If you missed the sermon by the Reverend William Barber, please watch this theologically conservative, liberal, evangelical, biblicist speak about right and wrong, and the heart of our democracy. You owe it to yourself.


ETA: I found the full speech by Mr Khizr Khan, in which he is accompanied by his lovely wife. Also this.

Special mention of the gentleman delegate with the fab red turban.

Saturday Afternoon Open Thread: Graphic Images

My inner teenage comix geek still gets excited when new, diverse writers get top billing… especially when they’re highlighted in the NYTimes!

Her story, written with Mr. [Ta-Nehisi] Coates, will follow Ayo and Aneka, two lovers who are former members of the Dora Milaje, the Black Panther’s female security force. “The opportunity to write black women and queer black women into the Marvel universe, there’s no saying no to that,” she said.

The first issue of World of Wakanda will include a 10-page second story by Ms. Harvey about Zenzi, a female revolutionary who incited a riot in the first issue of the Black Panther series. Mr. Coates, who recruited both writers, said he thought it was important to have female voices help breathe life into these characters. “The women in Black Panther’s life are very, very important,” he said…

Apart from celebrating a wider world inside our imaginations, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

(Yup, that’s great, too.)

Monday Morning Open Thread: Stronger Together

trump gop desperate to escape deering

(John Deering via

Excellent argument by Jamelle Bouie, at Slate:

What Brexit suggests, to many American commentators, is that Trump could in fact win… I’m skeptical. What’s striking about the results of the EU referendum is the extent to which they matched the polls. Every survey of Brexit showed a close race between the two sides—a coin toss. The balance of the polls suggested a narrow—but far from dispositive—lead for “Remain.” The final result was in line with the projection: a contest with no clear advantage for either side in which “Leave” won an extremely modest victory. Here in the United States, our polls show a substantial Trump loss in the general election against Hillary Clinton, just as they showed a substantial Trump win in the Republican presidential primaries. The chief reason is that, unlike the U.K., the U.S. has a large voting population of nonwhites: Latinos, black Americans, Asian Americans, etc. In Britain, “black and minority ethnic” people make up about 8 percent of the electorate. By contrast, people of color account for nearly 1 in 3 American voters. In practice, this means that in the past two national elections, there has been an electoral penalty for embracing the most reactionary elements of national life. And we see this in the polling between Trump and Clinton. If the United States were largely white—if its electorate were as monochromatic as Britain’s—then Trump might have the advantage. As it stands, people of color in America are acting as a firewall for liberalism—an indispensable barrier to this surge of ethno-nationalism. Complacency isn’t called for, but confidence isn’t wrong either…

It’s not hard to see how global capitalism and the elevation of financial markets have transformed the world over the past 30 years, upending our societies in ways we’re still trying to grapple with. What’s less obvious is the extent to which global capitalism has also upended racial hierarchies by degrading whatever material benefits accrue to those deemed “white.” For as much as capitalist economies entrench racial inequality, the logic of capital doesn’t especially care. It will impoverish black, white, and brown all the same.

Trump supporters are largely white Americans. Brexit backers are largely white Britons. And on both sides, they’re older, often elderly. In addition to everything else—all of the particular concerns of particular communities in the United States and the United Kingdom—we are witnessing a backlash to the weakening of a hierarchy that gave real status to people at the top, that protected them from the whims of capital or gave them prime social status as the expense of nonwhites…

Along the same lines, by all reports (including some of our most constant BJ commentors), actor/activist Jesse Williams “stole the BET Awards on Sunday night with a wildly inspirational, confrontational speech that is bound to become a cornerstone of the Black Lives Matter movement”. Excerpts via Billboard:

“There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There is no job we haven’t done, there is no tax they haven’t levied against us, and we have paid all of them.

“But freedom is always conditional here. ‘You’re free!’ they keeping telling us. ‘But she would be alive if she hadn’t acted so… free.’ Now, freedom is always coming in the hereafter, but the hereafter is a hustle: We want it now.

“Let’s get a couple of things straight. The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander — that’s not our job so let’s stop with all that. If you have a critique for our resistance then you’d better have an established record, a critique of our oppression.

“If you have no interest in equal rights for black people then do not make suggestions to those who do: sit down.

“We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries, and we’re done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us, burying black people out of sight and out of mind while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil — black gold! — ghettoizing and demeaning our creations and stealing them, gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit.

“Just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real. Thank you.”

There’s video of Williams’ whole speech at the link — well worth six minutes out of your morning.

The BET Awards also included some very fine Prince tributes; I’ve embedded Janelle Monae’s below the fold, because unfortunately it autoplays. (Also, mildly NSFW, for a brief flash of Monae’s tribute to Prince’s butt-cutout costume. Other performances & list of winners at — but, again, watch out for autoplay video!
Read more

New ‘Roots’, Old Pain

Melena Ryzik, in the NYTimes, “‘Roots,’ Remade for a New Era”:

ST. FRANCISVILLE, LA. — Cannons boomed, shaking the leaves off 50-foot trees. “Ready, I need fire on that hill!” an urgent voice yelled. Weapons were reloaded. Exhausted infantrymen — black, white, young, old — were splayed around a muddy pit. “Watch your muzzles, gentlemen,” their leader called. “Don’t blow your friend’s face off!”

In a wooded grove in this town near Baton Rouge, La., a television crew was meticulously recreating the brutal Civil War battle of Fort Pillow, for a remake of “Roots,” the seminal mini-series about slavery. The carnage in the fight was significant: After Union soldiers surrendered, the Confederates disproportionately took white soldiers hostage as prisoners of war and slaughtered hundreds of black soldiers, sending survivors into the slave trade. This massacre was not in the original “Roots,” broadcast in 1977, which is exactly why the producers of the new one chose to include it.

It is one of many unexpected historical details put onscreen in “Roots,” which will air over four nights starting on Memorial Day. It will be simulcast on the History, Lifetime and A&E channels, with a sprawling cast that includes Laurence Fishburne; Forest Whitaker; Anika Noni Rose; Anna Paquin; the rapper T.I.; and the English newcomer Malachi Kirby as Kunta Kinte, the central character. The revival aims to deliver a visceral punch of the past to a younger demographic, consumed anew by questions of race, inequality and heritage. With a crew of contemporary influencers — Will Packer (“Straight Outta Compton”) is a producer; Questlove oversaw the music — the hope is to recontextualize “Roots” for the Black Lives Matter era, a solemn and exacting feat.

“I’d be lying if I said I had zero trepidation and nervousness,” said LeVar Burton, who began his career, indelibly, as the slave Kunta Kinte, and who serves as a producer on the modern version. “But I do believe that we have a lot to contribute to the very important conversation of race in America, and how it continues to hold us back as a society.”…

From NYMag‘s culture blog:

Vulture sat down with producers Mark Wolper — whose father, David L. Wolper, produced the original Roots — and Packer (Straight Outta Compton), and cast members Kirby, Regé-Jean Page (who plays Kunta Kinte’s son, Chicken George), and Erica Tazel (Chicken George’s wife Matilda), to discuss the urgency of revisiting this story

The reboot comes in a year with a number of other notable projects about slavery, including Underground on WGN, and Fox Searchlight’s forthcoming Oscar contender, The Birth of a Nation. How is your retelling of Roots distinct among these narratives? And why tell this particular story again now?

Mark Wolper: I wasn’t sure there was any right time to reboot a project that was so monumental for the TV business and for its social ramifications, not to mention a project that my own father had produced. It was a triple whammy in that respect for me. People had been saying for years, “Let’s do Roots again. Can we do Roots again?” And my answer was always, “No.” But it was when I sat my 16-year-old son down to watch it and he said, “I understand why Roots is so important, but it’s kind of like your music — it doesn’t speak to me” that realized I had to overcome my fears. There is an entire generation of young people that needs to hear and see this story. The problems we have with race in America right now are enormous, but we can’t fix the future or understand the present unless we understand where we all came from…

Regé-Jean Page: Contrary to what many people think, our history did not start with slavery. So this project for me is very much about about filling in a history that has been mistold, or in some cases, even erased. It’s about upgrading a lot of misinformation that we’ve been told for generations. And that’s a task that doesn’t ever really end…

Tragically related, also in the NYTimes, “‘A Million Questions’ From Descendants of Slaves Sold to Aid Georgetown”, and Carl Zimmer’s “Tales of African-American History Found in DNA”:

The history of African-Americans has been shaped in part by two great journeys. The first brought hundreds of thousands of Africans to the southern United States as slaves. The second, the Great Migration, began around 1910 and sent six million African-Americans from the South to New York, Chicago and other cities across the country.

In a study published on Friday, a team of geneticists sought evidence for this history in the DNA of living African-Americans. The findings, published in PLOS Genetics, provide a map of African-American genetic diversity, shedding light on both their history and their health…

Open Thread: Black Panther Update

From the Mother Jones article:

Unlike many of his peers at Marvel, Black Panther screenwriter Joe Robert Cole didn’t grow up a comic-book superfan, but he did have a soft spot for superheroes and a passion for storytelling. Fresh out of college at the University of California-Berkeley, Cole got his first gig writing for ATL, a 2006 film starring rapper TI and based loosely on the romance between producer Dallas Austin and singer T’Boz of the R&B group TLC. He went on to write and direct 2011’s Amber Lake, an eerie indie film about three half-sisters who turn on one another when questioned by the police about their father’s mysterious death. Most recently, he wrote an episode of FX’s acclaimed series American Crime Story: The People v. OJ Simpson.

Now, Cole, a product of Marvel’s two-year in-house writing program, is hard at work on the studio’s latest megaflick-to-be. The movie’s comic-book counterpart ran several volumes from the late ’70s to 2010, replacing the unfortunately titled 1960s comic Jungle Action, which featured the Black Panther, the genre’s first black superhero. The story revolves around warrior king T’Challa (Black Panther), who hails from the technologically advanced, fictional African kingdom of Wakanda—which has never been colonized, unlike the other countries on the continent…

MJ: What does it mean to you to be writing a black superhero?

JC: Black Panther is a historic opportunity to be a part of something important and special, particularly at a time when African Americans are affirming their identities while dealing with vilification and dehumanization. The image of a black hero on this scale is just really exciting. When I was a kid, I would change superheroes’ names: Instead of James Bond, I was James Black. Instead of Batman, I was Blackman. And I have a three-year-old son. My son will be five when Black Panther comes out. That puts it all into perspective for me…

MJ: In the comic books, Black Panther fought off a colonizer in Wakanda. He fought the Klan. He fought against apartheid in South Africa. Bringing the Panther into the present day, I’m curious how the recent activism around the treatment of black people by police might inform your story or your development of T’Challa as a character.

JC: Personally—and Ryan [Coogler] and Nate Moore, the executive producer—we all are cognizant of what’s going on in the world, in black communities, and in our country. We are aware of the importance of that, and the platform this movie provides us with. But I can’t give you the specifics.

MJ: Is Ta-Nehisi involved in the thought process for the movie?

JC: No. I’m a huge fan. It’s great that he’s writing the comic. But they’re separate entities…

Apart from planning our summer entertainment, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

The Full Weight Of History

Ta-Nehisi Coates eloquently explains his position on the Democrats in 2016 as Hillary Clinton mentions that Lincoln was her favorite president due to his willingness to “reconcile and forgive” the Lost Cause of the South.

Yet until relatively recently, this self-serving version of history was dominant. It is almost certainly the version fed to Hillary Clinton during her school years, and possibly even as a college student. Hillary Clinton is no longer a college student. And the fact that a presidential candidate would imply that Jim Crow and Reconstruction were equal, that the era of lynching and white supremacist violence would have been prevented had that same violence not killed Lincoln, and that the violence was simply the result of rancor, the absence of a forgiving spirit, and an understandably “discouraged” South is chilling.

I have spent the past two years somewhat concerned about the effects of national amnesia, largely because I believe that a problem can not be effectively treated without being effectively diagnosed. I don’t know how you diagnose the problem of racism in America without understanding the actual history. In the Democratic Party, there is, on the one hand, a candidate who seems comfortable doling out the kind of myths that undergirded racist violence. And on the other is a candidate who seems uncomfortable asking whether the history of racist violence, in and of itself, is worthy of confrontation.

These are options for a party of amnesiacs, for people whose politics are premised on forgetting. This is not a brief for staying home, because such a thing doesn’t actually exist. In the American system of government, refusing to vote for the less-than-ideal is a vote for something much worse. Even when you don’t choose, you choose. But you can choose with your skepticism fully intact. You can choose in full awareness of the insufficiency of your options, without elevating those who would have us forget into prophets. You can choose and still push, demanding more. It really isn’t too much to say, if you’re going to govern a country, you should know its history.

Not only could I not have said it better myself, I don’t think I could have said it on my best day.

And yes, it’s entirely possible to choose a primary candidate, and then say “Hey, we would like you to take a look at this issue.”  Now I’m aware of how that line of thought started out in 2008, and it morphed into something far uglier, but the fact remains that is it possible to do.

As TNC says, “You can choose and still push, demanding more.”

Post-Racial America Update

The only thing I’m surprised about when it comes to five Black Lives Matter activists at a vigil in Minneapolis being shot last night by a couple of white men is that it took this long to happen.

Five protesters were shot late Monday night near the Black Lives Matter encampment at the Fourth Precinct police station in north Minneapolis, according to police.

Those who were shot sustained non-life-threatening injuries, said police spokesman John Elder in a statement.

Miski Noor, a media contact for Black Lives Matter, said “a group of white supremacists showed up at the protest, as they have done most nights.”

One of the three counterdemonstrators wore a mask, said Dana Jaehnert, who had been at the protest site since early evening.

When about a dozen protesters attempted to herd the group away from the area, Noor said, they “opened fire on about six protesters,” hitting five of them. Jaehnert said she heard four gunshots.

The shootings occurred at 10:45 p.m. on Morgan Avenue N. about a block north of the precinct station.

The attackers fled. No arrests had been made by midnight Monday. Police said via their Twitter feed that they are searching for three white male suspects.

I used to live in the Twin Cities area and still have friends there.  Minneapolis is a great city, too.  It’s a shame that this happened, and it’s a shame that Jamar Clark had to die to police in the first place, the reason for the vigil.

The protesters, angry over the fatal police shooting of 24-year-old Jamar Clark on Nov. 15, have maintained a presence outside the police station ever since.

Eddie Sutton, Jamar’s brother, issued this statement early Tuesday morning in response to the shootings:

“Thank you to the community for the incredible support you have shown for our family in this difficult time. We appreciate Black Lives Matter for holding it down and keeping the protests peaceful. But in light of tonight’s shootings, the family feels out of imminent concern for the safety of the occupiers, we must get the occupation of the 4th precinct ended and onto the next step.”

I’m thinking the assholes who did this want to go to the “next step” too.