Rss

Archives for : civil rights

Thank you Julian Bond

Thank you Mr. Bond

Today was going to be a funny post day. Then we lost one of my personal favorite civil rights leaders. I read his biography at 10 years old, I got to meet him twice in my life, both times thanks to participating in NAACP’s Act-So Competition. I wish I had a ton to say today. But Julian Bond’s legend was fully conceptualized when I was in pampers watching sesame street. So I’m going to do something different than talk about my experiences, gush about his awesome achievements, or say why he needs to be more well-known to today’s youth.

I’m going to giveaway 3 copies of his Biography Julian Bond: Black Rebel. To enter the contest just give me one page about your favorite civil rights figure. Any civil rights figure from any country on the planet. Email me at yourruthlesswonder@gmail.com with the subject line “They Fought for me”

It can be any one from any time in human history, and from any location on the planet. This will run until September 8th, 2015. The winners will be announced here on WDDIJ and all of our other locations, and then we will contact you for shipping information.

Enter because you love reading. Enter because you fight for civil rights. Enter because you want a child to have the experience I once had. Enter because you like prizes. Honestly, I’m doing this sort of on the fly, because I feel like this is a good way to honor Mr. Bond. So enter. Good luck.

I could say a lot more. But my words will never do Mr. Bond justice. I will simply say Rest In Peace. And Thank you.

– The Ruthless Wonder

Lesson 5: History is a Teacher. Learn from the Past

There are so many quotes out there about learning from the past to protect the future. Whether its on a global or local scale, the idea is the same: “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Its an important lesson, but not one that I’m going to drag out too much, because, like I said, there’s a lot out there on the subject.

History ComicIn politics, people who lost previously get to run all over again, sometimes claiming a new set of ideals, or denying the ones they claimed the last time, and the general public eats it up, they get votes or at the very least undue attention in spite of their history. In relationships, cheaters and beaters get undeserved second and third chances presumably because they changed or an underlying issue got resolved. There are those who find themselves trying so hard to avoid their pasts that they forget to make the necessary changes that would save them from making the same mistakes. The past; the history, is forgotten. We have such short memories.

The history of racial injustice that this nation was built upon is an excellent example of history lessons that weren’t learned. White people–in general–haven’t accepted their role as it relates to the present state of racial relations. They say things about not seeing race, or racism not being “a thing”… They lean on skewed statistics to support the idea that blacks are prone to crime, violence, and sexual deviance… Simba's History Lessonas if this entire nation wasn’t stolen from an indigenous people who were murdered and raped into endangerment… meanwhile, children of color are criminalized, cities burn, unemployment rates climb, local governments choose to fund prisons instead of schools, and the cycle of injustice continues. Black people–in general–forget that the civil rights movement didn’t make strides because of negro efforts alone. We forget that there is more to black culture than rap music, slang, and beautifully thick kinky hair. Our children remain under and miseducated; having forgotten that the reason slavery lasted so long was because things like education and reading were reserved for whites only. And even with having the freedom to learn and be educated, we still act as if literacy and proper grammar is still reserved for whites, and uppity negroes trying to “act white.” We cannot move forward as a nation because there are too many lessons that haven’t been learned.

So what happens when people learn from history? People abandon their vices; having learned that to remain addicted will cost them their family and their life. The abused leave their abusers; having learned that no amount of sorry will unbreak their ribs. Relationships thrive because people remember why their last relationships failed, they put in the effort to improve themselves, and make sure they don’t fall back into bad habits. Sacrifices are made. Laws are written. Constitutions are amended. The general public is put on notices that there are inalienable rights that will no longer be denied. Slavery is abolished. Women get to vote. Labor unions are established. The disabled get to work. The LGBTQ community can marry. Freedom rings across the land. So much is possible when we use history as a teacher… and, of course, if we Do More & Require Better.

WDDIJ Presents The Justice League: Elite Law Schools Can Do What They Want

Elite Law Schools Can Do What They Want

It’s my final year of law school and I had just finished my last final exam for the fall semester. Four exams filled with utter misery, confusing hypotheticals and might I add, law- professor- created exams with typos (and they say how important exams are). It was Friday night and I felt like I just got paid but I didn’t. I was completely exhausted from studying and working and working and studying.

So naturally, after exams I went out for celebratory drinks with a fellow law student as we bitched and complained and drank whiskey until about 4 am on Saturday morning. I crashed and woke up at 11:00 am and looked over at the alarm clock and realized that I had missed the bus heading to the Justice for All March on Washington calling for justice for Mike Brown, Eric Garner and the countless other Black men who had been killed at the hands of police officers-of which has lead to zero indictments returned by State grand juries. As I opened my eyes, the first thought that came to my mind was: “ I really wish I would have gotten accepted to Harvard!”

For those of you who have been under a rock for the last several weeks, let me set the stage.
Columbia University Law School has allowed its students to reschedule their exams if they feel traumatized by the recent grand jury decisions in the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases. According to the school’s interim dean, Robert E. Scott

“The grand juries’ determinations to return non-indictments in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases have shaken the faith of some in the integrity of the grand jury system and in the law more generally,” Mr. Scott’s letter said. “For some law students, particularly, though not only, students of color, this chain of events is all the more profound as it threatens to undermine a sense that the law is a fundamental pillar of society designed to protect fairness, due process and equality.”

Once Harvard and Georgetown got a whiff of the news, they too, allowed their students to take exam extensions and the news sparked a rage among legal scholars, law students and legal social media went amok.

CONTROVERSIAL ALERT: THE ARGUMENTS PROCEED AS FOLLOWS!

Opponents of this policy say: Who do these students think they are by requesting an exam extension because they were so-called traumatized? I went to law school during heavy political tensions and I still took exams! And how does one measure “traumatization” in this matter? Is it based on race- Participation in protests? This is not fair!

Proponents say: Law School is (allegedly) designed to promote justice and create notions of fairness in grey areas of the law that are tainted with injustice. Law Schools have a duty to create social engineers and pioneers who have a primary goal of making the legal system operate more effectively and more efficiently. So why not?

So here is my humble opinion.

Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Cheers to Harvard and Columbia and Georgetown law schools who are attempting to make a legal education worth it again because 99% of law schools, like 99% of laws are not adjusting to the changing climate and people are getting pissed off!

Which Reminds Me.
***NewsFlash***
Law School Exams are No Longer Relevant

The hardest part about law school is getting in. The 2nd hardest part about law school is the first year. After that, law schools really need to relax the role of the final exam because it adds nothing greater to a law student’s life. It doesn’t make a better lawyer or even prepare students for the bar exam. It is set in place because law schools are not willing to transform their curriculum in a real and practical way so they continue to apply the same old traditional norms that are no longer applicable to modern day society.

Harvard and some of the other Elite schools have already taken a stance on the one exam grade issue and has eliminated grades altogether giving students a High Pass (HP); Pass (P); Low Pass (P) and Fail (F). Now, of course everyone wants the HP-but the message is clear that if you get into Harvard Law- Harvard Law has your back! Once a student is accepted to these Ivy League schools-there is a rebuttable presumption that the school’s name alone will carry them where they need to go-not how well they did on a Torts Exam.

Exams, arguably are for first year students and should be revisited after graduation but before the BAR exam. One does not NEED exam after exam to become an effective lawyer (or advocate or CEO or whatever other reasons people go to law school). But one NEEDS to advocate and stand for something-particularly justice.

Now, do I think that some students will totally exploit this opportunity arguing that they are apart of the so-called traumatized group, meanwhile are home buying more time to study? Of Course I do. But who cares-its Harvard-Its Columbia and-Its Georgetown! These are the students that will be the next Supreme Court Justices and heads of government anyway. They need to understand how the political climate changes the law and they need to be apart of the process. The future Obamas of the country will not remember exam questions when they are sitting in office but they will undoubtedly remember the day Darren Wilson was not indicted and the country proceeded in uproar. Exams, in such cases, are superfluous. They really don’t matter. I’m just jealous that I didn’t have that same opoportunity to postpone my exams but the applause remains. The Elite law schools just keep winning.

Politics & You: Shots Fired At Affirmative Action

Yesterday, the Supreme Court upheld Michigan’s ban on Affirmative Action. While I understand that when most of think about Affirmative Action, we think about how it “forces” potential employers to have a certain amount of percentage of their employee population belong to racial and ethnic groups other then White, and to include a specific percentage of women. But what is it really? Of course there are many resources you can use for your own research on the matter, but as always, I prefer to start simple. And with respect to the simple route, by definition, Affirmative Action is:

“(noun) an action or policy favoring those who tend to suffer from discrimination, especially in relation to employment or education; positive discrimination.”

Pretty simple right? Now let’s talk about the history of Affirmative Action so you can be fully informed about why this is such an important part of American history and how we interact with each other in our diverse, global community.

Once upon a time Black people were slaves and considered only partially human and thus undeserving of rights, and women were thought of as a man’s property–whether her father or her husband–to be governed and lead because she was too weak physically and mentally to do much more than bear children and “keep house.” Then, Black people weren’t slaves and were considered wholly human, and women were suddenly acknowledged and intelligent people and both could do things like read, work and vote. Hooray for personhood right?

Well, as it turns out, just because the law suddenly acknowledges a given set of facts, doesn’t mean that individuals will follow suit. When non-Whites and women applied for things like college and jobs, more often than not, a White man would be chosen for the position. The perception hadn’t caught up with the politics. People, the individuals in charge of making hiring decisions still thought of non-Whites and women as unintelligent, lazy, and unqualified solely based on race and genitalia. It was because of this that one President after another issued Executive orders requiring branches of government and institutions in the public and private sectors to get with the times. Of course this is a gross simplification of the story, and you are welcome to avail yourselves of a more detailed version of it, but I really must get to the point.

I’ve always been torn on the issue of Affirmative Action; arguing that I’d rather know that I was hired because I was the most qualified applicant for a job than just because I might fill some quota. On the other hand, I have to live in the world that we have, and not the one I wish we had. The reality is that We are all judged, both<> on October 10, 2012 in Washington, DC. positively and negatively, by our appearance first. For example, the first thing anyone will see and observe about me is that I am Black, the second is that I am female. The content of my character—as is always brought up in this argument—is not apparent at first glance, and unfortunately, by the time an admissions counselor might have occasion to see passed the color of my skin or my gender, they will have already made several judgments and assumptions about my character, one of which will likely include my not being who I represent myself as in their presence. They will have already decided what kind of student I will be, how far I’ll be allowed to achieve and what kind of representative of their student body I might make. They’ll have made assumptions about my interests and tastes, my comportment, social and socio-economic standing, and how far I will be willing to go to achieve the goals (if they believe I have goals at all) I have set  for myself. They will have created an entire story, a whole alternate reality about who I am and what I’m about within the first 3-5 seconds of meeting me or seeing my picture. Such is the world we live in.

Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor explained the folly of having upheld the ruling in her dissent (it starts on page 51) yesterday, wherein she said:

“While our Constitution does not guarantee minority groups victory in the political process, it does guarantee them meaningful and equal access to that process. It guarantees that the majority may not win by stacking the political process against minority groups permanently, forcing the minority alone to surmount unique obstacles in pursuit of its goals–her, educational diversity that cannot reasonably be accomplished through race-neutral measures. Today, by permitting a majority of voters in Michigan to do what our Constitution forbids, the Court ends the debate over race-sensitive admissions policies in Michigan in a manner that contravenes constitutional protections long recognized in our precedents…

… Today’s decision eviscerates an important strand of our equal protection jurisprudence. For members of historically marginalized groups, which rely on the federal courts to protect their constitutional rights, the decision can hardly bolster hope for a vision of democracy the preserves for all the right to participate meaningfully and equally in self-government.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWcvD73sz_E?rel=0&w=420&h=315]

Her 58-paged fact-filled, passionate dissent is the reason why I think it important to remember that we cannot afford to allow ourselves to wallow in complacency. Our so-called “post-racial America” is actively–however slowly–regressing to a state where equity and civil rights will be the punch lines of jokes told by a privileged few. Even more unfortunate, I don’t believe that the injustice will stop with non-Whites and women. I believe that if we fail to act labor laws, access to a quality education, wage restrictions, the costs and standard of living and all manner of the proverbial “glass ceiling” limitations will take hold and plunge us all into the kinds of unpleasant situations that have other nations at war with their governments.

Before you change the channel, I am neither calling for civil war, nor am I taking one of those extremist views that we’re all going to be back on plantations and sweat shops. I am however saying that if we don’t start paying attention to the seemingly small victories that the proponents of a ruling top 2% . I am suggesting that we not allow our civil rights and liberties be taken from us one legislative action at a time. I’m saying that we need to learn about and remember our history such that we might avoid repeating it.

Your homework: look into your local government’s proposed or recently passed legislative actions. Does it help or harm your community’s potential for growth and prosperity? Who proposed it? Are they up for reelection? Share your findings with the class and tell us what you want to do about it.

Together, we can effect change… but only once we’ve acknowledged that change is necessary.