Archive | March 2009

Twin cities still fighting – Flint and Detroit

What’s up fam,

flint

I have been incredibly busy planning the Michigan Policy Summit and there so many issues I want to address. Today, I want to highlight two stories that serve as a grim reminder of how devastating a situation we find ourselves with this economic crisis.

For starters, I want to highlight a story from Flint, one of Michigan’s larger cities where

The second story comes from Detroit (current unemployment rate 22.2%) and the impending closing of one of my favorite places in the world, “Baker’s Keyboard Lounge,” one of the oldest jazz clubs in the country and is truly a jewel of Detroit and America. For seventy five years, most jazz greats you can think of during this era has made a stop at Baker’s. This recession is swallowing people whole and in a city and region suffering so bad economically, an evening Baker’s soothed your soul with music and an atmosphere that speaks to a value common amongst Michiganders; ruggedly positive. If you are living in Michigan, make a trip to Baker’s and do what you can to help keep it open.

Stay up fam and keep fighting the good fight,

Brandon Q.

The Ruins of Detroit?

Is this photo eulogy of my home city of Detroit by two French photographers deeply depressing or a vision of opportunity?

Detroit’s Beautiful, Horrible Decline

Downtown Detroit

Downtown Detroit

Brush Park

Brush Park

Lee Plaza Hotel

Lee Plaza Hotel

Farwell Building

Farwell Building

One Love. One II.

The Logic of Life: Racial segregation

Take a look at this 2 minute video explanation of Thomas Schelling’s Models of Segregation. The model demonstrates that even a mild preference for the colour of your neighbour can lead to extreme segregation.

 

The moral of the story:

Although we as individuals may be rational and we may be tolerant, the society that we produce together may be neither rational nor tolerant.

Think about this the next time someone tells you that because Barack Obama’s the President, we live in a post-racial society.

One Love. One II.

How Much Black History Did You Learn Last Month?

Confused Black ManIf the answer is “none,” go talk to a Black person older than 60. Maybe you “didn’t have time” last month, or you “already know everything,” but chances are that neither was/is the case. Learning history, though, is like starting to exercise: better late than never. Get moving.

If the answer is “a little,” I’m happy for you, but I challenge you to take time during the rest of the year to continually educate yourself on Black History and Black people’s contributions to this nation and our planet.

If the answer is “a lot,” then you did your people proud. There’s no sense in having a month to focus on something if you don’t focus on it. I challenge you to now teach some of that history to someone else.

One Love. One II.

Photo Credit: fotonomad2007 on flickr.

Rep. Conyers, the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act is not fair

What’s good fam,

Bless his heart, Rep. John Conyers is on the wrong side of a very important piece of legislation he sponsored known as the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act.  In short, the way it stands now, researchers and scientists that get National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding are required to allow a copy of their work be published by PubMed Central, which is the free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature. The operative in the previous statement is free, which is important because it allows people like you and I to review the research that informs our country’s health policies.

I flew to DC to get Rep. Conyers to sign the Health Care for Americans Now principles and I applaud his views on the need to reform our health care system but the fact is simple, citizens should get access to health research that they pay for, period. The larger point is that this bill is one shot across the bow to target open access, an important principle which means that citizen peer-reviewed scientific and scholarly literature should be free and more available on the internet.

I didn’t know this but a new report by transparency group MAPLight.org shows that sponsors of this bill — led by Rep. John Conyers — received twice as much money from the publishing industry as those on the relevant committee who are not sponsors. Rep. Conyers, do the right thing and think about the implications that your bill will have on starving citizen-driven activism from the one thing they need most to hold the powers that be accountable…information.

If you want to get involved to help defeat this bill, link up with our good friends at Change Congress that are doing great work to root out special interests in our national politics.

Stay up fam,

How the Left must handle President Obama

Activism is my rent.I was recently asked to comment on an article by Linda Burnham about how the Left, specifically the anti-Capitalist Left, should feel about and work with the Obama Administration. It’s called “Notes on an Orientation to the Obama Presidency”.

There is real debate about how ardent Leftists, Progressive activists, think-tanks, etc. should approach the government under President Obama. Groups that have felt alienated by American politics and the pervasiveness of Conservative ideology have been frustrated & cynical for the past 60 years. They are not content with incremental solutions to big problems. They are almost offended when with presented with nuanced distinctions in policy or rhetoric that at the end of the day is not demonstrably different from the status quo.

While I find myself in this group much more often than not, there are some real opportunities to make progress on a fundamentally Progressive agenda. We must take proper advantage of these times, lest this once-in-a-generation opportunity pass us by.

Here is my full response: Read More…

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