February 11th, 2005

Coffee Squirrel

another reason i wouldn't be too upset if bush were shot...

Blaming Black Men

The Progress ReportPosted February 10, 2005.

In rationalizing his plans to privatize Social Security, Bush cited the troubling statistic that African-American males have a shorter life expectancy than any other ethnic or racial group in America. In his four years in office, he's only worsened the situation. Story Tools

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With support for his Social Security privatization program lagging, President Bush has decided to focus his hard sell on African Americans. Last month, in his pitch, he said: "African-American males die sooner than other males do, which means the system is inherently unfair to a certain group. This needs to be fixed." President Bush has his priorities backwards. The issue that needs to "be fixed" isn't Social Security, it's the troubling statistic that African-American males have a shorter life expectancy than any other ethnic or racial group in America. If President Bush is serious about reaching out to the African-American community, his time would be more wisely spent addressing countless inequalities faced by African Americans in the U.S. today, like unequal access to health care, a higher incidence of unemployment, a disproportionate poverty rate and a higher rate of deadly youth violence. Instead, he has systematically cut programs designed to help combat these very issues.

THE SOCIAL SECURITY MYTH: African Americans depend heavily on Social Security benefits, which would be cut under President Bush's plan. The AARP found African Americans rely on Social Security benefits for about 44 percent of their income in retirement. That number is even higher for African-American women, who are likely to rely on Social Security for 56.8 percent of their income in retirement. On top of that, African Americans are less likely to have income from private assets; thus "Social Security is the only source of income for one in three African Americans over age 65." According to Hillary Shelton of the NAACP, "African-American children are almost four times as likely to be lifted out of poverty by Social Security benefits than our white counterparts."

INADEQUATE HEALTH CARE: African Americans are more likely to suffer from many life threatening diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Also, "African-American men and women have higher incidence of colon, rectal and lung cancer than any other group." And "black women are more likely to die from breast cancer even though white women have a higher incidence of the disease." Much of this problem is due to the inferior access many blacks have to basic health care. Based on the latest Census data, since Bush took office, the number of African Americans without health insurance has jumped by 400,000. More than one in five African Americans is now uninsured. A full "22 percent of black Americans" today rely on Medicaid for their health care. President Bush's new budget would slash Medicaid by $45 billion over the next decade, cutting crucial services and benefits.

PERILOUS POVERTY: Lower-income Americans today are disproportionately black and Hispanic. It's a situation that's gotten worse under President Bush. According to the Census, 300,000 black Americans fell into poverty in 2002, making the poverty level among blacks today a whopping 24.3 percent. While the median income of African-American households was 65 percent of whites' in 2000, it slipped to 62 percent by 2003. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, "unemployment among blacks hit a historic low of 7.1 percent in 2000, but has grown to 9.9 percent or higher since January 2002." One of the best ways to combat poverty is employment; President Bush, however, eliminated the Youth Opportunity Grants program, a program that gives job training to young people.

UNHEALTHY COMMUNITIES: Many people of color find attaining the American dream tough to do when tethered to crumbling communities. President Bush, however, has eliminated important programs designed to build up communities. For example, two federal banking agencies headed by Bush appointees are trying to change laws that would cripple the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), a civil-rights law prohibiting discrimination by banks against people who live in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. Bush also has proposed a 40 percent cut in federal juvenile crime prevention funds.

COMBATING VIOLENCE: In his State of the Union, President Bush said he wanted to give "young men in our cities better options than apathy, or gangs, or jail." In reality, the president has proposed a 40 percent cut in federal juvenile crime prevention funds, which would effectively "pull the plug" on local programs that reduce gang and youth violence.
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Coffee Squirrel

thanks, recumbentgoat, for turning me on to this!

Lucy Parsons
A Heroine Who Embraced Reform (and Explosives)

"Day of Reckoning," a play about the anarchist and labor reformer Lucy Parsons, is unevenly paced and clumsily staged, but it has this saving grace: Unlike some other theatrical efforts associated with Black History Month, it is not shallow hero worship. Parsons was a decidedly flawed hero, and Melody Cooper, the playwright, leaves those flaws in plain sight.

Although Ms. Cooper, who also stars as Parsons in the production now at the All Stars Project, throws in some time-jumping techniques, the play is basically a straightforward biography. The first act is set primarily in Waco, Tex., where Parsons meets the crusading white man who would become her husband and fellow agitator, Albert Parsons (Christopher Conant). Here we get the first hint that this mixed-race woman does not quite fit the black-pride mold: calling herself Lucy Gonzalez and passing as Mexican and American Indian, she chafes at any suggestion by Albert that she is black.

The play, produced by Five Points Presents ..., doesn't really find its voice, though, until Act II, when Lucy and Albert, hounded out of Waco by racist threats, move to Chicago and become involved in the labor movement. They help organize a major railroad strike in 1877, and Ms. Cooper makes clear that Lucy Parsons was not far from the violent radicals of the 1960's and 70's. "I think when we derailed that engine, they finally knew we mean business," she says of the railroads. And she exhorts her followers, "Learn to use explosives."

The Parsonses have two children, but their domestic bliss is shattered by the Haymarket Riot of 1886, in which Albert is implicated. In Ms. Cooper's formulation, his martyrdom causes Lucy to lose her bearings, and their son, Albert Jr. (David Adams), pays the appalling price. Here again, Lucy is anything but heroic. By the play's end she has much to atone for. (She died in a fire in 1942, at 89.)

Ms. Cooper's recounting of this fascinating life, and the interracial love story at the center of it, could benefit from a large infusion of understatement; her script milks the many dramatic moments like an overwrought movie-of-the-week. She has also surrounded herself with actors who are not as good as she is, a discrepancy that is made even more glaring by Madelyn Chapman's never subtle direction.

Still, Lucy Parsons's story is one that deserves to be told, especially at a time when those with radical ideas are again under intense scrutiny. By NEIL GENZLINGER
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Coffee Squirrel

panic in st. paul

i'm certain it will be okay. but i'm still nervous. the instructor for my computer class did NOT enable the last test. tomorrow is the final and the last day. i was hoping to get it out of the way and to try to retake one of the older tests to bring up my average. i have to make a C or better or i have to pay back the employment agency.

i don't know why i took the class. i'm not interested in becoming an expert on computers. i just wanted a little more knowledge. i felt over my head from day one. not sure what to do.

ah, well. if the instructor doesn't work with me, they can take the money out of my ass because i don't have it.

i'm trying to grab this image of teletubbies w/swastikas on their bellies. it's not working. i would love to use it as my icon.

eric and i went to White Castle yesterday. why do i always remember them tasting better? who knows. at any rate, i rented a couple of movies to make have a laugh -- as i *need* one (a few) of late. i rented: "napoleon dynamite". i liked it a lot. very funny. very real life. i nearly fell out watching him dance. and his brothers girlfriend was great. i also rented "harold and koumar go to white castle" it was funnier -- way funnier -- than i thought it would be. and while it's a good movie on its own, it is also a fairly effective 2 hour commercial for white castle. even when you're not high.

at any rate: i'm doing the same thing i always do when i get really panicky about something -- i pull back. i detach. i seem calm, but i'm just...not there anymore.

by the way: does anyone want to go to a play with me? it's at the Penumbra Theatre here in St. Paul. if you are a student of any kind, bring a student ID and it's only $10. the play is called "Slippery When Wet". it's about a first date between an african-american guy and an asian girl. i read about it and decided why not go? anyone care to join me?

*crickets chirp*

_shrug_ i might go next wednesday. we'll see. or perhaps next weekend...
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