Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Christopher Columbus of Brooklyn and 21st Century White Settlers

White Settlers of New York City

Sometimes people who don’t filter their thoughts do the world a great service. Such was the case in New York City last week when video of a fight over side walk space revealed the sinister nature of gentrification.

The video shows a white man arguing with a white couple after he claimed to be bumped by their baby’s stroller. In part of his tirade, the mystery man is heard to say, “The only reason white people are living here is because I settled this fucking neighborhood for you.”

Needless to say the man now dubbed “Christopher Columbus of Brooklyn” is not a person whose actions ought to be repeated. Notwithstanding the abject narcissism displayed by this person, he spoke a very serious truth. White people gentrifying Brooklyn or Harlem or Washington DC or Oakland or Chicago taker their role very seriously. They see themselves as conquerors and they act accordingly. When white people wanted to move back into the cities they had fled, they were called urban pioneers and homesteaders.

The use of these names is not at all accidental. White Americans still see themselves as pilgrims or pioneers stealing Indians land. The imagery is a powerful one even for people who did not play a direct part in that story. No matter. If they are white they are invited into the circle which they may find so intoxicating.

A settler community is violent and rapacious. They may live in New York or in an Israeli settlement stolen from Palestinian land. They may have arrived at Plymouth Rock or St. Augustine, Florida or Tasmania in Australia. The end result is always the same. Indigenous communities are wiped out and settlers get the spoils.

While the ill-mannered man in the Brooklyn video has been lambasted for bad behavior, the people who could stop him are silent. He is a villain and a figure of fun in social media, but the fracas has not inspired any serious discussions about the massive displacement taking place in New York.

Neither the New York City Council nor the democrats who control the state assembly chamber have come up with any meaningful legislative agenda to prevent the 21st century pilgrims from eradicating the native population. While luxury high rises proliferate and the number of protected apartments decline, the misleaders of New York do nothing.

The masses know that they are being chased out of town, but there is no one to help make their voices heard. Their concerns are diminished with foolish questions about whether people have the right to live where they like. Yes, everyone should have that right, but it ought to be extended to everyone, regardless of means. Harlemites and Brooklynites have a right to live in the neighborhoods they have occupied for decades. That right shouldn’t be dismissed because the newcomers have money and are present because red lining was reversed and big money has been poured into New York.

The only voice of reason in this sorry episode comes from a black person viewing the incident as he says, “Thank you white guy.” 

I’m sure he was being ironic.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Protest held near UN headquarters over refugee crisis

I participated in a great rally yesterday here in New York City. You can see some of my comments starting at about 29 seconds. We protested the economic and political policies which cause millions of people to leave their homes in desperation.

It was also the first anniversary of the disappearance of 43 Mexican students in Ayotzinapa.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

#BlackLivesMatter marches on Minnesota State Fair

I didn't talk about this particular action but about the terrible state of black people's lives and my concerns about the Black Lives Matter organization. Only three minutes. Not enough time.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Syria Forum at International Action Center on August 12, 2015

I was on a panel at the International Action Center with Sara Flounders, Ramsey Clark, Joe Lombardo, Dr. Ghias Moussa and Lawrence Hamm. We discussed Syria, What's Ahead? Diplomacy or Military Escalation? I start at about 27 minutes.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


I co-chaired this panel at the United National Antiwar Coalition on May 9, 2015 in Secaucus, NJ.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Uber: Neo Liberal Bastards from Hell Calling My House

This afternoon I got a phone call from Uber, the $40 billion for hire car company trying to take over the world (it operates in 57 countries) by paying drivers peanuts. I must disclose here that I have an Uber app on my phone and I have used the service  six or seven times in the past year or so.

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio is sponsoring legislation to regulate the for hire car industry.  That sounds reasonable to me, given Uber’s bad labor track record of racing drivers to the pay scale bottom and flooding an already crowded city with cars, but it didn’t get to be a big company by playing nice.

Uber has hired David Plouffe, a former Obama campaign aide as a lobbyist. Plouffe is trying to get King Rat Al Sharpton on board to fight the mayor.

This is all fairly standard corruption but today I came home to hear this robocall on my answering machine.

“Hi. It’s Molly from Uber and we need your help. Uber ended the days when you couldn’t get a ride during rush hour or in bad weather. Now mayor de Blasio is trying to bring the bad old days back because his billionaire taxi donors are telling him to.

But why on earth would your Council Member ever consider voting for something like this? They should stand up for you, not take orders from the mayor.

You Council Member is still undecided on this issue and we need your voice. Please call and tell them to vote against mayor de Blasio’s anti-Uber bill. Because you and all New Yorkers deserve reliable transportation.

Paid for by Uber 212 257-1745.”

There are now more Uber cars on the streets than the yellow taxis which provide a living wage. I will tell my City Council Member to back the mayor’s legislation.  I will also tell Uber not to call me again. Any business that hires Al Sharpton is inherently corrupt and will get no support from me. Then again, de Blasio thought that Sharpton was working for him. There really is no honor among thieves.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Russian Documentary "President"

I was watching the May 9th Victory Day celebrations on youtube and came across a Russia 24 network documentary about president Vladimir Putin. It appeared to be a history of his presidency and included interviews with him. Of course it was in Russian and I couldn't understand any of it.

Ah, the wonders of the internet. Thanks to Russia Insider I found a link to the eight-part English translation.

Thank you interwebs!

Episode 1

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Left Forum 2015, Liberation Politics in the Post Obama World

Black Agenda Report always has a great panel at the recent Left Forum. Glen Ford, Ajamu Baraka, Nellie Bailey, Marsha Coleman-Adebayo and yours truly. The subject was Liberation Politics in the Post Obama World. BAR always brings it.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Police officer charged with killing 2 unarmed African Americans, found N...

I was a guest on Presstv yesterday. I was asked to comment on the acquittal of a Cleveland policeman who murdered two black people in 2012. I was asked why these crimes persist. My answer, "Racism."

UNAC Conference Political Prisoners Panel

I co-chaired a panel along with Jeff Mackler at the recent United National Antiwar Coalition conference. Jeff and I both serve on the Administrative Committee of UNAC.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

End the US Wars Around The World and At Home

I was among those on a UNAC Panel on October 25, 2014. We discussed many aspects of the wars waged both at home and abroad. I start at around 4:30 but check out all the panelists.