New hip-hop tackles white privilege

As a kind of update to a heavily-trafficked list of decent white rappers I posted a while ago, I want to shout out two new songs directly addressing white (and light skin) privilege and its role in hip-hop culture and society at large. Credit to these guys for taking on a difficult subject and shedding light. There is way too much 50 Cent and Soulja Boy on the radio here in Haiti… Listen: Wale’s “Shades featuring Chrisette Michelle” and Macklemore’s “White Privilege.” (Macklemore is white and from my hometown of Seattle.)

Collected readings

Mid-week reading

No more kids jailed at Hutto!

I don’t think that any of the hundred individuals who marched in protest under the blazing sun six weeks ago thought this would happen so soon, which makes the news all the more exciting. Immigrant detention policies are changing. After a few years of activism in the courts, media and on the streets, children will no longer be held behind bars at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Texas. Now it will hold only women, many of whom will likely be separated from their children. More info.

Weekend reading

Weekend reading

Fresh content soon. In the meantime, here’s some of what I’m reading that you might not have seen elsewhere.

Obama expands program checking immigration status at local jails

From the Washington Post, via Vivirlatino.

The Obama administration is expanding a program initiated by President George W. Bush aimed at checking the immigration status of virtually every person booked into local jails. In four years, the measure could result in a tenfold increase in illegal immigrants who have been convicted of crimes and identified for deportation, current and former U.S. officials said.

This is bad news. The Travis County Sheriff’s office joined this program here in Austin not long ago. The vast majority of immigrants caught by ICE here had been charged with misdemeanors. The Post implies that only immigrants convicted of crimes will be deported by this program, but some individuals here have been deported simply because they were arrested and then discovered by ICE agents, two of whom I saw freely walking around at the local jail last year.

I’m printing below the original version of an op-ed piece I wrote for the Daily Texan last summer, entitled “ICE does not belong in Austin’s jail.”

The Travis County Jail looks like an office building. Its clean white walls, dotted with windows, rise five stories high next to a courthouse in Austin’s downtown. Many students know it as the place they might end up if they drink too much during a night out on Sixth Street.

For Austin’s immigrant community, particularly those who are undocumented, the prospect of landing in the jail recently became far more frightening. Continue Reading…

Audio: Howard Zinn takes on America’s “good wars”

I got the chance to interview Howard Zinn three years ago, in a sparse hotel room near the University of Texas campus. It was a cloudy day and with the lights turned off, the room was very blue. Zinn sat on the bed across from me and my co-interviewer in his socks. I wondered if there was a more down-to-earth, wry, and knowledgeable historian in the country. I read his seminal work, “A People’s History of the United States” a few months later.

Zinn spoke a few weeks ago at the 100th Anniversary of the Progressive Magazine. Speaking without notes, he proceeded to lay out a common-sense rebuttal to what passes for common sense in this country – the idea that the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and World War II were all necessary and just wars. Good wars, as many call them. It’s a talk that, like his book, fundamentally challenges the normative identity of America. Watch it here.

He does speak slowly. That might make the talk less accessible to some people, understandably. So if you’re pressed for time, listen to the edited version of the speech below. I shaved about 12 minutes of mostly dead air off the original recording and it moves along more quickly. But in this version you do miss Zinn’s wry humor, which is hilarious at times. Have a listen, and pass it on. Embed code here, mp3 here.