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Open Letter to Minnesota’s Homeless Black Veterans: The historical legacy of exclusion still follows us in this challenge too

If you judge me by my color, and deny me a seat at the table because of my words, you are no better than the racist who use structural violence concealed in a series of meeting with on people of color at the table.

If you judge me by my color, and deny me a seat at the table because of my words, you are no better than the racist who uses structural violence concealed in a series of meeting with no people of color at the table.

The date of my enlistment will never expire. The oath I took I swore to leave no soldier behind; to make sure all soldiers are accounted for and no soldier who served in the United States military be put in harms way will be maintained for life. So far, I have been marginalized because to complete my mission, funding is needed and collaborations with organizations that will work together and intentionally get our boys and girls off the streets…I am truly troubled and my head hangs low on today, Memorial Day 2015.

By Don Allen, Publisher –Our Black News

Today is the day we pay tribute to those who have fallen and given the ultimate sacrifice to the United States of America. In Minnesota we hold events all across the state to honor, remember and salute warriors who wore the uniform with pride, respect and honor. Today is also the day we should be concerned about those who will not have a warm bed, a roof over their heads or a place they can call home. Today, we must be very concerned about the possibility of the walking dead; Minnesota’s homeless veteran population, warriors stuck in a purgatory of need, ignored by those who hold the controlling means of getting our warriors off the streets and giving a voice to the voiceless; a home to the homeless, creating stability where there is none.

Minnesota’s homeless veterans might not read this letter, but my goal is to let those who control the flow of equity that I will not give up; I will not be mislead, swayed or marginalized because I speak in the public sphere about catastrophic malfeasance in focusing on all homeless veterans, men and women; yellow, red, black and white who need someone to advocate for this cause that has become my passion, hope and dream.

Please understand, to complete the mission of putting homeless veterans in stable housing takes money. Between 2013 and 2015 millions of dollars were distributed to agencies, some obscure, to come up with a plan. The plan, rather than purchasing hundreds of vacant homes in Minneapolis and St. Paul was to start a Homeless Veterans Registry. While this idea is key to create a database of homeless veterans in Minnesota, it still lacks the action plan of getting veterans into housing, stable and back to a regiment of work, education, addressing health care concerns and tending to addiction challenges, boldly connected to focusing on the overall veterans well-being.

The Minnesota Homeless Veteran Registry should ensure that Veterans experiencing homelessness have access to appropriate housing and services. But there has been some significant rejection of veterans of color and agencies who serve these veterans. In other word, the historical rejection of the black body who wore green has evolved into racist construct that has denied me and other black people a place at the table, funding or culturally competent engagement.

I have pulled together some amazing organizations: WellSpring Second Chance, an agency with the means to collaborate with veterans on their own terms and evaluate human needs; Wilson Image Barbers Community Training Initiative, a nonprofit that has a Veterans Grooming Project to make sure all veterans have haircuts with beauticians to style female veterans also. Drop Out To Drop Ins, an agency that will focus on education and families of veterans to make sure the sons and daughter of Minnesota’s homeless veterans are in school, learning and successful. New Perspectives Housing Alliances, a new nonprofit agency that was virtually ignored by those who control funding, but wanted to start the process of focusing on homeless veterans, purchasing, and renting housing in the Twin Cities and immediately placing veterans into homes with a program that sought sustainability for all homeless veterans. There is also the Council on Black Minnesotans, whose board and executive director are willing to be the fiscal oversight for all the organizations.

Then you have me. Yes, this is my passion, but isn’t it important to be supported, like a job with my focus on planning, implementing and collaborating with local agencies building bridges, connecting people to services and feeling good at the end of the day.

It’s time to take this to the next level. I have prepared several data requests to analyze the construct in control of funding mechanisms in Minnesota to assist homeless veterans. I understand why the black veteran and those who support them is still marginalized and lays within the walls of a building on Kellogg Street in St. Paul Minnesota.

Postmodern Deconstruction of Queer Studies

Before we more forward, we must be clear.

Before we more forward, we must be clear.

By Don Allen, Publisher – Our Black News

The postmodern effects of thinking are seen in our Western culture, with homosexual, bisexual, and polyamorous behavior becoming more acceptable to Americans, but it also creates a divide in academics and the academic political right. The most worrying trend is scholars who are right-wing Christian fundamentalist looking through the lens of queer studies who do not represent a homosexual orientation and have taken up the mantle of inquisition, self-charged to define, compare and contrast acceptable rhetoric about queer studies.

My article on queer studies looking through a postmodern lens addresses the problems of sexual identity, human sexuality, and gender. The challenge still remains should academics debate how we should interpret the relation between the long history of queer practices and the history of queer identities – or come to terms the interpretations of queer practices has changed across time and space?

If postmodernism represents a new way to look at queer studies, then critical literary apparatuses must be used to define queering (or queer studies) as a non-sexual orientation ideology. However, when looking through the lens of postmodernism as it pertains to color, race, class and more specifically, sexual orientation, it becomes even more problematic to define the modern, postmodern and post-post modernism; not because we cannot comprehend the meanings, but so few intellectuals have been indoctrinated with postmodernism in a way that would lay bare my very clear definitions, claims, arguments and evidence as it pertains to queer studies. Heterosexual males in academia are not considered authorities on queer studies, however English departments and many other disciplines have adopted the principles of queer studies and trained their students to read though this lens.

In the process, lesbian or gay studies sometimes take on a sound of essentializing lesbians, gays, or straight people and pitting lesbians or gays or “homosexuals” against straights as binary opposites. Just as deconstruction tries to go beyond the binary oppositions that structuralists believe organize our thinking, so queer studies drawing on and contributing to deconstruction- tries to go beyond the binary oppositions and essentialism that it sometimes sees as characterizing gay or lesbian studies. Could this be considered a postmodern approach? “Deconstruction is only the negation of the negation, it remains in the same sphere, it nourishes the same terrorist pretension to truth, that is to say the association of the sign — here in its decline, that’s the only difference — with intensity. It requires the same surgical tampering with words, the same split and the same exclusions that the lover’s demand exacts on skins,” (Lyotard).

The concern is that some people use terms such as lesbian and gay or use lesbian or gay studies to suggest a belief in stable characteristics that can describe all gays or all lesbians across geography and time and that definitively separate gays and lesbians from each other and from straight people. By contrast, the term queer suggests instability and continuous process. We might say that queer studies are a deconstructive version of gay and lesbian studies. “When this debate is applied to sexualities, the interactionist/postmodernist offers up a much more modest account of sexualities than many in the sexological world would have us believe. It throws into doubt any ‘Grand Narratives of Sexuality’—from Freud to sexology—that have haunted much of the modern world’s analysis of sexuality,” (Plummer p. 520).

The desire for a deconstructive postmodern version of lesbian and gay studies speaks to the larger project of reconstructing ideas of identity and sexuality, moving away from the naturalizing of heterosexuality and away from compulsory heterosexuality. The naturalizing of heterosexuality is the assumption, typically made without thinking, that everyone is heterosexual unless labeled otherwise, that heterosexuality is the norm and anything else is a special case. What postmodernism presents can be meaningless promoting obscurantism and uses relativism (in culture, morality, knowledge) to the extent that it cripples literature and most judgment calls. Read the rest of this entry »

They don’t need signs

No, they don't need signs to tell us our blackness makes them feel uncomfortable and that we should not been alive.

No, they don’t need signs to tell us our blackness makes them feel uncomfortable and that we should not been alive.

It does not matter; black or white, you are not born a racist. Being a racist is a skill-sets taught to those with a lower-level of thinking.

By Don Allen, Publisher – Our Black News

They don’t need signs to tell us how much they dislike us;

They don’t need signs.

They don’t need signs to treat us like animals begging for our children to graduate from high school; begging for our youth not to be shot down in the street by other youth; begging for that one police officer not to work the shift when my black child is walking home from football practice…

They don’t need signs.

They don’t need signs to tell us we are overqualified, hard working and the perfect candidate for a job they will not offer us.

They don’t need signs.

They don’t need signs when they tell us we are “working on diversity” and the only people on campus who look like me are the janitors.

They don’t need signs.

They don’t need signs when other community members marginalize, dismiss and exclude me from important conversations about my black people; They don’t need signs when my people tell me I hate black people and I do not. They don’t need signs. They don’t need signs when leadership in the black community has been contracted to keep us uninformed, uneducated, undocumented, unemployed and unfit.

They don’t need signs.

It is 2015…They don’t need signs.

Analyzing Hortense Spillers “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe” and the New Black

For those outside of reality, coonery exists as a tight fitting hat or a reversible reality.  

By Don Allen, Publisher – Our Black News

Hortense Spillers, “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe,” becomes more timely and relevant in 2015 than ever before with the talk about the New Black. Hip Hop music artist Pharrell, interviewed by Oprah said,  “The New Black doesn’t blame other races for our issues.,” then, one of the world’s most successful musicians, said to Oprah, the billionaire queen of the world, “The New Black dreams and realizes that it’s not pigmentation: it’s a mentality and it’s either going to work for you or it’s going to work against you. And you’ve got to pick the side you’re going to be on.”

Pharrell lays bare huge blind spots in his cognitive thinking of picking the side (or identity) you are going to be. Choice and the operant construction of race, in step with severe structural violence for those who do not have it like the Pharrell (money, fame, women and prestige), is the spectacle for those on the outside looking in can only dream of obtaining, which makes Pharrell’s statements about the New Black even more arguable.  Pharrell’s comments are ultimately folly to people who do not fit in with his narrow ideas. He misses the point that “black outsiders” exist.

Spillers thoughts on the erasure of blackness, as it “inscribe[s] ‘ethnicity’ as a scene of negation,” through the construction of a binary opposition between “white” (or normalized American) and “black” family structures is a point that must be considered as fact.  In the analysis of any blind extension of blackness, we (scholars) must address statements from the people who perpetrate unoccupied materialism as a platform for the most absurd rhetoric.

In Spillers feminist-focused argument, the road of identification is shrouded and unclear: To her point, we (Blacks), are not in control of our identity, but assigned to an infrastructure by historical placement. “Embedded in a bizarre axiological ground, they demonstrate a sort of telegraphic coding; they are markers so loaded with mythical prepossession that there is no easy way for the agents buried beneath them to come clean.  In that regard, the names by which I am called in the public place render an example of signifying property plus.  In order for me to speak a truer word concerning myself, I must strip down through layers of attenuated meanings, made in excess over time, assigned by a particular historical order, and there await whatever marvels of my own inventiveness,” (67).

I love my people; I don't love the coonery.

I love my people; I don’t love the coonery.

Rapper/actor Common fell into the same trap as Pharrell, while discussing the legacy of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and the current tensions in an interview with John Stewart. Common said, “We all know there’s been some bad history in our country. We know that racism exists,” the star conceded, before adding, “I’m…extending a hand. In addition, I think many generations and different cultures are saying ‘Hey, we want to get past this. We have been bullied and we have been beat down, but we do not want it anymore. We’re not extending a fist and saying, ‘Hey, you did us wrong.’ It is more like ‘Hey, I am extending my hand in love. Let us forget about the past as much as we can, and let us move from where we are now. How can we help each other? Can you try to help us because we’re going to help ourselves, too.’ That’s really where we are right now.”

Again, Common presents a gaping blind spot in not understanding America is fixed. We can access Spillers and her argument in reflecting back on its major points.  It leaves us with the challenging supposition that maybe the ways in which historically gender and race has been configured for black men and women through slavery and its aftermath will always be a part of the constructed identity by the dominant white patriarchal structure. We (Blacks) sit outside of a dominant “American grammar.”

The so-called legitimacy of white, normative gender constructions as potentially radical ways of re-conceptualizing what it means to be a man or woman, black or white, rather than banishing the “illegitimacy” of black family structures as lacking something fundamentally in the American landscape.

Works Cited

Spillers, Hortense J. “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book.” Diacritics 17.2 (1987): 64-81. Print.

References

Stewart, John. “The John Stewart Show”. 2015.

Winfrey, Oprah. “The Oprah Show”. 2015.

A Message to the Ancestors from the Angry Black Boy

By Don Allen, Publisher – Our Black News

Someone carries a key; a key to the past – searching for a door; a door with a lock.  A door with a keyhole; a keyhole that unlocks the past and shows someone the future. Lifting the ancestors, my ancestors, I see a vague a tattered past; a past reminiscent of an egg, an egg that has dropped out of a robin’s nest; an egg broken by the force of the world. A place where a mother robin looks helplessly and cannot communicate to the world what might have been?

My anger is my hate, people make my anger, and my rage is carried back and forward into generations that do not see moving visions in their decision but chose a quick fix with a hot needle and some warm heroin. The pain comes in many forms from my mother who picked one-hundred pounds of cotton everyday of her young life and was beat if she was sick our did not go out in the rain. The Irish plantation owner who raped my great grandmother is also to blame for my anger. The blood of his blood; the blood of his sons; the blood of his bloodline; runs through my veins, red, raw and ruined for generations to come.

Being the Angry Black Boy is sometimes like being laid to rest:

Dead,

Deep,

Dark,

Decaying.

My ancestors cursed me on both sides as a cruel joke to make sure I carried out the missions of Nat Turner in a modern day execution of all that is evil; all that is bad; all that my ancestors never had.

Black folks have become inconsequential outside of their inner circles

By Don Allen, Publisher – Our Black News (Independent Business News NetworksTM)

Okay, I first have to apologize to my brothers and sisters from the East and West Coasts; especially the hard working blacks in the south. I have seen your greatness in many areas and I applaud your work ethic and ability to maintain sustainability. Let me explain, I live in Minnesota; a state with a little over 3 percent black population with some of the most severe segregation, gaps and non-equity post slavery. I know to navigate any system – you must be a problem solver and sometimes work outside of your comfort zone to bring new people in while maintaining cordial and diplomatic relationships trying not to marginalize those others on the outside looking in.

The “other” is one of the most important groups of people to collaborate both inside and out.

Would it be acceptable for a member of the NAACP or National Urban League to gloat about being a member of these organizations? My problem question begins when that individual, glorifying an organization steps out from under the masthead and delivers himself/herself to another type of public sphere. Do social cabals mean the same outside of the cabal as they do inside?

If one were to carry their stratification outside an inner circle, then it must mean they have successfully learned to navigate in multiple spheres simultaneously. Some black organizations (social cabals) have turned into a broad term to portray some aspects of the black-bourgeoisie American way of life, overall however, it is by a wide margin not that simple. The black-bourgeoisie American way consistently has been for the singular-person, or most focused on a single-type of person. This making of time stand still through drawing racial lines within black-stratification in the sand has been a part of black America’s routine since freedom began. However, history shows that over time and space the black body has been denied the basic elements of other dreams; and if to gain racial equity means to achieve an “American Dream,” then why are actions of racial politics and segregation in the black community, by black community members the norm in America?

One of the hardest conversations to have in the black community is about competence. To many of the right people are marginalized while blacks on the fringe do not bother to step in because they see a consequence that is unwarranted for the task at hand. The synthetic arrangements in the black community, some based on cabals, but most based on the white-male patriarchy and what Negro they feel comfortable with will always pick who they wish to deal with outside of a black inner circle.

Philosopher Franz Fanon contends, “I observed that I was an article amidst different articles. Fixed into that devastating object hood, I turned beseechingly to others. Their consideration was a liberation, running over my body all of a sudden rubbed into non-being, supplying me again with a nimbleness that I had thought lost, and by taking me out of the world, restoring me to it. Yet pretty much as I came to the next side, I staggered, and the developments, the demeanor, the looks of the other altered me there, in the sense in which a synthetic arrangement is settled by a color. I was rankled; I requested a clarification. Nothing happened. I blast separated. Presently the piece have been assembled again by another self” (Fanon 1).

Fanon is requesting clarity about where he fits in a society that has been racially constructed to marginalize black bodies to the point of racist assumptions. While I agree with my assessment of Fanon, I must move further into the relationships of blacks with blacks and why nothing seems to move forward outside of some inner circles.

Lets take the Minneapolis Urban League and its former president R. Scott Gray. He comes to Minneapolis by recommendation of the StairStep Foundations president Alfred Babington-Johnson (the first inner-circle). He is hired, not knowing the lay of the land; the Minneapolis Urban League is virtually ineffective – they get two Minnesota state senators to move on a bill for a 13th grade pilot program (second inner-circle) with no real foundation other than the money. Gray applies for the Bush Fellowship, receives it and resigns as president of the Minneapolis Urban League.

Of course nobody in the black community could question Gray or the MUL board chairman who did not have a conflict of interest statement signed for what OBN alleges were some questionable collaborations in profit. But the inner-circle, the all-powerful cabal of the MUL kept its secrets, to include not notifying the community on board meetings and election.

In retrospect, all these people are but dots on the end of a needle. Outside of their inner-circles, they represent what every other black body represents. It does not matter if it is suited and tied, dressed to the nines, or hanging out at the golf course. These are still black bodies inside an inner-circle that keep stratification close with nothing to show for it.

For a black person, especially in Minnesota, becoming inconsequential is something they do all by their selves. It doesn’t take much but to marginalize good black brothers and sisters and look important. But believe me when I say this; your time is done.

If you think burning the American Flag anywhere in Minnesota is tolerated…you’re wrong

By Don Allen, Publisher – Our Black News (formally IBNN News)

Where is #blaklivesmatter? I'll tell you; far away from black life. (Photo: Star Tribune story 5/17)

Where is #blaklivesmatter? I’ll tell you; far away from black life. (Photo: Star Tribune story 5/17)

Minneapolis, Minn…As a former active duty military solider, now scholar, it shocks me to see the limited amount of intellectual aptitude from those who wish to deface the United States flag.

If black issues matter, then local Twin Cities protest groups like #blacklivesmatter and others would realize there

are more than 300 homeless black veterans in Minnesota who faithfully, without hesitation defended the rights of freedom, liberty and justice. So go ahead, you can disgrace them (and yourselves) by burning the American flag with no consequences. This is telling about movements that only produced a 10-year-old child who was maced by Minneapolis police with the talking point: “Lucky I was only maced, not shot.”

A homeless veteran in downtown Minneapolis, “Gym-Shoe,” said, “Even though I’m homeless and not doing to good handling my PTSD and drinking, I wanted to rip the throats out of those punks burning my flag. I know America has not been kind to the brothers who served, but burning the flag is not the way to talk about racism, unemployment, homelessness and drug abuse among our people. These kids have never risked their life’s to do anything, getting into a club does not count.”

Organizing for positive outcomes is everything. It seems like protest groups in the Twin Cities want a “Mini-Baltimore,” where people are arrested, beaten and maybe killed by law enforcement that seek to go home to their families after work. The challenge is not black or white, but an issue of identifying a plan and working towards a change with the goal of seeking common ground.

I never heard once about #blacklivesmatter protesting for Minnesota veterans issues, which concerned me tremendously. There are issues inside the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs that should be addressed with a rally or a protest. If veterans in Minnesota, especially vets of color, cannot expect to see an agenda item from those concerned about issues of fairness, then any movement that says something matters…is a lie.

Why Does Obama Keep Trying to Play Daddy to Black America?

By Yvette Carnell, Originally posted on YourBlackNews.com

Do you ever notice that when President Obama speaks to black people, the tone seems to change? Some welcome the shift in conversation as a reflection of cozy familiarity. Others, however, feel that the president tends to shift his focus from policy to preaching, or from advocacy to finger wagging. What if the president were to speak to the gay community and tell them that they are the reason for their own discrimination? What if he told women’s groups that he can’t do anything for them and that they simply have to work harder to battle against sexism?

Yvette Carnell breaks it all down in this video.  You can also download the podcast as well.

View more stories like this here.

The Black image in the white mind : media and race in America

Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2001.

Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2001.

By Robert M. Entman and Andrew Rojecki

This highly recommended study traces the reciprocal relationship between white racial attitudes and the presentation of blacks in the mass media. The authors have worked hard to make their carefully nuanced presentation, based on a significant body of empirical data, clear and understandable. Nevertheless, it is not an easy read. Entman and Rojecki demonstrate that the central attitude of most whites is the denial of both existing racism and white privilege. The largely unconscious racism in commercials, films, magazines, newspapers, and television (both news and entertainment) is demonstrated beyond debate. A telling illustration is the examination of a multitude of white reviews of major feature films in which there is not a single mention of their racist subtexts. Shows such as Bill Cosby’s are two-edged swords making blacks visible while supporting white denial of racism. Many readers will use the cute term “politically correct” to disregard these findings and reinforce denial, but careful reading by practitioners may help them become aware of their largely unconscious racism. There is extensive annotation, charts, graphs, and tables as well as a Web cite for more extensive documentation. P. E. Kane; emeritus, SUNY College at Brockport

 

Minneapolis Urban League will not seek new contract for Urban League Academy, ending 40-year partnership with Minneapolis Public Schools

OBN Editors Note: If you did not see this coming, the evidence was clear as the nose on your face.

For Immediate Release – Contact: Steven Belton,  sbelton@mul.org – 612-302-3101

Minneapolis, MN – The Minneapolis Urban League (MUL) Board of Directors and Interim CEO announce today the MUL will not seek to renew for the 2015-2016 academic year its contract with Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) for the Urban League Academy (ULA). The alternative high school will close on June 5, 2015 ending a 40-year partnership.

"...sans education." (Photo: Urban League logo- Fair Use)

“…sans education.” (Photo: Urban League logo- Fair Use)

“This is a sad day for the Urban League Academy and community,” said Steven Belton, Interim President and CEO. “Our students found caring and encouraging teachers and an environment of mutual support and high expectations there. The Minneapolis Urban League will continue to advocate for educational equity and develop strategies for new educational services.”

“We thank the Minneapolis Urban League for their years of service and partnership. We are committed to working closely with families to provide a smooth transition for students and to meet their academic needs for this upcoming school year,” said MPS interim Superintendent Michael Goar.

The ULA serves a population of at-risk students who face serious challenges and have struggled to achieve academic success in traditional school settings. Unfortunately, contract revenue for ULA students has not kept up with costs and MUL has absorbed operating losses from the school for each of the past several years. In April, the MUL board agreed to lease its school building, located in south Minneapolis, to a startup charter school, which will provide revenue to the MUL. A search for another school venue proved unsuccessful.

Contract alternative schools like ULA do not receive lease aid from the State of Minnesota, which is a financial disadvantage as compared to charter schools, which receive lease aid. Contract alternatives also do not receive tax levy revenue, drop-out prevention assistance and other program monies that traditional public schools are eligible to receive. At-risk students require a host of academic and support services that are not covered by the per pupil allocation to alternative schools, which is far below the amount allocated to charter and traditional public schools.

“The financial issues are complicated, but the disappointing reality is we cannot afford to provide the quality education our students deserve under the present funding structure,” said Clinton Collins, Jr., MUL Chair. “We carefully studied the fiscal implications of continuing our partnership with MPS and examined various alternatives. Ultimately we decided our duty of financial stewardship necessitated closing the school.”

ULA will hold its final graduation ceremony for the Class of 2015 at 6:00 p.m. on June 1, for 12 students. The commencement exercise will be held at MUL’s Glover Sudduth Center, located at 2100 Plymouth Avenue North. The community is invited to attend.

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