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Net Briefs - 4-11
Tax Form Lies
Values and Interests
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WSF in Africa
Social Media Role
Cause of Fiscal Crisis
Gaza in Crisis
Zaps - 04/11
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Community and Resistance from Katrina to the Jena Six
Book by Jordan Flaherty; Haymarket Books, 2010, 292 pp.
Parts of the story are familiar. In late August 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. Floodwaters broke the levees in New Orleans and the city was devastated—first by floods, then by an underwhelming response by the federal, state, and local governments. While tourists were picked up and shipped out, poor people and prisoners were left with no food, shelter, or support in the aftermath. Some sat in Orleans Parish Prison, still in lockdown, as the waters rose inside their cells. In the years to follow, the situation worsened for many and improved only for those who could afford to pay their own way through the so-called "recovery."
Parts of the story are less familiar. In the aftermath of Katrina, groups ranging from young public school students to Palestinian and Vietnamese communities organized for the right to play a part in rebuilding the city. New service projects were created, ranging from women's health care to expunging criminal records, fighting for public housing, defending New Orleans's historic black culture, and creating alternatives to the brutal and racist criminal legal system. Although the long-term demands of these organizations were often quashed, the stories of those who fought back are as precious as they are little-known.
Luckily for us, writer and activist Jordan Flaherty was one of the people who did not evacuate during the storm, rather he watched from a rooftop as New Orleanians were abandoned by the government and smeared by the media as "looters" and criminals. He was one of the people who sought and recorded the stories of those trapped in prisons with no charges and no trial for weeks, months, and even years after Katrina. He exposed the continuing torture of political prisoners at Angola Penitentiary, the targeting of transgender women as sex criminals, the defense lawyers who did little to help the poor after the storm, and lawyers who sometimes slept through their own court appearances.
He was also the first journalist to report nationally on the story of the group of young men from rural Louisiana who came to be known as the Jena 6. These young African Americans were arrested for attempted murder after a fight erupted at school in response to white students hanging nooses from a tree in the schoolyard. The charges have since been dropped or reduced, largely due to a surge of national attention.
Floodlines begins with a firsthand account of Flaherty's experience directly after Hurricane Katrina and proceeds to weave together personal accounts, cultural history, detailed records of activist work, and reflective analysis. The chapters cover education, immigration, prisoner organizing, housing rights, cultural activism, and the workings behind the displacement and disillusionment of so many citizens.
In his chapter on prisons, Flaherty is characteristically straightforward about his view: "Prison makes us all less free—by breaking up families and communities, by dehumanizing the imprisoned both during and after their sentences, by perpetuating a cycle of poverty, and by making all citizens complicit in the incarceration of their fellow human beings." Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the United States and the threat of incarceration and Flaherty paints a vivid picture of the "cradle-to-prison pipeline," the process by which impoverished young people of color are funneled towards a life in prison virtually from the time of birth. As organizer Robert Goodman puts it, "Every time a black [male] child is born in Louisiana, there's already a bed waiting for him at Angola State Prison."
Goodman is part of a new organization called Safe Streets/Strong Communities. Founded in 2006, the group interviewed over 100 people who had been locked up prior to Katrina. Flaherty says that when he heard some of their stories, he "felt a chill." The stories included children abandoned in lockdown during and after the storm; the warehousing of massive groups of people in open yards with no food, shelter, or space to defecate; and a public defender's office so inept that even a Criminal District Court Judge called it "unbelievable, unconstitutional, totally lacking the basic professional standards of legal representation, and a mockery of what a criminal justice system should be in a western civilized nation." Post-Katrina clean-up became an excuse for increased policing and militarization even as the city slashed funds for indigent defense and social services.
While exposing injustice is part of Flaherty's thrust, Floodlines also reveals how the events unfolding in the news are part of a complex history of black cultures of resistance dating all the way back to the beginnings of slavery in the south. Taken all together, Floodlines is a hopeful, revealing account of five years of hardship and displacement. Outsiders and insiders alike will benefit from Flaherty's uniquely personal and unabashedly political account of some of the most important untold stories of our time.
Lewis Wallace lives in Chicago and has volunteered with Project-NIA, a community transformative justice organization.
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; email@example.com; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; email@example.com; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: email@example.com; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.