Category Archives: ~ In the Library

“A room without a book is like a body without a soul.”
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in the Library … Michelle Alexander”s ‘The New Jim Crow,’ -Women’s History Month


so, i read this review of a book that took me back to information given to us in class at the UW  …stunning, sad and eye opening information yet this book review revealed much more

Leonard Pitts Jr. / Syndicated columnist

Michelle Alexander”s ‘The New Jim Crow,’ a troubling and necessary book

Columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. suggests reading “The New Jim Crow,” by Michelle Alexander, who contends that the mass incarceration of black men for nonviolent drug offenses, combined with sentencing disparities and laws making it legal to discriminate against felons in housing, employment, education and voting, constitute nothing less than a new racial caste system.

Syndicated columnist

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“You have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this all while not appearing to.”

— Richard Nixon as quoted by H.R. Haldeman, supporting a get-tough-on drugs strategy

“They give black people time like it’s lunch down there. You go down there looking for justice, that’s what you find: just us.”— Richard Pryor

Michelle Alexander was an ACLU attorney in Oakland, preparing a racial-profiling lawsuit against the California Highway Patrol. The ACLU had put out a request for anyone who had been profiled to get in touch. One day, in walked this black man.

He was maybe 19 and toted a thick sheaf of papers, what Alexander calls an “incredibly detailed” accounting of at least a dozen police stops over a nine-month period, with dates, places and officers’ names. This was, she thought, a “dream plaintiff.”

But it turned out he had a record, a drug felony — and she told him she couldn’t use him; the state’s attorney would eat him alive. He insisted he was innocent, said police had planted drugs and beaten him. But she was no longer listening. Finally, enraged, he snatched the papers back and started shredding them.

“You’re no better than the police,” he cried. “You’re doing what they did to me!” The conviction meant he couldn’t work or go to school, had to live with his grandmother. Did Alexander know how that felt? And she wanted a dream plaintiff? “Just go to my neighborhood,” he said. “See if you can find one black man my age they haven’t gotten to already.”

She saw him again a couple of months later. He gave her a potted plant from his grandmother’s porch — he couldn’t afford flowers — and apologized. A few months after that, a scandal broke: Oakland police officers accused of planting drugs and beating up innocent victims. One of the officers involved was the one named by that young man.

“It was,” says Alexander now, more than 10 years later, “the beginning of me asking some hard questions of myself as a civil-rights lawyer. … What is actually going on in his neighborhood? How is it that they’ve already gotten to all the young African-American men in his neighborhood? I began questioning my own assumptions about how the criminal-justice system works.”

The result is a compelling new book. Others have written of the racial bias of the criminal-injustice system. In “The New Jim Crow,” Alexander goes a provocative step further. She contends that the mass incarceration of black men for nonviolent drug offenses, combined with sentencing disparities and laws making it legal to discriminate against felons in housing, employment, education and voting, constitute nothing less than a new racial caste system. A new segregation.

She has a point. Yes, the War on Drugs is officially race-neutral. So were the grandfather clause and other Jim Crow laws whose intention and effect was nevertheless to restrict black freedom.

The War on Drugs is a war on African-American people and we countenance it because we implicitly accept certain assumptions sold to us by news and entertainment media, chief among them that drug use is rampant in the black community. But. The. Assumption. Is. WRONG.

According to federal figures, blacks and whites use drugs at a roughly equal rate in percentage terms. In terms of raw numbers, whites are far and away the biggest users — and dealers — of illegal drugs.

So why aren’t cops kicking their doors in? Why aren’t their sons pulled over a dozen times in nine months? Why are black men 12 times likelier to be jailed for drugs than white ones? Why aren’t white communities robbed of their fathers, brothers, sons?

With inexorable logic, “The New Jim Crow” propounds an answer many will resist and most have not even considered. It is a troubling and profoundly necessary book.

Please read it.

Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr.’s column appears regularly on editorial pages of The Times. His e-mail address is: lpitts@miamiherald.com

In the Library … “Injustices” by Ian Millhiser


ThinkProgress

Injustices: The Supreme Court’s History of Comforting The Comfortable And Afflicting The Afflicted

InjusticesThey won’t be selling Injustices at the Supreme Court gift shop. Ian Millhiser’s scathing, exuberant indictment of the many misdeeds of the nation’s highest court is a necessary, and highly entertaining, corrective to the mythology that has always surrounded the work of the Justices.”

~Jeffrey Toobin,
Author of The Oath and The Nine

by: ThinkProgress Justice Editor, Ian MillhiserOrder now: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indie Bound

Dear ThinkProgress Reader:

For the last five years, I’ve covered the Supreme Court for ThinkProgress. I’ve chronicled the justices’ decision to open the floodgates to corporate election spending, and I’ve reported on the rash of voter suppression laws that followed after the Court gutted the Voting Rights Act. I’ve shared your bewilderment when the Court held that a woman’s choice whether to use birth control could be given to her boss, and I’ve shared your terror at the prospect that the justices could rip health care away from millions of Americans.

Yet, as I explain in Injustices: The Supreme Court’s History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted, these cases are hardly anomalies in the Supreme Court’s history. To the contrary, the justices of the Supreme Court shaped a nation where children toiled in coal mines, where Americans could be forced into camps because of their race, and where a woman could be sterilized against her will by state officials. The Court was the midwife of Jim Crow, the right hand of union busters, and the dead hand of the Confederacy.

Injustices tells the history of the Supreme Court through the eyes of the people that it has hurt the most — the young people stripped of their childhoods, the freedmen forced into peonage, the men and women who will die needlessly if the Supreme Court guts Obamacare. In my coverage of the Court over at ThinkProgress, I’ve strived to provide clarity on what the law provides and how the justices should decide their cases in accordance with that law, but I’ve also strived to reach beyond arcane legal arguments to show how the Court’s decisions shape the lives of millions of Americans. I bring that same ethic to over 150 years of Supreme Court history in Injustices. I urge you to check it out.

Sincerely,
Ian Millhiser

Get It Here:
Amazon BarnesNoble IndieBound

* * *

“More than just an indictment of the Supreme Court, Injustices offers a stirring defense of the role government plays in bettering people’s lives-and a heartbreaking window into the lives that are ruined when the justices place their own agenda above the law.”

~Ted Strickland,
Former Ohio Governor and US Representative
Former President, Center for American Progress Action Fund

“A powerful critique of the Supreme Court, which shows that it has largely failed through American history to enforce the Constitution and to protect our rights. With great clarity and poignant human stories throughout, Ian Millhiser has written a book that all who are interested in American government and our legal system – which should be all of us – must read.”

~Erwin Chemerinsky,
Founding Dean & Distinguished Professor, UC Irving Law School

“Ian Millhiser’s Injustices is a powerful reminder that for most of its history, the Supreme Court has erred on the side of protecting the privilege and powers of America’s elites-and that it has so often done so by reading the Constitution upside-down. Millhiser has crafted an indictment of the Court’s treatment of workers, minorities, women, voters, and powerless groups, with a deeply researched grounding in history and the law. His dispiriting conclusion is a powerful reminder of how much the Court matters, and how much more it could be.”

~Dahlia Lithwick,
Senior Editor, Slate

In the Library … Dr Suess


Happy Birthday ! repost

dr.suessin 1904, Theodor Geisel, better known to the world as Dr. Seuss, the author and illustrator of such beloved children’s books as “The Cat in the Hat” and “Green Eggs and Ham,” is born in Springfield, Massachusetts. Geisel, who used his middle name (which was also his mother’s maiden name) as his pen name, wrote 48 books–including some for adults–that have sold well over 200 million copies and been translated into multiple languages. Dr. Seuss books are known for their whimsical rhymes and quirky characters, which have names like the Lorax and the Sneetches and live in places like Hooterville.

Geisel, who was born on March 2, 1904, in Springfield, Massachusetts, graduated from Dartmouth College, where he was editor of the school’s humor magazine, and studied at Oxford University. There he met Helen Palmer, his first wife and the person who encouraged him to become a professional illustrator. Back in America, Geisel worked as a cartoonist for a variety of magazines and in advertising.

The first children’s book that Geisel wrote and illustrated, “And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street,” was rejected by over two dozen publishers before making it into print in 1937. Geisel’s first bestseller, “The Cat in the Hat,” was published in 1957. The story of a mischievous cat in a tall striped hat came about after his publisher asked him to produce a book using 220 new-reader vocabulary words that could serve as an entertaining alternative to the school reading primers children found boring.

Other Dr. Seuss classics include “Yertle the Turtle,” “If I Ran the Circus,” “Fox in Socks” and “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.”

Some Dr. Seuss books tackled serious themes. “The Butter Battle Book” (1984) was about the arms buildup and nuclear war threat during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. “Lorax” (1971) dealt with the environment.

Many Dr. Seuss books have been adapted for television and film, including “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” and “Horton Hears a Who!” In 1990, Geisel published a book for adults titled “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” that became a hugely popular graduation gift for high school and college students.

Geisel, who lived and worked in an old observatory in La Jolla, California, known as “The Tower,” died September 24, 1991, at age 87.

Social Activist ~~ Grace Lee Boggs – in the Library


Grace Lee Boggs

Documentary in June

When Korean American filmmaker Grace Lee was growing up in Missouri, she was the only Grace Lee she knew. Once she left the Midwest however, everyone she met seemed to know “another Grace Lee.” But why did they assume that all Grace Lees were reserved, dutiful, piano-playing overachievers? The filmmaker plunges into a funny, highly unscientific investigation into all those Grace Lees who break the mold — from a fiery social activist to a rebel who tried to burn down her high school. With wit and charm, THE GRACE LEE PROJECT puts a hilarious spin on the eternal question, “What’s in a name?”

BUY NOW: DVDiTunes

Grace Lee Boggs

Music artist

Grace Lee Boggs is an author, lifelong social activist and feminist.

She is known for her years of political collaboration with C.L.R. James and Raya Dunayevskaya in the 1940s and 1950s.wikipedia.org

Black History Month

Terry McMillan excerpted in Essence 2008 … Black History is American History


AP

 

AP – FILE – In this Feb. 11, 2008 file photo, author Terry McMillan arrives to the Evidence Dance Company’s …

By HILLEL ITALIE, AP National Writer Hillel Italie, Ap National Writer Tue May 18, 6:29 am ET

NEW YORK – In honor of its 40th anniversary, Essence magazine is bringing back an old friend: Terry McMillan.

A few pages of excerpts from McMillan’s “Getting to Happy,” a sequel to her million-selling “Waiting to Exhale,” will appear in the next four issues of Essence, starting with the June edition, which came out this week. It’s a familiar place for McMillan, whose ties to the magazine date back to the 1970s, when she was in college and won an Essence writing contest.

“They’re like family,” McMillan, whose book comes out this fall, says of Essence, “and Essence readers have been a large part of my audience.”

Essence senior editor Patrik Henry Bass noted the magazine’s long support for black women writers, including Alice Walker, Toni Morrison and Gloria Naylor. When Essence started, Morrison’s debut novel, “The Bluest Eye,” had just been released. Walker was years away from writing “The Color Purple” and Toni Cade Bambara had yet to publish her first book.

“Nobody in the mainstream media was paying attention to these women,” Bass says.

“We wanted to do something special for the anniversary and when I heard that Terry was writing `Getting to Happy,’ I said, `Terry, what do you have so far? Could you do something original for us?’ And she said, `Well, I just finished the sequel and we thought, “Why not do excerpts?”‘ She couldn’t believe it, because so few people do excerpts anymore.”

McMillan’s “Waiting to Exhale,” published in 1992, tells of the personal and professional conflicts of four women living in Phoenix. The novel sold more than 1 million copies and is still cited as a landmark for convincing publishers of the large audience size for black fiction.

McMillan, whose other books include “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” and “The Interruption of Everything,” said she had no intention of writing a sequel to “Exhale” until she spoke at a church in Oakland, Calif., around a year ago. A resident of the Bay area, the author was still getting over her vicious, public feud with ex-husband Jonathan Plummer and read a poem about her experience.

“So these women responded big time to this poem, and there was this aura, women crying and all kinds of stuff. When it was time to sign books, there were women I had gone to college with, women who had been ex-professors, financial aid counselors. I spoke to them and realized how many of them had never been married, how many were divorced, how many never had children,” she says.

“I wanted to be able to dramatize that in some way. I didn’t want to tell just one woman’s story. And that’s when it dawned on me that I had four women I might be able to turn to. I got the paperback off the shelf and looked over it and said, `You know, they were the perfect candidates.'”

McMillan, 58, is a native of Port Huron, Mich., who, in 1987, self-published her first novel, “Mama.” She became a major best seller with “Disappearing Acts” and a superstar after “Waiting to Exhale.” Her appeal has long been her rough take on relationships, a knack that Essence seems to have appreciated long ago. The topic for the magazine’s writing contest: Are black men and women closer than they used to be, or further apart?