SpeakOut is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. SpeakOut articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.
Public education, one of the storied pillars of our society, is under attack by people and institutions who like to think of themselves as "reformers." What is the message of these self-styled reformers? They contend that the public schools have "failed." They want to close "underachieving" public schools. They want to fire teachers and kick out teachers' unions. They want to privatize public schools. Finally, they want to embrace high-stakes testing.
“What happens to a dream deferred?” asks Langston Hughes in “Harlem.”
As a poem of social consciousness, “Harlem” may often be reduced to literary analysis or an artifact of the Harlem Renaissance; as schools become more and more focused on the Common Core and raising scores on the related next-generation tests, the poem is likely to be (if at all) just one more text for close reading practice.
In a meeting I had this week with a congressional candidate, I was reminded of the power of the myths that define conventional wisdom about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the challenge they pose for rational discourse. In rapid succession my visitor rattled off a number of statements revealing how much he didn't know about the conflict and how steep the climb for those who seek a just peace.
The defendants had hoped to begin the evening with testimony from international law expert Francis Boyle but he was not allowed to testify. Fifty supporters watched then as the last six more defendants testified about the intentions that brought them to the nonviolent action at Hancock Air Base on October 25, 2012. The defendants all came to Hancock to ask their government for redress of grievance, and to fulfill their duties as citizens upholding International Law, under which wars of aggression and indiscriminate killing are crimes. Reaper drones flown by pilots at Hancock are used commit CrimesAgainst Peace, War Crimes and violations of Human Rights law.
It was profoundly unsettling to watch those that represent the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s opponents and assassins take up his mantle on Monday and exploit the celebration of his birthday for their own political gain. But there we were at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, as a series of politicians unironically read excerpts from King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail and excoriated those privileged business leaders of Birmingham who King took to task for refusing to give up their own political clout and stature to hasten the coming of justice.
There is some comfort, I think, in a growing recognition that responses to Sherman have been at least fueled by racism—including the coincidence of Justin Bieber’s arrest and the resulting confrontation of how Sherman has been labeled a “thug” while Bieber’s wealth and white/male status shield him from a number of verbal and legal consequences that African American males experience daily.
In a recent New Yorker cartoon, a dog is shown lounging by a pool and saying to a pup: “Youtube’s one thing, but cats will never make it on the big screen.” A funny commentary, surely, but in America that statement could just as easily be applied to ethnic minorities, especially Asian Americans.
Today, New Jersey State Senator Nicholas P. Scutari announced plans to introduce a bill to legalize marijuana. Details of the proposal are pending but the senator envisions an industry that taxes and regulates marijuana like alcohol. A 2013 poll by Lake Research Partners found that 59 percent of New Jersey voters support legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana. Recent national polls show similar support.