Tag Archive | Civil Rights

Overplaying the Race Card

Originally posted at the Center for Community Change blog.

The race card

Racism still alive/They just be concealin’ it — Kanye West, Never Let Me Down

Hearkening back to the days when American conservatives openly defended the “peculiar institution”, today some conservatives are returning to their prejudiced roots and embracing hate speech and hateful policies across the country. The moral bankruptcy, practical lunacy and political idiocy demonstrated by these short-sighted tactics undermine their future as a palatable movement. Several examples follow: Read More…


It’s all connected

What’s up fam
This piece is going to be a mix of various things that have been on my mind.

1.    If you haven’t noticed yet, the flurry of news surrounding Haiti relief is done. This is where the real work begins because character is what we do when no one is looking. So here we go, no more moving facebook updates, editorial cartoons, or grand speeches by political leaders. Now that no one is looking is the perfect opportunity to give more of your self. So let’s chill with the “We will never forget” slogans because if you remember and don’t do anything, what’s the point?

2.    So it appears that the Dems have decided to finally commit to using reconciliation to finish health care reform. Senate Majority Leader Reid put forth a goal of having this done in 60 days and I hope and pray Democrats get this done because it is simply unconscionable for a country flush with so much wealth to have so many people go without adequate healthcare.

3.    I wanted to share a quote that has had me thinking, “The greatest hindrance to living is expectancy, which depends upon the morrow and wastes to-day.”

-Lucius Annaeus Seneca
“On the Shortness of Life”
translated by John W. Basore, Loeb Classical Library
London: William Heinemann, 1932

In response to this quote, what expectations do you have of yourself and others?  How do you think these expectations have helped or hindered? What informs these expectations? Do you really carpe diem or are you one of those people who go through the week like a zombie expecting to truly live when get off work on Friday?

4.    I haven’t heard anything about the guy that flew his plane into the IRS building. See now if the guy was Muslim, it would be front page every day for at least two weeks. What I don’t want is more finger pointing based on race, what I want is appropriate and proportional responses based on behavior, not race.

5.   Black History month is almost over and before we move on, I just want to thank all the Black people whose efforts and names will never make it into a history book or a PBS Black History month program. I represent am 27 years of Black History but I also stand on the shoulders of giants and so many elders have pulled me aside to show guidance and encouragement. Black History did not end with Civil Rights but it will be if we don’t have a burning desire to make the world better for our kids and grand kids. How much more would those coming after us resent us for being so selfish for not fighting as if all is well.

Stay up fam,

Brandon Q.

p.s. I really wish I could write more fam. Law school and life make it difficult to write the more in depth pieces I used to do more often. My apologies.

No Internet Poll Taxes

My friend and colleague James Rucker wrote a piece on Huffington Post asking a simple question: Why are Some Civil Rights Groups and Leaders on the Wrong Side of Net Neutrality? I left a comment, and this post elaborates on the points I made there.

Participation, Inclusion, Equality

Democratic systems flourish when people participate. Having a voice changes people’s relationship with that system and the system’s relationship with the people.

When everyone can’t participate, the system no longer reflects the values and perspectives of the people it impacts. Barriers to entry create divisions, inequality and unfairness.

El Dorado

The Internet was designed as an egalitarian utopia: the El Dorado of the “good ideas win” ethos. Anyone with access to the net could connect with anyone else. Every idea had an equal opportunity to succeed.

When the Internet was taken hostage by telecommunications companies, they threatened this order. They limited participation online by pricing most low-income communities out of the market, creating the Digital Divide. This practice of exclusion reduced the diversity of thought online. It put the Internet on an identical path to becoming an echo chamber of pale, stale, male attitudes.

Next Stop: Poll Taxes

The redlining was round one, but the next round is more sinister. Telecoms are now considering crushing freedom of expression online by creating Jim Crow-esque poll taxes on content they consider unfit for higher-speed, higher-quality Internet connections. This assault on the freedom by private interests is as wrong now as it has ever been.

This should raise specific concern within the civil rights community. Civil rights organizations fought and won the war against poll taxes over 40 years ago. It’s alarming that they are willing to open the door for this type of discrimination in the 21st century. It’s up to us, the membership, the foot-soldiers of these organizations and of this 21st century civil rights movement, to take a stand against this disgusting discrimination.

Protecting Internet Freedom by ensuring Net Neutrality

The FCC is considering creating rules to protect Internet Freedom. Learn more about the process at Save The Internet. I testified at a hearing in December to voice my strong support of protecting Internet Freedom.

You can join the fight by demanding that Congress work alongside the FCC to protect Internet Freedom and outlaw discrimination by telecom companies.

Sign the petition today.

One Love. One II.

Open Gates – My FCC Testimony

On Tuesday, December 15, 2009, I testified at an FCC workshop entitled “Speech, Democratic Engagement and the Open Internet.” Video of the hearing is embedded below and available on YouTube. The moderator introduces me at 58:27, and my roughly 6 minute remarks begin at 59:07. The Q&A that begins at 1:26:18 (My answers are at 1:28:00-1:29:29 and 1:41:20-1:43:31).

My message was that an open internet is necessary for the political participation of all people of all shapes, sizes, races and income in the future. My full opening statement with references is below.

One Love. One II.

Read More…

Civil rights groups must support Net Neutrality

Civil rights are fundamentally about protecting fairness, equality, and freedom for all people. Net neutrality is about protecting fairness, equality and freedom for all online data. From a values perspective, these two concepts are functionally equivalent.

Values aren’t everything

Unfortunately, these shared values are not convincing enough for some civil rights organizations. The Broadband Opportunity Coalition (which, ironically, has no website) consists of the National Urban League, the Asian American Justice Center, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the National Council of La Raza, and other groups that argue for fairness and equality every day.

Well, every day they’re not talking about net neutrality. On their off days, they “question” the impact of net neutrality in letters to the FCC:

If the history of civil rights in America teaches us anything, it is that facially neutral laws and regulations are not always applied neutrally to the constituencies we represent. We certainly don’t want that to happen to Internet regulation too, and we’re very concerned that, despite your very best intentions, some aspects of net neutrality might not turn out to be neutral as applied to our constituencies.

They don’t come out and say it, but this is setting the table for their rejection of fair content distribution online.

Neutral networks lead to empowered communities

The truth is network neutrality is critical to ensuring equal access to the Internet, its content, and the empowerment that comes with that. Without network neutrality protection, ISPs and telecom companies will have free reign to discriminate against the distribution of content created by minority producers. This will make the Internet just like other mass media channels in which the authentic voices of people of color have been marginalized.

Fairness, equality, and freedom must be protected on and offline.

Sean Bell

Like many of you, I am outraged that the three detectives were acquitted of killing Sean Bell. Sean was 23 the night he was set to be married the next day and though he was unarmed, the cops thought him dangerous enough to deserve being killed. And Sean wasn’t just killed, he was shot 50 times. It is crap like this that make me upset as to why Black people fear and distrust the police.

I know there will be rallies held in New York to protest this miscarriage of justice and if you are in the area, you should go. After the marches though, Bell’s story like Amadou Diallo and others will be filed in the Black consciousness as the continuing saga of injustice that has plagued Black folk since we were kidnapped from Africa. Surely this is worth Black folk being bitter right?

Bell was killed at a strip club and the undercover detectives were there to investigate if there was prostitution going on. Prostitution is wrong I get it. But quite frankly, how in the world do you investigate prostitution? I mean you tell me that these detectives couldn’t have set up a camera and watch the footage from the precinct? Aren’t there enough unsolved murders in the hood that could be a better use of these detectives’s time? And while I don’t have a J.D., how is it these detectives were not brought before a jury?

I try to imagine the hell I would raise if one of my people suffered a death like Sean Bell. The fact is that while I never knew Sean, he is my brother and your brother too. Our prayers go out to Bell’s family and friends as they and we try to sort out this injustice.

Stay up fam,

Brandon Q.

The Future of the Civil Rights Movement

Our good friend and true SuperSpade Jill Tubman from Jack and Jill Politics put up this awesome piece about the future of the Civil Rights Movement and how technology figures into the equation. I have posted the piece in its entirety and it is a must read.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Civil Rights Groups Wither – New Ones Taking Their Place

This Washington Post story Civil Rights Groups Seeing Gradual End of Their Era ends with this sentence though I’d like to start my response with it. It quotes E. Ethelbert Miller:


“What would happen if W.E.B. Du Bois or Marcus Garvey had a laptop?” Du Bois helped found the NAACP in 1909, and Garvey, a rival, started a back-to-Africa movement around the same time.


We are the answer to that question. In the vacuum of black leadership 40 years after Martin Luther King’s death, it’s his spiritual grandchildren that are carrying his mission forward now and not the civil rights groups he might have recognized. From the WaPo piece (emphasis mine):


In New York, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), which helped shape the movement’s philosophy after adopting Mohandas K. Gandhi’s doctrine of nonviolent protest, is scarcely known outside Manhattan. CORE conceded that it now has about 10 percent of the 150,000 members it listed in the 1960s. Read More…