Tag: racism

Idiosyncratic Interconnections: Little Richard and *Gay on your resume* (Episode 2)

Idiosyncratic Interconnections

Little Richard on an effeminate manner canceling out racism and workplace dynamics for gay black men today

In this ^^ Sally Jesse Raphael interview with Little Richard, Sally Jesse refers to the “sociological” quirk that activist, web journalist, and hip-hopper Yitz Jordan (Y-LOVE) mentioned—and backed up with studies & statistics—on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show, hear that July 2014 segment here…the reality that gay black men or black men perceived as effeminate are seen as less of a threat and more readily accepted for jobs.

In his exhaustively-well-researched Quartz feature, Yitz points out new survey results by “Princeton University sociologist David Pedulla,” “in Social Psychology Quarterly,” that proved for black male applicants, “coming out on your resume,” for example listing gay student organization membership, volunteer history with LGBT nonprofits, etc., “effectively cancelled out” negative stereotypes of black men due to “the feminine stereotype” of gay men. And as Yitz noted in the WNYC interview: these are two ugly and wrong stereotypes colliding, black men who’re gay might not be more effeminate or less of a so-called “threat” even—see Omar in The Wire, or, y’know, look outside and simply observe the staggering infinite diversity around you—and making goofy, ham-fisted blanket assumptions of broad human groups like these will inevitably offend and dis many individuals.
But, it being the second decade of the 21st century notwithstanding, hiring managers change their decisions predictably based on old-ass, hackneyed stereotypes and good ol’ fashioned racism, and their biases are so ingrained and foreseeable, applicants can game them to their advantage (ala “game theory”). Dr. Pedulla’s results quantify the effects in hard numbers and bar graphs; survey responses even suggest “that for black male applicants, coming out may actually result in a higher starting salary.”

Interconnection: Little Richard

What is shocking is that, according to Little Richard, this loophole or “canceling out” of reflexive distrust and anxieties held true even during the ugliest segregation… including in white night clubs in the early 1950s Deep South. The flamboyant costumes were an asset: he noticed rockin’ the full face-cake-makeup, mascara mustache and cape opened doors and allowed him to get gigs no other black man could.
Bull Connor-type night club owners be like COME ON IN… according to L.R., they’d let him in even when making his brothers and bandmates wait outside.

Fascinating loop-hole in the fear…I expanded my writing on the subject as it’s very interesting the way the anthropological imperative to mate so nakedly shapes social norms because of the stereotypes around black men’s virility, especially in the Jim Crow South, the assumption of “unfair competition” vis a vis the below-belt unmentionables…
But closer inspection reveals these phenomena to be more horrible and downright sad than anything else. MOST lynchings in the pre-war South were provoked by allegations of sexual impropriety and/or the social overstepping of color barriers.

Just in the annals of music of the Deep South alone there are far too many such instances.  The infamous manslaughter of legendary Creole accordionist Amédé Ardoin especially stands out.  A pivotal forerunner of Zydeco music and a key pillar of Creole music in general, Amédé was the first musician to put the Louisiana Creole sound on vinyl.  But got killed over some nonsense after playing a house dance near Eunice, Louisiana. The most common story says that some white men were angered when a white woman, daughter of the master of the estate, lent her handkerchief to Amédé, creating brief handtouch pale-hand-on-brown that shocked the assembled, though some versions imply he got more hanky-panky than handkerchief from off-limits upper crust women broadly…. and that after Ardoin left the manse for the night, he was run over by a Model A Ford that crushed his head and throat, smashing his voicebox to smithereens.  He never performed again, and though accounts vary wildly on when the attack occurred and how long he survived institutionalized, Ardoin definitely died in the asylum/crippitorium in Pineville, Louisiana.
Amédé’s demise is explored in detail in Chapter 4 of Michael Tisserand’s The Kingdom of Zydeco—© 1998 ISBN: 978-1-61145-615-8—and there are more versions of the story than people reminiscing about it, with even those who knew Amédé offering multiple, differing accounts. But what makes Tisserand’s Amédé chapter so compelling is the character of Amédé; it’s like he existed outside of the timestream of pre-war Louisiana, his preternatural talent out-of-time, like a space alien or weird, accordion-only savant. Knowing that he had otherworldly accordion abilities made him cocky, too, and his attitude and tendency to largely disregard racist backwoods mores and overstep color lines probably got him killed.

Anywho….. Many of Little Richard’s contemporaries were shut out of the active touring in the Deep South he enjoyed, as Jim Crow blocked—and its raw vengeful intent really was more to “cockblock”—many black bluesmen and early rockers seeking a broader audience. Even in the late ’60s, Jimi Hendrix, who actually got his start running away from his Pacific Northwest home and, under a fake name, touring in Little Richard’s band, played on the tele via the BBC but got no airtime on American TV…


Little Richard on Sesame Street, 2010ish

This is the second episode in a new series, “Idiosyncratic Interconnections,” in which I unveil unusual connections betwixt two things that—most likely—only I would notice… realizing a seemingly unrelated thing unexpectedly interconnects with another thing to give insight into the first thing. Each episode connects two things. Let me know if ya’ll would like an Episode 3.


Go back to II: Episode 1

Mississippi Delta Bluesmen, as Relevant Now as Ever

Bringing together strands of recent thoughts … the blues…

Recently I updated the “Got the blues so bad” mix/Nick’s True Blues Playlist – skewing heavily to the first bluesmen recorded vs later interpreters, the Southern backwoods “sundown comin’ & klan caught up to me at the crossroads” blues and that type of bluesman. Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Magic Slim, John Lee Hooker, the genuine article, the real bluesmen and those true to their spirit, like The Animals, or The Rolling Stones or Eric Clapton in their harder blues moments…

Mick Jagger knows the old blues lyrics, somehow Muddy Waters and Harpo Slim and recordings like that made their way across the pond to London, but ol’ Mick doesn’t convey the visceral blues that caused early American bluesmen to shout and stomp it…maybe Mick Jagger could pull off “so many beautiful supermodels (Jerry Hall Blues)” or the “Bad Music Video Dancing Blues” but can’t convey the blues felt down on the plantation, the woes of the dispossessed sharecropper’s son turned-itinerant musician…though, in fairness, the Stones pulled off some authentic blues standards and genuinely bluesy original tunes, and Keith Richards certainly comes from the ugliest corner of the wrong side of the tracks, England, and can definitely firmly grasp the blues, could shout the “1950s dentist got no anesthetic Blues“.

But I’m talking about the Southland that birthed the blues (about the song), the blues that began as slave stomps and chain-gang hollers, then grew increasingly sophisticated with the addition of guitars, harmonicas, piano, and eventually electrified instruments (none have really plumbed the depths of fully electric synthesizer blues, The Animals did lots with the organs and early synth-keyboards available in the ’60s, Steve Winwood had the whole enchilada of synthpop tech but just scratched the surface).

Listening to the electric blues on Florida St. and Imogene by the old freight train junction, Mobile, Alabama, thanks to fellow-Spring Hill College Class of 2004 Mobile kid Daniel Spotswood, I learned something about the blues that isn’t in the books, that the blues isn’t just a musical style, it’s an emotion.  It’s something visceral, intangible, possibly magical or at least existing in the undefined anthropological ether… something that might be non-recordable on tape.

The blues, the Real Blues, came from the systematic oppression, de facto (sharecropping) and actual outright slave economy of the deepest Deep South, songs of hell, songs of humanity persisting within the fieriest of Beelzebub’s trials…

The life of Robert Johnson illustrates what I mean. He was born from Julia Dodd’s re-marriage after Mr. Dodd got run out of town by a literal lynch mob over a woman and the white plantation caste that owned the area probably dispossessed the Dodds of everything.  In the Mississippi Delta counties especially, generational socio-economic gains could be washed away as fast as the Mississip’ risin’ if you were on the wrong side of the vicious legal and police-state-enforced Apartheid system—AKA Jim Crow— in effect in the first half of the 20th century. In Robert Johnson’s times, racism wasn’t just hateful attitudes but enshrined in law, enforced by the state; segregation, oppressive discrimination, denial of economic advancement/freedom in socio-economic space, and sudden death sentences by angry mob… all of this was essentially the law.

One of Johnson’s most covered songs, “Crossroads Blues”—even Cyndi Lauper recorded a rendition, 2010—refers to these Jim Crow laws. The second verse includes “the sun goin’ down now boy, dark gon’ catch me here”: alluding to the “sundown laws” or curfew, that was ubiquitous in the Deep South.  The blues still have a great deal of saliency.

When unrest erupts following the conflicts in Ferguson, MO, for example, and the news is analyzing the sundown curfews, few grasp the painful history. It’s shrugged off as necessary “to maintain order.”
But, when black people hear “sundown curfews imposed in Ferguson,” many probably think of “don’t be found when the sun’s gone down.”

I think of Robert Johnson.


Paramedics, the VA, and Eric Garner: When Deference to Authority Goes Horribly Wrong (Part 2/4)

Part 2 of 4 of the series When Life and Death is “A Matter of Policy”

Annnnnnnnnd we’re back… in part one of this series, I detailed one policy driven by No Discernable Medical Purpose (NDMP), and that’s the “no foreign ventilator” policy hospitals have, affecting me in the past and maybe at points in the future.
In the past, I blogged about paramedics not wanting to move a dude suffering cardiac arrest “because liability,” No Discernable Medical Purpose (NDMP).

Here in the NY metro area especially, paramedics have been in the spotlight lately… not for good reasons, but in connection with the death of Staten Island gentle giant Eric Garner.  Garner, known in his neighborhood as “Big E,” was murdered in broad daylight by an illegal NYPD chokehold for talking back to cops who were harassing him for a past pattern of selling “loosies” (single cigarettes).  Garner, who wasn’t even selling anything that day, said “this stops today!” and “please just leave me alone,” among similar things, which apparently constituted resisting arrest and justified initiating force against him—an unarmed man—straight up police brutality.  Here in NY, Garner’s murder has occupied conversations, newsprint, blogprint, radio and TV, and the role of the paramedics who seemed to make no effort to resuscitate him was/is being investigated, and the EMS team involved was suspended pending the investigation.

It’s evident from the horrifying footage of Garner’s death that none of the normal medical protocols were followed, and all nurses and doctors who have talked about it on the record (see Eyewitness News 7 report) are unanimously flummoxed and dismayed at the unusually lackadaisical approach EMS took.  The New York Times spoke to Dr. Alexander Kuehl, who led Emergency Medical Services in New York City during the ’80s. “She certainly didn’t do her job,” he said of the paramedic girl on the infamous cell phone video of the Garner killing.
“She’s totally overawed by the cops. She doesn’t do her assessment at all. There was something very peculiar about her approach.” (full NYT article)

We may never know the full story. It’s apparent from the horrendous footage that the cops waylaid EMS, saying “not yet,” and also telling the crowd Garner was fine and still breathing in order to avert the whole neighborhood going into full-on rioting (crowd control). But that two EMTs + two paramedics took the NYPD assailant’s word for it and didn’t intervene in any of the usual ways is more than a little discouraging.  The decisions made, whether directed by the NYPD on the scene, or driven by weird liability fear-related policies, or the EMS supervisor, or all of the above, self-evidently do not reflect advocating for your patient or serving Any Discernable Medical Purpose.

Recently an EMS-related surreal hospital policy also grabbed headlines (in conjunction with the increased scrutiny around the VA scandal) when the policy directing staff anywhere outside of the main buildings to CALL 911 if a patient collapses was followed, and killed a Vietnam veteran who, through unlucky happenstance, had a heart attack in the hospital cafeteria.

The AP reported:

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A veteran who collapsed in an Albuquerque Veteran Affairs hospital cafeteria — 500 yards from the emergency room — died after waiting around 20 minutes for an ambulance, officials confirmed Thursday.

It took between 15 and 20 minutes for the ambulance to be dispatched and take the man from one building to the other, which is about a five-minute walk, officials at the hospital said.

Kirtland Air Force Medical Group personnel performed CPR until the ambulance arrived, VA spokeswoman Sonja Brown said.

Staff followed policy in calling 911 when the man collapsed on Monday, she said. “Our policy is under expedited review,” Brown said.

Full story here: Veteran dies waiting for ambulance in VA hospital

In this Dave Granlund political cartoon, wheelchair inaccessibility serves as a visual metaphor for the inaccessibility of V’A medical care/doctors’ appointments writ large. Unfortunately, architectural barriers to medical care are too often non-metaphorical in many parts of the country.

In the initial local TV News reports, the implicated hospital said simply “we followed policy.”

“Just following orders.”

Sadly, this is yet another instance of “No Discernable Medical Purpose” (NDMP). The best medical treatment for this veteran easily WAS NOT waiting for an outside ambulance, after all “every second counts” with a heart attack. What he needed was heroic action by the staff hoofin’ it to get him to the Emergency Room with all possible rapidity, where cardiac crises are something U.S. medicine is set up to handle really well.  If their Emergency Dept. has no one who can rapid response with a gurney to code blues in adjacent buildings, that is a matter of leadership and policy too, NDMP as it was not serving a legit medical goal.

Deference to whacked-out policies is baffling, especially in the United States, where you’d expect a bit more spunk and middle-finger wielding to authority figures from the descendants of rebellious colonists who sparked a revolution over the British effort to inhibit their tea smuggling and rum running (among other things).  Here, that meek obedience—maybe even “willful blindness—the higher-ups like to cultivate led to horrible consequences.  Sometimes disobedience is needed, even essential, as I also discussed in the post Law and Order: When Is It Wrong to Follow The Law?

In Part 3, I’ll look at the psychology behind the tendency to OBEY, bad incentives at the VA, and how these problems can be ameliorated.


2/4 Series When Life and Death is “A Matter of Policy”

In Part 3, the Milgram experiment, James Madison, and hospital ethics
Part 4: activism and rays of hope from medical bloggers

or go back to Part 1: introduction to the series/weird ventilator rule

A Note on Robert Bork and the End of Busing as a Desegregation tool

It’s been a while since I blogged about racism, but this blog has a broader mission to shine a light on the concerns of unheard, marginalized groups everywhere, which is why, in the past, I’ve written about things as far-flung and diverse as an effort to fund safehouses for LGBT youth being hunted down by Islamist death squads in Iraq and the violence against raw food shops and consumers in California, where the government effectively acted as enforcers for big agribusiness, helping them shut down the competition.

As the new About page says:

This blog is a safe space, where I highlight unreported and under-reported issues effecting people with disabilities and other underrepresented groups and the U.S. as a whole.

I really want to give underreported and unreported stories some space. That is what I think the blogosphere should be, a megaphone for the people the news media ignore.

Under racism, in the past I’ve spotlighted the legacy of slavery and the Capitol building, an anti-Latino death squad who were ignored by the media even after killing a family, and more.

Recently, comments on C-SPAN’s BookTV sparked my interest, because Appellate Judge Frank Easterbrook said something very revealing. He talked about how he and then-solicitor general Robert Bork crafted the legal reasoning that now is the dominant precedent that prohibits or stifles desegregation across America. And no one noticed. Segregation and the laws around it deserve more discussion.

This is a clip I made of Judge Easterbrook’s comments, which reveal a history few know about (c-spanvideo.org allows you to make your own clips now!) During a discussion of Robert Bork’s last, posthumously published book “Saving Justice,” Frank Easterbrook reveals how he and Robert Bork’s reasoning that school segregation “by personal choice” is not a violation, though so inflammatory in the ’70s the DOJ ordered it shredded, is now the opinion affirmed by the Supreme Court.

Click here to see the clip (which, for some reason isn’t embeddable).

Even Robert Bork thought the anti-busing opinion should be shredded at the time; according to Judge Easterbrook, Bork was worried it would empower violent bigots in the ongoing Boston busing conflict.

Somehow, this opinion was unearthed from the bowels of hell and embraced by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has again and again affirmed this radical-right reasoning that school segregation doesn’t hurt anyone and is just fine as long as the state isn’t forcing it and it’s “segregation by private choice.”

The nail in the coffin for desegregation seemed to come from Bork and Easterbrook’s brief.

With my own eyes, I’ve seen the retrenchment of segregation in the South. My hometown of Mobile, Alabama was once a good example of relative-racial harmony; Mobile boasts it was the only major city in the Deep South never to suffer race riots. Leaders on both sides of this peaceful, heavily Catholic city made negotiation work instead of the conflagration everywhere else. My college, Spring Hill College (“The Jesuit College of the South”) was praised in MLK’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail for being the first university in the Deep South to integrate, in 1954. When the KKK tried to burn a cross (highly blasphemous) on campus in response, students chased them off with rocks and baseball bats, a couple of Jesuit priests in tow. We showed how possible integration could be; we showed that not everybody in the Deep South supported the Klan. (Also, people tend to see the world through the lens of their hometown values and upbringing, and this post gives you insight into mine, where I am coming from).

It’s been sad watching my hometown leave behind their powerful legacy of peaceful desegregation without discussion, following the other Southern cities. Accelerating subsequent to the 1991 Supreme Court ruling Board of Education v. Dowell, which—in a 5-3 decision—lifted integration-busing court orders (Thurgood Marshall, on the verge of retiring, wrote the dissenting opinion) busing has been jettisoned as a relic, and the busing-integrated high school I went to, John Shaw High School, was shuttered.

There’s been a retrenchment of racial segregation throughout the South—and elsewhere too (see this article about Omaha dividing into separate segregated school districts at the request of the black minority). The reasons for re-segregation are complex and difficult to talk about; it’s clear that both communities are fueling this trend. Black communities may dislike sending children on hour-long bus rides, among other things, while white communities may want to wall off their children from the kinds of things going on in the black ghettos (which may or may not be a true perception, because in MY high school, the white kids were the ones dealing drugs).

Some relevant sources:
Justices Rule Mandatory Busing May Go, Even if Races Stay Apart – New York Times 1991 (reported on the announcement of the Board of Education v. Dowell ruling)
Schools Resegregate, Study Finds – New York Times 2003
Fighting School Resegregation – Editorial – NYTimes.com 2003
and a ton more sources are available on the Google

According to a 2003 Harvard study, following the flurry of court rulings against busing, black students were less integrated at the turn of the millennium than in 1970, “a year before the Supreme Court authorized the busing that became a primary way of integrating schools.” These trends have accelerated unabated since 2000. In many of these segregated communities, a kid has a better chance of winning the lottery than meeting a person of different ethnic background than them. It looks as though our broken judiciary will allow entire states to re-segregate, decades of progress down the tubes, because we’ve made the democratic choice for that kind of society. And in a democracy we should be able to choose that; but let’s not be blind to the destructive potential of segregation: the damage to the children socially and emotionally, the distancing of racial communities, the retrenchment of a U.S. caste system. A growing body of social science research is reaching the conclusion that school desegregation should get some credit for the drop in urban crime in the ’90s and ’00s, and that the rise in crime in recent years can be partly blamed on re-segregation (Source: Slate: Resegregation has led to a spike in violent crime).
We need to be honest about the prejudice, the pre-judging we’re all capable of, and try and do what’s right. Separate but equal can never be equal, and invites a myriad of problems.

My younger brother Jamie, who’s also on a vent, said of visiting one high school, “I felt like the little white chunk no one wants at the bottom of the can o’ pork ‘n beans.”
That isn’t good, but it is the reality in the 2000s and 2010s….

Mobile has its first black mayor now, and peace and negotiation is still the order of the day for the most part, but in places like Atlanta and New Orleans the intensifying of segregation has communities on both sides simmering with racial tension. Racial violence in Atlanta isn’t yet “only of interest to historians.” Economic and social segregation in New Orleans, not to mention the strict geographic segregation—so extreme you wouldn’t believe it—has racial discord at all time highs. Hurricane Katrina (which I barely survived in Mobile) not only devastated New Orleans bow to stern, it opened up a LOT of old wounds. Surprisingly virulent racist memes have come back, big time; too often, Louisiana whites have welcomed that stuff back with open arms.

Libertarians like Ron Paul are right to point out that laws alone can’t turn hearts and minds around, and that’s an important point, but laws provide enforcement of equal opportunity against the worst injustices. Laws that have dis-empowered the most egregious offenders, especially vis a vis voting rights and equality under the law, have driven most of the progress we’ve seen.
Bork and Easterbrook’s brief provide a window into how we got to where we are. And where we are, and the legal opinions behind it, deserve re-examination.


Did You Know? Imperialist Aggression and Exploitation: The History of U.S. – Latin American Relations

With love and thanks to everyone who has made my current, first semester back to college (online) possible…

The History of U.S. – Latin American Relations: An Overview
Nicholas F. Dupree

The history of U.S.-Latin American relations is a long and bloody one checkered by imperialist aggression and exploitation. The United States had a head start building its democratic institutions because it spawned from Britain, a constitutional monarchy whose fledgling parliamentary democracy was far ahead of most of the world at the time, and the U.S. built on that with a constitution and a government based on a revolutionary ideology. American revolutionaries, like the French revolutionaries that followed, were driven to spread their pro-freedom, anti-monarchist ideology, but unlike France’s First Republic, America’s first republic was not only more moderate, it could quickly stabilize amid its isolation and relative lack of competitors for the continent. Surprisingly rapidly, the United States was moving aggressively west and south to spread their revolutionary state and colonize land held by loosely organized indigenous tribes and a Spanish Empire spread thin and in relative decline.

Early on, America’s founding generation had their eyes (and territorial ambitions) pointed South. Presidents Jefferson and John Adams saw Cuba and Puerto Rico as “natural appendages” of North America that should break away from Spanish influence and join the United States. John Quincy Adams thought Cuba an “apple” fallen from the North American tree and that it should end its “unnatural connection” with Spain and rejoin its source, America. (Smith, 2007, p. 25) Thomas Jefferson had an impressive collection of Iberian writers in his library at Monticello, and actively promoted learning of the Spanish language.

“Spanish,” he wrote in a note accompanying a Spanish-language dictionary that he gifted to Peter Carr in 1787; “Bestow great attention on this, & endeavor to acquire an accurate knowledge of it. Our future connections with Spain & Spanish America will render that language a valuable acquisition. The antient [sic] history of a great part of America, too, is written in that language” (Works V: 322).1

But alongside the founding generation’s interest in Latin America, loomed skepticism. The prevailing views of the time included deep doubts about the ability of newly independent Latino populations to adopt republican values and effectively govern themselves, given racial and cultural differences and the dark legacy of oppression and violence from Spanish colonization. “I fear the degrading ignorance into which their priests and kings have sunk them, has disqualified them from the maintenance or even knowledge of their rights, and that much blood may be shed for little improvement in their condition. Should their new rulers honestly lay their shoulders to remove the great obstacles of ignorance, and press the remedies of education and information, they will still be in jeopardy until another generation comes into place, and what may happen in the interval cannot be predicted, nor shall you or I live to see it,” Thomas Jefferson wrote (Smith, p. 46) in an 1811 letter to Dupont de Nemours.2

John Quincy Adams echoed Jefferson’s views (p. 46), and as the United States became a power on the world stage competing for land and resources, it sought to seize them without seizing the diverse populations that lived there. “By the late 1830s, the idea of manifest destiny signified a racist nationalism that preferred to incorporate into the Union ‘unsettled’ and ’empty’ lands—such as those taken from Native American peoples and, soon thereafter, Mexico.” (Loveman, 2010, p. 57) After the “Mexican Cession” of 1848, in which Mexico “ceded” 55% of its territory to the United States, the limits of Manifest Destiny were undecided, and the question of further annexation was fiercely debated among the varying factions in Congress, especially in the Senate. Seizing “Mexico proper,” including the entirety of the Yucatan peninsula, and Cuba, were both the subject of heated debates, but ultimately they were just too different for Congress and the public to support annexing. Cuba was too black (Smith, p. 26) and Mexico was too Indian: as the New York World wrote, “Mexicans are Indian, aboriginal Indian, and they must share in the destiny of the Indian.” (p. 49) Neither Mexico nor Cuba were incorporated into the United States, despite an unprecedented surge in U.S. imperialism in the 1890s and early 20th century that brought U.S. borders to their greatest territorial extent after Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Guam, Hawaii and more were brought under U.S. control. American militarism and expansion were led by William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt at the helm of a newly modernized and powerful army and navy, and like-minded Republicans like Albert Beveridge and Orville H. Platt at the helm in the Congress. These American imperialists believed, in the words of Senator Beveridge, that “God has not been preparing the English-speaking and Teutonic peoples for a thousand years for nothing but vain and idle self-contemplation. No. …He has made us adept at government that we may administer government among savage and senile peoples.” (p. 51) This view would have driven even more aggressive expansion had their not been deep anxieties among the people and their Congress over “inferior peoples” becoming U.S. citizens. “Racism cut at least three ways. It inspired and justified American territorial expansion, but it also limited its reach due precisely to the indisposition of many Americans to incorporate into the Union “inferior peoples” as equals and citizens. It also underlay the slave/free divide in American domestic politics.” (Loveman, 2010, p. 57)

Once the United States had emerged as a 20th century world power after McKinley and Roosevelt’s wars of expansion, it was ready to put the Monroe Doctrine’s shaky record keeping European powers out of the Hemisphere throughout the 19th century behind it and enforce a U.S. sphere of influence in the Americas in earnest. The U.S. positioned itself to defend its gains in the new global race for land, resources, arms, military bases, trading-posts and colonies, called the “Great Game” in Britain, and the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine was designed do just that: no opportunistic Europeans would bring their game into the U.S.’ backyard. Roosevelt’s Corollary insisted that the United States could intervene in any Latin American republic where instability reigned; the U.S. would send troops anywhere in the Americas where European powers could possibly see an opening due to unpaid debt or revolutionary turmoil. And send troops they did: TR sent troops to seize the “Isthmian Canal” in Panama and took over the customs collections of the Dominican Republic until debt to the U.S. and other great powers (Netherlands and France) were paid in full. (Smith, pp. 56-57) A similar scheme of occupation and repayment was imposed in Haiti with much less success. (p. 60) The customs repayment scheme actually led to war in Nicaragua, where the Americans’ fears of the “Bolshevist” revolutionary government of Mexico establishing its own “sphere of influence” and “primacy” over Central America (p. 67) collided with the Nicaraguan people’s anger and aspirations to be free from the yoke of crushing debt, and a guerrilla insurgency erupted (p. 59). President Coolidge only withdrew the Marines from Nicaragua in 1924 after imposing a fraudulent election that ousted disobedient liberals in favor of pliant “conservatives” led by Adolfo Diaz, who would focus on debt repayment. The Marines came back five months later amid rumblings of possible rebellion against Diaz and further unrest. U.S. efforts to “break kneecaps” in Central American and Caribbean states for payment due didn’t end until the Great Depression and looming threat of World War II necessitated it.

The last Marines withdrew from Nicaragua in 1933, and the Marines’ nineteen-year occupation of Haiti ended in 1934. The Great Depression made such foreign entanglements financially untenable, and Americans looked to the prospects of increased inter-hemispheric trade to aid recovery (p. 74) Soon, the U.S. would concern itself with an even more dire task, countering Axis attempts for world domination; with German and Italian fascists competing to influence fledgling republics in Latin America, Washington could ill-afford its previous “Big Stick” foreign policy. Brazilian trade with Germany was at an all time high, and the Ação Integralista Brasileira (AIB) “formed in 1932 as a deliberate imitation of the Fascist parties of Benito Mussolini in Italy and Salazar in Portugal,” (Leonard, 2007, p. 145) had taken over Brazil’s government, given themselves unlimited “emergency powers,” and decreed the Estado Novo, “the new state,” along the lines of Portugal’s integralist Estado Novo. Brazil was obviously part of Hitler’s empire-building strategy; in Congress, a young Fiorello LaGuardia ranted against Brazilian collaboration with Nazi Germany (Smith, p. 76). Chile remained neutral at this time, having strong ties with the German military and an active German-Chilean minority, and still embittered over the Americans’ siding against them in the 1879-83 War of the Pacific and the U.S. adoption of the Smoot-Hawley tariff, which had hurt Chile economically. (Leonard, p. 162-165) And Argentina, despite being a “closet ally” who supplied the Allies with crucial food during the war, (p. 184) was bogged down in a power struggle with its Nazi-sympathizing military, who were devoted to ultra-conservative, virulently anti-Semitic Argentine Catholicism (p. 188). Ultimately, Argentina didn’t end diplomatic ties with Germany until January 1944 (pp. 162-163).

But Mexico, so important to U.S. national security for its bountiful oil reserves and immediate proximity along the U.S. border with the American Southwest, was Washington’s most pressing concern in the lead-up to World War II. The Cårdenas administration (1934-1940) was just stabilizing and consolidating control over a Mexican polity that for decades had been in revolutionary flux (p. 17). Mexicans were beginning to interpret the European battle between the communists and fascists, especially the Spanish Civil War, through their unique revolutionary lens, and whether Mexico would side with the United States was unclear during Lázaro Cárdenas’ rule as he remained neutral. “Capitalists, businessmen, Catholics, and middle-class Mexicans who opposed many of the reforms implemented by the revolutionary government sided with the Spanish Falange” (p. 18) i.e., the fascist movement, and Nazi propagandist Arthur Dietrich and his team of agents in Mexico successfully manipulated editorials and coverage of Europe by paying hefty subsidies to Mexican newspapers, including the widely-read dailies Excelsior and El Universal (pp. 18-19).

The situation became even more worrisome for the Allies when the major oil companies boycotted Mexican oil following Lázaro Cárdenas’ nationalization of the oil industry and expropriation of all corporate oil properties in 1938, (p. 19) which severed Mexico’s access to its traditional markets and led Mexico to sell its oil to Germany and Italy (Smith, p. 79). In Mexico and throughout Latin America, Franklin Roosevelt’s “Good Neighbor Policy” was necessary at such a delicate time, and in the case of the Mexicans, ultimately led to the Douglas-Weichers Agreement in June 1941 that secured Mexican oil only for the United States, (Leonard, p. 21) and the Global Settlement in November 1941, a rare example of the U.S. putting national security concerns over fairness for American oil companies (p. 22-23).

But such “Good Neighbor” agreements and “soft power” influence were self-interested in the end, accomplishing the abrupt end of German Fifth Column activities in Mexico, and after the attack on Pearl Harbor, all nine Central American and Caribbean republics declared war on the Axis nearly in unison in a show of seldom-seen Hemispheric solidarity (Smith, p. 86). Unfortunately for Latin America, the United States’ inter-American strategy would drastically shift as soon as their interests did.

The post-war world, with Russia and the United States locked in a Cold War that threatened to involve, if not destroy, every state on the planet, was not kind to the republics of the Americas. Washington soon divided Latin America simplistically along “with us or against us” red lines, and fear of communist infiltration, both real and used as a political football, was rampant. During the 1952 U.S. Presidential Election, Republican nominee Dwight D. Eisenhower accused the incumbent Democratic party of pushing Latin Americans into the arms of wily Communist agents waiting to exploit local misery and capitalize on any opening to communize the Americas (Smith, p. 127). From that point on, the “Big Stick” foreign policy came back to Latin America in various forms and guises until the ’90s, with the U.S. consistently backing the same type of elite-led fascist regimes they were trying to undercut during WWII.

Up to the time of Reagan and the Iran-Contra scandal that embarrassed the United States on the world stage, U.S. foreign policy supporting fascist local elites as long as they were suitably pliant and reliably anti-communist was commonplace. One would hope that the current non-interventionist tack toward Latin America under the Obama administration is due to assessment of tough historic lessons learned and not mere economic constraints. Future repeats of the George W. Bush approach to the Americas, with “second acts” for several notorious Iran-Contra figures (see Observers Warn of U.S. Manipulation in Nicaragua) and the CIA’s Venezuelan Coup Attempt of 2002, is certainly cause for concern. The future of U.S.-Latin American relations I’d like to see, is one where Simon Bolivar’s famous statement “the United States seems destined by Providence to bring misery to the Americas in the name of liberty”4 seems something solely relevant for historical background, instead of something that’s directly related to current events and threatens to crop up again in U.S. Foreign policy at any moment.

Works Cited

Leonard, T. M., Bratzel, J. F., Rankin, M., Smith, J. & Scheinin, D. (2007). Latin america during world war ii. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.

Loveman, B. (2010). No higher law: american foreign policy and the western hemisphere since 1776. Chapel Hill, NC, USA: The University of North Carolina Press.

Smith, P. H. (2007). Talons of the eagle: dynamics of u.s. – latin american relations (RFB&D Daisy Audiobook),


1: Bauer, Ralph. (2009). Thomas Jefferson, the hispanic enlightenment, and the birth of hemispheric american studies Dieciocho: Hispanic Enlightenment, 32(1), Retrieved from http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms2/gi_0199-11917558/Thomas-Jefferson-the-Hispanic-enlightenment.html

2: Ibid.

3: Garcia-Navarro, L. (2006, November 2). Observers warn of u.s. manipulation in nicaragua. NPR, Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6423982

4: LaRosa, M., & Mora, F. O. (2009). Neighborly adversaries: readings in u.s.-latin american relations [2nd Edition]. (RFB&D Daisy Audiobook),

New York GOP’s Gubernatorial Candidate Tries To Brush Off Racist, XXX and Bestial Emails

As I detailed before, the New York Republican party elected far-right candidate Carl Paladino to run on their gubernatorial line, and he’s been embroiled in controversy over racist, XXX and bestial email forwards he sent.

I talked about this in my last blog post; I don’t support and never post such crass material, but I think if I’m going to discuss these emails, in order to be fair I have to give you a chance to see them and judge for yourself. Again, WARNING WARNING WARNING: contains hardcore pornographic images (including one with bestiality), vile racism and the N-word. Not for those under 18, not for the faint hearted or weak stomached, and definitely NSFW (Not Safe For Work).

Also, I think if I’m going to criticize these emails as I did in my last blog post, in order to be fair I have to post the Paladino camp’s explanations in their own defense.

When one recipient complained about the “Obama inauguration” email, calling Paladino a racist, Paladino responded by apologizing “if that is offensive.” He added: “I’m not a racist and have never related Obama’s color to my political distaste for him….I’m not sensitive to ethnic humor.”

Other emails from Paladino are here. All the emails were either originally sent, or forwarded, by Paladino, WNYmedia confirms. The emails went to a long list of Paladino associates, in local and state government, politics, and business.

In a statement to TPMmuckraker, Caputo, the campaign manager, said:
“Carl Paladino has forwarded close friends hundreds of email messages he received. Many of these emails he received were off color, some were politically incorrect, few represented his own opinion, and almost none of them were worth remembering.
“We’re not surprised the political establishment feels threatened by Carl’s drive the take Albany back for taxpayers. Our campaign won’t be wading through the details of what is just another liberal Democrat blog smear. It figures that members of the Party who brought us record taxes, record spending and record debt would want to change the topic from reform to having sex with horses and S&M parlors.”

The S&M parlor is a reference to one of Paladino’s rivals for the GOP nomination, Steve Levy, who, it was reported today, once lived with an ex-con who had pleaded guilty in a mortgage fraud scheme involving an S&M club.

Excepted from Tea Party NY Gov Candidate’s E-Mails Exposed: Racism, Porn, Bestiality | TPMMuckraker

So, Paladino’s campaign manager, Michael Caputo, brushed off concerns over the emails as “just another liberal Democrat blog smear.” Ok…

Carl Paladino himself explained it this way:

“My humor is irrelevant to my temperament. If you go and Google me, you’re going to see what Carl Paladino is about. And sure, I’m not perfect. And sure, I’m not human,” he said, before correcting himself. “I’m human, forgive me – hahaha. I’m human. I’ve had my careless moments. I didn’t think twice about sending to my firends a bunch of obscene emails.

“But, I apologized. I apologized to the people that were offended. People that I meat since that thing first became public, they’re interested in the high crimes and misdemeanors of Albany, They could give a hell about Carl Paladino and his emails.”

Excepted from The Bumpy, Impolite and Offensive Campaign of Carl Paladino – WNYC

Carl Paladino, looking slightly mafia-ish

Here is another way he explained the forwarded emails, when grilled by Anderson Cooper.

What is it with older people (often holding older–’50s–political views and prejudices) and email? especially email forwards. The statistics show a divergence in behavior between age groups here (only 11% of young people still send email daily, our communication is mostly through texting, twittering, and social networking) whereas older people’s email use has stayed relatively steady. I’ve never really understood the appeal of forwarding on chain mail, comments and jokes to everyone in your address book, but LOTS of people of Paladino’s age and mindset do this, including some of my own relatives (and I think everyone has at least one friend or relative forwarding them junk). I find it sad that forwarding other people’s words often replaces communication from the heart, real words of love or insight or encouragement (which you get more of on social networking sites; maybe that’s why they’ve grown so fast?)

Anyhow, even Republicans are lining up against Paladino. “He is dangerous, at the least, he is mean spirited and he tries to divide people,” New York’s last GOP Senator, Alphonse D’Amato, told WCBS 880′s Peter Haskell. Along with former New York City Mayor Ed Koch and former State Comptroller Carl McCall, D’Amato also signed his name to an open letter declaring Paladino unfit for office:

The victory of Carl Paladino in the Republican Primary was a disappointing day for all New Yorkers. This state has a long history of electing highly qualified, forward-looking statewide candidates — both Democrats and Republicans. Yesterday, however, anger overcame reason and enabled a fringe element to choose the Republican nominee. The end result was the selection of Mr. Paladino, a divisive figure simply not fit to lead this great state.

Excerpted from Alphonse D’Amato on Carl Paladino: ‘Dangerous’, ‘Mean-Spirited’ And Unfit For Office

I’m sympathetic to the argument that citizens have much more important things to worry about than obscene emails, I really am, but this has caught my attention because of Paladino positioning himself as the “conservative principles and traditional values” candidate, opposing abortion in all cases, opposing gay rights in all cases, essentially, judging other people morally. And even after his hypocrisy has been exposed (his spreading images of “Miss France 2009” porn and the infamous horse sex, and his multiple extramarital affairs and child by a mistress) he is still carrying the banner of “egomaniacal belief in one’s own rightness and purity” (which David Brooks listed as one of the Tea Party’s “worst excesses”).

I understand the overwhelming urge to throw Andrew Cuomo (another inside player, leading a status quo, frequently corrupt Democratic establishment) under the bus and vote for the “outsider” promising to “clean up Albany,” but…really Christians, you’re going to elect this adulterer who forwards around hardcore pornography? Downstaters, will you really vote in a Buffalo businessman (fun fact: the demonym is Buffalonian) who’s said he “hates” Manhattan and Brooklyn because of “the traffic” and will surely skew everything toward upstate interests? It’s clear that Paladino doesn’t understand Downstate issues, which is just inconceivable for a governor of a state whose population lives 68.42% Downstate! People with disabilities, will you vote for a candidate who promises to cut Medicaid by 30%, something that could put you in a nursing home, or out on the street, or worse.

Seriously Values Voters, you’re gonna go to the polls in droves and vote for the bestiality guy??? Seriously?? And still quote Leviticus’ prohibition on homosexuality at us? What about Leviticus chapter 18, verse 23 “And thou shalt not lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith; neither shall any woman stand before a beast, to lie down thereto; it is perversion.” What about that one?


News Media Decides Life of Fly More Important Than Slain Latinos

So, the Minuteman Movement has gone completely insane, and they are now crossing over into murder and theft to meet their political goals of a Southwest free of Hispanics.


n.  The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.

“terrorism.” The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 24 Jun. 2009. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/terrorism>.

On May 30, members of Minutemen American Defense (MAD), an extremist group with links to the neo-Nazi group Aryan Nations, the hate group FAIR and the broader Minuteman Project, broke into the Flores’ family home to rob them. Jason Eugene “Gunny” Bush, also wanted for the random murder of a Latino man in Wenatchee, Wash. 12 years ago, was the primary shooter, and, along with Albert Robert Gaxiola and MAD executive director Shawna Forde, they posed as law enforcement and busted into the Flores’ home.

Raul and Brisenia Flores
Raul and Brisenia Flores

They shot and killed the father, Raul Flores, and his 9 year-old daughter Brisenia, shooting the little girl multiple times.  The mother returned fire, and wounded Bush in the leg after being wounded herself.  Police said the murders were premeditated as part of Shawna Forde’s plot to steal money and drugs from those she suspected of working with Mexican drug cartels, and use the proceeds to fund MAD. “They did not plan to leave any survivors. The plan was to kill everyone. To kill a 9-year-old because she might be a potential witness is one of the most despicable acts I’ve heard of,” Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik told the Arizona Daily Star.

But you wouldn’t know that there are racist militias targeting Hispanics in this country if you’re just watching typical news media. They didn’t cover it. I only found out about it by reading this post on Nezua’s The Unapologetic Mexican blog, and, later, the SPLC’s Hatewatch blog.

If only little Brisenia were a fly…

Because last week the media was abuzz about the death of a house fly at the president’s hand, and PETA’s objections to this “execution.”

Here’s a round up of the coverage of this, from our dying dinosaur news media, locked permanently in “silly season“:

Associated Content: PETA Obama Fly-Swatting Story Creates Buzz

Politico: PETA miffed at President Obama’s fly “execution”

Yep, this scrap of inanity was covered by the AP, MSNBC, CNN, The New York Times, Politico and more. It was so excessive and absurd, it became perfect fodder for Stewart and Colbert.

Where are our priorities? When racist vigilantes (reminiscent of the KKK) start killing children of the race they hate, I can’t find out from the MSM (MainStream Media)?? To get real news these days, you have to turn to the blogs that link to credible local papers that are actually providing coverage.

That means the MSM will soon go the way of that White House fly.



Related Bloggery

From my friend Spinny: Why I hate PETA

Senate, In Capitol Built By Slaves, Passes Resolution Apologizing For Slavery

Last Thursday, on the eve of Juneteenth, the celebration of the end of slavery, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution apologizing for slavery and the “Jim Crow” laws that oppressed ex-slaves and their descendants for roughly a century.

Twelve million Africans were shipped to the Americas from the 16th to the 19th centuries.  At the start of the Civil War, blacks made up 1/3 of the Souths population.
Twelve million Africans were shipped to the Americas from the 16th to the 19th centuries.

The resolution (full text), which also has a cowardly disclaimer at the bottom stating the apology can’t be used to substantiate any restitution claims against the U.S., cites the fact that “Africans forced into slavery were brutalized, humiliated, dehumanized, and subjected to the indignity of being stripped of their names and heritage” and lauds African-Americans for exemplifying “the strength of the human character and provid[ing] a model of courage, commitment, and perseverance.”

But the resolution neglected to mention one big fact: the Senate building that they stood in to vote in favor of this apology was built with black slave labor!

In 2005, Congress appointed a task force to research the subject, which issued a report in conjunction with the Office of the Architect of the Capitol, finally bringing a measure of scholarly rigor to bear on the topic.

The task force acknowledged it was not able to tell the full story. “No one will ever know how many slaves helped to build the United States Capitol Building — or the White House,” says the 2005 task force report, entitled History of Slave Laborers in the Construction of the United States Capitol.

This, the Capitol building, was built by slaves
This, the Capitol building, was built by slaves

But the task force did find plenty of evidence of slave involvement in the Capitol’s construction. Perhaps the most compelling evidence were records of payments from the commissioners for the District of Columbia — the three men appointed by George Washington to oversee the construction of the Capitol and the rest of the city of Washington — to slave owners for the rental of slaves to work on the Capitol. The records reflect 385 payments between 1795 and 1801 for “Negro hire,” a euphemism for the yearly rental of slaves.

Slaves were likely involved in all aspects of construction, including carpentry, masonry, carting, rafting, plastering, glazing and painting, the task force reported. And slaves appear to have shouldered alone the grueling work of sawing logs and stones.

Slave crews also toiled at the marble and sandstone quarries that provided the stone to face the structure — lonely, grueling work with bleak living conditions in rural Virginia and elsewhere. “Keep the yearly hirelings at work from sunrise to sunset — particularly the Negroes,” the commissioners wrote to quarry operator William O’Neale in 1794.

The commissioners’ use of slave labor was unremarkable for the time. When the Capitol was constructed, from 1793 to 1826, the building trades in almost every colony augmented the work force with slave labor. This would have been especially true in the Potomac region — the home of about half the 750,000 African-Americans living in the United States, according to the 1972 book Free Negroes in the District of Columbia, by Letitia Woods Brown.

Most of the slaves who worked on the Capitol are known by first name at best — the records refer to a

Atop the Capitol dome, stands The Statue of Freedom
Atop the Capitol dome, stands The Statue of Freedom

payment of $13.00 to slaveholder Teresa Bent for “Nace,” for example, and $23.00 to Elizabeth Brent for “Harry” and “Gabe.”

But one particular slave, Philip Reid, achieved some renown as an individual. He was a slave laborer for Clark Mills, who was hired to cast the Statue of Freedom, the Capitol’s crowning feature. The government paid Reid $1.25 a day for his work.

The statue, a draped female figure holding a sheathed sword in one hand and a laurel wreath in the other, stands atop the Capitol dome, 288 feet above the site of Obama’s swearing in.

Source: PolitFact | The legend of slaves building Capitol is correct

The resolution should have also included, “Whereas, Africans, without any remuneration, built the Capitol building we now work in each day…”

People should know ALL of their history.

Inside the Senate

Native Americans Denied Health Care By Grossly Underfunded IHS

Instead of PAYING THE RENT to the rightful landowners, the White American government stole all the Indians’ land, and now that we control everything, we deny adequate health care on reservations and let them suffer and die.  According to this AP story, the U.S.  spends more on health care for FELONS in federal prison alone (not counting state and county lockups) than we do on Native Americans’ health care    We value convicted criminals more than Indian children.  Nice.

BY MARY CLARE JALONICK, Associated Press Writer
– Sun Jun 14, 7:39 pm ET

CROW AGENCY, Mont. – Ta’Shon Rain Little Light, a happy little girl who loved to dance and dress up in traditional American Indian clothes, had stopped eating and walking. She complained constantly to her mother that her stomach hurt.

When Stephanie Little Light took her daughter to the Indian Health Service clinic in this wind-swept and remote corner of Montana, they told her the 5-year-old was depressed.

This little girl from the Crow Nation, TaShon Little Light, died after the IHS told her family that abdominal pain was all in her head.
This little girl from the Crow Nation, Ta'Shon Little Light, died after the IHS told her family that abdominal pain was "all in her head."

Ta’Shon’s pain rapidly worsened and she visited the clinic about 10 more times over several months before her lung collapsed and she was airlifted to a children’s hospital in Denver. There she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, confirming the suspicions of family members.

A few weeks later, a charity sent the whole family to Disney World so Ta’Shon could see Cinderella’s Castle, her biggest dream. She never got to see the castle, though. She died in her hotel bed soon after the family arrived in Florida.

“Maybe it would have been treatable,” says her great-aunt, Ada White, as she stoically recounts the last few months of Ta’Shon’s short life. Stephanie Little Light cries as she recalls how she once forced her daughter to walk when she was in pain because the doctors told her it was all in the little girl’s head.

Ta’Shon’s story is not unique in the Indian Health Service system, which serves almost 2 million American Indians in 35 states.

On some reservations, the oft-quoted refrain is “don’t get sick after June,” when the federal dollars run out. It’s a sick joke, and a sad one, because it’s sometimes true, especially on the poorest reservations where residents cannot afford health insurance. Officials say they have about half of what they need to operate, and patients know they must be dying or about to lose a limb to get serious care.

Wealthier tribes can supplement the federal health service budget with their own money. But poorer tribes, often those on the most remote reservations, far away from city hospitals, are stuck with grossly substandard care. The agency itself describes a “rationed health care system.”

The sad fact is an old fact, too.

The U.S. has an obligation, based on a 1787 agreement between tribes and the government, to provide American Indians with free health care on reservations. But that promise has not been kept. About one-third more is spent per capita on health care for felons in federal prison, according to 2005 data from the health service.

This photo from the Little Light family shows Thea Little Light, 13, left, and Tia Little Light, 10, with their 5 year-old sister TaShon Little Light, on the Crow Indian Reservation
This photo from the Little Light family shows Thea Little Light, 13, left, and Tia Little Light, 10, with their 5 year-old sister Ta'Shon Little Light, on the Crow Indian Reservation

In Washington, a few lawmakers have tried to bring attention to the broken system as Congress attempts to improve health care for millions of other Americans. But tightening budgets and the relatively small size of the American Indian population have worked against them.

“It is heartbreaking to imagine that our leaders in Washington do not care, so I must believe that they do not know,” Joe Garcia, president of the National Congress of American Indians, said in his annual state of Indian nations’ address in February.


When it comes to health and disease in Indian country, the statistics are staggering.

American Indians have an infant death rate that is 40 percent higher than the rate for whites. They are twice as likely to die from diabetes, 60 percent more likely to have a stroke, 30 percent more likely to have high blood pressure and 20 percent more likely to have heart disease.

American Indians have disproportionately high death rates from unintentional injuries and suicide, and a high prevalence of risk factors for obesity, substance abuse, sudden infant death syndrome, teenage pregnancy, liver disease and hepatitis.

May 19, 2008, Obama becomes the first presidential candidate in American history to visit the Crow Nation.
May 19, 2008, Obama becomes the first presidential candidate in American history to visit the Crow Nation.

While campaigning on Indian reservations, presidential candidate Barack Obama cited this statistic: After Haiti, men on the impoverished Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations in South Dakota have the lowest life expectancy in the Western Hemisphere.

Those on reservations qualify for Medicare and Medicaid coverage. But a report by the Government Accountability Office last year found that many American Indians have not applied for those programs because of lack of access to the sign-up process; they often live far away or lack computers. The report said that some do not sign up because they believe the government already has a duty to provide them with health care.

The office of minority health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the Indian Health Service, notes on its Web site that American Indians “frequently contend with issues that prevent them from receiving quality medical care. These issues include cultural barriers, geographic isolation, inadequate sewage disposal and low income.”

Indeed, Indian health clinics often are ill-equipped to deal with such high rates of disease, and poor clinics do not have enough money to focus on preventive care. The main problem is a lack of federal money. American Indian programs are not a priority for Congress, which provided the health service with $3.6 billion this budget year.

Officials at the health service say they can’t legally comment on specific cases such as Ta’Shon’s. But they say they are doing the best they can with the money they have — about 54 cents on the dollar they need.

Full story: AP: PROMISES, PROMISES: Indian health care needs unmet (worth the read)

It’s their land we all live on, all of it; there should really be acknowledgment of that and the appropriate payments made. The least we can do is PAY THE RENT so tragedies like this don’t have to happen.

Just as Australian band Midnight Oil sang about the Aborigines they got all their land from:

The time has come, to say fair’s fair
to pay the rent, now, to pay our share

Beds Are Burning – Midnight Oil