The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

October 1, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for September 30th through October 1st

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for September 30th through October 1st:

September 30, 2014
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Digest for September 30th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for September 30th from 12:09 to 13:57:

  • 5 Habits of Highly Compassionate Men – Having compassion leads to increased happiness, freedom from gender stereotypes and better relationships with others.
  • ‘Is That Your F-ing Boyfriend? – The biggest news story in Philly for the last few days has been the alleged hate crime against a gay couple downtown by a group of twentysomethings out on the town — except Pennsylvania doesn't have a hate crime law protecting LGBTs.
  • Brooklyn Brewery war correspondents: Philip Gourevitch on coverage of Africa. (VIDEO). – Africa’s postcolonial recovery and the problem with how it’s covered.
  • Why Are So Many Black Towns Run by White City Councils? – It's not simply because blacks don't want to vote.
  • We Need Another Eric Holder – The reality of Blacks living daily fearful of an overwhelmingly white police force has not gone away. Fear of black people by white police has not gone away. Calling such things "unrest," would mean all we need in the Attorney General's office is someone who is calm. Therefore, "Guilty of being black while walking," and "Guilty of being black by driving," are issues for the next Attorney General.
  • The war on high-school history classes is a whole new level of dumb | Jeb Lund – Colorados school board and the American conservative movement in general are trying to pretend history never happened
  • Screw the national anthem – After what happened in Ferguson, I can't pretend the promise of that song extends to a black man like me
  • Single Parents Want to Be Good Parents – The growing trend of having children outside of marriage is not likely to be reversed, writes Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution, who has been studying childhood poverty for years. She has reached the conclusion that it's time to face up to that fact and help all parents become good parents. The second lesson is that parenting skills must be taught early.

September 29, 2014
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Digest for September 29th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for September 29th from 10:51 to 11:37:

September 26, 2014
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Demanding Justice for Dead Young Black Men

What passes for justice in police shootings, and extra-legal shootings, of young black men neither satisfies nor inspires us to “trust the system.”

In response to the epidemic of police violence that’s taken the lives of Michael Brown, John Crawford, and countless others, a coalition including Join Hands Up United, Organization for Black Struggle, Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment plan a “Weekend of Resistance” in Ferguson, Missouri, October 10 – 13, to build momentum for a nationwide movement against police violence. News in three cases this week underscores the urgent need for such a movement. Continue Reading →

September 25, 2014
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Digest for September 25th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for September 25th from 15:18 to 15:23:

September 24, 2014
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Anger Is Still A Privilege in “Post-Racial” America

The New York Times caught hell for an article characterizing television producer Shonda Rhimes as an “angry black woman,” but anger is still privileged in “post-racial” America.

The only thing more shocking than Alessandra Stanley’s New York Times article that called Shonda Rhimes — creator of hit television shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal” — an “angry black woman,” is that the piece made it into print without anyone at the New York Times realizing how offensive it would be. Stanley even described Viola Davis, star of Rhimes’ latest show “How To Get Away With Murder,” as “less classically beautiful” than lighter-skinned actresses like Kerry Washington or Halle Berry. Still, nothing raised red flags for Times editors? Not even after the “no angel” controversy?


It’s shocking, but not surprising. Much has changed in “post-racial” America, but just as much hasn’t changed. Continue Reading →

September 23, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for September 23rd

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for September 23rd from 11:51 to 16:43:

September 22, 2014
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Digest for September 22nd

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for September 22nd from 13:27 to 13:33:

    • GOP Defrauds Voters – The GOP is working desperately to deny the right to vote to citizens it doesn’t like. You know, poor people, black people, Hispanic people, old people, female people, especially people it believes are inclined to vote for Democrats.


September 19, 2014
by terrance
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Wingnut Week In Review: Return To the “Appalachian Trail”

With one bizarre Facebook post Rep. Mark Sanford (R, SC) dis-engaged his “Appalachian Trail” “soulmate,” and went from comeback kid to punchline. And that’s not even the crazy part.

Dumping someone via Facebook isn’t new. Countless teenagers do it every day. It’s just not something you’d expect from a grown man. Then again, Mark Sanford doesn’t do the expected. Back in 2009, nobody expected then South Carolina governor Mark Sanford to go MIA for more than four days over Father’s Day weekend, leaving his hapless staff to tell the media that Sanford was “hiking the Appalachian Trail.” Continue Reading →

September 18, 2014
by terrance
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Beyond Ferguson: Ending Racial Profiling In America

America must stop “following tragedy with embarrassment,” and pass the End Racial Profiling Act, before the next city that’s “one dead black teenager away from burning to the ground” catches fire.

“How many more Michael Browns will we have?”, Sen. Ben Cardin (D, Maryland) asked, at the “Ferguson and Beyond – Profiling in America” briefing on Tuesday morning. “How many more Trayvon Martins? We all know racial profiling is un-American and wrong. We also know that it is a waste of time and resources. We know it turns communities against law enforcement. But we also know it can be deadly, and therefore has to end,” Cardin said. (Full video of the briefing is available on YouTube.) Continue Reading →

September 17, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for September 17th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for September 17th from 15:18 to 15:25:

September 16, 2014
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Young, Black, And Guilty Until Proven Innocent

The New York Times informed us that Michael Brown was “no angel.” When to be young and black is to be guilty until proven innocent, black children must be “angelic” just to be worthy of living.

The Times initially defended its “no angel” assessment of Michael Brown’s young life, which ran on the day of Brown’s funeral. National Editor Allison Mitchell said the description connected to the lead paragraph about a moment when Brown thought he saw an angel, and that the article would have been written the same way if it had been about a young white man in the same situation.

The Times eventually apologized, but the article is typical of a media pattern of treating white suspects and killers better than black victims. The pattern was so evident in the media narratives around Brown’s death, that black Twitter users responded by posting side-by-side pictures of themselves under the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, to underscore the power of the images media uses to portray black victims.

The ritual now follows every police killing — or extra-legal killing — of an unarmed black male. It starts with the formation of a narrative against the victim, as when rumors that Trayvon Martin stole the candy and iced tea found near his body spread across social media. Even video footage of Martin making his final purchase couldn’t quell rumors of his criminality. Martin’s suspension from school, marijuana use, and social media profiles became fodder to “prove” that he must have deserved to die as he did.

In Michael Brown’s case, the ritual began when Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson named Darren Wilson as the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, while simultaneously releasing video of Brown’s alleged “strong-arm robbery” at a local store moments before his death.

The construction of the narrative against Michael Brown was laid bare when the store’s owners disputed Jackson’s claims. Their attorney stated that neither the owners nor any store employee reported a robbery. (A customer inside the store called 911.) The attorney also said that any alleged theft had nothing to do with Wilson shooting and killing Michael Brown. After a barrage of criticism, Chief Jackson admitted that the alleged robbery was “not related to the initial contact” between Brown and Wilson.

Jackson said he released the video because “the press asked for it” and couldn’t withhold it indefinitely. Police came looking for the store’s surveillance video almost a week after Brown’s death, and withheld at least part of it.

Much later, the unedited surveillance video surfaced, which showed Brown appearing to pay for some items. At the register, Brown seems to realize that he doesn’t have enough money, and appears to put some items back. This prompts the cashier to step from behind the counter, apparently with Brown’s cash in hand, leading to the shoving confrontation in the video clip and still photos that Chief Jackson did release.

More recent revelations cast doubt on a narrative designed to frame Brown as a violent “thug.”

The ritual begins robbing black children of their innocence in early childhood. Research shows that people — including police officers — see black children as less innocent and less young than white children. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, showed that black boys as young as 10 are more likely than white boys to be mistaken as older, perceived as guilty, and face police violence if accused of a crime.

The school-to-prison pipeline begins in preschool, where black students are disciplined more harshly than their white classmates.

  • Though they make up 18 percent of students, black children account for 35 percent of one-time suspensions, 46 percent of multiple suspensions, and 39 percent of expulsions.
  • One in five black boys, and more than one in ten black girls have received out-of-school suspension.
  • Overall, black students are 3.5 times more likely to be expelled than white students.
  • In districts with “zero tolerance” policies, black and Hispanic students make up 45 percent of students, but 56 percent of expulsions.

Research identifies discrimination as the source of disparity in punishments, and shows that “[e]ven when they commit the exact same offense as white students, black students suffer more severe consequences.”

Michael Brown’s 98-percent-black high school seems to reflect these dismal statistics, with a suspension rate nearly 4 times the national rate of 11 percent. In 2011, nearly 45 percent of students were suspended. Against these odds, Michael Brown managed to graduate, and would have started college in a few days.

Instead, Michael Brown became just one more young black man killed by police, and posthumously judged guilty until proven “angelic.”

September 15, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for September 15th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for September 15th from 13:34 to 13:37:

September 11, 2014
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Digest for September 11th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for September 11th from 10:33 to 12:13:

September 11, 2014
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Repost: Gay Americans & 9/11: On A Queer Day

This is, of course, a day of remembrances. There are a handful of historic events so far-reaching that they touch just about every living person old enough to have even the vaguest understanding of their significance, and qualify as a universally shared experience — like the attacks on September 11, 2001.

If you were alive then, you probably know where you were and what you were doing when the you heard the first news reports. You probably remember the moment it dawned on you what was really happening. You remember the moment when you realized that nothing would ever be the same; when you realized that things would never be quite the same as they were when you woke up that morning. For all of us, in the span of a few minutes, life crossed over some invisible boundary that would divide our lives and our shared history into “before” and “after.” That was the moment everything became “post-9/11.”

Continue Reading →

September 10, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for September 10th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for September 10th from 15:28 to 16:52:

September 10, 2014
by terrance
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“Put A Ring On It” Is Not An Anti-Poverty Program.

Conservatives say marriage is the “ultimate anti-poverty program,” and claim that most of our economic woes would vanish if more people got hitched. A new study suggests marriage barely makes a dent in poverty.

Golden bond
Photo via Abhishek Jacob
@ Flickr.

Rubio and Ryan are two sides of the same counterfeit coin on poverty. One is “a classic exercise of confusing correlation with causation,” that generalizes a relationship between marriage and poverty from a single statistic. The other uses that generalization to moralize about “culture” and “character,” and blame the poor for their condition.

A new analysis, by Kimberly Howard and Richard V. Reeves at the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution, suggests that conservatives are wrong about how much marriage actually impacts poverty. Howard and Reeves peer far deeper into the “marriage gap” than Rubio or Ryan, and come up with much more thoughtful answers.

Starting with data showing that children raised by married parents tend to do better all around, Howard and Reeves ask further questions where conservatives rely on magical thinking.

But it is important to try and understand why the children of married parents do better. Is it simply because they have, on average, higher family incomes? (Two earners are better than one, and one household is cheaper to run than two.) Or are two committed spouses better able to provide consistent parenting? Is it marriage itself that matters, or is marriage the visible expression of other factors, that are the true cause of different outcomes? And if so, which ones?

The reasons why children of married parents are more successful are complicated, but it Howard and Reeves find those benefits come from two principal sources.

The Income Effect

Howard and Reeves note that people with bachelor’s degrees are more likely to get married and stay married — and tend to earn more — than those with less education.

How important is income? Assuming that both parents work, marriage means more household income. Thus, conservatives conclude, marriage makes poverty less likely.

Children who grow up with married parents rank about 14 percent higher on income distribution as adults than those who don’t. Howard and Reeves controlled for family income throughout childhood and discovered that taking income out of the equation shrinks that “marriage gap” from 14 to 9 percent. Factoring in “parenting behavior, maternal education, race, and maternal age,” shrinks the gap even further — to just 4.5 percent.

The “marriage effect” is more of an income effect, Howard and Reeves write, “reflecting the benefits of having more money for children’s development, such as better nutrition, better schools, and safer neighborhoods.”

The Parent Effect

The parent effect is harder to measure. Howard and Reeves note that the same traits and characteristics that support marriage are likely to support the “emotional support and cognitive stimulation” children receive from their parents. Thus, people who commit to each other in marriage are more likely to be committed to raising their children. When parenting behavior is factored in, the “marriage gap” shrinks from 14 percent to 7.5 percent.

The parent effect is also probably an extension of the income effect. Not only do educated parents earn more, but they’re likely to have more time to be engaged with their children. They’re more likely than less educated, lower income parents to have jobs with regular hours and weekends off.

Promote Parenting, Not Marriage

Marriage licenses and wedding bands are not a magic “cure” for poverty. As I wrote earlier, conservatives like Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio get it backwards on families and poverty. It’s poverty that causes the “breakdown” of many families, not the other way around.

There’s a reason why educated people with higher incomes are more likely to get married and stay married. A 2012 Brookings Institute report revealed a strong correlation between income and marriage. Labor market changes — unemployment, wage stagnation, etc. — have led to a steep decline in marriage rates for low-income Americans. To borrow from 80s R&B singer Gwen Guthrie and reigning pop goddess Beyonce, “you’ve got to have a j-o-b” before you can “put a ring on it.”

Howard and Reeves recommend a public policy shift towards promoting parenting. They stop short of offering specific proposals beyond “policies to increase the incomes of unmarried parents, especially single parents, and to help parents to improve their parenting skills.”

Those are good places to start, and there are a number of policy proposals that can help us get there.

  • Livable Wages. More than seven million American children have parents who earn minimum wage. Increasing the minimum wage would further narrow the income gap.
  • Equal Pay. In four out of ten households, the primary breadwinner is a woman. Paycheck fairness would further narrow the income gap.
  • Subsidized Childcare. Assisting parents with childcare costs would make it easier for parents to work, and fewer low-income parents would go to jail for being too poor to afford childcare.
  • Paid Sick Leave. About forty million workers lack paid sick leave. Guaranteeing paid sick leave would increase both family engagement and productivity — because sick workers who stay at home don’t infect their co-workers.
  • Paid Family Leave. No American workers are guaranteed paid maternal or paternal leave. Guaranteeing parents paid leave to care for and bond with their new additions promotes engaged parenting.

Marriage itself doesn’t do much to alleviate poverty, Creating a family-friendly economy can do that, plus a whole lot more.