And, please, don't ask me what I caught on my fishing trip.
After a week of bombs (and here) and a near-miss (here and here), I feel I should go to church more often. But it’s hard to hear prophetic voices over the racket made by ministers like this bunch or this one.
Only 4 in 10 Americans say they agree with Bush on issues that matter most to them, and just a bare majority says he has the personality and leadership qualities a president should have.
Now ain’t that good news (and here). But this piece in Christianity Today really lifted my spirits. Rev. Reginald W. Williams, Associate Pastor for Social Justice of Trinity United Church of Christ, is spearheading a boycott of Wal-Mart in Chicago.
Trinity United is a founding member of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, an organization of African American faith leaders and their congregations whose mission “is to strengthen the capacity and network of the African American faith community and its leaders to address the needs of those it serves.” In stark contrast to the self-proclaimed "bishop" without a seminary degree who's obsessed with what grown folks do behind closed doors, the SDPC’s priorities include voter protection and the campaign against Wal-Mart:
Don’t let the television media commercials fool you. Yes, prices may be cheaper. And we’ve seen images of happy smiling workers before. It was called slavery!
Maybe I'll go to church this Sunday morning, after all.
Black Enterprise was tickled pink, figuratively speaking of course, to announce that Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club was a first-time sponsor of its annual entrepreneurs conference. “The participation of Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club in this year’s Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference demonstrates the company’s support for diversity as a business imperative,” Black Enterprise Unlimited President Johnny Graves crowed in a statement. “A diverse workforce is an essential component of doing good business, and we are delighted to have the support of Wal-Mart/Sam's Club at this year’s event.”
Wal-Mart is the largest private employer of African Americans. But the “Action Plan for Black America” that BE is developing for its 35th anniversary will not likely address the impact of Wal-Mart’s always low wages and lack of health benefits on its black employees and the communities in which they live.
I won't hold my breath waiting for BE to inform its readers about efforts to put the brakes on Wal-Mart. The Washington Post reported:
But behind the hodgepodge of figures is a very specific goal: Keeping out Wal-Mart Stores Inc. As the discount giant shifts its focus from the Washington region's fast-growing fringes to its dense urban center, it has become locked in a bitter behind-the-scenes struggle with the local unionized grocery industry, which is scrambling to erect legislative barriers to the chain's growth.
The fight is taking on national significance. Wal-Mart, which has conquered rural America with more than 3,000 stores, desperately needs to break into the urban market to maintain its phenomenal growth. So far, it has been rebuffed in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, and the retailer views Washington as an important frontier for expansion.
An agreement (here and here) has been reached to avert the Senate showdown that was scheduled for noon today. Senate Republicans had threatened to call for cloture of debate of the nomination of Justice Priscilla R. Owen to a federal appeals court.
Though it appears Owen, the nominee du jour, will be confirmed, the wingnuts have gone, well, nuts (and here) over the compromise. Waiting in the right-wing is Justice Janice Rogers Brown whom the Bishop-on-the-spot claims is "a legal hero for black America." Zero is a far more apt description.
We're just as opposed to Janice Brown as we are to the white lady.
Bishop Harry Jackson asked:
Hell, even Phyllis Berry Myers had planned a return engagement to support Brown. She was scheduled to join the usual suspects (and here) at a press conference this morning and call for shutting off debate. Roy Innis said in a statement:
We must not sit back and watch from the sidelines and allow Senators to use this racist tactic of filibustering.
Rev. Jesse L. Jackson outfoxed both his nemesis, Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, the self-appointed leader of a new vanguard of black conservative leaders who have no visible black followers, and his rival, Rev. Al Sharpton (and here). In a statement, the wannabe Jesse said:
President Vicente Fox should not meet with Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton. These self-appointed leaders don't speak for clear-thinking Blacks. They are two of the most racially divisive men in America. Fox's willingness to meet with Black racists is adding insult to injury.
Sorry, Bro, but the race is to the swift. The Associated Press reported:
President Vicente Fox tried to smooth relations with the U.S. black community Wednesday after saying Mexican immigrants take jobs that “not even” blacks want, promising to work with the Rev. Jesse Jackson to improve labor rights for minorities in the United States.
The meeting between Fox and Jackson at the presidential residence was a sharp contrast from a few days ago, when Jackson called on the Mexican president to issue a public apology.
Still, Sharpton is scheduled to Fox-trot to Mexico City today. He told the New York Daily News (links added): “I don’t see how we can jump on Trent Lott and jump on Jimmy the Greek. Then we act like it’s a misunderstanding when the president of Mexico says something like that.”
Sharpton downplayed Jackson’s pledge to push for immigration reform in an interview with the Associated Press:
Things have been boiling under the surface for a while and they need to be discussed, and frankly he can do that.
We also need to deal with the fact that there has been an inordinate amount of tension where people have come across the border for almost slave wages, competing with Latinos and blacks. It’s almost like a 21st century slave trade.
And bringing up the rear, the NAACP wants to add Fox to its dance card. NAACP Chairman Julian Bond has invited him to address the group’s annual convention (and here). In a letter to the president, Bond said:
Your recent comments about Mexican migrants doing work that ‘not even blacks want to do’ have understandably caused great concern among our members, and indeed among all who believe in equal rights. Our convention offers you a unique opportunity to explain your comments and detail your efforts at erasing racial enmity to the largest collection of civil rights activists in the United States.
From time to time, I've been accused of overkill, to which I plead: Guilty. So when I read this piece on SEIU and the Congressional Black Caucus by the estimable Ron Walters (and here), well, I knew I had to share an excerpt (links added):
This is an arrogant display of power by SEIU and the seeds of it may be found in both union and national politics. First, it feeds off of the personal ambition of Andy Stern who is challenging John Sweeney for the head of the entire AFL-CIO. Stern recently developed a set of proposals that would shift a substantial portion of the financial resources of the federation to organizing and the SEIU has had an impressive record recently in organizing Hispanics who have flooded into the service industries. So, it is doubtful that Stern would have sent the same kind of letter to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, because indeed, he may view Hispanics as central to the future fortunes of SEIU.
Does this mean that Stern takes a lesser view of Blacks? It may. One of Stern's proposals is to reduce the size of the Central Labor Council, the table at which the main constituencies of the AFL-CIO sit. However, the venerable William Lucy, head of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, has rebuffed this proposal because it would slight those unions which have a strong community base such as Blacks. One conclusion that can be drawn is that although Blacks comprise 30 percent of the organized workers in the country, under Stern, they may be further short-sheeted if he becomes head of the AFL-CIO.
This conclusion may also be grounded in the fact that Stern and others believe that the politics of the labor movement in the future will be driven by Hispanics and not Blacks, even though Blacks probably make up more than 40 percent of SEIU.
A long-festering political boil has been lanced, finally. When members of the Congressional Black Caucus vehemently and publicly rebuked the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for telling black lawmakers to break off Wal-Mart’s political courtship of the CBC, the rupture exposed SEIU’s disrespectful approach to black leadership, in spite of its claim to be one of organized labor’s most progressive unions.
The rare public ire displayed by black legislators is also a timely signal to the rest of the labor movement that plantation politics — white folks telling black people what’s in their best interest — is like the Confederate flag — OUT, OUT, OUT!
SEIU’s attempt to crack the whip only on CBC members backfired so badly because black members of Congress have only gotten scraps from organized labor’s political pantry at election time. Now, when SEIU realizes that Wal-Mart is making inroads with black House members — the backbone of its progressive support in Congress — its leaders rush to “educate” veteran black lawmakers on the retailer’s bogus concern for workers and their communities. Oh, please.
The condescending politics of SEIU and the deceitful courtship of black elected officials by Wal-Mart lobbyists are but two sides of the same bad coin — disempowering racism. And SEIU deserves to be busted, no matter its platinum rep with some progressives.
The real mission and the full impact of Wal-Martization on urban America must be put before all political and community leaders, not just to black folks, who have been on labor’s side for years, even when our consistency has not been reciprocated on the other side of town.
Finally, SEIU’s heavy-handedness with black lawmakers plays out in the context of SEIU President Andy Stern’s repeated threats to split the labor movement if he does not get his way on reforming the AFL-CIO. In both situations, he has polarized more than he has unified. In both situations, he has offended black leaders. In both situations, what is needed is more respectful, mature leadership, not a clueless, contemptuous bully.
Hey Dwight, tell us how you really feel.