Excerpt from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Jackson’s Dissent in Korematsu v. USA

Korematsu was born on our soil, of parents born in Japan. The Constitution makes him a citizen of the United States by nativity and a citizen of California by residence. No claim is made that he is not loyal to this country. There is no suggestion that apart from the matter involved here he is not law abiding and well disposed. Korematsu, however, has been convicted of an act not commonly a crime. It consists merely of being present in the state whereof he is a citizen, near the place where he was born, and where all his life he has lived. […] [H]is crime would result, not from anything he did, said, or thought, different than they, but only in that he was born of different racial stock. Now, if any fundamental assumption underlies our system, it is that guilt is personal and not inheritable. Even if all of one’s antecedents had been convicted of treason, the Constitution forbids its penalties to be visited upon him. But here is an attempt to make an otherwise innocent act a crime merely because this prisoner is the son of parents as to whom he had no choice, and belongs to a race from which there is no way to resign. If Congress in peace-time legislation should enact such a criminal law, I should suppose this Court would refuse to enforce it.

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing of my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
The palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Shot, Stabbed, Choked, Strangled, Broken: a ritual for November 20th

It could have been me.
I was young. I took risks.
True, I was white.
I hitched rides with guys
One at least was a killer
It could have been me.

It could have been me.
He came to my door
He showed me a badge
He pulled out a knife
He raped me. I felt
The hilt of the knife
I thought it was the blade.
It could have been me.

It could have been me.
They been me in the street
They pummeled my breasts
And tugged at my wig
And said they would burn me
It could have been me.

It could have been me.
He drew up alongside
And asked me to ride
And knew who I was.
He followed my cab
And drove his car at me
It could have been me.

They died
On the streetcorner with the streetlight that blinked
With the rubbish bin dented by a passing car
Among bricks and bent girders
On the waste ground behind the convenience store
In the car park behind the bar where the toilets flooded
And the johns were bad men. Or in bed
Their own bed where they thought they were safe.
They died where people who die by violence die.

They died because
–Of course, there’s not because. Just stupid whys
They died for smiling the wrong way
They died because god told someone gay things need to die
They died because they answered back
Or would not be called out of their names
Or let his hand go there between their legs
Or went on a hot date and told him and he didn’t believe them until he did.
They died of other people’s stupid violent hating ways

The ones who died
The ones we know about
Thirty a year–that’s more than two a month.
Handsome young transmen murdered in their pride
Duanna, Angie, Kelly, and the rest
Iraqis with their long hair shaved away
Our sisters and brothers
Thirty of them

When people die
Their smiles are taken from us
Who might have seen them
And smiled back.
Their songs are taken from us
Who might have heard
And listened and been glad.
Their stories are remembered
By us, on this day
And always.

To a Brown boy

That brown girl’s swagger gives a twitch
To beauty like a Queen,
Lad, never damn your body’s itch
When loveliness is seen.

For there is ample room for bliss
In pride in clean brown limbs,
And lips know better how to kiss
Than how to raise white hymns.

And when your body’s death gives birth
To soil for spring to crown,
Men will not ask if that rare earth
Was white flesh once, or brown.

Letter to President Obama (regarding the release from prison of Leonard Peltier)

See attached .pdf

This letter was written by members of the New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in support of the release from prison of Native American activist Leonard Peltier. Peltier has been imprisoned since 1977 for the shooting of two FBI agents during the 1975 conflict at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. In 2010 Amnesty International listed Peltier's case in the "Unfair Trials" category of its annual report.

Mother to Son

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor —
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now —
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

Clergy in Charlottesville Were Trapped by Torch-Wielding Nazis

Cornel West & Rev. Traci Blackmon: Clergy in Charlottesville Were Trapped by Torch-Wielding Nazis

We continue our roundtable discussion on violence that erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend as thousands of neo-Nazis, KKK members and other white nationalists began descending on the city to participate in the “Unite the Right” rally. Thousands of counterprotesters met in Charlottesville, including clergy, students, Black Lives Matter activists, and protesters with the anti-fascist movement known as “antifa.” We are joined by two clergy members and a local Black Lives Matter activist who helped organize the demonstration. Rev. Traci Blackmon is executive minister of Justice and Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ. During a live interview with MSNBC at the march on Saturday, she was forced to flee as counterprotesters were attacked around her. Cornel West was also on site and describes the scene. We also speak with Jalane Schmidt, an associate professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking about the terror in Charlottesville. The white supremacist violence there began Friday night as hundreds of neo-Nazis, KKK members and other white nationalists descended on the city and participated in a torch march. Yes, burning torches, in a surprise march across the University of Virginia campus, surrounded the statue of Thomas Jefferson on Friday night. They were chanting “Blood not soil” [sic], a well-known Nazi—”Blood and soil,” a well-known Nazi phrase, “You will not replace us” and “Jew will not replace us” and “White lives matter.”
We continue our hour-long discussion. We’re joined in Charlottesville by Virginia—Jalane Schmidt, an organizer with the local Black Lives Matter movement and associate professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia. Here in New York, we’re joined by Dr. Cornel West, professor of the practice of public philosophy at Harvard University, who was in Charlottesville. And in St. Louis, we’re joined by Reverend Traci Blackmon, executive minister of Justice and Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ, who was also in Charlottesville this weekend.
Cornel West, talk about what you saw Friday night. You were there at—in a church. You were speaking along with others. Did you expect to see what you saw outside?
CORNEL WEST: No, no. I knew I was going to hear a powerful sermon by my dear sister Reverend Dr. Traci Blackmon, and we heard one. We heard poignant words by Professor Jalane Schmidt. And I had a few things to say. It was a beautiful moment—all colors, all religious traditions, Muslims, Jews, Christians, black, white, red, indigenous peoples. And we should never downplay the vicious attack on gay brothers, lesbian sisters, bisexuals and trans folk, that was part of the chanting that took place the next day.
But what happened was, they held us hostage in the church. We could not leave after the service, because the torch march threatening the people who were there. And so, in that sense, I said, “Hmmm, boy, these neofascists, they’re out of control. Where are the police?” And who would think that our dear sister Heather, my dear comrade, who also was with IWW—you know, that’s very important. She was an organizer. She stood with us on Saturday. She paid the ultimate price. And many of us may have to pay that ultimate price.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go to Reverend Traci Blackmon, but first to your MSNBC interview on Saturday, when you were in [Charlottesville], when you were rushed off the live shot as people around you were attacked. Let’s go to that.
REV. TRACI BLACKMON: The schedule for the Nazi and fascist example was supposed to be today and not last night. So we gathered in a standing room-only, maximum-capacity crowd to give a word of encouragement. I was invited in to give a speech to that regard. And as we were closing down—I’ve got to go! I’ve got to go! Got to go!
JOY-ANN REID: Oh, my goodness! I don’t know what is happening here. I don’t know what just happened there with our guest.
AMY GOODMAN: That was—that was Joy Reid of MSNBC, as [Traci] Blackmon was whisked away by an ally right there on the set. Reverend Blackmon, what happened then?
REV. TRACI BLACKMON: Well, I was giving the interview for Joy Reid—and thank you for having me here. And I also want to echo my condolences, my deepest sympathy to the family of Heather and to the family of the law enforcement officers who also lost their lives in this unnecessary, tragic event. Joy Reid had invited me on her show to talk about what had happened at the church the night before. And they were not aware of what was happening in Charlottesville until I began to make some calls to let people know that Charlottesville was under attack. They immediately sent a team out to cover. And their news team was stationed inside the perimeter of the events that were happening Saturday. And so, I was asked to come and do an interview. And with the permission of local people on the scene, the community organizers from Charlottesville—I asked them first—I was given permission to do that interview. And in the midst of the interview, we began to hear pops. And I didn’t know what those pops were. I still don’t know what those pops were. But the security that was there rushed me off from the camera. I really didn’t know what was happening in that moment.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Reverend Traci Blackmon, who’s speaking to us now from St. Louis, who was in Charlottesville this weekend, on Friday night addressing people in the church, and on Saturday on the street. Professor Jalane Schmidt is also with us. And you’re with Black Lives Matter. You were very involved with the organizing around what took place. Can you tell us what happened this weekend, what you understood was going to happen, how people organized, and the kind of response by all of the authorities? Jalane Schmidt is just being seated right now, so let me go to Cornel West. I heard—well, The Guardian reported that people that night, who were responding to the torch march, were actually attacked with swung torches, pepper spray and lighter fluid.
CORNEL WEST: Absolutely. You had a number of the courageous students, of all colors, at the University of Virginia who were protesting against the neofascists themselves. The neofascists had their own ammunition. And this is very important to keep in mind, because the police, for the most part, pulled back. The next day, for example, those 20 of us who were standing, many of them clergy, we would have been crushed like cockroaches if it were not for the anarchists and the anti-fascists who approached, over 300, 350 anti-fascists. We just had 20. And we’re singing “This Little light of Mine,” you know what I mean? So that the—
AMY GOODMAN: “Antifa” meaning anti-fascist.
CORNEL WEST: The anti-fascists, and then, crucial, the anarchists, because they saved our lives, actually. We would have been completely crushed, and I’ll never forget that. Meaning what? Meaning that you had the police holding back, on the one hand, so we couldn’t even get arrested. We were there to get arrested. We couldn’t get arrested, because the police had pulled back, and just allowing fellow citizens to go at each other, you see, and with all of the consequences that would follow therefrom.
So, in that sense, you know, I think what we’re really seeing, though, Sister Amy, is the American empire in decay, with the rule of big money, with massive militarism, facilitated by the scapegoating of the most vulnerable, of immigrants, Muslims, Jews, Arabs, gay, lesbians, trans and bisexuals, and black folk. The white supremacy was so intense. I’ve never seen that kind of hatred in my life. We stood there, and nine units went by, and looking right in our eyes. And they’re cussing me out, and so forth and so on. They’re lucky I didn’t lose my holy ghost, to tell you the truth, because I wanted to start swinging myself. I’m a Christian, but not a pacifist, you know. But I held back. But that kind of hatred—but that is just the theater. It’s big money. It’s big military. And it’s the way in which this capitalist civilization is leading us toward unbelievable darkness and bleakness. And the beautiful thing is the fightback. It was a beautiful thing to see all the people coming back. But they had more fascists than anarchists, more fascists than fightback.
The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

2017. Draft transcript of interview featuring first-hand accounts of clergy confronted by armed neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia.

An Open Letter to Trump About DACA

An Open Letter to Trump About DACA, from a Dreamer

Dear President Trump,

My name is Juan Escalante. I am a long time Florida resident, the oldest of three brothers, and a two-time graduate of Florida State University. I am also an undocumented immigrant who considers myself American in all ways but one — on paper.

My family and I came to the United States in 2000, shortly after Hugo Chavez became president of Venezuela. My parents had the foresight to predict the current chaos engulfing the oil-rich nation, which is why they left their family, belongings, and home in exchange for a chance to pursue the American Dream.

However, my family’s hopes of eventually becoming U.S. citizens were dashed in 2006, when we discovered that our immigration attorney mishandled our case. Nevermind that my family spent six years and thousands of dollars waiting in the infamous “line” immigrants are often told to get in — a line which does not actually exist.

Nor did it matter that my parents had started to build a business of their own, paid taxes, and sent me and my younger brothers to public school in Miami-Dade and Broward County. No. The only thing that mattered to the government was that my family could face deportation due to our lack of a couple of papers.

In 2007, after watching my mother cry inside an admissions office at Florida International University when she discovered that our immigration status meant a paralyzing financial burden when it came to paying for my college education, I became an immigration advocate.

For the past ten years, I have fearlessly and unapologetically advocated for the rights of the immigrant community. I have helped organize sit-ins inside congressional offices in support of the Dream Act, a piece of legislation that would allow young immigrants like myself to adjust our status. I have collected hundreds of thousands of signatures denouncing your stance on immigration, a clear expression of my First Amendment right of free speech. And I have lobbied for in-state tuition for undocumented students in Florida, an effort that earned Florida Governor Scott’s personal recognition back in 2014.

I am proud of my work as an immigration advocate, mainly because it has allowed me to overcome my fear of being deported, but also because it has allowed me to help families across the United States deal with the anxiety and depression that comes with being undocumented.

However, I am even prouder of the obstacles I have been able to overcome as an undocumented immigrant.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA), which was announced by President Obama in 2012, provided nearly 800,000 young immigrants with the opportunity to live free from the fear of deportation. It also gave to them a sense of freedom, thanks to the work permits and driver’s licenses it led to.

That freedom that young undocumented immigrants have enjoyed for the past five years has yielded significant gains for the United States. Thanks to DACA young immigrants have been able to pursue higher education, have started their own business, while others continue to work and contribute back to their communities. All of these young people are aspiring Americans, who are working day and night to ensure that they make use of their temporary deportation protection to give back to, not take from, the country they call home.

Ending DACA means disrupting the lives of almost a million people. Some of these young people may be your critics, myself included. Others may be working on their degrees or helping create jobs for American citizens. However, the truth is that, politics aside, all of them want to give back to this great country.

Mr. President, just as your parents wanted you to succeed, and just as you want your children to succeed, my parents took a great risk for my future. It’s what families do. My family and I do not have a pathway towards citizenship, not today, tomorrow, or ever. That is why DACA is so important.

Right now, DACA beneficiaries, often known as Dreamers, enrich this country with their talents, culture, and determination. All they want is for you to allow them to work and study without using them as targets for deportation or prey for the white supremacists who wish to see them sent back to a country that they do not know.

Written in 2017. Author: Juan Escalante. Immigrant. Coffee Drinker. NPR Fan. Media and Tech Enthusiast.