It’s Day 23 of Black History Month and We Whites Are All Going to STFU and Listen.

And learn. And then click. And thus help.

logo, a blue-bordered square with stylized text "COLOF OF CHANGE""I have written many times here about Color of Change, and I have learned so much about what Black people actually need from me by reading their work, and then doing what they ask of me. Today we get to learn and to help Black people by reading, signing, and sharing (if possible), four Color of Change petitions.

But first, I want to share something that we whites (including Yours Truly) clearly need to hear, again and again and again.  [Read more…]

It’s Day 19 of Black History Month and We Whites Are All Going to STFU and Listen.

[CONTENT NOTE: police abuse resulting in the death of 14-year-old child with no accountability. No violent images in this post.]

Today we will STFU and listen to Deanna Hardy Joseph and Andrew Joseph, Jr., who lost their 14-year-old son to police abuse with no justice or accountability, and the team at Black Lives Matter Global Network who co-signed their letter. Those of us who are able and wish to help can do so in several different ways.

logo: white rectangle with "BLACK LIVES MATTER" in black text above three horizintal yellow lines, which when clicked links to the site

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It’s Day 8 of Black History Month and We Whites Are All Going to STFU and Listen.

Any rational observer (which excludes conservatives, by definition) would conclude that the so-called “War on Drugs” is misleadingly named. Not the “war” part of the construct; that part’s accurate. From the extra-constitutional surveillance, “stop-&-frisk” policing, coercive consent searches and no-knock warrants to the military equipment provided to local law enforcement by the Department of Defense (including tanks… tanks!), the tactics and weapons deployed against U.S. citizens in the drug war are indistinguishable from those deployed by the U.S. on foreign battlefields in actual wars.

Likewise, our rational (non-conservative) observer would be dead-on accurate were he/she/they to rename the entire endeavor the “War on Black (and brown, and other, but mostly Black) People Who Use Drugs.”

That this is so cannot be disputed (in reality). For the facts of the matter, see the ACLU report A Tale of Two Countries: Racially Targeted Arrests in the Era of Marijuana Reform. In it, you will learn such facts as these:

Analysis conducted by the ACLU shows that due to racial profiling and bias in marijuana enforcement, Black people are 3.6 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession, despite similar usage rates. This disparity has not improved over the last decade, and in fact, disparities have actually worsened in most states.

“3.6 times more likely” is a national average. On a state level, the Black/white racial disparities can get much worse: in Montana it’s 9.6 times more likely, Illinois 7.5, and in no state is it equal or less than even. Hell, it’s 1.5 times in Colorado, where weed has been legalized since 2012. At the county level, the disparities can get much, much worse. And this is before racialized sentencing disparities factor in.

Even so, a marijuana arrest is much more than an arrest. The ACLU report also addresses what it calls the “collateral damage” that often comes along with it, including:

  • Denial of public benefits based on use, arrests, or convictions for marijuana
  • Drug tests for benefit eligibility
  • Separation of families in the child welfare system
  • Loss of driver’s licenses
  • Deportation
  • Loss of federal financial aid
  • Bans on participation in the marijuana industry for those with drug arrests
  • Felony disenfranchisement [i.e. loss of voting rights]

Taken together, the “collateral damage” accrues to the individual, families and entire communities. And we’re not talking about violent traffickers and cartel kingpins here:

Nine out of 10 of marijuana arrests are for possession. While arrests for possession have decreased nationally since 2010, the rate of decline has stagnated and, in recent years, has even reversed upward despite popular reform movements.

For the whys, the hows and the history of the matter, see the The Last Prisoner Project’s extraordinarily comprehensive and beautifully written report Criminal Injustice: Cannabis & The Rise Of The Carceral State. It tracks the intertwined threads of politics, ideology and the perverse incentives that perpetuate the racist injustices of the weed war, and is worth a read for the highlighted quotations alone.

There are many who agree that the “War on Drugs” has been an abysmal failure by virtually every measure. (To hear the ACLU tell it, a majority of Americans agree.) The cost in blood and money lost in waging it is likely incalculable at this point, to say nothing of all that “collateral damage.”

But I disagree. By certain measures, the “War on Black (and brown, and other, but mostly Black) People Who Use Drugs” has been a spectacular success. It’s not exactly a secret that there are powerful factions in the country who are going to great lengths to disenfranchise Black voters. Take a look again at the ACLU’s list of “collateral damage,” and you’ll notice that for those same powerful factions, many of the harms listed are quite openly and enthusiastically touted as features, not bugs.

I’d say this war is working out very well indeed – for conservatives.


It so happens that today, there’s something you can do about this, at least at the federal level. I received an email from RootsAction as I was writing this:

Here’s candidate Joe Biden: “I think we should decriminalize marijuana, period. And I think everyone – anyone who has a record – should be let out of jail, their records expunged, be completely zeroed out.”

We couldn’t have said it any better. In fact, it was our public pressure that compelled him to say it.

Here’s what President Joe Biden has done: ______________. Nothing! He has not pardoned a single cannabis conviction.

Join a big coalition petition by signing your name here! Let’s make this happen.

Text of Petition:

While running for President, you committed to the American people that you would expunge marijuana convictions.

Yet more than one year into office, you have not taken a single action to provide relief to those still held back by a criminal conviction.

Millions of Americans have been subjected to a marijuana-related arrest and criminal conviction. Branding these individuals as lifelong criminals serves no legitimate society purpose and results in a litany of lost opportunities including the potential loss of employment, housing, voting rights, professional licensing, and student aid.

Further delay is completely unwarranted. The time for action is now.

In November of 2019, you said “I think we should decriminalize marijuana, period. And I think everyone – anyone who has a record – should be let out of jail, their records expunged, be completely zeroed out.”

This action would be a meaningful step in moving our nation beyond the harms of the senseless and cruel policy of marijuana criminalization and prohibition. Furthermore, this would set a tremendous precedent for state and local leaders to follow in your footsteps and facilitate the expungement of millions of cannabis records that were assigned under state and local criminal codes.

Please, honor your promise and take action to pardon marijuana offenses now.


GRAPHIC: Sign here button

After signing the petition, please use the tools on the next webpage to share it with your friends.


Please sign and share if you are able and inclined.

Day 1 of Black History Month 2022 (Lori Teresa Yearwood) is here.
Day 2 of Black History Month 2022 (Mallence Bart-Williams) is here.
Day 3 of Black History Month 2022 (Emmett Till) is here.
Day 4 of Black History Month 2022 (A Tale of Two Citizens) is here.
Day 5 of Black History Month 2022 (Trayvon Martin) is here.
Day 6 of Black History Month 2022 (Franchesca Ramsey) is here.
Day 7 of Black History Month 2022 (National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and the Black Aids Institute) is here.

It’s Day 3 of Black History Month and We Whites Are All Going to STFU and Listen. UPDATED.

[CONTENT NOTE: racially motivated kidnapping and lynching of a Black minor. No violent images appear in this post, however such image(s) can be found in at least one of the links contained herein. This post contains an image of the victim’s mother and others mourning at his funeral.]

Today we’re going to STFU and listen to a cousin of Emmett Till, a 14-year old boy who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered 66 years ago. A particular excerpt I wish to highlight is this:

The past has not passed. Lynchings like Ahmaud Arbery’s, Breonna Taylor’s, and George Floyd’s are very much reflective of what happened to our cousin Emmett. There is a clear connection between past injustices and the injustices that continue to this day. We won’t stop fighting. It is our duty to not allow the lives of those stolen by hate to be in vain.

Of all of the images I looked at in learning about Emmett Till, one struck me the most. It is a photo of griefstricken mourners at Emmett Till’s funeral, including his extraordinary mother Mamie Carthan Till-Mobley. I believe the reason it resonated so strongly with me is that I have seen that grief in the faces of friends and relatives of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and many, many more.

The video for HELL YOU TALMBOUT by Janelle Monáe, Deep Cotton, St. Beauty, Jidenna, Roman GianArthur, and George 2.0 is over six years old, years before the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. It is at least as relevant today as it was then, and it mentions Emmett Till.


The photo taken at Till’s funeral, the HELL YOU TALMBOUT video and the rest of the message from Deborah Watts, Emmett Till’s cousin and co-founder of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation below the cut.

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Facebook knows better. Let’s make it DO better.

Via email from Color of Change (all emphasis in original):

color of change's facebook campaign image: pile of facebook's iconic thumbs-up "like" icons turned upside-down, with text "IT'S BEEN A YEAR. FACEBOOK DO SOMETHING."

Dear Iris:

One year ago, in response to Facebook doubling down on their refusal to remove calls to violence against Black protestors, we launched our “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign. Together, with our partners and Color Of Change members like you, we successfully compelled an unprecedented 1,200 business partners to withdraw millions of dollars in advertising from Facebook for failing to protect Black users and community stakeholders.1 The boycott increased the pressure we placed on Facebook to respond, resulting in them agreeing to some of our long standing demands, including creating a senior role to oversee civil rights at the company and a dedicated team to study algorithmic racial bias.2 Despite these important changes, Facebook continues to fall far short of adequately addressing the harms they cause our communities. [Read more…]

The 99.5 Percent Act.

As I’ve mentioned previously, Roots Action is an activist group I happily allow to gain entrée into my inbox. Even on the rare occasions when I disagree, their messaging is always informative and concise, and their target selection is spot-on. (More on the group here.)

Today’s missive concerns a bill being introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressdude Jimmy Gomez called the 99.5% Act, and provides a link to send a letter to the Goldman Sachs puppets on Capitol Hill who pretend to represent your interests and those of your fellow citizens who reside in your congressional district and state. The letter urges these assholes to get on board with this bill.

Hahaha. Yes, I know.

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Questions for Secretary of State Nominee Antony Blinken.

Roots Action is an online activist groups that I happily allow to exist in my inbox: I find their messaging educational and their activism worthwhile. In case you are unfamiliar with them:

RootsAction is an online initiative dedicated to galvanizing people who are committed to economic fairness, equal rights for all, civil liberties, environmental protection — and defunding endless wars.

(More info at this link.)

Today they sent me an exemplary missive regarding Biden’s nominee for Secretary of State, Antony Blinken. Of course all such nominees are subject to Senate approval, so Roots Action has helpfully drafted questions for Senators to use when they query Mr. Blinken during the vetting process. These are questions that elected officials in any functioning democracy could, should and would demand be answered to the public’s satisfaction before handing over a set of keys to the kingdom. Which means these inquiries are highly unlikely to be asked, or even considered.

But that doesn’t mean that such email campaigns are not worth your click. For one thing, when a sizable enough number of constituents bombards your Senators’ offices with a single concern, some poor staffer is duty-bound to bring it to his or her attention. Unless the Senator in question is, say, Bernie Sanders, this particular collection of emails will have the effect of pissing them off. I mean really irritating the shit out of them.

Now doesn’t that mere thought alone warm your little black heart? Click here, and ruin a Goldman Sachs puppet’s day!

Second, I am a very big fan of taking actions that shift the Overton window. It is certainly in need of a hell of a lot of shifting, especially after conservatives have spent the last several decades on a singular mission to convince us all that people like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are godless communists. There is no question this effort has worked out splendidly for conservatives.

Yet in more recent years we have finally witnessed “fringe” ideas enter the mainstream from both the right and the left. For instance, Medicare for All is not yet seriously on the table, but it no longer gets you laughed out of the room, either. Lowering the Medicare eligibility age, as Biden pretends he wants to do, would certainly be a shift in the same direction. Even more promising, a public option/Medicare buy-in has picked up traction, too. If enacted, I predict this would drag the Overton window toward the single payer point much farther and faster than many now envision. That’s because a Medicare buy-in would never be restricted to individuals: here in ‘Murikka where Corporations ‘R People®, big business buy-in to more affordable employee health coverage could topple the private insurance industry with lightning speed.

Meanwhile, poor Mr. Overton must be nearly dead now from all that punching from the right. Not very long ago the violent overthrow of Congress at the direction of the US president by a bunch of badly dressed mooks sure seemed like a pretty fringe idea. Yet here we are.

The Roots Action email campaign is set up so you can modify the text before it gets routed to your Senators, and I took full advantage of this opportunity. Roots Action’s message is serious and well-documented, though still outside of more mainstream discourse. So is mine, but in the current political environment I’m quite sure I sound like a deranged lefty berserker. Good. Because you know what? It takes an awful lot of little pushes to budge that fucking window.

Why not help kick it a little.


(My added text is right up front; the Roots Action text is below the cut.)

Subject: Questions for Antony Blinken

Dear [Senators Schumer and Gillibrand]:

War profiteering used to be universally reviled as the evil that it patently is. And yet now, it’s in the job description of the Executive Branch to shill for US “defense” companies like a bunch of used car salesmen. Incentivising the spread of war, violence and weapons around the globe for obscene private profits should not be the business of anyone, much less the United States government. Quite the opposite, in fact. Why, one might think the Executive Branch works on commission, rather than remuneration from US taxpayers. And yet here we are, with a man perfectly emblematic of this problem, nominated to head the State Department.

I have some questions for you to ask Mr. Blinken, but perhaps you could start with asking this one of yourself: Wouldn’t it be more accurate to rename the US Department of State the US Department of Sales? And while you’re at it, please think about how you might use your considerable power to dismantle the system that enables war profiteering and all of the evils that flow from it. Here’s a thought, and I’m just spitballing here: if US weapons manufacturers cannot enrich their shareholders without using the US government to ensure they are the preeminent arms dealers for the entire world, perhaps they should all be run as nonprofits?


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Indigenous Peoples Day 2020.

On Friday, the preferred president of assholes everywhere issued a shitty proclamation declaring that today’s federal holiday is exclusively a celebration of Italian-American contributions to our nation and the exploits of a particular 15th century Italian explorer, said exploits necessarily encompassing the ensuing brutal colonization and genocide of Indigenous people in the Americas. This proclamation is much, much worse than I even imagined. (And I write this as a person with significant Italian-American heritage.) If you choose to read on, you will first want to ensure that your irony meter is in excellent working order and – this is the important part – still under warranty.

For one thing, consider what Pres. Alpha Asshole and his Merry Minions of Masklessness would be saying and doing about Italian immigration a hundred years ago. You know: before Italians suddenly and miraculously became white. I’m pretty sure my grandmother, who happened to be exceptionally dark-skinned even for southern Italy, would have been locked up in a cage along with her sister and all the other Italian immigrant children.

Of course those among us who think we should instead recognize and reckon with the truth of our nation’s history are deemed “radical activists” and “extremists” who “seek to squash any dissent from their orthodoxy” and instead promote a “radical ideology” and “revisionist history” just to “spread hate and division.”

Let us pause for a moment here so that you can recalibrate your irony meter and/or attempt to extinguish the flames emanating therefrom.

Okay now? Good. The preceding was merely setting the stage for what I really want to talk about on this Indigenous Peoples Day. If you guessed that is “Indigenous people,” you win all the internetz! 🏆⭐️🏅

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QUEASHA HARDY #SayHerName: Black Trans Lives Matter.

[CONTENT NOTE: murder of Black transwoman Queasha Hardy; murders of transgender people generally and related statistics; misgendering; deadnaming. Post below the fold, because despite what we atheists like to tell you, HELL IS REAL. It is right here, right now, for far too many of the wrong people, and far too often Made In Amerikkka® by members of our own species.]

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Petition to Manhattan DA: drop charges against Derrick Ingram, and hold NYPD accountable!

This is Derrick Ingram.

photo of Derrick IngramDerrick Ingram
Black Lives Matter Protester and Organizer
Co-Founder,Warriors in the Garden
(photo via Amnesty International USA)

On August 7, dozens of NYPD officers in riot gear swarmed his apartment’s hallways, his fire escape and surrounding locations. They had no warrant. They did have a helicopter hovering overhead, though. They also brought police dogs right to his door and threatened to break it down. They lied to him about his rights and tried to interrogate him without legal counsel.

This siege lasted FIVE HOURS. It ended only after Derrick started livestreaming the incident: in response, a large group of protesters showed up, along with some media types who started asking questions. That is when the NYPD Stormtrooper Squadron™ finally took their toys U.S. military surplus equipment and went home.

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