation of the justice system in Berrien County. People from other parts of Michigan and from surrounding states have been coming to Benton Harbor to support this struggle.

This most recent attack on the pepole of Benton Harbor is part of a long history of such attacks. In June 2003, there was an uprising in the city in the wake of the police killing of a young man.

The corruption that is evident in Benton Harbor - among the police and in the judicial system, and in the corporate domination of local government - represents more than just an evil situation for the people of Benton Harbor. The attack on Rev. Pinkney represents the latest assault on democracy itself. We are now being told that if we dare to use the vote to make our will felt, our organizations will be threatened and disrupted, and our leaders might be thrown into prison - or worse. Similar struggles are under way in cities and towns across the county, as people of all colors and nationalities step forward to demand that their government do something aobut the spreading poverty, unemployment and hopelessness in our country.

Benton Harbor is just a manifestation of the larger situation in Michigan and in the US as a whole. From 2001 to 2002 alone, the number of people in poverty in Michigan grew by 25 percent, and the number has grown more since then. The loss of tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs, and the cuts in pay and social services in Michigan have affected millions of people, and there seems to be no end in sight. A similar sceario is playing out in many other states, and people are organizing to demand a government that will represent their interests.

Americans should be outraged at what is happening in Benton Harbor, just on general principles. This kind of corruption and repression can't be tolerated in what is supposed to be a democracy. Is this the America we want? Do we want an impoverished America, where the right to speak our minds and organize ourselves to demand justice is gone, replaced by the open dictatorship of the giant corporations? Or do we want a just and democratic America, where society is organized to guarantee our needs? This is what the struggle in Benton Harbor is about. All of us have a stake in the outcome. In Benton Harbor and in every such town across America, we must defend our leaders when thay are attacked. We must make clear to the wealthy masters of our country that we know that they are rich precisely because we are poor, and that we intend to defend democracy and have a government that will represent our interests and will do what is necessary to end poverty once and for all.

Monday, August 08, 2005


The Bible teaches us to first take care of ourselves and then attend to the organization of god,which the holy ghost has made you overseer of. The ideology is simple. The reality is, if you don`t take care of yourself first, when you getinto trouble the organization may not be able to take care of you.

I have never seen a more graphic illustration of this than I LEARNED WHILE RIDING ONE OF THE AIRLINES. It is the custom of the flight atttendants to get up and announce as the airplane begins to ascend that, should it start to depressurize, you are to reach up and pull the mask down and put it on your face first and then attend to your organization. The reason she says the priority is you first, is not to say you are more valuable than the child or the organization, but to say that, if a crisis should occur, you will be able to help the child or the organization, but the child or the organization may not be able to help you. Be careful leaders, that you don`t put the mask on the wrong face. The city of Benton Harbor has placed the mask on the wrong face.

What the residents of Benton Harbor have done is place the mask on the wrong face. Whirlpool is a bloodsucker - they have sucked the life out of Benton Harbor residents, buying buildings for less than market value, operating a billion dollar corporation almost tax free by using the city and the people of Benton Harbor.

Whirlpool and Cornerstone Alliance, a subdivision of Whirlpool, own more property than the city of Benton Harbor in Benton Harbor. Cornerstone Alliance has taken over 70 percent of the lake front property and land. The goal is to take control of the remaining 30 percent and change the name to Harbor Town.

The Berrien County Courthouse: bloodsuckers. Benton Harbor has the highest rate of residents in prison per-capita for non-violent crime than anywhere in the country. Berrien County has the highest rate of juveniles tried as adults in the state. The people of Benton Harbor have survived abuse and forced confessions, tribunals without lawyers, isolations and humiliation in the Berrien County system. It is hard to believe that in the year 2005 we have a county in Michigan with a legal system this antiquated and this racist. What is harder to believe is that no one at the state level is taking any action to remedy the situation.

The Berrien County law enforcement agencies: bloodsuckers. There have been five murders by the Berrien County law enforcement agencies that we know of. McGinnis and Rudy were murdered by the same officer. He was then promoted to the department of corrections for his fine work killing two black males. Rice was murdered by a Benton Harbor police officer and nothing was ever done. Terrance [T-SHIRT]SHURN AND Arthur Partee were murdered by Benton Township police. The report around Benton Harbor is that the unsolved murders of four women was done by police officers.

Under former chief of police Sam Harris's watch, there were more than 30 citizen police brutality complaints in one week. The complaints were destroyed. We the people have placed the mask on the wrong face.

I have a dream that one day even the city of Benton Harbor and the county of Berrien, a city, a county, and a state swelling with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream.