Distractions, Progress & the 2010 Census

Today I heard an advertisement on a Chicago radio station. It started off with a heavy bass rhythm in the background, and continued into a full beat that sounded oddly familiar—like it was the new Lil Wayne track of the week. (It seem like he comes out with a new song every other day.) But this was not another “Young Money” -Drake or Nikki Minaj- single that frequents radio stations in Chicago. The track that I heard was a rap song encouraging people (particularly a black demographic) to fill out their 2010 Census forms. I believe our country has made a lot of progress since the 2000 Census (when I was only ten years old and in 4th grade) but this is not a moment in history where the movers and shakers need to fall into the trap of complacency. Tomorrow (April 1st) is the official “National Census Day” and we need to encourage every man, women, in child in the inner city to fill out the census forms and take it seriously.


The Negro Problem, 2010 Census, and Bad Dreams

“They approach me in a half-hesitant sort of way, eye me curiously or compassionately, and then, instead of saying directly, How does it feel to be a problem? they say, I know an excellent colored man in my town; or, I fought at Mechanicsville; or, Do not these Southern outrages make your blood boil? At these I smile, or am interested, or reduce the boiling to a simmer, as the occasion may require. To the real question, How does it feel to be a problem? I answer seldom a word”- W.E.B. Dubois

Last night I had trouble sleeping. Lately I have been suffering from extreme night terrors. However, last night’s episode was far worse than any of the previous ones I have suffered from. I usually wake up in a cold sweat after having a vision of falling into an abyss of nothingness.  That imaginary abyss is minor compared to the frightening horrors that I battled with all last night. Brace yourself…Last night I dreamt that someone called me a NEGRO in 2010. Well it didn’t start it out just like that. In fact, there was quite a lot that built up to this. Since there is no way for you to experience what I did, allow me to paint a picture.

Setting: Anywhere in the United States of America at anytime on any day

Characters: Joe America & Me

March 22, 2010 – March 28, 2010

A wiser view of flash mobs
Karen Heller, Philadelphia Inquirer, March 28, 2010

Education, careers give hope over violence
Post Tribune Staff Writer, Gary Post Tribune March 28, 2010

Violence is never justified
Randy Simmonds, Vail Daily, March 28, 2010

House Passes $600 Million In Funding For Summer Youth Jobs Programs
Seattle Medium Staff Writer, The Seattle Medium,  March 26, 2010

Yet another reason for school reform
Wisconsin State Journal, March 25, 20103

Student court rule favors student
Erica Whelan, The Daily Eastern News, March 25, 2010

Racial Tension at South Carolina: Should Student Athletes Be Involved?
Alex Roberts, Bleacher Reporter, March 25, 2010

Racism report cites students in blackface
Dalson Chen, The Windsor Star, March 24, 2010

What Black Writers Should Be Taught in Schools?
Katherine Schulten, The New York Times, March 24, 2010

Education Leaders Call for Improving Public Schools
Bruno Tedeschi, My Central Jersey, March 23, 2010

Hip-hop expressions analyzed, defended
Marjorie Riformo, Accent Advocate, March 23, 2010

Youth Demand Teen Age Relief Program (TARP) Bailout
PR Newswire Staff Writer, Press Release NewsWire, March 23, 2010

House approves huge changes to student loan program
Daniel de Vise, Washington Post, March 22, 2010

Public rally for youth violence
Kirsty Noffke, Tweed Daily News, March 22, 2010

Action urged against campus racism
Louise Brown, The Star, March 22, 2010

A Southern Gul, Southern Genius Feeding Her Own Meter

Though I am ostensibly a U.S. Citizen (some days it feels tenuous as hell), I also have a Crunchy Nation green card, which means my Twitter feed was full of earth mother goddesses, headwraps, and the like drooling over Erykah Badu’s new video for “Window Seat,” the lead single from her album, New Amerykah Part 2: Return of the Ankh.  They think it’s genius; they are probably right.  Erykah Badu makes the best music videos ever.


"Anyone But Me" Web Series

Written by Susan Miller and Tina Cesa Ward | Season 2, Ep. 5

Anyone But Me is a critically acclaimed web series about New York city teens coming of age in the 21st century. The series follows the ethnically diverse cast as they explore for their own identity and search for acceptance. Realistically portraying the issues and daily struggles of Generation Z, Anyone But Me depicts the concerns of real-life teens such as sexuality, racial identity and the family dynamics present in today’s society. Using fresh plot lines, thoughtful dialogue and an authentic cast, the show aims to speak to issues that are ignored in mainstream television.  (Catch the rest of the series here.)

Black Women Living in Poverty and Tiredness, can the US Census help?

In 1964 at the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party Convention, Fannie Lou Hamer said, “All my life I’ve been sick and tired . . . Now, I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” Even though these words were distinctively about Southern racism, I find myself unconsciously gravitating to these words to talk about the US census and black female poverty. I know this is Women’s Her-story month and for the last three weeks I’ve paid tribute to black women healers, black Sisterfriends, and sex workers, but today I want to change the tone and talk about black female poverty, being tired & overworked, and the US census.

So, every ten years we say, Be Counted . . . Take the Census in the hope that sheer raw numbers will change the many problems brown and black communities face. We believe that if only the federal government know we are here—the Negro people . . . yes that’s what they call us—that perhaps they will allot more resources to our often improvised and over populated communities. We believe that numbers will change some things. We believe numbers will make the crooked places straight as the old folks say. We believe because sometimes all we have is our belief. And let’s be clear, numbers can change some things. Just, pick any major social movement within the last 50 years to see the impact of numbers. However, when it comes to ending the poverty and overworked realities of black women, numbers (i.e. The Census) alone are not enough.

A Rant About Michelle Bachmann & The Census & U

When my roommate and I got our census packet in the mail a few weeks ago, we immediately burst into laughter.

Now, let’s make something clear; the Census is very important and I think everyone should do it. Census data influences the allocation of much needed financial resources to your city or town, the number of seats your state gets in Congress, the number of electors each state receives in presidential elections, and the monitoring of compliance with civil rights laws and the delineating of where disparities exist. It seriously affects a lot of shit, and you’d only be hurting yourself by not doing it.

Yeah, we saw our census packet and thought of Rep. Michele Bachmann, actually. And that’s why we started laughing.

Hispanics are gone, but Negroes are here to stay.

I live with four people. Three of them are white and one is Asian, at least that’s what I would normally write on a form if asked. And if things were fair and balanced with this year’s Census, I would say one is Italian, one is Irish, one is Korean, and I would probably check other for the last one. She’s white, but beyond that, I scratch my head. Sorry Census folks, I don’t know their names. As for racial categories on the 2010 Census, it’s good thing I don’t have a Hispanic roommate because the option of selecting “Hispanic” as a racial category no longer exists. It’s there but in another question and in a million little pieces. No explanations are provided.

The Racial Contract (1997), a book written by Charles Mills asserts that the racial contract is a set of agreements between white people to categorize non-whites as inferior. To support this belief, whites set up a “two-tiered moral code” and in turn a hierarchy of rights, with the power being bestowed to individuals who were considered white. Of course, no system is as obvious as pre-slavery to Jim Crow times but we would be foolish to believe the continued use and manipulation of racial categories is a not a modern day version of old school ideology. Know your place! If “nationality” and “ethnicity” are so important as the Census would have us believe, why not provide options for whites to list their specific cultural affiliations? Why is “white” still a racial category and not Italian or Irish? And while the “Black” category remains virtually unchanged, the continued use of the term “Negro” is not because (as I’ve heard) older people still identify with the term–it is simply to remind everyone what box Obama will be checking.

March 15, 2010 – March 21, 2010

Summit opens dialogue with teens
Elizabeth M. Mack, Tallahassee Democrat, March 21, 2010

St. Cloud looks at race disparity suspension gap in schools
Dave Aeikens, SC Times, March 21, 2010

Engaging Seattle’s youth and families
Times Staff Writer, Seattle Times, March 21, 2010

Battle of the Youth Bulge
Addison Wiggin, Daily Reckoning, March 21, 2010

Minimum wage hikes harm teen workers
Thomas Oliver, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 21, 2010

Still Fewer Minorities In Gifted Classes
Rachel Monahan, New York Daily News, March 20, 2010

Pittsburgh police commend 3 under probe in beating of black student
Jill King Greenwood, Pittsburgh Tibune-Review, March 20, 2010

Graduates of Beach’s bygone black school get peek at new museum
Jaedda Armstrong, The Virginian Pilot, March 20, 2010

Students give perspective on school violence
Kristen A. Graham, Philadelphia Inquirer, March 16, 2010

Study: Grad rates between blacks, whites widening
Antonio Gonzales, Associated Press, March 15, 2010

Conference focus: Mentors needed for at-risk youth
Ely Portillo, Charlotte Observer, March 15, 2010

Woman teaches girls self-esteem while they skate
John-John Williams IV, Baltimore Sun, March 15, 2010

Lockup’s racial disparity glaring
Rita Price, Columbia Dispatch, March 15, 2010

Kids killing kids
The Chicago Tribune, March 15, 2010

Why Black Students Are So Scarce at UCSD
Emily Alpert, Voice of San Diego, March 15, 2010

Fighting for Their Lives
Leticia Miranda, Colorlines, March 15, 2010

The New Jim Crow
Michelle Alexander, National Public Radio, March 15, 2010

UCF Study: Gap in Graduation Rates ‘Deeply Troubling’
Chad Binette, UFC Newsroom, March 15, 2010

A successful program to aid at-risk juveniles is caught in the budget vise
Dan Geringer, Philadelphia Daily News, March 15, 2010