Malcolm X ( May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965)

February 21, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Economic Development, Intersectionality, Poverty, Prison Industrial Complex


“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against.”

More here
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Warrior Queen: Audre Lorde (February 18, 1934 – November 17, 1992)

February 18, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Arts and Culture, Civil Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, Education, Intersectionality, LGBTQ, Spirituality, White Privilege

Audre Lorde (February 18, 1934 – November 17, 1992)


By Audre Lorde

The difference between poetry and rhetoric
is being ready to kill
instead of your children.

I am trapped on a desert of raw gunshot wounds
and a dead child dragging his shattered black
face off the edge of my sleep
blood from his punctured cheeks and shoulders
is the only liquid for miles
and my stomach
churns at the imagined taste while
my mouth splits into dry lips
without loyalty or reason
thirsting for the wetness of his blood
as it sinks into the whiteness
of the desert where I am lost
without imagery or magic
trying to make power out of hatred and destruction
trying to heal my dying son with kisses
only the sun will bleach his bones quicker.

A policeman who shot down a ten year old in Queens
stood over the boy with his cop shoes in childish blood
and a voice said “Die you little motherfucker” and
there are tapes to prove it. At his trial
this policeman said in his own defense
“I didn’t notice the size nor nothing else
only the color”. And
there are tapes to prove that, too.

Today that 37 year old white man
with 13 years of police forcing
was set free
by eleven white men who said they were satisfied
justice had been done
and one Black Woman who said
“They convinced me” meaning
they had dragged her 4’10” black Woman’s frame
over the hot coals
of four centuries of white male approval
until she let go
the first real power she ever had
and lined her own womb with cement
to make a graveyard for our children.

I have not been able to touch the destruction
within me.
But unless I learn to use
the difference between poetry and rhetoric
my power too will run corrupt as poisonous mold
or lie limp and useless as an unconnected wire
and one day I will take my teenaged plug
and connect it to the nearest socket
raping an 85 year old white woman
who is somebody’s mother
and as I beat her senseless and set a torch to her bed
a greek chorus will be singing in 3/4 time
“Poor thing. She never hurt a soul. What beasts they are.”

Audre Lorde, “Power” from The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde. Copyright © 1978 by Audre Lorde. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

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CI: Crimes of Style ~ Jean-Michel Basquiat

February 13, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Arts and Culture, Civil Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, Intersectionality, Prison Industrial Complex

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.

                  Crimes of Style ~ Jean-Michel Basquiat
by nancy a heitzeg


“Most Young Kings Get Their Heads Cut Off…”
Jean-Michel Basquiat, (December 22, 1960 – August 12, 1988)

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There are 20 trillion pieces of text, 30 trillion more numbers to be deployed in the illumination of criminal injustice. And so, every week we do.

Sometimes, however, it is simply best to let the artists have their say- with brushes, with paint, with exploding imagery. To let them distill that universe of trouble onto the canvass.

Just bring it, as Basquiat himself would say,

Boom! For real.”


Rosa Parks (February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005)

February 04, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Education, Intersectionality

U.S. Post Office Releases Stamp on Rosa Park's 100th Birthday

U.S. Post Office Releases Stamp on Rosa Park’s 100th Birthday

Rosa Parks, Revisited by Charles M. Blow, New York Times:

On the verge of the 100th anniversary of her birth this Monday comes a fascinating new book, “The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks,” by Jeanne Theoharis, a Brooklyn College professor. It argues that the romanticized, children’s-book story of a meek seamstress with aching feet who just happened into history in a moment of uncalculated resistance is pure mythology.

As Theoharis points out, “Rosa’s family sought to teach her a controlled anger, a survival strategy that balanced compliance with militancy.” …
Parks, like many other Americans who over the years have angrily agitated for change in this country, had been sanitized and sugarcoated for easy consumption.

As Theoharis writes: “Held up as a national heroine but stripped of her lifelong history of activism and anger at American injustice, the Parks who emerged was a self-sacrificing mother figure for a nation who would use her death for a ritual of national redemption.”

Fortunately, this book seeks to restore Parks’s wholeness, even at the risk of stirring unease.

The Rosa Parks in this book is as much Malcolm X as she is Martin Luther King Jr.

Happy Black History Month.

Langston Hughes (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967)

February 02, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Arts and Culture, Civil Rights, Education, Intersectionality

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I, Too

By Langston Hughes

I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—
I, too, am America.

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What’s Left Out of Black History Month Celebrations: The Accelerating Racial Wealth Gap

February 08, 2012 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Corrupt Judiciary, Corrupt Legislature, Economic Terrorism, Housing, Imperialism, Intersectionality, Poverty, White Privilege

From The Nation:

According to the State of Working America, in the forty-year period that preceded the civil rights reforms of the mid-1960s, the bottom 90 percent of Americans shared 73 percent of the income growth in the United States. Black Americans, who were suffering severe legal discrimination and a marginal economic existence, shared in barely any of these gains. But for the generation that came after the reforms of the sixties—once blacks at least had legal protections—the economic situation was the reverse, with the top 10 percent of Americans getting 76 percent of the income growth.

In short, timing matters. It’s an unlucky accident for African-Americans that the range of government policies and programs that created the middle class largely excluded them. For instance, the GI Bill that provided returning World War II veterans with money for college, businesses and home mortgages didn’t work for the many black veterans who were discriminated against by colleges and banks. The rungs on the ladder that are supposed to lift people out of poverty were broken for blacks in the first half of the 1900s. Then, after the reforms of the 1960s, once the beneficiaries of economic development and anti-poverty efforts were known to be black, support—both in terms of public opinion and government funding—for those programs declined.

This economic history deserves much more focus during Black History Month, especially given how dire the present situation is for the black community: More than a quarter of blacks are living under the poverty line, and the bursting of the housing bubble has decimated what little wealth blacks had gained. Given the economic realities and the corrosive racism of today’s politics—as when Newt Gingrich referred to the first black president as the “food stamp president”—it’s not enough to just lift up a handful of black celebrities and movement heroes whose activism and radical imaginations have been watered down anyway. Instead, Black History Month should be a time when we recommit to advancing real solutions to black poverty and speaking truthfully about the economic history that led to the racial inequality we see today.