[Note: This entry may undergo some changes in the coming days.—dbc, 8 September 2017]
On behalf of myself and the Harris County Green Party, I would like to apologize for being late to the post-hurricane party. Every group with a web presence, in Southeast Texas and elsewhere, political and otherwise, has posted condolences to the millions affected. Several of us have been busy creating yard sculptures made from waterlogged furnishings and trash bags stuffed with moldering possessions, whether our own or those of friends and relatives.
On a personal note, I have wanted to write something on this site for more than a week, but I have been busy—helping others when I could, just surviving otherwise—and more than a little emotionally overwhelmed.
At least our state co-chair Wes Gaige has posted something to point people toward hurricane relief.
Now that the rivers and bayous are mostly back within their natural banks, while Hurricane Irma thrashes the Caribbean and bears down on Florida, it is fitting that one of our group post something here. In keeping with Green traditions, it will not be just the usual "thoughts & prayers are with you" platitudes. It will be about continuing problems and too-long-deferred solutions.Read more
Most people engaged in progressive politics despair at the difficulty of convincing Joe Average to get involved, to take action against oppression. We all seem to want the same things...income and wealth equality, racial equality, women’s rights, fair and decent pay, safe cities and communities, a healthy planet...the list goes on and on. Getting people on board with the message should be easy because, even if our lists are in different orders of importance, we know that the bottom line is human rights, peace, and respect.
We are hampered in our fight because so many have become so desperate and enraged. The channels of disinformation are so overpowering that they honestly don’t know whom to believe. So, these people—our friends, neighbors, community members, colleagues—choose to vote for politicians who are enacting legislation that will have negative impacts on their lives. Or they’re not voting, claiming that all politicians are the same.
We see this happen, and as activists, we are frustrated. We keep having to fight for the same issues. We gain ground on one hand and lose it on the other. We despair because we are unable to get people to fight for their own rights. Their sense of powerlessness holds us all back and is dooming us to more of the same.Read more
Several members of the Steering Committee of the Harris County Green Party, along with other HCGP members, wish to make known their dismay over the current controversy at Houston's Pacifica affiliate KPFT 90.1 FM. Pacifica is recognized as the only national network providing news and public affairs programming from a progressive or radical perspective, and KPFT has filled that niche in Houston since 1970.
Last week, the Pacifica Foundation's interim executive director, Bill Crosier of Houston, fired the interim general manager and three other staff members. Beyond that, the facts of the situation are themselves controversial, with different stories emerging from those involved, as are theories regarding the motivation for the firings. Crosier selected longtime KPFT programmer Larry Winters to replace him.
The details of the situation change daily, such as which individuals and groups are pursuing what sort of remedy; as of today (21 July), the central fact of Dr. Kamau's dismissal remains. Various parties involved in the dispute will gather at the S.H.A.P.E. Community Center's Harambee Building, 3903 Almeda Road, this evening at 7 pm. Crosier will not be present.Read more
This week's installment of Greenwatch TV will feature Dr. Obidike Kamau, longtime programmer at KPFT 90.1 FM, Pacifica Radio. Kamau will discuss his recent, highly controversial dismissal from the position of interim General Manager of the listener-supported station. The firing came after only three months at the helm, following the latest of many unsuccessful on-air fund drives, amid financial difficulties for the entire Pacifica network. Programmers and members of the Local Station Board have lodged protests against the decision to fire the station's first African-American GM so soon.Read more
By the term adultism, I mean treating children and young people with less than full respect for their humanity. That this is a problem in our culture should be clear enough from the fact that children are the only humans in the society who can be hit with impunity—and indeed, adults are encouraged to do so as a way of seeing to it that they "learn right from wrong," learn to respect their elders," cease their "bad behavior." The practice is so prevalent and accepted in our culture that nearly 90% of people surveyed will tell you that a little spanking is necessary every now and then, to "maintain discipline."Read more
This new website has a bit of a learning curve to it. One of the things we have to learn is recognizing opportunities to post information about community events. Two such events have come to this author's attention in recent days, and they are happening very soon.
In particular, you can attend an event this Saturday morning, 1 July, with Rep. Al Green on the subject of protecting Medicaid from the threatened cuts. Green will appear at the Crowne Plaza near NRG Park from 10:30 am until noon. If you can't make it to that, try the town hall next Saturday morning (8 July) at the IBEW offices on the North Loop, hosted by a coalition of progressive groups.Read more
The New York Times apparently considered the park's reopening worthy of coverage. Excellent. It's that and more. (The Times has a paywall, but you get limited free views per month.)
Along with the reopening of the splendidly refurbished park, Emancipation Avenue got its official debut. The air was all abuzz with expectations of an economic revival along the former Dowling Street corridor, preferably without a lot of big chain stores and fast-food joints. For longtime Inner Loopers, the challenge now is not to "dead-name" Emancipation Avenue, which is no longer named after a Confederate general.
Reactions: Generally Positive
Bernadine also took care to ask visitors what political issue or issues are most important to them. This is something the Green Party likes to think it does well: listening to people. While quite a few of us are really good at expressing our opinions, we tend to place less emphasis on listening to others' and are less adept at it than we should be. Listening to voters' concerns was a big part of Jill Stein's exploratory tour in 2015, before she announced her candidacy for president.
Those to whom we talked and listened, by and large, agreed that neither major party is working for them, and that our nation needs other choices. During the four hours I spent there, not one person indignantly defended the Democratic Party, the default political home of African American voters in the South since the 1960s and in other parts since the New Deal.
In the Black Caucus handout that she created, Bernadine placed "Reparations to African-Americans and Native Americans" first among the positions the Green Party supports. "Universal Healthcare" lies just below that. I was pleased to see that our table was placed right next to that of Health Care for All Texas, since Greens tend to be passionate about that issue.
Greens can certainly distinguish themselves from the major parties—and most of the minor ones—in their party's support for reparations for African and Indigenous Americans. We can debate about what form those reparations will take, and at what cost, but mere apologies for centuries of slavery and genocide are not enough.
The question of reparations brought to mind the HCGP meeting in 2001 (IIRC), at which a guest speaker addressed the topic. We were using the phrase "reparations for slavery" in those days. The Greens gathered in the library that evening for far from unanimous, but a majority were in favor of recompense for the descendants of the millions enslaved or killed, and of those subsequently impoverished through state and federal policies.
Regarding our African American neighbors, it's much more than slavery, of course. It's the millions who didn't survive the Middle Passage. It's the never-realized promise of "40 acres and a mule." It's redlining. It's school segregation. It's discrimination in employment. It's mass incarceration, mostly for drug offenses, for buying and selling drugs supplied by the white establishment.
Revival Eventually—without Gentrification, Please
Also near our table in the corner of the room were two tables staffed by one woman named Mackenzie (sorry, didn't get her last name): one for Project Row Houses and one for Emancipation Economic Development Council.
The Times piece linked above reflects locals' misgivings about what shape a revival of Houston's "Black Main Street" might take. The quote below is about the park itself, but it could easily be applied to the redevelopment efforts along Emancipation Avenue. These people have seen what passes for "growth" in other neighborhoods: affordable older homes bulldozed and replaced by $400,000 lofts, locally owned businesses giving way to CVS and Mickey D's, etc.
Initially, there was some skepticism in Third Ward about the renovation, especially given the influx of wealthier, often white residents who have been filling up new townhouse developments over the past few years, attracted by the relatively cheap home prices and proximity to downtown.
Make it work, EEDC. Use that Kinder Foundation money for all the good you can squeeze out of it. Then we can move on to reviving some other neighborhoods, like Bernadine's Sunnyside.
An extraordinary event happened in Austin on January 31 of this year, a day when people from the Muslim community throughout Texas went to the capitol .Read more