Tag Archives: racism

Joel Feinman’s Simple Solution to Ending Mass Incarceration


Lynching in America continued from the 1920s up to 1980, according to Pima County Public Defender Joel Feinman.

Arizona incarcerates a higher percentage of the population than South Africa did during apartheid. “We are not the land of free and home of brave as long as that statistic is true,” said Pima County Public Defender Joel Feinman.

He spoke recently at a program on mass incarceration sponsored by the Arizona Ground Game (TAGG), a grass-roots Progressive organization that encourages active citizenship through neighborhood building.

“Mass incarceration is a long and ugly story, a bloody and racist tour of where we’ve been,” he said. “The good news is that mass incarceration is actually one of easiest political problems to solve.”

Plea bargains

Part of the problem is the universal use of plea agreements to end criminal cases. In 2013, 97% of criminal cases in the federal system were resolved by plea bargains.

“The average sentence for federal narcotics defendants with a plea agreement is  5 years,” Feinman said. “For defendants who went to trial, the average sentence was 16 years — more than 3 times the years in prison because they chose to exercise their constitutional right under the 6th amendment to have a trial by jury.”

Plea bargains are an unfair contract, where the prosecutor (the Pima County Attorney) has all the bargaining power and the defendant has none. “The criminal justice system is more interested in moving cases along than dispensing justice,” he said. “As a result, you get the highest incarceration rate and the highest number of people in prison. The judge is not the most powerful person, not the jury, not our state representatives or congress people — it is your local prosecutor. They are by far the most powerful person in the criminal justice system.”

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“X is for Xenophobia: I am America” art show

 

Opening reception for this unique  art show is on  Saturday Feb. 4, from 6 to 9 pm. at Steinfeld Warehouse, 101 W. 6th St.  More than 25 artists are participating.

Artist’s statement: “What is XENOPHOBIA? It is defined as an irrational fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign. The rise of populism is accompanied by, and often explicitly espouses, xenophobia and racism. At the same time, there are signs that wide and heterogeneous alliances are being formed against these trends, both within traditional politics and out in the world, in communities.” (statement continued below)

Mediterannean music will be performed by Kyklo (Paul Amiel, Anton Shekerjiev, Kelsey Shea).  They describe their music as: “music of the mountain villages, ancient islands, hashish dens, cafés, harems, pubs, dance halls, cloisters, and prisons of the old world, on traditional acoustic instruments.”

Kyklo – L to R: Paul Amiel, Kelsey Shea, Anton Shekerjiev,)

Artist’s statement continued:

“The destruction caused by wars without end, driven by forces and actors far from the battlefields, has created not only the desperate flight of refugees but also decimated economies and destroyed countries to the extent that rebuilding does not even seem to be on the agenda. There are frequent deadly attacks on refugee shelters in Germany; the extreme Right is growing across Europe. In the US and elsewhere, populists are on the rise scapegoating the most vulnerable for socities’ problems.

What can the role of art be in this world we live in right now? We created an exhibition with a group of artists who use their aesthetic knowledge and craft skills to interrogate Xenophobia. These artists are interested in creating political art, activist art, interventionist art, socially engaged art, and/or social practice art addressing Xenophobia.

The xenophobic and racist propaganda is deeply rooted in the political landscape of today and it is coming both from “above” (powerful elites) and “below” (working-classes). How can we (as artists) contribute resources to combat it? We need to know the terrain to fight back and use the their tools and rules to our advantage. The tools of the game are signs, symbols, story and spectacle. We are artists. We have used these tools for years. We are well equipped but I believe we need to collaborate and create big, ground breaking exhibitions and use our networks in this struggle. If we, like minded artists, do not do it, who else will?

The aim of this exhibition is to CHANGE the way a society with growing xenophobic and racist tendencies perceive the world and act in this world, with the hope to furnish resources for those groups, alliances, networks and communities struggling to build a more just, equitable and inclusive future.

If this resonates with you, please come and join us for the opening reception. February 4th, 2017 at 6pm.

The exhibition will be up until March 30, 2017. The hope is to make it a traveling exhibition in the US and abroad. We need your support to make it a reality.
If you have any questions&concerns you can contact Ozlem at ozlemayseozgur@gmail.com”

RSVP via FB: https://www.facebook.com/events/255614104872267/

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Does Bernie Sanders Have ‘White People Problems’? (video)

11,000 Sanders supporters filled the Phoenix Convention Center on Saturday, July 18,2015. (Photo by Dennis Gilman)

11,000 Sanders supporters filled the Phoenix Convention Center on Saturday, July 18,2015. (Photo by Dennis Gilman)

Saturday was a day of highs and lows for Senator Bernie Sanders.

In the morning at Netroots Nation, Sanders became visibly annoyed by Black Lives Matter protesters who wanted to hear more than stump speeches from Democratic presidential candidates Sanders and former Governor Martin O’Malley. They wanted to know what President Sanders or President O’Malley would do to end systemic racism in the US. They didn’t get an answer from either candidate.

In the evening– again at the Phoenix Convention Center– Sanders was greeted enthusiastically by a mostly white crowd of 11,000 progressives cheering his economic inequality stump speech. According to news accounts, this was Sanders’ largest crowd to date.

The whiteness of Sanders’ supporters has come up before, but Netroots Nation (NN15) really brought the issue home for me.

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Pretty much everything you need to know about modern Republican governance of states in one sentence

In the aftermath of Wednesday evening in Charleston, SC, when a white supremacist terrorist murdered nine African-American people in cold blood after they welcomed him into their church, a lot of people are demanding that South Carolina take down the Confederate flag that festoons the State Capitol and questioning why the flag remains a popular symbol in that state and many other parts of the country despite its ugly, hateful history*. It turns out that the Stars and Bars (which was not even flown at half-mast the day after the shootings as the U.S flag was) is protected by state law and controlled solely by the state legislature.

I did a search to see if South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley had weighed in on that and found something astounding from last October. It seems the subject came up during Haley’s reelection campaign at a televised candidate forum.

haley video screenshot
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Patricia Arquette was not malicious in her backstage comments, but she was mistaken

Crossposted from DemocraticDiva.com

patricia arquette

I cheered right along with Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez when Patricia Arquette made an impassioned demand for women’s rights and, specifically, pay equity in her acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress last Sunday. And then she was interviewed backstage and said some other things:

“So the truth is, even though we sort of feel like we have equal rights in America, right under the surface, there are huge issues that are applied that really do affect women. And it’s time for all the women in America and all the men that love women, and all the gay people, and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.”

The part in bold is what several people took to social media to express their offense over at what they perceived as the erasure of women from “gay people” and “people of color”. Others immediately came to Arquette’s defense, claiming that the hysterical PC police were bashing her unfairly over words perhaps poorly chosen in the midst of an exhilarating and emotional moment. I agree that it was most likely not Arquette’s intention to exclude non-cis/straight and non-white women in her comments but the women in those groups have a lot of experience having their identities and concerns ignored, even by well-intentioned white women. And when they point out that you’re doing that, it’s rude (to say the least) to become defensive and double-down on the denials, as Arquette and her defenders have done since Sunday.

But set that aside for a minute and examine the problem, on its merits, with her “call to action”, as more than one of the people defending her to me described it to me. And that is that her claim was wrong. Factually wrong. Gobsmackingly so.

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Dear white people: we Asians don’t all look alike

I don’t know how many times people here in Arizona say to me “you look like someone I know”, or “Are you such and such person?” and of course it is usually not me, so I politely reply “no”.  Sometimes just to be a bit contrary, I reply “Yes, we Asians all look alike”  meaning “I forgive you for not being able to differentiate me from another Asian you have met”.   It’s sad that many white people can’t seem to tell us Asians apart. A doctor at UAMC recently came up to me and called me “Catherine” by mistake.  And it’s impolite to single out a so-called “minority person” by their facial features.

Ok, so honestly I must look like every other Asian woman around Tucson:  slim, long black hair (though mine is getting SP – salt/pepper) and wire rim glasses.  Plus an oriental face, yellowish skin tone, the usual “perpetual immigrant/foreigner” Chinese/Japanese/Korean/Vietnamese/Laotian look.  I could be anyone of those ethnicities, or mixtures thereof.

Recently though, a Hispanic woman mistook me for a Navajo woman friend of hers up north on the reservation. That was more flattering, as I know people have sometimes asked me what tribe I belong to, and I usually just smile and say that I’m not Native American, but I would like to be.

Then there’s the rude folks, who ask me “what country are you from?” so I usually reply “America” since Hawaii is really part of the U.S. (the last time I checked).  Hawaii became the 50th state back in August, 1959, and was an American trust territory since 1898. I was born there on one of the islands. I even have an authentic long-form birth certificate to prove it.  But then they keep asking, as they need to know what racial group to put me in, and usually I give up and reply truthfully that both sets of grandparents left Japan for the Kingdom of Hawaii/Trust Territory of Hawaii to work on the sugar plantations (in 1892 and 1910).

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