Saturday, April 30, 2011

Donald Trump's racial discrimination problem In the 1970s, he was sued by the feds for not renting to African-Americans

By Justin Elliott ,AP

Donald Trump in 1994In an episode early in Donald Trump's career, his New York real estate company was sued by the federal government for discriminating against potential black renters. After a lengthy legal battle, it ultimately agreed to wide-ranging steps to offer rentals to nonwhites.

The little-remembered case provides crucial context for the current discussion centering on Trump and race. The celebrity businessman made news last month when he declared, "I have a great relationship with the blacks. I've always had a great relationship with the blacks."

He has recently come under fire for attacks on President Obama that critics have described as racially tinged. CBS anchor Bob Schieffer, for example, said Wednesday there is "an ugly strain of racism" in Trump's recent (baseless) accusations that President Obama should not have been admitted to Columbia. Also yesterday, Trump told a black reporter, unprompted, "Look I know you are a big Obama fan."

The discrimination case began in the earliest days of Trump's career, when he was still in his 20s.

Fred Trump, Donald's father, was, unlike his son, a self-made man. He made his fortune by building thousands of units of middle-class housing in Brooklyn and Queens. But in the early 1970s, Donald was made president of the family company.

One of Donald's first challenges came in October 1973, when the Justice Department hit the Trump Organization with a major discrimination suit for violating the Fair Housing Act. The Times reported:

... the Government contended that Trump Management had refused to rent or negotiate rentals "because of race and color." It also charged that the company had required different rental terms and conditions because of race and that it had misrepresented to blacks that apartments were not available.

The journalist Gwenda Blair reported in her 2005 Trump biography that while Fred Trump had sought to combat previous discrimination allegations through "quiet diplomacy," Donald decided to go on the offensive. He hired his friend Roy Cohn, the celebrity lawyer and former Joseph McCarthy aide, to countersue the government for making baseless charges against the company. They sought a staggering $100 million in damages.

A few months after the government filed the suit, Trump gave a combative press conference at the New York Hilton in which he went after the Justice Department for being too friendly to welfare recipients. He "accused the Justice Department of singling out his corporation because it was a large one and because the Government was trying to force it to rent to welfare recipients," the Times reported. Trump added that if welfare recipients were allowed into his apartments in certain middle-class outer-borough neighborhoods, there would be a "massive fleeing from the city of not only our tenants, but communities as a whole."

A federal judge threw out Trump's countersuit a month later, calling it a waste of "time and paper."

Writes Blair in her book:

Donald testified repeatedly that he had nothing to do with renting apartments, although in an application for a broker's license filed at the same time he said that he was in charge of all rentals.

In 1975, Trump ultimately came to a far-reaching agreement with the DOJ in which he and the company did not admit guilt but agreed not to discriminate and to take steps to open its housing stock to more nonwhites. The company agreed to submit a weekly list of vacancies to the Urban League, which would produce qualified applicants for a portion of all vacancies.

But it didn't end there. In 1978, the government filed a motion for supplemental relief, charging that the Trump company had not complied with the 1975 agreement. The government alleged that the Trump company "discriminated against blacks in the terms and conditions of rental, made statements indicating discrimination based on race and told blacks that apartments were not available for inspection and rental when, in fact, they are," the Times reported. Trump again denied the charges.

It's not clear what happened with the government's request for further action (and compensation for victims), but in 1983, a fair-housing activist cited statistics that two Trump Village developments had white majorities of at least 95 percent.

At the very least, the case is something for reporters to ask about next time Trump touts his "great relationship with the blacks."

Friday, April 29, 2011

Sally Kern: It's A Fact That 'Blacks' Don't Work As Hard

Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern (R) says that she's seen "a lot of people of color who didn't study hard because they said the government would take care of them."

The remarks came during a debate on an amendment to the state's constitution that would eliminate Affirmative Action in the state government. It was proposed by State Rep. Leslie Osborn (R), who said: "This proposed constitutional amendment makes clear that all men are created equal and should be treated as such by their government. If voters approve this constitutional amendment, state government will not be allowed to discriminate against Oklahoma citizens based on race or gender - period."

Kern voted for the amendment, arguing that minorities earn less because they don't work as hard. "We have a high percentage of blacks in prison, and that's tragic," Kern said, "but are they in prison just because they are black or because they don't want to study as hard in school?

"I've taught school," she added, "and I saw a lot of people of color who didn't study hard because they said the government would take care of them."

I used to get really worked up about people like Rep. Kern, but then I realized that she'll end up dying alone and broke, having accomplished little of value in her life. It's the same story with all politicians. Years from now, historians will be saying that Oklahoma politicians had the perfect opportunity to capitalize on the state's economic and human capital and tackle the problems of meth, spousal abuse, and widespread corruption; to help a growing population of unemployed and poor (20% of the population of Cleveland County is on food stamps now); to incentivize investment in the state and to upgrade its (literally) crumbling infrastructure; to raise the educational standards for Oklahoma schools (among the worst in the country); and so on.

Instead, history will record that politicians like Rep. Kern addressed these problems - by passing anti-Islamist laws. What a waste of a life and golden opportunities to make real change.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Bad Day for Racist

Yesterday the President of the United States released his long-form birth certificate. There’s not a lot to the official certificate of live birth. But then there’s nothing at all to all the controversy surrounding it. The President gave the birthers what they’ve been asking for. Of course he didn’t them what they wanted. What they really wanted was for this birth certificate not to exist.

It’s easy to see why the President refused for so long to release the long-form certificate—because nobody would have been asking for it if his name had been O’Brien instead of Obama. A black man with an exotic-sounding name needs to provide extra documentation to prove he’s an American, just like a black man pulled over on a routine traffic stop has to submit to searches that wouldn’t be conducted if he was white. This is like a Presidential version of the Arizona immigration law—essentially these birthers saw a black man in the Oval Office, and they demanded to see his papers. In one sense, the White House giving in and releasing the certificate is like giving in to racism, which should not be done. But in another sense it’s like acknowledging that racism exists, which has to be done.

Of course Donald Trump is trying to take credit for the fact that the long form birth certificate was released. He shouldn’t be taking credit, he should be taking blame. Trump said “I am really honored to have played such a big role in hopefully getting rid of this issue.” OK, two things—it’s not an issue. And you didn’t get rid of it. This “issue” is a stinking mess, Donald, and you got it on your shoes and tracked it all over the floor until somebody was finally forced to do something about it. Still, Donald says he feels “honored.” Well, maybe that’s what a person feels when everybody is looking at them, and they are somehow incapable of feeling shame. Just a couple days ago, Donald Trump was saying that he had inside information that the long-form certificate was “missing.” Yeah. Evidently somebody at the department of records in Hawaii had taken it to the photocopying machine to send a copy off to the President.

Today President Obama said we need to ignore the “sideshows and carnival barkers.” The birthers are worse than carnival barkers. Carnival barkers try to get people to look at the freak show. These people ARE the freak show.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Donna Brazile to Meet with Cornel West to Discuss President Obama

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Your Black World – Scholarship in Action

The black political grapevine recently informed me that respected political strategist Donna Brazile plans to meet with Professor Cornel West at Princeton University. The meeting was apparently arranged in response to the “moral outrage” that West has expressed toward the Obama Administration over recent weeks. The disappointment came to a head during a highly-publicized feud between Prof. West and Rev. Al Sharpton on MSNBC.

Dr. West’s outspoken demeanor couldn’t come at a worse time for President Obama and his party. As the Democrats work to smooth talk their way out of a year of tone deaf behavior toward a suffering African American community, West comes in as one of a small number of major black public figures willing to rain on the presidential party.

There is a large part of my psyche that appreciates Professor West’s willingness to speak honestly on African American suffering. Politicians in Washington seem to behave as if racial discrimination doesn’t exist, and there is almost no consideration for the fact that people of color suffer more than nearly anyone else as it pertains to our treatment in our economic, educational and criminal justice systems. I know Dr. West to be a righteous man of tremendous integrity, so his critiques should be taken seriously.

The other side of me hopes that Dr. West’s cozy relationship with noted Obama-hater Tavis Smiley isn’t tainting his perspective. While Smiley has been quiet as of late, his silence may be driven by the fact that he’s lost a great deal of credibility in his critiques of the president. Also, there isn’t much that Tavis needs to say, now that Cornel West is doing enough talking for the both of them. The truth is that there is almost nothing that President Obama could do that would satisfy Smiley, since they are deeply-entrenched political enemies. Given that West has begun to sound a lot like Tavis, one has to wonder how far the apple has fallen from the political tree.

My other quiet hope is that the dialogue between West and Brazile is a two-day conversation and free exchange of ideas. I expect that the seriousness with which West has challenged the Obama Administration dictates that this highly-intelligent scholar can’t be convinced to simply change his mind about the Democrats. I also hope that the conversation is not full of empty political promises designed to appease West and protect the tremendous loyalty black voters have to the Democratic party. Brazile needs to listen to West and the Democrats need to respect his comments about the need for an adequate response to the Great Black Depression being experienced as we speak.

The simple problem for Dr. West and the African American community is simple: Black people are unemployed, incarcerated and miseducated more than any other group in America. Having a black president has not helped as much as some hoped, further reducing the black incentive to support any political party. Unless the Democrats can show an ability and willingness to help alleviate some of the challenges of being black in America, it is difficult to get excited about any political candidate.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The sweet little old folks of the Tea Parties seem to have a lot of extremism and bigotry bubbling up around them. Hmmmmmm.

here's some footage you won't see on The O'Reilly Factor or over at Big Ego. This comes from Channel 12's reportage on this weekend's ugly Tea Party event in Phoenix:

TEA PARTIER: That's why you don't have a higher standard of living than Mexico! The United States has a higher standard of living than Mexico because it's populated by white people. Mexico is a [BLEEP]!

The reality, as I've said many times, is that no matter how hard the Tea Partiers and their right-wing-media apologists try, they'll never be able to paper over their very real and deep extremist base. They'll never be able to keep all the nutcases they've gathered in one place under a lid forever.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Republican Tea Partiers just can't seem to get enough of those Obama/black people/chimpanzee jokes

This is the image e-mailed to her friends by Orange County Republican committeewoman and Tea Party activist Marilyn Davenport
Republicans seem to have a really, really narrow idea of what constitutes racism -- which is how they're able to claim that the Tea Parties aren't riddled with racism throughout.

But then little stories like this one from Orange County keep bubbling up to the surface of their fetid little Tea Party cesspool:

The Weekly has obtained a copy of an email sent to fellow conservatives this week by Marilyn Davenport, a Southern California Tea Party activist and member of the central committee of the Orange County Republican Party.

Under the words, "Now you know why no birth certificate," there's an Obama family portrait showing them as apes.

As always, the "sweet little old lady" who sent the mail had no idea that anyone might possibly construe the mail as racist, even though comparing black people to various kinds of apes has always been a stock feature of racist denigration in America. Why, some of her best friends are black!

Reached by telephone and asked if she thought the email was appropriate, Davenport said, "Oh, come on! Everybody who knows me knows that I am not a racist. It was a joke. I have friends who are black. Besides, I only sent it to a few people--mostly people I didn't think would be upset by it."

The image did upset several local Republicans.

"It's unbelievable," one high-ranking OC GOP official told me. "It's much more racist than the watermelon email. I can't believe it was sent out. I'm not an Obama fan but how stupid do you have to be to do this?"

Another GOP official, who also asked not to be identified, said that Davenport is "a really, really sweet old lady so I am surprised to hear about this."

Scott Baugh, chairman of the OC Republican Party, told Davenport that the email was tasteless, Davenport--a Fullerton-based political activist--admitted to me during the telephone interview.

"You're not going to make a big deal about this are you?" she asked me. "It's just an Internet joke."

But Baugh believes the email is a big deal.

"When I saw that email today I thought it was despicable," Baugh said. "It is dripping with racism and it does not promote the type of message Orange County Republicans want to deliver to the public. I think she should consider stepping down as an elected official."

And just remember: There's nothing, NOTHING racist about those Tea Partiers, either. Just another isolated incident. Move along, please.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Live mic catches Obama’s candor: Paul Ryan is ‘not on the level’

By Sahil Kapur

April 15, 2011

In what he reportedly thought was a private conversation at a fundraiser Thursday night, President Barack Obama called into question the fiscal seriousness of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), the author of the GOP's budget plan that dramatically cuts government spending under the guise of deficit reduction.

"When Paul Ryan says his priority is to make sure, he's just being America's accountant," Obama told his supporters at the event, according to remarks relayed on a live mic and reported by CBS News [1] pooler Mark Knoller.

"This is the same guy that voted for two wars that were unpaid for, voted for the Bush tax cuts that were unpaid for, voted for the prescription drug bill that cost as much as my health care bill -- but wasn't paid for. So it's not on the level," Obama said.

Obama gave a nationally televised speech Wednesday [2] laying out his misgivings about the proposal and offering a plan of his own. But the president didn't question Ryan's credentials as a deficit hawk.

Last year, Obama publicly praised Ryan's "roadmap" -- a blueprint upon which his current budget was based -- as a serious plan. "Paul, for example, head of the budget committee, has looked at the budget and has made a serious proposal," Obama said [3].

Ryan's ten-year proposal would cut trillions in federal spending while privatizing Medicare, slashing Medicaid, and reducing taxes on corporations and the highest income earners. He's been [4] praised [5] as a bold, visionary and serious thinker who's deeply concerned with the debt.

Yet the Bush tax cuts, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Medicare Part D program -- all of which Ryan voted for -- have been among the most significant drivers of today's $14 trillion national debt.

Nobel Prize-winning liberal economist Paul Krugman has called the Ryan plan a "fraud [6]," alleging that its deficit numbers are cooked and its underlying assumptions are unrealistic.

The proposal has been touted by Republicans as the most serious plan on the table to reduce the deficit in the long term. It has become a pinata for Democrats who say it leaves seniors and poor people out in the cold while giving tax breaks to the wealthy.

It's poised to pass the GOP-controlled House Friday, but it is seen as a nonstarter in the Democratic-led Senate.

Friday, April 15, 2011

During Bush Presidency, Current GOP Leaders Voted 19 Times To Increase Debt Limit By $4 Trillion

After pushing the government to brink of shutdown last week, Republican Congressional leaders are now preparing to push America to the edge of default by refusing to increase the nation’s debt limit without first getting Democrats to concede to large spending cuts.

But while the four Republicans in Congressional leadership positions are attempting to hold the increase hostage now, they combined to vote for a debt limit increase 19 times during the presidency of George W. Bush. In doing so, they increased the debt limit by nearly $4 trillion.

At the beginning of the Bush presidency, the United States debt limit was $5.95 trillion. Despite promises that he would pay off the debt in 10 years, Bush increased the debt to $9.815 trillion by the end of his term, with plenty of help from the four Republicans currently holding Congressional leadership positions: Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl. ThinkProgress compiled a breakdown of the five debt limit increases that took place during the Bush presidency and how the four Republican leaders voted:

June 2002: Congress approves a $450 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $6.4 trillion. McConnell, Boehner, and Cantor vote “yea”, Kyl votes “nay.”

May 2003: Congress approves a $900 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $7.384 trillion. All four approve.

November 2004: Congress approves an $800 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $8.1 trillion. All four approve.

March 2006: Congress approves a $781 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $8.965 trillion. All four approve.

September 2007: Congress approves an $850 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $9.815 trillion. All four approve.

Database searches revealed no demands from the four legislators that debt increases come accompanied by drastic spending cuts, as there are now. In fact, the May 2003 debt limit increase passed the Senate the same day as the $350 billion Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

When Bush was in office, the current Republican leaders viewed increasing the debt limit as vital to keeping America’s economy running. But with Obama in the White House, it’s nothing more than a political pawn.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

150 Years Later, Tea Partiers Still Aren’t Over The Civil War

April 12th was the 150th anniversary of the Civil War’s beginning, when secessionists fired on Union troops at Fort Sumter, South Carolina. According to a new poll from CNN, the Civil War’s legacy remains unresolved. The poll finds that Republicans and Tea Party supporters are more likely to support the Confederacy and confederate leaders than Democrats or Independents.

According to the poll, nearly one in four Americans sympathize with the Confederacy more than with the Union. That number grows to nearly four-in-ten among white Southerners. Among Tea Party members, 26 percent sympathize with the Confederacy more than the Union, and that number grows to 28 percent among Republicans.

Meanwhile, while respondents overall viewed slavery as the main reason for the war by a 54-42 margin, Tea Partiers and Republicans held different views. Fifty-two percent of Republicans believed slavery was not the main reason, and that number rose to 54 percent among Tea Partiers.

The poll comes at a time when Republicans and Tea Partiers are rehashing the battles that both led to and came out of the Civil War. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and others have come out in support of nullification laws. In both Texas and Tennessee, lawmakers have floated the possibility of secession. And across the country, Republicans have attempted to revoke the 14th Amendment guarantee of birthright citizenship. And, of course, there was Rep. Paul Broun’s (R-GA) reference to the “Great War of Yankee Aggression” on the House floor.

Even though these battles are radical and out of the mainstream, it isn’t that shocking that these Republicans are attempting to refight them. According to these poll numbers, that’s exactly what large segments of their base want them to do.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Shock poll: 46% of Mississippi Republicans think interracial marriage should be illegal

By Stephen C. Webster
Thursday, April 7th, 2011

A new poll out of Mississippi finds that in a bastion of America's south, many Republican voters have tightly held onto the old, hateful views of race as a dividing line in society.

A full 46 percent of Mississippi Republicans said they believe interracial marriage should be illegal, according to the left-leaning survey group Public Policy Polling. Only 40 percent said they thought it should remain legal, with the rest unsure.

Republicans who said they were in favor of banning interracial marriages were most frequently supporters of Fox News contributor Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor (R) who quit half-way through her first term. Their least liked candidate was Mitt Romney, the former radio executive and Governor of Massachusetts (R).

Romney, Palin and Fox News employee Mike Huckabee are widely considered to be the top three most likely Republican front-runners. None of them have officially announced their candidacy.

The poll found that overall, Mississippi Republicans want Gov. Haley Barbour as their nominee over other potential candidates. Barbour won 37 percent of the survey's respondents, compared to 19 percent for Huckabee and 10 percent for former Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich, the one-time Republican Speaker of the House.

Barbour's popularity may have something to do with the mentality of his constituency in Mississippi. For instance, in a state where almost half of the Republicans believe interracial marriage should be illegal, Barbour has praised a civil rights-era group that fought against segregation and refused to denounce an effort to get a state license plate to honor a former leader of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan terrorist group.

Barbour was most recently in the headlines after it was revealed that he spent over $300,000 on out-of-state travel in 2010, campaigning with fellow Republicans and meeting with wealthy benefactors.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Glenn Beck Booted Off Fox News: What this says about America

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University

I admit feeling a bit of glee upon hearing that Fox News is going to part ways with Glenn Beck. After watching his ratings decline, the network decided that it’s best that Beck take his chalk board elsewhere and find something new to do with his time. The departure is likely good for America, for Beck became one of the most divisive figures in the country.

What can’t be overlooked in Beck’s break from Fox is the fact that the decision was likely a financial one. Fox was losing millions when advertisers decided to boycott Beck’s show, largely because they didn’t want their products to be affiliated with a man with such extremist viewpoints. According to, Beck has lost 300 advertisers, primarily because of comments he has made about President Obama having a hatred of white people. Remarks like this one, along with other conspiracy theories Beck threw at the nation every afternoon, likely led to his demise.

I once watched Beck’s show with my head cocked to the side, wondering how a man with such ridiculous views could have such a loyal following. I thought, “Do tea partiers really believe the stuff this guy is saying?” While there are likely millions of Americans who are in lockstep with Beck on every issue, there are quite a few who chose not to continue to ride with Beck on the Ridicu-bus. For those on the right who at least try to engage in some degree of rational thinking, I applaud them for rejecting the antics of a man who is nothing more than a walking cartoon character.

Oddly enough, Glenn Beck’s boot off of Fox News does say something good about America. First, it says that via concerted efforts like those of Color of Change, the National Action Network and the Your Black World Coalition, we can counter the hatred being spewed by the Right Wing. It also says that there is some degree of decency among American corporate leaders who are choosing not to be affiliated with a man who is dead set on undermining both the presidency and our country. Finally, it says that there are some on the political right who want to pursue their ideas with courtesy and mutual respect, rather than the kind of vile, nasty attacks that we’ve seen being thrust upon our president. It is possible to critique President Obama’s performance without seeking to destroy America in the process. Glenn Beck’s poison is the kind of thing that ultimately tears down a nation.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Standing with Martin Luther King and strong unions

April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King was shot, assassinated at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. Martin Luther King was not in Memphis, Tennessee for tax cuts for the rich. He wasn’t there to cut domestic spending programs. Martin Luther King was there to stand up for sanitation workers. The sanitation workers were protesting unequal wages and abysmal working conditions. In essence, Martin Luther King was supporting a union walkout.

Today, more than 40 years later, unions continue to be under attack. They’re under attack from multiple sides. There are people who just don’t understand how unions work and why they’re beneficial. There are Americans who always stand with the rich and powerful and these Americans understand that the only way to level the playing field is if all the workers speak in one voice – unions.

Now, more than ever, we need unions. A report in the Washington Post today reveals that wages are stagnant and inflation is squeezing Americans and not squeezing big business. Their profits are up. The only way that we can raise our standard of living is by standing together and demanding fair wages. Sure, there are some corporations that are rich and generous. They will always pay a living wage. Unfortunately, they are in the minority. The majority of corporations are out to squeeze workers to increase profits. Strong unions can fix this. Strong unions are needed now more than ever. I stand with Martin Luther King and tens of thousands of Americans who believe that strong unions are a requirement for a strong vibrant middle class.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Malcolm X and the Wars at Home

Malcolm X and the Wars at Home

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

“Nothing that Malcolm X gave his life fighting to destroy has even been weakened since he was killed.”

Next week, on April 4th, we finally get to see the awaited biography Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable. For years many of us have been hearing of this book’s eventual publication and engaging in all the kinds of pre-hype discussion that often accompanies ambiguity. But now, apparently, the wait is coming to an end and not a moment too soon. For just as those gathered this weekend at the Black Is Back Coalition’s “National Conference on The Other Wars” described in great detail, nothing that Malcolm X gave his life fighting to destroy has even been weakened since he was killed.

An honest book about Malcolm X published on April 4th during yet another Western invasion of the African continent beautifully synthesizes so much of the contradiction and hypocrisy that accompanies imperialism. April 4th of course marks the date in 1967 when Dr. King most publicly unveiled his staunch and lonely stance against imperialism. And, of course, it is also on that date a year later when he would be made to pay with his life for that position. But a beautiful contradiction is also found in this nation’s attempt to freeze King in one moment, one mention of a dream, just as it has come to freeze Malcolm in one moment, one mention of prayer in Mecca, to distract us from the specifically anti-imperialist politics of either man; all while again bombing an African nation on the orders of a son of Africa who is also the first Black president.

Town halls both live and conducted via all forms of media must be convened on Marable’s book. What it reveals anew or simply reminds us of Malcolm X must be discussed as widely as possible and precisely within this context of Malcolm’s anti-imperialism. These town halls should not only encourage deep analysis of Malcolm’s life and work but should also encourage that more of us follow the patterns established by that life and work. The wars he struggled against continue, in fact, they intensify. And we are simply not being well-enough prepared, educated and or organized to resist.

“Malcolm X said that ‘the police do locally what the military does internationally.’”

The Black Is Back Coalition’s “National Conference on the Other Wars” powerfully made these points and more. And that this was done so soon before the publication of Marable’s book only increases the urgency and anticipation. Malcolm X was among the first of the major figures of the era to speak so openly and caustically against the hypocrisy of this nation’s claims to be fighting wars for democracy while warring against its own captives right here. King too would eventually reach those same conclusions with equal hostility to them. And here too those gathered at this weekend’s conference seem similarly positioned and similarly distinct from much of the prevailing wisdom of the day.

Those gathered at this weekend’s conference were cognizant of this fact. Its conveners clearly stated their opposition to and distinction from the liberal left, Black and white, who refuse to acknowledge the continuity of Western imperialism and the wars at home caused by that imperialism. So everything from police brutality and mass incarceration to the daily rounding up of 35,000 so-called “undocumented” Mexicans, to gentrification or social and ethnic cleansing, to even domestic food insecurity were all placed in this context of U.S. and Western imperialism. And given some special attention at the Conference on the Other Wars were some of those other wars occurring in blacker and, therefore, less popular regions of the world like Somalia and the Congo where tens of millions have been killed, displaced and looted by African forces from Uganda and Rwanda all serving their U.S. sponsors.

Malcolm X said that “the police do locally what the military does internationally.” The imperial circle drawn in full. It is the analytical equivalent to bearing witness today to a Black president bombing our African home while presiding over wars waged at home against Black people.

We can only be helped by critical readings of Malcolm’s words and words written about Malcolm. We need mass public discussion of Marable’s book on Malcolm X and even more organization around his legacy