Friday, March 10, 2006

Yes. It's For Real. Brooklyn House of Detention Seen as a Jail With Retail


"By almost any measure, the Brooklyn House of Detention, 10 stories of razor wire and wire-mesh windows in Boerum Hill, is a repellent sight. But, the city reasons, it need not be so. So, to attract people other than criminal suspects to the 760-bed jail, the Correction Department has decided to convert part of the complex into 24,000 square feet of retail shopping space. [...]

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Mr. Horn said, "enthusiastically" supports the redevelopment plan, part of a $240 million reconception of the jail that will most likely also add more cell space. Mr. Horn declined to say exactly how many more inmates a bigger Brooklyn jail would hold. [...]

Mr. Markowitz, who is known to gush about how great Brooklyn is, said that even a boutique hotel on jail grounds would be nice — but only if the city razed the existing structure and rebuilt it from scratch.

"If it's designed in such a way that the guests feel totally comfortable," he said yesterday, "why not?"

Mr. Markowitz added that although he would prefer to see the jail closed permanently, if it is to be open it should also have retail and, preferably, residential space.

"Let's make it something that we never would have dreamed about," he said.

Retail experts said a deluxe supermarket would do well in the neighborhood, a nexus of Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill and Downtown Brooklyn.

"Food would be a very important component there," said Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, a retail consulting and investment banking firm based in New York. "Coffee would be critical. From there, you might go to something jeans-oriented, or footwear."

And, of course, Mr. Davidowitz added, "a home store." (more)

Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome

Thanks Wood s lot. By Silja J.A. Talvi and from In These Times

"Racism erodes our very humanity. No one can be truly liberated while living under the weight of oppression, argues Dr. Joy DeGruy Leary in her new book, Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing. [...] Leary adapts our understanding of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to propose that African Americans today suffer from a particular kind of intergenerational trauma: Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome (PTSS).

The systematic dehumanization of African slaves was the initial trauma, explains Leary, and generations of their descendents have borne the scars. Since that time, Americans of all ethnic backgrounds have been inculcated and immersed in a fabricated (but effective) system of race “hierarchy,” where light-skin privilege still dramatically affects the likelihood of succeeding in American society." more

Thursday, March 09, 2006

You Know It's Hard Out Here for a Ho

Do you think there's any connection between/among the promotion of black men as the "pimp" & black women as willing "ho" and the global emphasis on and anxiety around sexual slavery as practice, as commercial enterprise? In each case particular underlying economic (and other) factors, interests, causes are repressed. Think, for example, of Nicholas Kristof of the NYTimes and his "purchasing" (abolitionist emancipation) of Cambodian prostitutes and his new focus on prostitutes in Calcutta. In his focus on prostitution Alexander Cockburn writes that he ignores that, "India has endured more than a decade of virtually unimaginable rural torment consequent upon imposition of neoliberal "reforms" editorially endorsed and endlessly hailed by Times reporters" and the relationship of "women's issues" to the "agrarian crisis." (See: The Nation (Nick Kristof's Brothel Problem).)

OK. Now the production of black man as pimp and black woman as (willing) ho stands in marked contrast to those who struggle to free themselves from prostition, who experience prostitution as degradation and not as "style" qua authenticity. Does this become a way again of making black bodies (and in particular black female bodies) incapable of being violated? Is this another return of the body (the subject) impossible to rape?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Vermont Towns Endorse Move to Impeach Bush

NEWFANE, Vt. (AP) -- In five Vermont communities, a centuries-old tradition of residents gathering in town halls to conduct local business became a vehicle to send a message to Washington: Impeach the president.

An impeachment article, approved by a paper ballot 121-29 in Newfane Tuesday, calls on Vermont's lone member of the U.S. House, independent Rep. Bernie Sanders, to file articles of impeachment against President Bush, alleging he misled the nation into the Iraq war and engaged in illegal domestic spying. (more)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


TAPE OF BILL O'REILLY: If you're poor, you're powerless. Not only in America, but everywhere on earth. If you don't have enough money to protect yourself from danger, danger's gonna find you. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina should be taught in every American school, if you don't get educated, if you don't develop a skill and force yourself to work hard, you'll most
likely be poor, and sooner or later you'll be standing on a symbolic rooftop waiting for help. Chances are, that help will not be quick in coming.
ASHLEY NELSON: That's what he said?
ASHLEY NELSON: Basically saying if you're rich, you live, if you're poor, you die. And I didn't have no idea that it was a crime to be poor, and the punishment was death.
ALEX BLUMBERG: What was the first that you heard about the hurricane and what preparations did you make?
ASHLEY NELSON: When I heard about the hurricane, it was Saturday, and you know it's supposed to come that Sunday night. So when I heard about it, I went over to my grandmother's house, and my whole family was over there and I'm like, um, y'all come on -- I'm just so amped up -- I'm like, "y'all come on, let's go rent a car, we gotta evacuate, there's a hurricane coming!" And everybody looked at me stupid, they're like, "all right, you gonna go rent a car because we have that kind of money to go out of town, and we got that kind of money to do that kind of stuff, like being sarcastic about it and I’m like, "Man, I forgot, we poor." I promise you, that's what I thought in my head. I forgot we were poor.
ALEX BLUMBERG: and were there people who were able to get out who had a car?
ASHLEY NELSON: yes. Cause I remember, I remember that day, I was standing outside and a lot of people running from their house to their car, from their house to their car, just throwing stuff, just throwing stuff, trying to hurry up, and get out before the (?) gets too hectic. That was a handful of people and everyone else was just sitting there watching, watching how people leave and then they gotta stay. Cause I know that's what I'm thinking when I see people leaving, I'm like, "they're leaving and I gotta stay." And there's not even an option, I have to stay.
ALEX BLUMBERG: Ashley rode out the storm at her father's house in Jefferson Parish, across the river in New Orleans where the rest of her family lives. There wasn't too much flooding there, so the next morning they went and found all the scrap wood they could, blown down branches, old benches, and started a fire to cook the little bit of meat they'd been able to buy at the store before the storm came. They figured that would hold them until rescuers got there, but then one day passed and no one came, and then two days, they had no TV, they didn't know what was going on.
ASHLEY NELSON: I thought, just like my daddy, I thought like my dad, "somebody would come to help us." Nobody came to help us. No Red Cross trucks, no nothing. I mean, at least they could have dropped us some water. You know what it's like to not have water? You get a taste in your mouth that's just, aw, it's horrible. Your mouth all dry and you can't even think right. You start getting delusional and hallucinating about things.
ALEX BLUMBERG: Did you actually have hallucinations?
ALEX BLUMBERG: What did you hallucinate?
ASHLEY NELSON: Water bottles. More water bottles. Big Kentwood gallon jugs. I'm serious. I went crazy. I mean, I would just sit down and rock and think, "is the world going to turn to hell and we all gonna burn?" I mean, I just started going crazy. Really crazy.
ALEX BLUMBERG: did it make you realize, "oh, so this is what it feels like, this is what it feels like to be starving."
ASHLEY NELSON: I thought that when I was in Jefferson Parish, I thought, I was like, "man, I'm starving!" That's what I was like to myself, "man, I'm starving!" You know how your stomach growls? Like, when you starving, you get cramps in your stomach and it feels like your stomach just bent in into your back. I mean the best bet is for you to lean forward.
ALEX BLUMBERG: How scared were you?
ASHLEY NELSON: I thought I was gonna die. I mean, I look at it like this, now. 9-11 was bad cause it was terrorists, you know, it's no surprise people hate the United States. It's no big surprise. I mean, but New Orleans was worse, because it was our own government who betrayed us. They betrayed us. They betrayed us. Like, they left us there to die. And then you hear George Bush telling the FEMA man, "you're doing a good job," -- what do you mean by that? What do you mean by that? Because I mean, people are dying, so you telling him he's doing a good job, what you're saying, like, that's good that people are dying? I never understood that and I really wish I can meet him to ask him, "what do you mean by that? 'He's
doing a good job.'"
IRA GLASS: 18-year-old Ashley Nelson talking with Alex Blumberg, two days after that the head of FEMA, "the FEMA man," Michael Brown, who President Bush said was doing such a good job, was removed from all duties relating to Hurricane Katrina.

After the Flood - LISTEN AGAIN


Ira Glass, This American Life

Act One. Middle of Somewhere. Well, when Denise Moore finally made her way out of New Orleans -- she had been at the Convention Center -- she was surprised to see the coverage.
DENISE MOORE: I kept hearing the word "animals," and I didn't see animals. We were trapped like animals, but I saw the greatest humanity I'd ever seen from the most unlikely places.
IRA GLASS: Denise Moore eventually ended up at the convention center with her mom, her niece, and her niece's two year old daughter, but the day before the storm, because Denise's mom worked at Memorial Hospital in New Orleans, and because hospital employees were allowed to stay there during hurricanes, all of them went to the hospital. They were given a room to stay in, but later they were kicked out of the room for two white nurses.
DENISE MOORE: Yeah, so I got really mad.
DENISE MOORE: You know, so I went home. And, um, so I went to, went to the house. I set up my twin bed in the hallway. The hallway's supposed to be, structurally, the best place to be if the building's gonna be moving around, if there's high winds. (more)

Monday, March 06, 2006

Come Hell or High Water: Michael Eric Dyson on Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster

From democracy now

"MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Well, I think that what we saw revealed in Hurricane Katrina was a spectacle of disaster, disaster colored by race, by class, by poverty, issues that the administration and the American people to a frightening degree have neglected, but this administration's ineptitude, its inexperience, its ignorance, combined with its chronic cronyism, led to the sight of mostly poor black people on television -- but we know it was more broad than that -- being left to their own devices, and that was only a metaphor, unfortunately, of the way in which they had been left behind long ago by administrations, black and white, which had refused to combat the chronic forms of health care that they were lacking, the poverty that they endured, 134,000 people in New Orleans were without cars. They weren’t stuck -- They weren't stupid or stubborn; they were stuck. And so, I think that this hurricane washed to the fore what we all knew was there." (more)

Sunday, March 05, 2006

"Slavery Denial"

From black prof

"Almost two weeks ago, on February 20th, an Austrian court convicted British “historian” David Irving of the crime of denying the Holocaust and the Nazi use of gas chambers at Auschwitz. The court sentenced Irving to a three-year prison term, and although Irving is appealing, so is the prosecutor: the Austrian’s don’t think the sentence was long enough. [...] The concept of Holocaust denial inherently represents the speech of David Irving as inherently both hateful and flawed, directed at imposing a particular harm. Irving’s speech is thus more than anti-Semitic: it participates in creating a myth of (relative) innocence that removes responsibility from the Austrian government (and people) for their passive or active participate in these terrible acts.

Similarly, slavery- and segregation-denial seeks to create a counter-myth of America, one that reconstructs the South, the Klan, and the Confederate flags as the culture-blind symbols of a distinct region with its own traditions. Slavery- and segregation-denial is an attempt to rewrite history in a manner that minimizes whites’ active or passive participation in the state-sponsored violence that lasted will into the 1960s (some would say much later). (more)