Henrietta Lacks’ living relatives gathered Tuesday morning in a sunny Baltimore waterfront park to herald the settlement they reached with a multibillion-dollar biotechnology company that for years has profited off its free use of regenerative cells taken from her decades ago without her consent. News of the agreement between the Lacks family and Massachusetts-based Thermo Fisher Scientific came after two years of litigation in federal court on what would have been the Turner Station wife and mother’s 103rd birthday. Several family members attributed the serendipitous timing of the development to divine intervention.
The African Heritage Food Co-op(AHFC) was formed so that Black communities in Western New York State, including Niagara Falls and Buffalo, can take ownership of their food system, create jobs and use resources to improve the health and well-being of residents. For too long, the economic and political structures have failed Black residents creating little or no access to supermarkets, banks and political representation. AHFC is working to change that by overcoming systemic obstacles, empowering inner city neighbourhoods and reversing systems of oppression and discrimination. Founder Alex Wright explains how this community-owned, community-operated co-op began and how it works to build a local economy that includes everyone!
The Community Purchasing Alliance is advancing the solidarity economy with the power of cooperative purchasing, shifting $17.9M to minority business enterprise (MBE) since 2017. Our 11 person team is distributed across the US and is powered by sociocratic circles. In this showcase, we will share how CPA Co-op’s circle structure has grown and evolved since 2020, facilitating 47% year over year growth in revenue in 2021 while creating a more dynamic and equitable workplace for our entire team. Amy Abbott and Boris Sigal are the Co-Executive Directors of CPA Co-op. Lauren Greenspan leads CPA’s People and Culture Circle and is currently enrolled in SoFA’s Sociocracy Academy. She introduced CPA Co-op to Sociocracy in 2020 after reading Many Voices, One Song.
Home in Tacoma aims to overhaul Tacoma’s housing rules to allow greater flexibility in building practices. It will allow denser housing to be built to house our city’s ever growing population. The initial framework passed in December 2021 bringing Tacoma are one step closer to that goal. Though forward thinking, the plan also falls short of its potential. As I’ve pointed out in previous articles, the reach of the plan is not exactly equitable or far reaching. In short, poorer communities of color are being disproportionately rezoned in comparison to their wealthier, whiter counterparts. Communities of color will be transformed while privileged communities get to maintain the status quo. Segregation with some window dressing, if you will.
In 1901 the soon to be first president of the American Anthropological Association wrote that “through observation of a typical [Native American] tribe,” it was clear that “the savage stands strikingly close to sub-human species in every aspect.” An outgrowth of the pseudoscientific theory of racial and cultural hierarchy, William McGee’s words in American Anthropologist, anthropology’s flagship academic journal, echoed racist 19th-century views that justified mistreatment of Indigenous communities and propped up arguments for eugenics. In the decades that followed, anthropologists continued to support racist agendas, appropriate cultural knowledge, and steal material objects and human remains belonging to Indigenous peoples throughout the Americas in the name of scientific research.
Pennsylvania based asset manager, Vanguard, is the world’s second largest asset manager, with over $8 trillion in assets under management. Vanguard is referred to as a “universal owner,” with ownership stake in over 10,000 corporations. The financial institution dominates market environments and consequently has the ability to set industry norms. Asset managers have largely ignored calls for divestment from extractive industries. Asset managers, like Vanguard, have failed to include a robust racial and environmental justice orientation in their business practices. In turn, they flood extractive industries with capital. Industries like the carceral and fossil fuel industries use those investments to extract from low-income and BIPOC communities.
The idea of paying reparations for slavery and other forms of racial injustice remains deeply controversial. Yet it has gained renewed support in liberal publications, city councils and state legislatures, and even the House of Representatives, which recently held hearings on legislation to create a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations. These developments present both a challenge and an opportunity for the left, which has been divided between recognizing the clear case for compensating victims of centuries of exploitation and abuse and concern that reparations are politically untenable and potentially detrimental to building a broad-based movement for social and economic justice.
Bethesda, MD - A community coalition has provided “overwhelming evidence” that a portion of a suburban Washington apartment complex was used as a burial ground for freed Black slaves and their descendants and “many bodies likely still remain on the property,” a Maryland judge ruled Monday in a case by the group to thwart the sale of the property. The Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission's pending $50 million sale of Westwood Tower in Bethesda to a local investment firm, Charger Ventures, drew intense public opposition over the summer and led to the lawsuit filed by the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition. The group had furnished historical accounts indicating the gravesite — known as Moses Cemetery — was paved over with asphalt for a parking lot when the apartments went up in the late 1960s.
There is an easy correlation between the frequency and magnitude of climate-related disasters and the negative impact that has on human beings, especially on Black and Indigenous communities, who disproportionately due to accompanying social and economic-political disasters are usually at the forefront of these impacts due to many factors, including blatant political negligence. In 2008, I lived in Atlanta, Georgia, and was the Director of Operations and Programs at the US Human Rights Network, when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, we were one of the first organizations (not the only one) to make the connections between using a human rights framework and this specific climate disaster and the impact that it was and would have on the human beings that it touched.
Over the past year, much of the nation’s education discussion has been where learning was taking place: on Zoom? In the classroom? Both? While COVID-19 exacerbated existing inequities around access, focus is now being drawn to what students are learning. Debate over curriculum isn’t new, but has been contested in varying degrees for decades. Before the right-wing-stoked controversy over so-called “Critical Race Theory” there was anger over Common Core standards, and before that No Child Left Behind. What is new is the incredible strides parent and community organizing has made in shifting the curriculum of the nation’s largest school district. Founded in 2006, the New York City Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ) is a citywide collaborative of community-based organizations organizing the power of parents and community to create a more equitable education system.
Labor organizations are taking up the fight for racial justice in many ways. They’re developing in-depth member education on racial capitalism. They’re using bargaining to address structural racism and developing new leadership.
An elected prosecutor who took a role in Donald Trump’s presidential commission on law enforcement has resigned, telling Attorney General William Barr that he is concerned the commission was “intent on providing cover for a predetermined agenda that ignores the lessons of the past” and will issue a final report that “will only widen the divisions in our nation.” Trump formed the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice late last October, announcing its formation at the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s annual meeting.
Washington’s record speaks for itself. Seen from the Potomac’s shores, the value of a civilian life almost directly correlates with how the US Government of the moment feels about the regime that man, woman, or child momentarily lives under. Consider it the obscenity of the arbitrary. A few examples should suffice, but one could fill volumes with consistent exemplars. "Heroic" Libyan rebels – and proximate civilians – mattered once, and only once, President Barack Obama decided their bizarre but harmless-to-the-homeland dictator Colonel Gaddafi had to go. Yet, ten times as many Yemeni lives-extinguished (including at least 85,000 starved-to-death children) didn’t and don’t, because their killers are Washington’s oil-rich Saudi allies. In fact, a complicit US military even lent those theocratic state-terrorists a vital murder-logistics hand. See how the macabre game works?
Only full cancellation completely protects the vulnerabilities of Black students and students in general, while at the same time establishing higher education as a universal right and offering restitution to all those who have had to rely on debt finance. You might feel desensitized to the swelling student-debt figures, but guess who’s not? Graduates—who are paying an average of $400 a month for approximately forever. There are two major proposals from Democratic presidential candidates on this problem. One gets rid of it all, canceling the whole student-debt balance nationally.
By Matt Berman for National Journal. Martin Luther King Jr. was not just the safe-for-all-political-stripes civil-rights activist he is often portrayed as today. He was never just the "I Have a Dream" speech. He was an antiwar, anti-materialist activist whose views on American power would shock many of the same politicians who now scramble to sing his praises. The total spectrum of his beliefs may not be as easy as "let freedom ring," but the full MLK was much larger than the safe-for-everyone caricature that is often presented today. King's more radical worldview came out clearly in a speech to an overflow crowd of more than 3,000 people at Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967. "The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: 'A time comes when silence is betrayal,' " he began.