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Commentary by dopper0189, Black Kos Managing Editor

We have come to an end of another great year here at Black Kos. Unfortunately we have come to the time when we the editors take our annual holiday break, we won't be returning until January 4th, 2013.  I would like to once again thank everyone who reads and participates in Black Kos for continuing to support us.

Putting these diaries together takes a lot of work and it really is a blessing that they are so well received.  But don't be surprised if some of us editors use our break to publish some of our own diaries :-) Speaking for myself this is one of the few times of the year I have the the time to do so.

We covered a lot of ground on Black Kos this year, from crime to history, politics to poetry, great black scientists to vile right-wing racists. O yeah and some skinny guy with a funny name also got reelected! I always like to spend a little time each year looking back at the great work this team has put together.

Here are some of the highlights from this years edition of Black Kos. So on behalf of sephius1, Deoliver47, Justice Putnam, and myself, thank you to all our readers. Have a safe Holiday season, and a happy new year. See you all in 2013!

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                                 Some highlights of Black Kos 2011
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FRIDAY JAN 06, 2012

THE IMPORTANCE OF THINKING ABOUT DIVERSITY FROM THE GROUND UP...

Commentary by dopper0189, Black Kos Managing Editor

I've often been struck by something that I've seen occur far too often in progressive organizations. At some point a revelation strikes someone they look up and realize "this organization doesn't reflect the diversity of progressives in America". There is a long history of this from Labor Unions and first wave feminist nearly a century ago, to Yearly Kos (NetRoot Nations precuser) and Occupy Wall St. today. Over and over progressive organization seem to constantly confront this "what's happening" moment. The question then is two fold: Why do movements that grow out of progressive ideals lack the actual diversity of progressives in America? Secondly what to do about?

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FRIDAY JAN 20, 2012

Commentary: African American Scientists and Inventors
by Black Kos Editor, Sephius1

Benjamin Solomon "Ben" Carson, Sr., M.D., (born September 18, 1951) is an American neurosurgeon and the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States by President George W. Bush in 2008.



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TUESDAY JAN 24

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Racist Republikkkans try to turn back time
Commentary by Black Kos Editor Denise Oliver-Velez

After watching the whiter shade of pale primary in South Carolina which seemed like a pep rally for the Confederate States of America, where people of color were notably absent-from rallies and the voting... I am awash in deja vu.  

They want to take us back to before the Civil War
They want to take away our ability to vote
They want women barefoot, pregnant and gagged
They want to pray away the gay
They want to eliminate unions
They want to rid the nation of immigrants who don't match their preferred color  scheme -white on white
They want to sanitize textbooks and rewrite history

As a teacher I am particularly concerned by efforts to sanitize textbooks of all the history we have fought to get included, and have paid close attention to events in Texas, a state which has an inordinate affect on the content on texts distributed nation-wide.


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FRIDAY FEB 3RD, 2012

Commentary: African American Scientists and Inventors
by Black Kos Editor, Sephius1

One of the fields in the scientific realm that has always interested me, but one I could never wrap my head around, is Biology. I actual took 5 classes at college, but met my match with microbiology. I guess I foud my phobia -- being close to things growing in petry dishes, lol.

For some reason I couldn't cross that hump.

I've resolved to watching the creatures of this earth by way of National Geographic, thank you very much. Thank god for biologist like Charles Henry Turner.


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TUESDAY FEB 21, 2012

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It's Fat Tuesday!

Commentary by Black Kos Editor Denise Oliver Velez

Today is Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, or Carnival - the last day of celebration before people give up meat for Lent, and though the practice came from Europe it has now become a major part of African-diasporic tradition- from New Orleans, to Trinidad and of course Brazil, where the largest celebration in the world is held in Rio.



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TUESDAY FEB 28, 2012

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Black woman winner, blackface and tasteless jokes at the Oscars

Commentary by Black Kos Editor Denise Oliver Velez

Okay-I give my congratulations to Octavia Spenser, for garnering Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for playing Minny.

Felt like 1940-all over again with Hattie McDaniel winning best supporting actress for Mammy and helpin' Miz Scarlet.

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As promised I didn't stay awake to watch the show, and spent time yesterday reading the reviews and watching clips.



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Voices and Soul

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by Justice Putnam
Black Kos Poetry Editor

The murder of Trayvon Martin by an armed vigilante in a gated community in Florida has finally made the national press take notice; and as I put the finishing touches to this installment, news of a DOJ investigation is making the initial news wire chryons.

Martin's murder and the callous disregard for his Justice, echoes murders down through the violent history of this nation, murders which certain state and local school boards would prefer not be taught. One murder in particular; and the similar initial disregard for Justice, the murder of Emmett Till came immediately to mind.

Langston Hughes wrote two poems about Emmett Till. The following was included in his 1 October 1955 column in the Chicago Defender, “Langston Hughes Wonders Why No Lynchings Probes.” The poem as originally published was not transcribed correctly by the paper’s editors, and the errors were perpetuated in later reprints. The version that follows is the original as penned by Hughes.

Mississippi—1955

(To the Memory of Emmett Till)

Oh what sorrow!
oh, what pity!
Oh, what pain
That tears and blood
Should mix like rain
And terror come again
To Mississippi.

Come again?
Where has terror been?
On vacation? Up North?
In some other section
Of the nation,
Lying low, unpublicized?
Masked—with only
Jaundiced eyes
Showing through the mask?

Oh, what sorrow,
Pity, pain,
That tears and blood
Should mix like rain
In Mississippi!
And terror, fetid hot,
Yet clammy cold
Remain.

-- Langston Hughes

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TUESDAY MAR 20, 2012


Walking while black can get you dead, or in jail

Commentary by Black Kos Editor Denise Oliver Velez

We've all heard the tragic news about Trayvon Martin.

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There have been calls for justice and now the Justice Department and the FBI are stepping in.

Good.

But Trayvon is dead, justice won't bring back the dead, dry his families tears or wash away the pain.

Perhaps this tragic murder will raise awareness, and change the rules, and  prevent other deaths-but I'm not particularly hopeful.

That doesn't mean we should stop fighting against this crap. I'm just sad and angry.

This situation is not new.  

This situation is not about social class.

This is about racism.  

Racial profiling.

That's why members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Hispanic caucus have called for the Justice Department to step in.

They know this is not an isolated incident.

So do all of us who have ever been racially profiled, or have friends and family who've committed the "crime" of being the wrong color.

Ironically, though news reports keep referring to the "gated community" Trayvon was staying in-as if somehow his being black in a white (gated implies that) area was why George Zimmerman was "duly suspicious".  Anyone listening to the 911 tapes, finally released can hear that his suspicions were simply "black kid walking in the rain wearing a hoodie". See Meteor Blades diary about other things that a close listen to the tapes reveals.

But the gated community of The Retreat at Twin Lakes isn't all white.

Census figures show Retreat at Twin Lakes is 49 percent white, non-Hispanic, 23 percent Hispanic, 20 percent African-American and 5 percent Asian.


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FRIDAY MAR 23, 2012

A History of Lynching in the USA from Reconstruction to Trayvon Martin
            Commentary by Black Kos Managing Editor dopper0189

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There is a reason that the tragic death of Trayvon Martin has hit a nerve among many people of color (and those that support them) that even the worse case of police brutality never will. People of color and black people in this country specifically have had a long history of abuse at the hands of self appointed vigalantees. The first picture in this diary was a young man who was "convicted" by  a group of self appointed people who were "defending their neighborhood". There is a reason that this country was founded on the rule of laws, a system of due process, and a trial by a jury of your peers. Because when the powers of these rights are not extended to people of color, both the first and second images happen. The founders for many obvious reason didn't extend those rights to people of African descent and to Native Americans. The lack of these rights lead to generations of mothers and fathers having to bury their young men.

When I tried to evaluate my anger I couldn't express my feeling for why this killing angered me so much more than police brutality. Police for all their  historics faults (not to discount their heroics) when dealing with people of color at least swear and oath to serve. They also are duly depubitized by the law to perform their duty. But Zimmerman was an entirely different form of outrage. It wasn't until this comment by a2nite that my anger found a name.

The name for this sytem of injustice is LYNCHING!  

Lynching is the practice of killing people by extrajudicial mob action. Lynchings took place most frequently in the South from 1890 to the 1920s, with a peak in the annual toll in 1892.

It is associated with re-imposition of White supremacy in the South after the Civil War. The granting of civil rights to freedmen in the Reconstruction era (1865–77) aroused anxieties among white citizens, who came to blame African Americans for their own wartime hardship, economic loss, and forfeiture of social privilege. Black Americans, and Whites active in the pursuit of equal rights, were frequently lynched in the South during Reconstruction. Lynchings reached a peak in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when Southern states changed their constitutions and electoral rules to disfranchise most blacks and many poor whites, and, having regained political power, enacted a series of segregation and Jim Crow laws to reestablish White supremacy. Notable lynchings of civil rights workers during the 1960s in Mississippi contributed to galvanizing public support for the Civil Rights Movement and civil rights legislation.

The Tuskegee Institute has recorded 3,446 blacks were lynched between 1882 and 1968. Southern states created new constitutions between 1890 and 1910, with provisions that effectively disfranchised most blacks, as well as many poor whites. People who did not vote were excluded from serving on juries, and most blacks were shut out of the official political system.

African Americans mounted resistance to lynchings in numerous ways. Intellectuals and journalists encouraged public education, actively protesting and lobbying against lynch mob violence and government complicity in that violence. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), as well as numerous other organizations, organized support from white and black Americans alike and conducted a national campaign to get a federal anti-lynching law passed; in 1920 the Republican Party promised at its national convention to support passage of such a law. In 1921 Leonidas C. Dyer sponsored an anti-lynching bill; it was passed in January 1922 in the United States House of Representatives, but a Senate filibuster by Southern white Democrats defeated it in December 1922. With the NAACP, Representative Dyer spoke across the country in support of his bill in 1923, but Southern Democrats again filibustered it in the Senate. He tried once more but was again unsuccessful.

African-American women's clubs, such as the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching, raised funds to support the work of public campaigns, including anti-lynching plays. Their petition drives, letter campaigns, meetings and demonstrations helped to highlight the issues and combat lynching.


We need to drive this idea into people's heads. Lynch mobs result when ever people thought "government justice was too slow", "why should we give rights to criminals?", "those other people act like animals why not treat them that way!?". These ideas a distrust of government, a presumption of guilt, a hatred of people unlike themselves. These are the seeds that turn everyday folks who on most days would consider themselves living a "good moral life" into indiscriminate wantom killers. It's a regular occurance throughout American history and for that matter throughout the world. People taking the law into their own hands are lynch mobs.

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FRIDAY MAR 30, 2012

Commentary: African American Scientists and Inventors
by Black Kos Editor, Sephius1

This man needs no introduction. He's an engineer, astronomer, and knowledgeable in agricultural matters. His name is Benjamin Banneker.

Benjamin Banneker was born in 1731 just outside of Baltimore, Maryland, the son of a slave. His grandfather had been a member of a royal family in Africa and was wise in agricultural endeavors. As a young man, he was allowed to enroll in a school run by Quakers and excelled in his studies, particularly in mathematics. Soon, he had progressed beyond the capabilities of his teacher and would often make up his own math problems in order to solve them.



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FRIDAY APR 13, 2012

Nat Turner and the Virginia slave revolt
Commentary by dopper0189, Black Kos Managing Editor

Nat Turner, born into slavery October 2, 1800, on a Southampton County plantation, became a preacher who claimed he had been chosen by God to lead slaves from bondage. On August 21, 1831, he led a violent insurrection. The slave rebellion resulted in 60 white deaths and at least 100 black deaths, the largest number of fatalities to occur in one uprising prior to the American Civil War in the southern United States. He gathered supporters in Southampton County, Virginia. He hid for six weeks but was eventually caught. Turner was convicted, sentenced to death, and hanged. In the aftermath, the state executed 56 blacks accused of being part of Turner's slave rebellion. Two hundred blacks were also beaten and killed by white militias and mobs reacting with violence. Across Virginia and other southern states, state legislators passed new laws prohibiting education of slaves and free blacks, restricting rights of assembly and other civil rights for free blacks, and requiring white ministers to be present at black worship services.



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TUESDAY MAY 08, 2012

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Our First Lady

Commentary by Black Kos Editor Denise Oliver-Velez

As I watched our First Lady Michelle Obama address the cheering crowd in Ohio at the kick-off of the campaign, stunning in “Obama blue”, I had to smile, then cheer along with her.  

She’s no stand in the background,  sweetly smiling political wife – she is blue dynamite on the campaign trail.

With all the hype that was bloviated around about Ann Romney in the last few weeks,  as a black woman, I am again reminded what it means to millions of young people across the U.S. to see this dynamic, tall, assertive woman who comes from roots that many of us can identify with, standing up in front of crowds that can relate to her and love her.  

Let the bigots continue to vilify her with smears. "F" them. This is a woman of class, competence and confidence.  

Contrast her background with that of Ann Davies Romney, daughter of a wealthy businessman who grew up in silver spoon Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, one of the 5 wealthiest areas of this country.

We know Michelle can speak from experience about growing up on the South Side of Chicago and as we listen to her speak from her heart about being the first generation in her family to go to college, and her struggle with student loans-we watch Republicans unload an agenda which includes beating up on poor and working class folks, announcing planned cuts to food stamps, child tax credits and Medicaid healthcare for those who need it most.



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Voices and Soul

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by Justice Putnam
Black Kos Poetry Editor

From the humid hot green of a kudzu south, Sean Hill moved to the north blue ice pine of Bemidji, Minnesota. The shock of landscape and culture and the lake blue sky behind pine limbs and moonlight reflects the snow and a slow song called...

Bemidji Blues

Shadows bluing the snow, the pines’ and mine,
bear the cast of a kestrel’s blue-gray crown
I note as I find my way about this town.

Blues here more likely the Nordic-eyes kind
than the blue-black of some Black folk back home.
Here so many lakes reflect the sky’s blue dome;

some summer days skimmed-milk blue tints windblown
whitecaps. Blue’s an adjective, verb, and noun,
and the color of the world when I pine

because she’s gone leaving too much wine and time.
Blue shadows on the snow, mine and the pines’.
For a tall man, blue ox, and now me, home

is Bemidji, though the blues here around
more the cast of a kestrel’s blue-gray crown
than the blue-black of my cousins back home.

-- Sean Hill

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FRIDAY MAY 11, 2012

Commentary: It was a black LGBT man who organized the march on Washington
by Black Kos Managing Editor, dopper0189

It an unfortunate truism in American politics, that a plurality of African Americans don't view the struggle for equal rights for the LGBT community as a part of civil rights movements legacy. There is a lot of resistance to the idea that "any other group" can lay "claim" to the civil rights mantle. Some of this is a resistance to sharing political capital that was earned literally through blood, sweat and tears, fire hoses and police dogs. Some of it is bigotry, misunderstanding, and homophobia. Some of it is the legacy of the Affirmative action fights of the 90's. While both people of color and white woman benefited from Affirmative Action, politically a majority of white woman didn't fight to defend the program once they had gotten a critical mass into the work force. This feeling of political betrayal has resulted in a reluctance to "share" the civil rights mantle.  

What doesn't get talked about enough is that the Martin Luther Kings March on Washington may not have happened without Bayard Rustin organizational skills. Bayard Rustin was an African American. Bayrad Rustin was a civil rights leader. Bayard Rustin was gay.

Gay black civil rights leader. Black gay civil right leader. Civil rights leader who was gay and black.

When ever people try to divide black and the LGBT community it's helpful to be able to reiterate that there are black people who are LGBT and LGBT people who are black.



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FRIDAY JUN 01, 2012

Commentary: African American Scientists and Inventors
by Black Kos Editor, Sephius1

Marie Maynard Daly (April 16, 1921 – October 28, 2003) was an American biochemist. She was the first African American woman in the United States to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry (awarded by Columbia University in 1947).

In 1947 Marie Maynard Daly became the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in the field of chemistry. She then built a career in research and teaching at such prestigious academic institutions as the Rockefeller Institute, Columbia University, and Yeshiva University. Daly's research focused on protein structure and human metabolism. Among other things, she contributed greatly to an understanding of the causes of heart attacks and lung disease.

Marie Maynard Daly was born on April 16, 1921, in Corona, Queens, New York. She was the oldest child and only daughter of Helen Page Daly and Ivan C. Daly. Her two younger brothers were fraternal twins. Her mother was a homemaker who grew up in New York, although her family was from the Washington, D.C., area. Her father, Ivan, was a postal worker who was born in the British West Indies and moved to the United States as a young man.


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FRIDAY JUN 08, 2012




Promoting People of Color at Netroots Nation
Commentary by dopper0189 Black Kos Managing Editor


Once again the Netroots Nation annual convention is almost here. Black Kos will once again be co-presenting a panel. For more information here is the link: Promoting People of Color in the Progressive Blogosphere

Promoting People of Color at Netroots Nation Panel; Friday 06/08/2012 at 4:30 pm Ballroom C

This panel will address the needs, successes and obstacles to having greater participation from people of color in the blogosphere. Using the models of the Native American Netroots and Black Kos as a beginning point for the discussion, we’ll cover topics such as color blindness vs. representation and how to get historically underrepresented groups and their views heard. We’ll discuss how to organize outreach between the larger blogosphere and blogs that are specific to communities of color and how to form stronger connections to ongoing organizing efforts and activism in communities of color. We’ll also focus on how organizations can promote diversity within new grassroots organizations.

Led by: David Reid

Panelists: Renee Chantler, Neeta Lind, Denise Oliver-Velez, Ian Reifowitz




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FRIDAY JUN 22, 2012

Commentary: African American Scientists and Inventors
by Black Kos Editor, Sephius1

Samuel Massie Jr. (1919-2005)overcame racial barriers to become one of America’s greatest chemists in research and teaching. As a doctoral candidate during World War II, he worked on the Manhattan Project with Henry Gilman at Iowa State University in the development of uranium isotopes for the atomic bomb. In 1966, the U.S. Naval Academy appointed him as its first black faculty member. Massie’s research over fifty years led to the development of drugs to treat mental illness, malaria, meningitis, gonorrhea, herpes, and cancer. Chemical and Engineering News in 1998 named him one of the top seventy-five chemists of all time, along with Marie Curie, Linus Pauling, George Washington Carver, and DNA pioneers James Watson and Francis Crick.


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TUESDAY JUL 03, 2012

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The Mosque of Djingareyber, built by the sultan Kankan Moussa after his return in 1325 from a pilgrimage to Mecca

Tears for Timbuktu
Commentary by Black Kos Editor Denise Oliver-Velez

I shed tears for those people whose lives are destroyed by war and by hate.

Human life is precious.  

But I cannot fail to shed tears for symbols of our history, for art and architecture willfully destroyed by those whose agenda cares little for any past other than the one they now attempt to exterminate by shaping the present into alignment with their own narrow fundamentalist view of Islam.

Timbuktu, great center of African learning and scholarship, is one of my wonders of the ancient world. For me, as a black American, raised in a world where Africa and all things African were denigrated, it has always held a deep meaning in my psyche. I am thankful to have had parents who taught me of the great African Empires.

Now armed haters are destroying that history, as world agencies protest, but little action is being taken to stop the destruction.



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TUESDAY AUG 14, 2012

Voices and Soul

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by Justice Putnam
Black Kos Poetry Editor

Being the son of a professional Historian, having a degree in History myself; I am both, amazed and appalled, by the blatant historical revisions and ignorance that is on display by the TeaBirchers© and their fellow travelers. From outright editing and distribution of Jefferson's Letter to the Danbury Baptists as a whole document, so as to support their dubious claims of the Founders being against the existence of a Wall between Church and State; to Fox News editing Obama's public exchanges so as to diminish and marginalize his presidency.



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FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 07, 2012

Commentary: Fired up and ready to go!
by Black Kos Managing Editor, dopper0189

What a convention! Now it's time to mobilize and fight our way through to November. The other side has made it clear that no form of voter disenfranchisement is to low, no form of race bating is off limits, not even the health and well being of this country's economy is sacred enough to prevent them stooping down far enough to prevent our President reelection.

Now is the time for us to unite and fight! The stakes are too high, a return to the past is too low, and the "alternative" is a frightening mix of a dystopian randian plutocracy with a no compromise dose of Leviticus thrown in, that is no real alternative.

Every political campaign will tell you that every volunteer is worth 5-12 votes. Phone banking, GOTV (get out the vote), baking a pie any bringing it to feed your local volunteers, dropping off campaign leaflets, holding signs, their really is a job for everyone on a campaign. If you have never volunteered before make this your first. If you only have 1 hour a week to give, all campaigns will take it.



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TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 18TH, 2012

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Pastors Pimpin' for NOM

Commentary by Black Kos Editor Denise Oliver-Velez

There have been a rash of articles recently on how black church pastors are telling their congregations not to vote for Barack Obama because of his stance on marriage equality, and I found the concern trolling to be interesting.  

The one that was fairly ubiquitous was African-American Christians waver over vote, with distribution via the AP. This version was in the WSJ.

Though the article makes noise about "some black clergy", they only cite two, Rev. A.R. Bernard in New York, and Rev. Jamal-Harrison Bryant of Baltimore.

Are there some black folks who won't vote for Barack Obama in November?  I'm sure there are. Are a whole host of pastors going to tell folks to stay home? Doubtful, since there are other elections-state and local taking place. Does the polling of likely voters indicate that a mass defection by blacks is going to take place? No.

Are there black people who don't agree with marriage equality? Yup. There are a heck of a lot more white folks who feel the same way.  Bigotry comes in all shapes and colors.  But my guess is that we will see a ramp up of this meme given that Romney's campaign is in disarray over the Mother Jones revelations.  

What has interested me the most in much of the organized and now touted "black opposition" is following the money.  

Now, let me state for the record that I don't attend black churches other than when I'm doing organizing. I am not Christian. I have black family members who run the gamut however, from Catholics, to Baptists to evangelical fringe groups. Even those on the fringe (who are homophobic) are voting for Obama come November, since they aren't single issue voters. They have no love of Romney, and as older folks are very concerned about Medicare.  

But that is simply an anecdotal observation on my part.

I wanted to make it clear that I'm not in the habit of reading the black Christian blogosphere. It exists. Nor do I watch the programming of the Trinity Broadcasting Network(TBM) or the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). These two networks rake in big bucks for hellfire and brimstone preaching pastors of all colors across the nation.  

Much to my amusement (or dismay) when trying to figure out just who "Rev. Jamal-Harrison Bryant" from Baltimore is, I used the google and stumbled into a world of denunciations, and pie fighting which makes Daily Kos seem tame in comparison.



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TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 25th, 2012

93 year old Vivette Applewhite, lead plaintiff in Advancement Project's lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania's voter ID law
Vivette Applewhite, lead plaintiff in Advancement Project's lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania's voter ID law
The fight for our right to vote, Commentary by Black Kos Editor Denise Oliver Velez

Thanks to the Advancement Project, Vivette Applewhite, and hopefully many more citizens will not be robbed of the most fundamental right we have in the United States.

The Right to Vote.
They, along with other groups have been leading the battle in PA, and on other fronts.  

Advancement Project is a multi-racial civil rights organization. Founded by a team of veteran civil rights lawyers in 1999, Advancement Project was created to develop and inspire community-based solutions based on the same high quality legal analysis and public education campaigns that produced the landmark civil rights victories of earlier eras. From Advancement Project's inception, we have worked "on-the-ground," helping organized communities of color dismantle and reform the unjust and inequitable policies that undermine the promise of democracy. Simultaneously, we have aggressively sought and seized opportunities to promote this approach to racial justice.
Our mission is:
"To develop, encourage, and widely disseminate innovative ideas, and pioneer models that inspire and mobilize a broad national racial justice movement to achieve universal opportunity and a just democracy!"


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FRIDAY OCT 19th, 2012

Commentary: African American Scientists and Inventors
by Black Kos Editor, Sephius1

George Robert Carruthers (born October 1, 1939 in Cincinnati, Ohio) is an African American inventor, physicist, and space scientist. He has lived most of his life in Washington, DC.

From a young age he showed an interest in science and astronomy. He grew up in the South Side of Chicago where at the age of 10 he built his first telescope. Despite his natural aptitude, he did not perform well in school at a young age, earning poor grades in math and physics. Despite his poor grades he won three separate science fair awards during this time.


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GOTV: "Souls to the Polls"
Commentary by Black Kos Editor Denise Oliver-Velez

I know that there are people who are critical of certain churches and religious groups - I've made some of those criticisms myself. I can never forget however, that the backbone of the black community since before the end of slavery has been the black church, moreso than any other institution, and that many of our leaders have been preachers, whether they were Sojourner Truth, or MLK Jr., or Malcolm X.

With the onslaught of repressive voter disenfranchisement and suppression legislation comes the black community response - spearheaded by both churches and civil rights organizations. Souls to the Polls is not just taking place in Florida, it's happening in our communities across the US.

Kossak Scandalous One had a great diary on recent efforts, MASSIVE "Souls to the Polls" Drive Planned for Sunday in Florida, and Slate had this piece: The Fraud That Failed: How the GOP’s voter suppression laws may have inadvertently cost them Florida.



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TUESDAY NOV 6th, 2012

Vote!

Join us on the Black Kos Front Porch today, into the evening, and through the night as results roll in to talk about what's going on in your area. Share your stories, observations and thoughts.

Join us to celebrate the massive effort that we have all put into this election.
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Voting notes from Dee
Reporting in from my school - students at SUNY New Paltz are turning out in record numbers, problem is the poll workers are frantic, they can't handle the volume. The wait time is up to 3 hours, and and one election worker said "at the rate we're going...we'll be here till 2 o'clock in the morning". She begged me to "call someone, anyone and see if we can get help".  I also observed some students placing "displaced ballots", which is what Governor Cuomo set up to open all polling stations to NY'ers displaced by Sandy.  

I voted early this morning in my little "Red corner" of my district. Was number 21 to vote but as always felt weird since I am one of the few Democrats in my little section of the Hudson Valley.  On top of that I am always the only person of color.  Thankfully. the rest of the area is Democrats.  



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TUESDAY NOVEMBER 13th, 2012

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Portraying Nina Simone

Commentray by Black Kos Editor Denise Oliver Velez

While most of us have been caught up in the elections, and post-election news, the Afro-sphere has been caught up in a continuing controversy about blackness, cultural icons, and white control of screen casting decisions, and fuel was added to the fire when pictures were released of skin-darkened, prosthetic nose wearing Zoe Saldana who was cast to play the starring role in an un-authorizsed biopic about Nina Simone.

I am a long time fan of Nina Simone. I met her while she was still living, was inspired by her music, saw her perform live more times than I can count, have all of her recordings and use one of her songs, Four Women, in the classroom, to illustrate the oppression black women of different skintones and phenotypes have faced since the beginning of the new world slave trade.

I have nothing against Zoe Saldana (photo below). I've been happy to see her get work-many Latinas (she is Dominican-Puerto Rican) that get major roles are of the blonde blue-eyed variety.  She isn't, and as an afro-latina isn't first in line for many casting decisions.

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I would not accept Gloria Esteban, or Jennifer Lopez being cast as Celia Cruz. I would not accept Halle Berry cast as Sojourner Truth, Barbara Jordan or Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer.

I didn't accept this either. There was no need to cast Nina Simone and have someone play her in "blacker-face". Where do I place the blame? Squarely in the lap of Cynthia Mort.



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Voices and Soul

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by Justice Putnam
Black Kos Poetry Editor

I resent this War on Women. I resent the men and ideas behind it.

I resent my sisters and aunts, my cousins and nieces, my mothers, grandmothers, girlfriends and ex-wives must endure this never-ending subjugation as chattel, objects to be sanctified and abused in some sick equal measure for some sick evil minds.

I resent it.

Oh, did I mention about a Reckoning?

Poem about My Rights

Even tonight and I need to take a walk and clear   
my head about this poem about why I can’t   
go out without changing my clothes my shoes   
my body posture my gender identity my age
my status as a woman alone in the evening/   
alone on the streets/alone not being the point/
the point being that I can’t do what I want   
to do with my own body because I am the wrong   
sex the wrong age the wrong skin and   
suppose it was not here in the city but down on the beach/   
or far into the woods and I wanted to go   
there by myself thinking about God/or thinking   
about children or thinking about the world/all of it   
disclosed by the stars and the silence:   
I could not go and I could not think and I could not   
stay there   
alone   
as I need to be   
alone because I can’t do what I want to do with my own   
body and   
who in the hell set things up   
like this   
and in France they say if the guy penetrates   
but does not ejaculate then he did not rape me   
and if after stabbing him if after screams if   
after begging the bastard and if even after smashing   
a hammer to his head if even after that if he   
and his buddies fuck me after that   
then I consented and there was   
no rape because finally you understand finally   
they fucked me over because I was wrong I was   
wrong again to be me being me where I was/wrong
to be who I am   
which is exactly like South Africa   
penetrating into Namibia penetrating into
Angola and does that mean I mean how do you know if
Pretoria ejaculates what will the evidence look like the
proof of the monster jackboot ejaculation on Blackland
and if
after Namibia and if after Angola and if after Zimbabwe
and if after all of my kinsmen and women resist even to
self-immolation of the villages and if after that
we lose nevertheless what will the big boys say will they
claim my consent:
Do You Follow Me: We are the wrong people of
the wrong skin on the wrong continent and what
in the hell is everybody being reasonable about
and according to the Times this week
back in 1966 the C.I.A. decided that they had this problem
and the problem was a man named Nkrumah so they
killed him and before that it was Patrice Lumumba
and before that it was my father on the campus
of my Ivy League school and my father afraid
to walk into the cafeteria because he said he
was wrong the wrong age the wrong skin the wrong
gender identity and he was paying my tuition and
before that
it was my father saying I was wrong saying that   
I should have been a boy because he wanted one/a
boy and that I should have been lighter skinned and
that I should have had straighter hair and that
I should not be so boy crazy but instead I should
just be one/a boy and before that         
it was my mother pleading plastic surgery for
my nose and braces for my teeth and telling me
to let the books loose to let them loose in other
words
I am very familiar with the problems of the C.I.A.
and the problems of South Africa and the problems
of Exxon Corporation and the problems of white
America in general and the problems of the teachers
and the preachers and the F.B.I. and the social
workers and my particular Mom and Dad/I am very
familiar with the problems because the problems   
turn out to be   
me
I am the history of rape   
I am the history of the rejection of who I am   
I am the history of the terrorized incarceration of   
myself   
I am the history of battery assault and limitless   
armies against whatever I want to do with my mind   
and my body and my soul and   
whether it’s about walking out at night   
or whether it’s about the love that I feel or   
whether it’s about the sanctity of my vagina or   
the sanctity of my national boundaries   
or the sanctity of my leaders or the sanctity   
of each and every desire   
that I know from my personal and idiosyncratic   
and indisputably single and singular heart   
I have been raped   
be-
cause I have been wrong the wrong sex the wrong age   
the wrong skin the wrong nose the wrong hair the   
wrong need the wrong dream the wrong geographic   
the wrong sartorial I   
I have been the meaning of rape   
I have been the problem everyone seeks to   
eliminate by forced   
penetration with or without the evidence of slime and/   
but let this be unmistakable this poem   
is not consent I do not consent   
to my mother to my father to the teachers to   
the F.B.I. to South Africa to Bedford-Stuy   
to Park Avenue to American Airlines to the hardon   
idlers on the corners to the sneaky creeps in   
cars   
I am not wrong: Wrong is not my name
My name is my own my own my own   
and I can’t tell you who the hell set things up like this
but I can tell you that from now on my resistance   
my simple and daily and nightly self-determination   
may very well cost you your life

-- June Jordan  



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

TUESDAY DEC 11, 2012

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Black Pete (Zwarte Piet) versus Balthazar: thoughts on blackface in holiday traditions and iconography

Commentary by Black Kos Editor Denise Oliver Velez

As the Christian holiday season kicks in around the world celebrations abound, with many cultural variations. But there are also debates that swirl around "tradition' and one that has in recent years caused quite a bit of angst is the tradition in the Netherlands, and Belgium of dressing up in blackface to represent Zwarte Piet (Black Pete).

See the happy blackened afro-wigged gold earring wearing young Dutch folks above.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The front porch thanks you for reading this year. Have a safe and happy holiday season, and we'll see you in 2013!

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Originally posted to Black Kos on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 01:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Black Kos community.

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