Showing posts with label Discrimination. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Discrimination. Show all posts

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Hate Unchecked

Yesterday and today, there were and are protests happening at mosques across the US to counter-pose Louis Farrakhan's "Justice Or Else" rally happening today. In response, MPOWER - a Muslim racial & economic justice organization - started a "Twitter storm" under the hashtag #HateUnchecked. In keeping with the theme, I've written a piece over on Medium about why these anti-Muslim protests are happening now (as opposed to say, the immediate aftermath of 9/11) and why they aren't merely an election year flash in the pan.

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11 there was only one public protest of a mosque which became that accidentally. In Chicago, there was a “patriotism” protest on 9/13 that ended up going past a mosque, and the crowd stopped there and rallied outside the mosque. Since then, there were incidents of vandalism of mosques and hate crimes against Muslims (and other brown people), but no organized protests explicitly against Islam until 2010. In the intervening years, two major things happened.
Read the rest at Medium

Sunday, September 27, 2015

When Animal Rights Trumps Human Rights

One time I was in the Lower East Side and a homeless man with a dog told me that he had just moved to the city for a job that didn't start until the following Monday and he was looking for help feeding his dog, crying that he didn't eat unless his dog ate. He asked for a hot dog from the 7-11 we were in front of. I insisted that if he was going to feed his dog that I would buy him two, one for him and one for his dog. I came out with two hot dogs, and he gave them both to his dog right there.

Needless to say, I was pretty pissed off when I came across this video yesterday. In it, members of a French animal rights group Cause Animale Nord wrestle a dog from a homeless man and run off with it. According to HuffPo, they have put the stolen dog up for adoption.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Workers, Women, and Revolution: From Inequality to Solidarity

Today, I published a recap of Julie Matthaei's excellent talk at the New School for Social Research last Tuesday. You can read the whole thing at the New School Economic Review. Here's a sample:

In 1973, the URPE women founded a Marxist-feminist reading group which due to growing interest over the years blossomed into multiple reading groups. Some of the early selections were Women and Revolution by Lydia Sargent and Capitalist Patriarchy and the Case for Socialist Feminism edited by Zillah R. Eisenstein. The groups investigated complex questions such as "What is the relationship between capitalism and patriarchy?" since on the one hand capitalism appeared to break down certain "traditional" gender roles but on the other hand led to the increasing proletarianization of women without providing much accommodation for their needs as women. Additionally, these reading groups discussed whether women's liberation could be left until after the revolution and whether a concern for women's liberation could stand to divide the working class as so many male socialists at the time asserted. The answer was a resounding no.

Simmering below the surface was the question of "womanhood" itself. It soon became clear that an approach that considered only capitalism and patriarchy was insufficient to explain the experience of women of color and queer women (much less queer women of color). After some internal struggle, complemented by changes in the wider feminist movement, URPE embraced an approach that analyzed the intersections of all sorts of oppression and exploitation. As Matthaei said, they concluded, "There is no universal experience of womanhood."

Read the full article at the New School Economic Review

Thursday, July 23, 2015

#tbt ICPH 2013 An Election Primer on New York City’s Homeless Families: The Public Policies of Four Mayors, 1978–2013

So in preparing for a job interview today, I am reading this report by the Institute for Children, Poverty & Homelessness. It's a fascinating tale of the increasingly terrible policies for homeless families since the Reagan counterrevolution. Prior to the mayorship of Ed Koch, New York City had no official emergency shelter system, and relied on a loose network of private landlords and non-profits to fill the gap. Koch implemented a more formalized public shelter system that often found itself underfunded, overcrowded, and in violation of the law. As the wave of privatization and means testing kicked in in the 90's, the shelter system was drawn down by contracting services and refusing requests for housing. When Bloomberg took office, he did everything in his power to take the burden of solving homelessness off of the city government by outsourcing services to private for-profit companies, most without any sort of contract.

The report does a really great job with telling the story of the Department of Housing Services and the city's battle with the law requiring that the homeless be taken care of. It does, in my opinion have two blind spots. The first is that it largely fails to present these events in the political and social context of their time. As such, it often presents the actions taken by certain mayors as merely bad decisions rather than ideologically driven decisions. Second, in its narrow scope to focus on just the provision of housing (and just emergency family housing at that), it fails to take into account the effect that policies around policing, public transfers, and public employment programs had on exacerbating the crisis of homelessness that the city has faced for at least the past 45 years.

Download the full report here

Monday, July 20, 2015

Why the #NoFlagginChallenge Is Actually Really Important

Since Bree Newsome's spiderwoman takedown of the South Carolina statehouse's confederate flag and its subsequent removal through official legislation, a wave of anti-flagging vigilantism has begun.

If you haven't yet seen the #NoFlagginChallenge, the videos below will get you up to speed.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Shallow Green Resistance

I never really got into the radical environmental movement. I'm sympathetic, but by the time I became any sort of radical leftist, the green scare was in full swing. As national law enforcement cracked down and with virtually all militant environmental activism labeled an act of terrorism, much of the core of the radical environmental movement either went to jail, went soft, or steered clear of the brand of heroics that had become a right of passage.

As corporations continued their push against any and all environmental conservation, advocacy for the environment was left to increasingly out-funded non-profits.

Additionally, a conspiratorial, post-9/11, post-crash political climate filled the environmental movement with entirely too many new age weirdos. This shift brought with it a distinct taming of the movement into a syncretic hodge-podge of lifestyle environmentalists.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sure #LoveWins. Now What?

Now that the institution of marriage -- though perhaps problematic in its own right -- has been successfully challenged on the basis of part of its exclusivity, perhaps now we can move on to issues that materially affect the queer community irrespective of their assimilation into heteromonogamous modes of romance and kinship. The next battles for queer rights will likely be against housing discrimination, healthcare access, and public services for homeless and low income folks. A while back I wrote about the perennial battle against job discrimination:

Even with their libertarian bent, mainstream economists have failed to pick up on studies showing that LGBT discrimination costs the US economy $64 billion each year in turnover costs. Additionally, skilled LGBT workers are being needlessly kept out of jobs that they would otherwise be highly qualified for. Economists refer to this as “opportunity cost.”

But they aren’t referring to it.

They aren’t referring to it despite the fact that the labor market is generally considered the economist’s domain. They aren’t referring to it despite the fact that LGBT workers make up about 8 million of the estimated 130 million US workers. They aren’t referring to it despite the fact that the President has made countless nods to the need to pass this piece of legislation. They aren’t referring to it, despite legal scholars asserting that the protections in place for sex discrimination are insufficient to protect LGBT workers.

Certainly, some commentators on the bill believe that it is once again destined to die in committee. There are certainly others who believe that the right to dignified employment free from harassment and bigotry is merely ideological. Further there are others who are concerned that ENDA will fail to protect those least likely to be given employment protection in the first place: those working for the military, religious institutions, and small businesses. Historically, landmark civil rights legislation has been anything but comprehensive or easy.

Regardless, there is absolutely no excuse for the failure of professional economists to say anything about what may be the first national labor rights victory for the trans* community in the United States.

Read the rest at the New School Economic Review

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Klansman in the Sheets, Lone Wolf in the Streets

Last Monday, in my "White Pride" Matters Reading List I mentioned that the term "Lone Wolf" did not originate with law enforcement or the media, but rather within the white nationalist movement itself. I was given the opportunity to elaborate on this point in Think Progress the following Wednesday.

The long version is tale of FBI infiltration, social progress, and legal action all bearing down on a violent movement of ideological hatred. The result is a chaotic strategy of coordinated violence in the hands of the most dangerous ideology the world has ever known. From the piece:

Coupled with the return of combat-trained veterans from Vietnam, COINTELPRO led to a qualitative split within white hate organizations. The formal organizations and alternative political parties such as the Klan, the National Socialist Movement, and the Aryan Nations pursued a nominally non-violent white nationalist line. Meanwhile, many members of these organizations began forming underground paramilitary organizations such as the White Patriot Party, Posse Comitatus, and The Order. While there was undeniably a large degree of cross-over between these two camps, both disavowed involvement in the activities of the other.

In the early 1990s, Tom Metzger thought up a new form of organized white nationalist violence. Metzger, who cut his teeth with various chapters of the Klan before dabbling in electoral politics, noticed that militant white nationalist organizations, including his own White Aryan Resistance (WAR), were being taken out through criminal conspiracy charges and civil lawsuits. Through WAR’s newspaper and later its website, he began to advocate for a strategy he called Lone Wolf.

Read the full article here

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

There Is No Law; There Is Only Enforcement

This past weekend, Rand Paul led a filibuster on the Senate floor to delay certain provisions of the Patriot Act. As of noon at night on Monday, the NSA "couldn't" collect massive amounts of domestic phone call metadata in three month intervals. Technically, they "couldn't" do that about a month before, but appeals courts?


Friday, May 15, 2015


For the past two days, the Twitter hashtag #BlackChurchSex has been the hub of a very deep and thoughtful conversation around sexual expectations within Black Christian communities. As a white Ashkenazi Jew, I have no place in this conversation, and do not intend to add to it. Rather, I believe that a similar conversation needs to happen about white Christian communities. Unlike the conversation among Black Christians, the white church has the political and financial capital to impose their regressive and oppressive sexual mores on the rest of us. Thus, this conversation must involve all of us.

So let's start:

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Kyle K. Moore on Racial Retirement Inequity

My friend and colleague Kyle Moore has been keeping busy producing some really jarring statistics about retirement inequality. Listen to Kyle talk about the facts and some possible remedies below the cut.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

#BoycottIndiana? I Don't Buy It

By now, most major US corporations are fairly well-practiced in the art of Culture WarsTM PR. State-level Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, which give businesses license to discriminate on the basis of the religious convictions of the owners, now exist in over 2/5ths of states. An additional 11 states have standing court decisions implementing similar provisions.

Now that Arkansas has passed an RFRA, large corporations are threatening...well not much yet. But they are writing sternly worded press releases and canceling meetings. Some Indiana-based businesses have discussed slowing expansion.

But let's pretend they go through with it. Angie's list actually does refuse to expand in Indiana. Is this altruism sincere, or just another cynical exercise in pinkwashing? Certainly, in the first instance, businesses will face lower overall profits. But will these lower profits persist? I'm not so sure.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Spoke Too Soon

Last week, I wrote about how no economists seem to want to actually publicly write about queer economic issues. Rajiv Sethi at Barnard proved me wrong.

Rajiv notes that in the wake of the passage of RFRA, certain businesses have begun posting notices that they will serve everyone. Sethi reduces this scenario to a signaling game. He goes through some potential outcomes depending on political demographics of particular areas.

I'm skeptical, however, in the fidelity of this sticker as a signaling device. Sethi poses the mere existence of these stickers anywhere in the state as an impetus for every business to make an active decision as to whether they support or oppose serving queer folks.

While I tend to agree that the adoption of such a sticker sends a clear message, I would never underestimate the ability of conservatives to deny the bigotry that they harbor. To me, it seems unlikely that a refusal to post the sticker in itself will be taken by red-state liberal consumers as a clear rejection of equality.

It's yet to be seen whether any businesses will adopt "Breeders Only" signs. I really hope not.

Friday, March 27, 2015

"No Homo" Economicus

I wrote sometime last year about the blind spot on the part of most economists about queer issues. At the time, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act was languishing in a House Committee.

Thus far, it seems the situation hasn't changed much. Yesterday, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a "religious freedom" law allowing businesses to refuse service that violates their religious beliefs. It appears in the 21st century, businesses now have not only free speech, but also religious convictions.

Just like in the previous century, state religious freedom laws largely serve to supersede federal non-discrimination laws. Whereas with last century, these laws were largely directed at maintaining the system of racial segregation, nowadays religious freedom means discrimination against the queer community.

There are presently 19 states that have these laws on the books. Despite the fact that such discriminatory measures are almost always rebuked by economists decades after their repeal, economists with a public platform rarely take the opportunity to defend the "free market" so far as it pertains to actual freedom.

Who knows? Maybe they'll start paying attention next week.