Posts tagged Hot Topic
How the Movement for Reparations Can Inform the Movement for Housing Justice

Part 1 of this post, “What is Reparations?,” illustrates the amplified discussion around reparations today as a part of a historic movement of grassroots political organizing for Black liberation. The visions of these movements involved the creation and strengthening of Black political and economic institutions to provide the foundation for a new society not predicated on the exploitation and theft of Black labor and resources. Closely related to the reparations movement, the movement for housing and land justice is steadily gaining momentum across the United States. Because housing policy and markets are one of the key avenues through which white people have accumulated (and continue to accumulate) wealth, it is crucial that movements for housing justice emphasize how our economy, namely the housing and real estate market, is structured by racism. In this section I will explore how the reparations movement can inform anti-racist organizing for housing justice and our understanding of the nationwide affordable housing crisis. 

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What Is Reparations?

In June, Congress held a hearing about reparations, amidst a record-breaking number of Democratic presidential candidates on the campaign trail expressing support for a reparations bill. The current bill in Congress, “H.R. 40,” would establish a commission to study and consider a proposal for reparations for slavery and later forms of Black oppression, such as Jim Crow and mass incarceration. Though Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee has spearheaded the legislative initiative this year, the bill was first introduced in Congress thirty years ago by Michigan Rep. John Conyers. And the idea of reparations for Black America is far from new; in fact, it goes back centuries, since before the legal end of slavery when individual slaves petitioned for, and in some cases were granted, restitution for their stolen labor. Reparations can also refer to other historical debts and injustices such as Western imperialism or the internment of Japanese Americans. However, here I will focus on reparations for Black America.

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Do Discussion Groups Still Matter?

Something special happened in Oakland in June 1986. Three Black men wanted to do something about the isolation often faced by gay men like themselves. They met, and that meeting planted the seed for a group called Black Gay Men United (BGMU). Each of them, in turn, invited three of their friends to the next meeting. Within months, the group had a steady core of 15 to 18 men who met each month. I was one of those men.

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Fulton County Eviction Crisis

Fulton County has one of the highest eviction rates in the country, with approximately 800 tenants receiving an eviction notice every week, one in five over the course of a year, or 109 every day. In the 30291, 30337 and 30331 zip codes, which include Union City, College Park, and areas just west of Atlanta, eviction rates have gone above 40 percent.

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Striking Vipers

On June 5th, 2019, Netflix dropped the fifth season of its dark anthology series, Black Mirror, to eager audiences, myself included. Due to a new job and other extraneous forces, though, I couldn’t devour the three-episode season in one sitting like I would with previous ones. However, the episode titled “Striking Vipers” kept popping up in many of my remaining social media feeds, provoking in-depth discussion among those who had seen it. When I did finally get to the episode, I was left with metaphorical blue balls at what had just transpired on my screen.

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The Curious Case of Tevin Campbell

Cover Photo: T.E.V.I.N. album cover

Thirty-years ago this year, the world was introduced to the elastic, richly textured instrument of one Mr. Tevin Campbell. Shepherded into the offices of Warner Bros. Records by jazz pioneer Bobbi Humphrey and signed by Warner Bros. renowned Senior Vice President of Black Music, Benny Medina, the then-12-year-old singer would be launched into the public consciousness by no less than the iconic Quincy Jones. If that start wasn’t impressive enough, Campbell’s 1989 debut single with Jones would eventually become a #1 hit on the Billboard R&B charts, “Tomorrow (A Better You, Better Me),” somewhere around the same time Campbell was just turning 14. Partially driven by a single that would, for a time, be a hallmark in the graduation auditoriums of schools, teen talent shows, and youth choirs in churches across America, Back on the Block would go on to win the Grammy for Album of the Year.

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The Magic of Basements and Living Rooms

Overlooking a sparkling spring view of the Atlantic Ocean from a Fort Lauderdale hotel penthouse floor, I sat among an intimate group of activists and community service workers talking about art as activism and what makes that potentially igniting mix possible when it strikes. Several minutes deep into this discussion, we began exploring the idea of something that seems obvious when talking about it now but felt like a profound bit of news to us as we unpacked what the boom-bust history of movements had in common with one another when they each began. For instance, what did the works of Black women writers in the ‘70s that formed a new era in Black women’s fiction have in common with the ‘20s and ‘30s-era Harlem Renaissance workers who peopled Wallace Thurman’s “Niggerati Manor” in New York, many who’d go on to create the iconically single-issued Fire?

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Another Soldier Gone…

I have a funeral Saturday. His name is Nathan D. Strickland, Jr. He was 28-years-old. After a lengthy battle, one I truly believed he’d survive, he “suddenly” succumbed to cancer. His marks the first death I’ve had in 2019 of a Black man, a fellow brother. He will not be my last. Last year, I experienced the deaths of 20 Black men. Last year I experienced the deaths of 20 Black men. Last year I experienced the death of 20 Black men. This stuttered trifecta of trauma was not a typo. It’s a weight that needs to be restated to be felt, to be heard, to be understood.

Listen.

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CNP Statement on the Second Death of a Black Man Found at the Home Of Ed Buck

January 8, 2019 – Atlanta, GA – News outlets are reporting that the body of another black man has been found at the home of Ed Buck on January 7th. His name has not been released. Only a picture of his body on a gurney. In 2017 the body of Gemmel Moore, a young black gay man, had also been found at Buck’s home. Buck was investigated, but the L.A. County District Attorney’s office declined to file charges. In less than two years, two black men are dead, and Buck is free.

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To Black Fathers, Sons and Kevin Hart

December 11, 2018 – Atlanta, GA – On December 4, 2018, 39-year-old comedian Kevin Hart was announced as the host for the 91st Annual Academy Awards. Over a 48-hour period, America watched as a series of homophobic jokes and comments from 2009 to 2015 resurfaced for a public divide of condemnation and defense, often with Hart’s young son as the subject, and usually at the expense of Black gay men.

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Reflections of a Body Outsider (Part 2)

Just as it took a process of time, reading, living, and loving to come to a state of radically loving my Blackness and my gay identity, so is it to accept this body and all that comes with it. It has been a process assisted by the words of folks like Gay and Renee, Black feminists who know something about what it means for the world to tell you that you’re undesirable. I desperately needed their help, having not always been a size 46 in the waist. It has taken more than a decade to relax into this identity of “bear” and have it become a comfy fit (and, yes, I’ve heard the concerned Black gay nationalist arguments of adopting yet more white gay cultural language by using terms like “bear,” but I can’t really embrace the term “boy” at a smooth and grown 43-years-old in any context, even one intended to be culturally affirming).

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Reflections of a Body Outsider (Part 1)

I lacked the bravery and carefreeness displayed by hundreds of cubs, bears, chubs, superchubs, otters, and chaser brethren who confidently splashed, played, and luxuriated in the Orlando heat over the four official days of the Eighth Annual Big Boy Pride at the Parliament House pool. The privilege of standing bare-chested in the sun, in the sparkling chlorine water, or just outside in a public space before the caressing or judging eyes of others is something Black men of size seldom can take for granted, particularly not gay men of size, trained to be particularly attuned to the harsh judgement of the male gaze.

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“One Situation Involved a Young Man”: How Lauryn Hill’s Classic Album Told This Black Gay Man’s Stories, Too

The first time Lauryn canceled on me, she had a legitimate excuse. I was in the middle of my junior year of Montclair High. The African American Awareness Club’s faculty advisor had a connection to Lauryn’s family, and had arranged for her to attend a meeting one afternoon. While Lauryn was certainly a known hip-hop artist, The Fugees hadn’t released The Score, which would catapult her to global superstardom. She probably still had time in her schedule to deign to visit with a random group of high schoolers. Unfortunately, Lauryn’s visit never came to pass, as a nor’easter dropped about 4 feet of snow on the Mid-Atlantic the week of our scheduled meeting. A few weeks later, The Score dropped, dashing our hopes of a visit with a fellow Jersey girl. You see, Lauryn was raised in the neighboring towns of Newark and South Orange, where she attended Columbia High, a rival to my alma mater. (In fact, Ras Baraka, Newark’s current mayor and son of famed poet Amiri Baraka, can be heard on the interludes of the magum opus I honor with this column, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.)

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Dying Alone, Living Together

Partnership has never come naturally to me; the idea or the lifestyle of it. When I feel the most at peace is when I am alone. When life makes the most sense to me is when I can reflect on it in solitude. Billie Holiday sings in her blues song “Solitude”: “In my solitude, you haunt me with memories of days gone by.” This, I suspect, is one of the reasons people can find themselves attempting to escape quietude. In this space, ideas and memories both pleasant and traumatic are able to flood the mind.

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The Death of Devon Wade, Mario Williams and Black Gay Intimate Partner Violence

There was a murder in Atascocita, Texas on Sunday night. Devon Wade was killed by his partner Mario Williams. The police reports say there were two arguments. One resulted in Williams asking Wade to leave. Williams obliged. The second, and final argument, also concluded with Wade asking Williams to leave. He did leave through the back door, but not before delivering two bullets to his romantic partner’s head. Wade’s twin brother was found holding him, begging someone to call for help. It was, unfortunately, too late. Devon Wade had died. And in a way, I’m sure Mario Williams is now dead too.

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