The War in Africa the U.S. Military Won’t Admit It’s Fighting

By: Bryan Maygers  huffingtonpost.com

“What the military will say to a reporter and what is said behind closed doors are two very different things — especially when it comes to the U.S. military in Africa.” So writes investigative reporter Nick Turse in his latest book, Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa….

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When asked for a simple tally of U.S. installations, military spokespersons repeatedly emphasized to Turse that the command maintains only one permanent “base,” Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, contradicting documentary evidence of activity and infrastructure on a much larger and rapidly growing scale.

Turse’s investigations eventually showed that the U.S. military has been involved in one way or another — “construction, military exercises, advisory assignments, security cooperation, or training missions” — with more than 90 percent of Africa’s 54 nations….

A few years back I asked a few of their public affairs people to answer a few simple questions about what the U.S. military was up to on the continent, the basics of the scale and scope of their involvement. I had started seeing indications of increased U.S. operations.

Specifically, I saw the building of a sophisticated logistics network and I know that you don’t build a land and sea logistics network to carry supplies all throughout the continent unless you’re planning on sending personnel all over the continent….

I think a good example of this in Africa is the U.S. intervention in Libya where we joined a coalition to overthrow Gaddafi. Now I don’t think there are a lot of Gaddafi defenders out there, we know that he was in many ways a disaster for his people, but what’s resulted in Libya has been catastrophic and it wasn’t just Libya that was affected….

The Libyan intervention has now destabilized the whole Northwest corner of Africa. This is the type of thing that we see again and again with U.S. military missions in Africa….

There’s just not a deep knowledge of who the players are often and what their aims are. And of course the U.S. military, they have one tool in their toolkit which is the hammer. So this is what they bring to bear wherever they see a problem and often it just has the effect of creating even more chaos in the name of fighting terror or creating stability….

Credit:amazon.com

The Obama administration has basically been in a reaction mode for almost the entirety of the administration, they seem to be buffeted by one crisis after another and try to react to it, often in tragic and misguided ways….

Instead of getting the military they wanted for South Sudan, they got one that in December 2013 broke down and split across ethnic lines. The force that’s still loyal to the government carried out mass atrocities and also began increased recruitment of child soldiers. So everything that the U.S. tried for there was a complete and abject failure….

There are Chinese construction projects everywhere and you can see a real contrast. The U.S. has really pumped its aid money into these various anti-terror efforts and tried to play Whac-A-Mole all across the continent, chasing down terror groups while China has gone the economic route and made inroads all over the continent.

Now I wouldn’t say that the Chinese approach has been uniformly good for African countries, they have these no-strings-attached policies where labor rights and environmental rights are cast by the wayside and it’s strictly dollars and cents, but what they do is provide roads and airports and stadiums, tangible examples of things that African people can see right in front of them.

They’re pursuing a radically different route than we have, though you know recently it looks like China might be looking to follow our example. They’re looking at building a military base in Djibouti where the major U.S. base is, and they found a way under UN auspices to get Chinese troops into South Sudan to protect oil installations, so it’s possible that China will run into the same problems, given enough time, but right now the U.S. seems to be sowing more problems for itself as it goes while China reaps economic rewards.

I don’t see any indication that they’re going to be slowing down any time soon.

 

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Black Protester Hugs Squirming Nazi, Quips, ‘Why Don’t You Like Me, Dog?’

By Breanna Edwards, The Root

The black protester who was caught on viral video hugging a squirming and uncomfortable neo-Nazi outside white supremacist dump truck Richard Spencer’s speech at the University of Florida in Gainesville on Thursday is acknowledging that he could just as easily have hit the guy (an act in which someone else had earlier indulged) but decided to go a different route in order to bring about change in his own way.

(Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

“I could have hit him, I could have hurt him … but something in me said, ‘You know what? He just needs love,’” Aaron Alex Courtney told the New York Daily News. “It’s a step in the right direction. One hug can really change the world. It’s really that simple.”

The unidentified neo-Nazi was seen at Spencer’s speech location wearing a T-shirt covered in swastikas. His not-so-subtle outfit obviously drew the attention of the crowd, which included protesters who screamed, punched and spat on him before Courtney wrapped his arms around him.

“Why don’t you like me, dog?” the 31-year-old high school football coach out of Gainesville could be heard asking the man. “Give me a fucking hug.”

Courtney could be seen attempting to get the man to hug him back, but the man just stood there, limp and uncomfortable, as Courtney embraced him.

A nazi and a black man…..America 2017 #SpencerAtUF pic.twitter.com/sSaG36EuOr

— Politics 4 Dummies (@Politics4dum) October 19, 2017

Surprised to learn that Spencer was a person and not an impending hurricane, or that the notification wasn’t about a kidnapping or something of the sort, Courtney started to do research.

“I found out about what kind of person he was, and that encouraged me, as an African American, to come out and protest. Because this is what we’re trying to avoid. It’s people like him who are increasing the distance … between people,” Courtney told the Daily News.

Courtney gave about four hours of his time Thursday protesting and was getting ready to leave when he saw Mr. Nazi himself causing a commotion among the other protesters.

“I had the opportunity to talk to someone who hates my guts, and I wanted to know why. During our conversation, I asked him, ‘Why do you hate me? What is it about me? Is it my skin color? My history? My dreadlocks?” Courtney recalled.

“After beating around the bush and avoiding my questions, I asked him, I pleaded with him, I almost broke out in tears, growing increasingly angry because I didn’t understand,” he said.

However, Courtney, whose father is a bishop, decided to take some of his father’s teachings and offer the man a hug.

“Something in me said, ‘You know what? He just needs love. Maybe he never met an African American like this,” Courtney said.

It took some cajoling, but, Courtney said, “I reached over, and the third time, he wrapped his arms around me, and I heard God whisper in my ear, ‘You changed his life.’”

Courtney then said he asked again, “Why do you hate me?”

The neo-Nazi’s response, according to Courtney? “‘I don’t know.’”

“I believe that was his sincere answer. He really doesn’t know,” Courtney added.

The man was eventually escorted away by police, but not before taking a photo with Courtney’s friend.

“I honestly feel that was a step in the right direction, for him to take a picture with a guy that he hated when he woke up this morning,” Courtney said.

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Why TV Writer Angela Nissel, Black Females in Hollywood Need to be Heard

By Yesha Callahan, The Root

If you took a look at the writers’ room of some of your favorite television shows, you’d be hard-pressed to find a black person, and even harder pressed to find a black woman. But for the last decade, Angela Nissel has been leaving her mark behind the scenes on shows like Scrubs, The Boondocks and, now, The Jellies—Tyler, the Creator’s Adult Swim show, which premieres Oct. 22.

Before Nissel’s foray into scripted television, she was best-known as one of the creators of Okayplayer and for her two sidesplitting memoirs that captured the essence of her formative years, and of being broke and biracial. Both The Broke Diaries: The Completely True and Hilarious Misadventures of a Good Girl Gone Broke and Mixed: My Life in Black and Whitewere heralded by critics, as well as the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Halle Berry, and Nissel became the “it” woman of literature in the early 2000s.

Angela Nissel, Scenes from ‘The Jellies’ (Adult Swim)

It was those books that set the University of Pennsylvania grad (she graduated with a degree in medical anthropology) on her way to a career in TV. But, of course, Nissel’s ascent into television writing wasn’t easy, especially as a black woman. After being in the game for 15 years, she is still fighting her way into writers’ rooms, and she made it into The Jellies’room even though she thought she hadn’t landed the gig.

“Me being old enough to be Tyler’s aunt, I said, ‘I’ve heard of him,’ but I don’t really know him. And then I researched him. I was nervous in the meeting, but when Tyler came in, he just wanted to get to know about me. Ten minutes later, the meeting was over. I called my agent and was like, ‘I’m pretty sure I didn’t get that job; they thought I was a total nerd,’” Nissel says.

As luck talent would have it, Nissel landed the consulting-producer-and-writing gig on the series, and so her work began. And, yes, she was once again the only black woman in the writers’ room. As Nissel segues back into animation (after lending her talents to The Boondocks), she notes that writing live action and books is totally different from writing for animation, especially when it comes to the fans.

“How many f—— black cartoon characters is it on TV right now?” Tyler responded. “Name five. I’ll give you time.”

Nissel shares similar sentiments about Cornell’s newfound blackness.

“If you don’t like Cornell being black, color him another color in your head. What is wrong with people wanting to see the representation of themselves on-screen?” Nissel asks. “That’s why I think their generation will do better, and hopefully build on what my old-ass generation wasn’t able to do. Tyler is an outsider coming into this industry and wants Cornell to look like him. I don’t understand how anyone can be upset with that.”

With the success of this summer’s blockbuster hit Girls Trip, the spotlight is now shining on funny black women in front of and behind the camera. And Nissel has some savory advice for the bigwigs in Hollywood.

“I wish more people realize that having one voice in the room sometimes isn’t enough because you’re only going to get one point of view. At the end of the day, I just wish people would go outside of the neighborhoods and make friends with people who aren’t exactly like them, so they can bring that to the room if they don’t have the budget to hire 25 women,” Nissel says.

“I really want to create shows that show that women over the age of 40 still have lives, and they can be messy,” she adds. “To talk about the imbalance of women and men, like my own personal story of paying alimony. I want to tell the richness of women of color over 40 because sometimes I look on TV and we’re all dead, except for Oprah.”

The Jellies premieres on Adult Swim at 12:15 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 22.

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Somebody lied: Education alone can’t dismantle white supremacy

By: Andre Perry: hechingerreport.org

Americans like to think that if individuals are educated in great schools, they can pull themselves up by their proverbial bootstraps and bring their families with them. No matter if obstacles such as bad policing, weak labor markets and discriminatory housing policies litter our path. We believe that a good education can propel us past those barriers, and we can surpass our parents’ social standing….

Source: adnor-sevenoaks.org/

But new research out of the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that we’re overselling our belief in schools….  The study’s author, Jessie Rothstein, and his colleagues at Berkeley found that the quality of K-12 schooling has little bearing on individuals’ ability to earn more than their parents. The study found that family structure (spousal earnings), access to a college education and the ability to parlay that education into a bigger paycheck play much larger roles.

There are reasons that poor folk are stuck with hope instead of real opportunities: Middle-class families are hoarding them.

Every college place or internship that goes to one of our kids because of a legacy bias or personal connection is one less available to others,” writes Brookings Institution researcher Richard Reeves in a discussion of social mobility in his book Dream Hoarders.

The difference in social mobility among adults has less to do with skills gained in school and more to do with factors that influence labor markets, such as the protection that comes with belonging to a union, or differing access to good jobs, or access to exclusive internships that lead to prestigious careers and mentoring….

Source: educationimages.com

There’s another negative to inflating the impact of schools. If students don’t succeed, we fault them or heap blame on black parents for their under achieving kids. “It all starts at home,” we say, shaking our heads sadly, wagging our fingers at black America. This in the face of consistent evidence that shows African-Americans are most likely to value a postsecondary education for success, at 90 percent, followed by Asians and Latinos, with whites at 64 percent….

Then, after blaming low-income black folk, we middle-class Americans pat ourselves on the back to justify our seat at the table.

It’s time to discard the cliché about education that it is the next civil rights issue of our generation; the reality is that privileged Americans limit opportunities for everyone else, ensuring that the American dream remains merely a fantasy.

 

 

 

 

 

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Colin Kaepernick’s Jersey Hangs in the Same Museum as ‘Starry Night’

by Priscilla Frank, HuffPost Black Voices

One of the most recent additions to the halls of New York’s Museum of Modern Art is a red San Francisco 49ers jersey. The same jersey worn by Colin Kaepernick between 2011 and 2016.

Kaepernick’s sports jersey hangs with four others featured in the ongoing MoMA exhibition “Items: Is Fashion Modern?”, which explores the impact of 111 carefully curated items of clothing and accessories on the 20th and 21st centuries.

The jersey is a unique item of clothing in that its uniform design conjures an almost immediate sense of power, promise and camaraderie. As MoMA curator Paola Antonelli and her curatorial team expressed in an email to HuffPost, “Children around the world look up to sports heroes as role models; for them, the jersey embodies a dream or aspiration.”

Kaepernick’s jersey, the San Francisco 49ers’ number seven, became the best-selling jersey in the NFL’s official shop website in 2016 and remains one of the top selling items to this day. The stats are especially noteworthy seeing as Kaepernick no longer plays for the 49ers, or any other NFL team at present. The popularity of the uniform, then, illuminates the quarterback’s status not only as a star athlete but a contemporary icon of civil rights.

Kaepernick first sat down during the national anthem ahead a preseason game in August 2016, lowering himself in silent protest of the racial injustice plaguing the nation. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he told NFL Media of his decision. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

In September 2016, Kaepernick took a knee instead of a seat, and has continued to do so ever since. The protest has been an unremitting source of inspiration, controversy and debate since its inception. Just last month, President Donald Trump criticized the gesture, while public figures including fellow NFL players, Stevie Wonder and former CIA director John Brennan expressed their unwavering support for Kaepernick and his demonstration.

After the 2016 season came to a close, Kaepernick opted out of his 49ers contract and has been a free agent ever since. Nonetheless, his red jersey continues to sell in massive quantities, a testament to the influence Kaepernick holds off the field as well as on it. His jersey embodies so much of the ongoing political conversation in this country today ― what America stands for, and what it kneels for.

“We hope that visitors to ’Items will see in these sports jerseys not only the blood, sweat and tears of their original wearers but also the complex synthesis of aesthetics, personal choice, collective style, politics, business, race, gender, marketing, labor and technologythat are embodied by their reproductions,” Antonelli and her team wrote.

The other jerseys in the exhibition are Pelé’s 1958 FIFA World Cup Brazilian national soccer team jersey, Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls basketball jersey and the Black Ferns women’s rugby national team jersey. Athletic gear aside, the MoMA show will also feature garments including a little black dress, a keffiyeh, a pearl necklace and Levi’s 501 jeans.

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Boy’s Near-Hanging Compels Town to Open Discussion on Racism

By Michael Casey, The Grio/Associated Press

CLAREMONT, N.H. (AP) — In this struggling mill town in western New Hampshire, racism was never something people talked all that much about.

There were people who drove around Claremont with Confederate flag bumper stickers in the mostly white town of 14,000 and some instances of high schoolers using racial epithets during football games and on Facebook.

But for the most part, residents had other concerns.

That changed Aug. 28 after allegations surfaced that several teenagers had taunted a 9-year-old biracial boy with racial slurs and several days later pushed him off a picnic table with a rope tied around his neck. The family of the boy, who was treated for neck injuries and has been released, called it a hate crime while the parents of one of the teenagers told Newsweek it was a terrible accident.

The images of the boy’s rope-singed neck were shared widely on social media, prompting an outpouring of support for the family and outrage against the teens. With prosecutors continuing to investigate the case as a potential hate crime, the city known for historic textile and paper mill buildings found itself associated with words like lynching and intolerance.

“Certainly people were shocked by the young age of everyone involved, especially the victim,” said Allen Damren, the town’s assistant mayor who also grew up in Claremont. “That certainly has an impact on people. When you use the word ‘lynching,’ that has all sorts of bad connotations to it.”

“It happened in our hometown. People responded to that,” he added.

The case has compelled city leaders to confront an issue that many had associated with bigger cities far away. Most insist Claremont isn’t a racist place but say the town must consider how its white majority treats those who don’t look like them. The families of the accused teens declined comment.

“This is an opportunity to take a very unfortunate event involving children and have some public discussions about how we treat each other,” said Middleton McGoodwin, the superintendent of the school district that includes Claremont. “Just because you may have a different color skin or different color hair or wear certain clothing, that doesn’t give me license to make you feel uncomfortable or make fun of you.”

City and school officials have since met to discuss new strategies to counter racism, and McGoodwin said the district is developing a plan for elementary through high school that examines school culture, including how students treat each other and how staff respond to issues like bullying. Residents are planning to be outside the high school and middle school this week, holding signs calling for an end to violence and bullying.

“We are not going to say this was an event that took place in late August, wasn’t in school and wasn’t about us,” McGoodwin said. “It definitely is about us.”

Lorrie Slattery, the grandmother of the boy who was nearly hung who had lived in town for 14 years, attended a town discussion group at a nearby church. Slattery, who is white, grew emotional as she recounted how her family had never before felt racism in Claremont and how she would remain the city. The boy’s mother declined to be interviewed.

“From the bottom of my heart, it doesn’t change my views of Claremont,” she said. “This is everywhere. We’re not immune to anything. Things happen. This is something, as horrific as it was, that could be something positive for the future of the kids in this community. I think it’s going to bring us to better places.”

 

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