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Paul Stam 2It’s funny how time usually seems to catch up to hate and bigotry (and the people who purvey them).  As society progresses and humans become more enlightened, language and viewpoints and images that once were widely held and expressed become less and less acceptable. Sometimes, the change happens rather suddenly — so suddenly that the proponents of the noxious views miss the memo and go right on spouting off until they suddenly become laughingstocks and pariahs for saying the same things they’ve been saying for years.

The current sports world controversy surrounding the use of the name “Redskins” by the Washington, DC NFL team is an example of how public mores can reach a tipping point and then change rapidly.

America witnessed countless such incidents in the late 20th Century around the issue of race and gender — usually in the form of clueless public figures saying embarrassingly stupid things about members of racial minorities or women. The pathetic thing about so many of these incidents. of course, was the befuddlement that gripped the clueless bigots. Frequently, they simply couldn’t fathom how their once-funny “jokes” or “common wisdom” observations had, all of a sudden, become offensive and unacceptable.

Let’s hope with all our hearts that we’re witnessing another such event take place right before our eyes in North Carolina with the latest noxious utterances from North Carolina’s longstanding champion of hatred and intolerance toward the LGBT community, State Rep. Paul Stam. Read More

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Another sobering report from the good folks at the ACLU:

ACLU Report on police militarization finds weapons and tactics of war used disproportionately against people of color – Report shows injustice, suffering caused by SWAT teams deployed for low-level police work, not crises; Investigation looked at many N.C. law enforcement agencies

RALEIGH – After obtaining and analyzing thousands of documents from police departments around the country, today the American Civil Liberties Union released the report War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing. The ACLU focused on more than 800 SWAT raids conducted by law enforcement agencies in 20 states, including North Carolina, and on the agencies’ acquisition of military weaponry, vehicles, and equipment.

“We found that police overwhelmingly use SWAT raids not for extreme emergencies like hostage situations but to carry out such basic police work as serving warrants or searching for a small amount of drugs,” said Kara Dansky, Senior Counsel with the ACLU’s Center for Justice. ”Carried out by ten or more officers armed with assault rifles, flashbang grenades, and battering rams, these paramilitary raids disproportionately impacted people of color, sending the clear message that the families being raided are the enemy. This unnecessary violence causes property damage, injury, and death.” Read More

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Another week and another foot-in-mouth incident for a conservative North Carolina politician. Last week it was House Speaker Thom Tillis and his crack about “traditional voters.” Now this week it’s former State Representative and current state GOP Vice-Chairperson Carolyn Justice in an awkward attempt to defend Tillis. This is from a story on yesterday’s Washington Post “She the People” blog entitled “North Carolina Republicans try — despite themselves — to win minority voters”:

“Last week, before the RNC announcement, Carolyn Justice, vice chair of the North Carolina Republican Party, said in an interview on “Charlotte Talks” on WFAE, the local NPR affiliate, that critics of the Tillis ‘traditional’ voter comments were just misinterpreting what the man she called “the most non-prejudiced human I have met” said. In a tough Senate contest, “We’re going to go for every little thread we can pull?” she wondered.

Then she went on to give an example of how anyone’s words can be twisted. ‘I can tell you lots of things that Mr. Barber has said; if I look at it with a jaundiced eye, I can see communist behind every curtain.’”

The story goes on to report how Justice — to questionable effect — tried to quickly backtrack from the Barber-is-a-commie implication of her statement: Read More

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Only days after the passing of Civil Rights icon Maya Angelou, another elder, one of my personal heroines, Yuri Kochiyama, passed away yesterday at the age of 93. Rest in power, and thank you both for your legacy and inspiration.

Yuri Kochiyama

From the Reappropriate blog:

Yuri Kochiyama was a radical activist who believed, first and foremost, in energizing others towards action and activism. She was deeply troubled by social iniquity wherever she saw it, and she believed in finding common cause across any sociopolitical divide. She believed that all of us — including and particularly Asian Americans — had both the power and the duty to uplift ourselves and our fellow men and women towards the goal of racial and gender equality.

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From the good people at the UNC Law School Center for Civil Rights — pass it along:

If you or a family member was a victim on North Carolina’s forced sterilization program, you may be eligible for compensation from the state. The deadline for filing a claim for compensation under the Eugenics and Asexualization and Sterilization Compensation Program is June 30, 2014. The UNC Center for Civil Rights, along with other volunteer lawyers, are providing free assistance to those filing claims. We encourage victims and their families to call us with questions about eligibility and how to fill out the claims form. We also encourage victims and their families to attend one of the free clinics we are conducting with help from the NAACP, local churches and community leaders, during which we will provide additional information and assist in filing claims.

  • Thursday, May 22, 10am-1pm at the Lucille W. Gorham Intergenerational Community Center, corner of 5th and Tyson St., Greenville, NC
  • Thursday, May 29, 10am-1pm at the Martin Street Baptist Church, 1001 East Martin St. Raleigh, NC

Clinics will also occur in Mecklenburg and Hertford Counties on June 5 and June 12, times and locations to be publicized soon. Below are answers to frequently asked questions we have received about the process:

Q: Where can I get the claims form?
A: You can download the form at http://www.sterilizationvictims.nc.gov/, or call the Office of Justice at 1-877-550-6013 or 919-807-4270.

Q: Who is eligible for compensation?
A: Living victims of the program are eligible, as well as the heirs of deceased victims so long as the victim was alive on June 30, 2013. Read More