Writings

Boggs Center News – Living for Change News – September 13th, 2021

September 13th, 2021

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Thinking for Ourselves

Critical Questions for Craig
Shea Howell

 

In a move that surprises no one, James Craig, the former police chief of Detroit, is set to formally announce his candidacy for the office of governor of Michigan this week.  Almost immediately after indicating he was running on Fox news, big republican support started flowing in his direction. Most notable are the efforts of former Governor John Engler who is behind the “We Need the Chief” PAC formed to collect cash for the effort.

Craig’s candidacy is an opportunity for us to look at some fundamental questions about where we are headed as a people.  Already, much is being made of two key issues that Craig has dodged: does he agree with most republicans that the 2020 election was stolen and does he think Donald Trump bears responsibility for the January 6 attacks on the US capitol? These issues illuminate core questions of whether or not as Governor Craig has a commitment to basic practices of democracy.

Craig’s anti-democratic, authoritarian impulses have been on display since the first day he took control of the Detroit Police Department. Under his leadership, without civilian input or oversight, Craig initiated wide spread surveillance technologies in the city. He has persisted on this path, in spite of research that clearly documents the inaccuracies of these technologies on people of color.

Further Craig was behind the widespread brutality used against  demonstrators challenging police conduct and he has insisted on a petty, costly effort to charge leaders of the demonstrations with conspiracy. Courts have consistently sided with the demonstrators, tossing out charges and excoriating the claims of the chief and his supporters about Marxist conspiracies.

Behind these actions is an ideology that Craig has yet to make explicit. But a brief look at his public comments, his web site, and his penchant for repeating Trumpist positions should trouble everyone who cares about democracy.

When Craig made his initial announcement on the Tucker Carlson Tonight show he said he intended to hold Governor Gretchen Whitmer “accountable.” He went on to say, “We’re part of a movement. We are going to take the state back.”  These two concepts raise very important questions given the context of our political moment.  At a time when individuals organized to kidnap and put the governor on trial, invoking ideas of witch burnings, just what does Craig mean by “accountable?”  Where does he stand on the prosecution of those men? How does an effort to punish them, led by the attorney general and local prosecutors fit with his claim that he will “hold rogue prosecutors accountable?”

At a time when militia movements and vigilante are being empowered by state officials, what does Craig mean by “local inclusion” and just what kind of “new laws” to “strengthen law enforcement across the state” is he thinking about? Are these those that are being enacted across the country to make protests and public demonstrations illegal?

And just what movement is he talking about? Is it the movement in support of local sheriffs and “sovereign citizens” movements that are rooted in white supremacy and the restoration of control by a small, wealthy elite? Just where does Craig stand in relation to the “constitutional sheriff movement,” a movement that is well on the way to developing storm troopers against all progressive and freedom seeking people.

All of Craig’s history in Detroit as well as his public comments show him to be a clone of Donald Trump. He is bringing an authoritarian, undemocratic ethos to government that is steeped in the willingness to use force against those with whom he disagrees. That is why republicans are so quick to embrace him and why the rest of us need to oppose

him.
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What We’re Reading

The Negroes of Friends Village
by Mark P. Fancher

The residents of this small, peaceful town don’t allow race, religion, ethnicity or anything else to disturb community harmony. But Friends Village is no Mayberry. In 1967 an act of racial terrorism attracts white supremacists, Black Power militants, the media and others to this usually tranquil hamlet, and the local townspeople – white and black – find themselves in the eye of a social storm. With humor, suspense and drama, The Negroes of Friends Village spins a compelling tale of how well-meaning people navigate the racial and social upheaval of the turbulent 1960s. The narrative paints a loving portrait of an African American community’s culture, foibles, courage, integrity, and wonderful characters.

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89th Highlander Homecoming

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Re-Opening Exhibit at Swords Into Plowshares Peace Center and Gallery

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AMP Seeds Series

AMP Seeds produces events that bring together visionary minds from across the AMP network for dialogue, resource-sharing, and reflection. These events offer a space to strengthen existing connections and forge new relationships that sustain our collective healing and learning while building the world we need.

Fall 2021 Seeds Series

AMP Series

Each event is free but requires registration via Eventbrite. Click here for more information and to RSVP for each event.


“Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

Frederick Douglass


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Boggs Center – Living For Change News – September 20th. 2021


Boggs Center – Living For Change News – August 31st, 2021

August 31st, 2021

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Thinking for Ourselves

In Our Power
Shea Howell

This week, images of FBI agents raiding Detroit City Council offices and homes flashed across the news media. Council members Janee Ayers and Scott Benson, as well as staff members, were raided in a federal investigation into public corruption. This raid comes just weeks after the Council member Andre Spivey was charged with bribery.  Of the nine council members elected in the last cycle, four are now tainted with real or imagined charges of corruption. All have been strong allies of the Mayor and have steadfastly backed corporate interests.

Over the last four years, I have been on the opposite side of most issues that Ayers, Benson, and Spivey have supported.  Ayers and Benson in particular have done all they could to gut community benefit agreements, encourage surveillance technologies, limit citizen oversight, and scuttle a true water affordability plan. They have used their committee power to stall, delay, and dilute community driven efforts at increasing public accountability and budget transparency.  For these reasons, neither Benson nor Ayers deserve to be reelected to the City Council.

But I take no joy in this wave of investigations. There is no doubt, whatever the outcome, media will portray these investigations as yet another sign that Detroit, a majority Black city, is exceptionally corrupt. This image of public corruption becomes another argument in the restriction of voting rights, fueling the white supremist idea that African Americans cannot govern.

To be sure, we have had a colorful history of public corruption, and much of it has been fueled by a media circus, catering to the white supremist imagination, attacking the achievements, as well as the follies, of powerful African Americans.  For example, it came as a shock to most white folks in Southeast Michigan to learn that Coleman A Young, as mayor, not only fought corruption in the police department, but ran one of the most fiscally responsible cities in America. 

These current raids are part of the work of the Detroit Area Public Corruption Task Force of the FBI, organized in 2012 , and still going strong. In 2019, the head of the task force acknowledged, “We definitely have a more significant corruption issue here in the Michigan region. But we are rooting it out a lot more than other people. We have a long-term campaign here to root out public corruption.”

In recent years the FBI has focused its efforts in Macomb County, securing more than a dozen convictions there. Yet media rarely emphasizes the corrupt nature of Detroits predominantly white neighbors. Since 2008, when Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was indicted for public corruption and racketeering,  more than 100 politicians, union bosses, bureaucrats and police officers have been charged with corruption. 

The best way to get rid of public corruption is to elect officials who are honest and wish to serve the people of the city. We have that opportunity this November. Many of the people running for City Council are people who have proven their commitment to the city, worked tirelessly to benefit people, and have a strong base of support. 

In addition, many candidates, and a minority on the current Council, have been pushing for greater accountability and transparency in government. These citizen led initiatives are critical in providing a framework to protect all of us from corporate avarice. 

We have the opportunity to create a progressive, imaginative, and thoughtful city government, committed to bold changes. This is in our power.

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Housing for Baba Baxter

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Response to Defund The Military

Written by Frank Joyce
Last week Shea Howell wrote about the US military in the context of the withdrawl from Afghanistan, this week we feature Frank Joyce’s take.

So much flapping of the wings of the chikkens coming home to roost this week that I am driven to attempted satire.

I guess things were easier for them when the purpose of the U.S. military was to seize and hold territory.  At first from sea to shining sea. Then beyond. That job was mostly completed by 1917 (Panama and the Virgin Islands. It’s a longish story.) The Marshall Islands in 1945 are sort of a footnote.  (Also a longish story.) For reference purposes, 1898 was probably the peak what with the Philippines and Hawaii and various lesser conquests bearing fruit. (Pun intended.)

Controlling slaves and some of the other people of color within the conquered territory has always been a hybrid deal mainly designated to slave patrols, militias, police and in dire circumstances the national guard.  Interestingly, in modern times Federal troops have mostly been used to control white people in selected desegregation struggles in the South and in subduing the rampaging racist all white Michigan national guard in Detroit in 1967.

Since the failure in Korea, (which helped to begat the failure in Viet Nam, insofar as one of its purposes was to overcome the Korea syndrome) the U.S. military has suffered one humiliating loss after another.  Grenada?  That’s all you got?  Give me a break.

It’s admittedly a little fuzzy but the DoD did play a role in the most significant U.S. accomplishment of the late 20th Century which was the defeat of the metric system.

I looked it up. Here’s what the DoD said in 1971.

C. During the period of transition there will be no major advantages to the DOD and major disadvantages will occur. This is the period wherein the greatest costs will occur; psychological resistance to change will be greatest; extensive training and retraining of personnel must be undertaken; conversions will increase operational hazards; dual stockage and dual manufacturing capability will be required in certain instances; material and system acquisition and conversion will create forces with mixed equipment; and development of metric standards will be necessary.

D. The conversion of the country to the metric system could adversely impact on the ability of the United States to support its military forces during the proposed transition period. Without proper planning and adequate funding, the reduced flexibility and capacity of the support available would impact upon the capability of the Armed Forces to perform their mission, especially if an international crisis should develop at critical times during this period requiring the employment of major forces in a combat role.

Anyway, some selective concern over metric conversion costs notwithstanding, the main job of the DoD for a long time now has been to spend money.  Just inconceivable amounts of money.  With no apparent requirement to justify any return whatsoever.

In the wake of what seems to be judged, for the moment anyway, as some sort of twenty year rolling screw up in Afghanistan, it will be interesting to watch how the Pentagon goes about recalibrating its PR message so as to give some cover to those in charge of keeping the money pipeline in full flow.

Like they say in the MSM, we’ll be keeping an eye on this.  Of course, the MSM won’t do that.  They are an integral part of the machine. (Which could lead to my telling the story of that time I got cancelled in the NYT comments section for calling the U.S. military losers.  True story.  But I’ll save it for another day.)

Will the funds allocated to the 2022/2023 DoD budget be reduced?  I’ll bet $20 that it won’t.  I’ll bet $100 though that if the budget isn’t increased “liberal” members of Congress will declare that a victory.

Not that there aren’t a lot of other things that bear watching.  I get that. But come on, isn’t being a spectator a core U.S. value too?  Can’t we do a few things just for fun?

No? All right then. On serious note, don’t you think not having to learn that pesky metric system makes it all worthwhile?


What We’re Reading

Highlander Research and Education Center Newsletter

  • Media Justice and the Lifeline Coaltion are partnering to spread awareness about an important monthly internet discount program as we go into a new school season
  • From the Movement for Black Lives: “Black August commemorates the rich history of Black resistance. Started in California prisons in the 1970s by Black freedom fighters honoring the lives and struggle of Black political prisoners killed by the state, the Black August legacy is strong today, amplifying the powerful history of resistance and creating spaces for Black people to come together in community to recharge the revolution.” — Recap of #BlackAugust2021
  • The Movement for Black Lives released a report last week detailing “how the federal government deliberately targeted supporters of the movement to defend Black lives during the summer of 2020 uprisings in order to disrupt and discourage Black organizing.” Learn how you can take action.
  • Haiti Solidarity Support List

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“Solidarity is not an act of charity, but mutual aid between forces fighting for the same objective.” – Samora Machel

 



Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership
3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US
 
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Boggs Center – Living For Change News – August 18th, 2021

August 18th, 2021

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?Thinking for Ourselves
Toward Recentering
Shea Howell

Detroit and Michigan have again been assaulted by severe storms. Rains brought more widespread flooding, blocking the ability of emergency workers to even get out of their doors. Nearly 800,000 people were without power for days. Extended power outages are common place in much of the city and surrounding communities.  Michigan has joined the long list of places directly impacted by the forces of global warming and climate change. Extended droughts, fires, heat and rising water levels are bringing misery and death to people and places across the globe.

This forms the background for the UN report released this week documenting the catastrophic future emerging in the next decade. The Secretary General, Antonio Guterres warned we are facing a “code red for humanity.” This report is not new. For decades scientists, activists, indigenous leadership, and environmentalists have been warning us that how we live is unsustainable and a form of suicide.

What is different about this report is that it makes clear that much of the devasting future is already here. As a thoughtful editorial in the New York Times says:

Nations have waited so long to curb emissions that a hotter future is essentially locked in, as are more droughts, more forest fires, more crippling heat waves, more sea level rise, more floods. The greenhouse gases that have already been pumped into the atmosphere are going to stay there a long time, inflicting misery for years to come.

The report offers the hope that there is still time, but not much, for people to act dramatically and shift away from an extractive, fossil fuel based economy and move toward more gentle means of producing energy.  But such a shift requires a political will that does not appear likely.

 

One of the main reasons we lack the political will to act responsibly is that major corporations have fostered disinformation campaigns shaping ideas and influencing politicians to protect their profits.

 

We are coming to a reckoning. We are out of time for small solutions and piecemeal thinking. Ecological collapse is not some normal cycle. It is directly attributed to the intensification of mass industrial production, especially as it has evolved since 1980 and the emergence of neoliberal ideas. Robert Pollin, economist and environmental advocate,  points out

“We need to be clear on the extent to which global warming and the rise of neoliberal dominance have been intertwined. Indeed, as of 1980, the year Ronald Reagan took office, the average global temperature was still at a safe level, equal to that of the preindustrial period around 1800. Under 40 years of neoliberalism, the average global temperature has risen relentlessly, to where it is now 1.0 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial average. “

 

Across the globe indigenous people are providing a wholistic response to shift our thinking about the future. The Red Green New Deal challenges us to address “the real problem of overconsumption in the Global North, which is directly enabled by the dispossession of Indigenous and Black life and imperial wars in the Global South.” It argues,  “We need a revolution of values that re-centers relationships to one another and the Earth over profits.”

The recentering of people and place is precisely the work of so many Detroiters, from water protectors to local farmers, imaginative artists and community educators. Within communities across the city, people are evolving relationships and values that offer our

best hope for a future

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Detroit: Not Seen Yet

Data for Black Lives Blog
Written by Tawana Petty
“As public money is diverted to private projects, Detroiters are told to be patient. They are told that the benefits will “trickle down” to them over time. In truth, these benefits remain tightly controlled in private hands. Little is trickling down anywhere.” (…read more)

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No Alternative
Written by Wayne Curtis
What kind of Detroit we want to establish will depend upon what type or what kind of world we want. What type of city we want will depend upon what type of world we’ll have to re-establish. In new words, to establish a new Detroit controlled by the people of Detroit, we’ll have to unite with the cities of the world who are under the same reactionary American corporate dictatorship as we are. We’ll have to rid ourselves of this local, global, glocal corporate network that attempts to  control us by defining  a ruling political philosophy that guides the economic structures of Detroit and the other cities and countries.

We are going to have to figure out the glocal extent of these local avaricious corporate businesses whose efforts at control of the economic policies and the politics of Detroit goes all the way back to 1805 or 1703 as we began as a city.

We’re going to have to get down with it, to ask the hard, scary, forbidden questions; who are these greedy government administrative non-people? Who’s getting paid, bribed, cooped with the big bucks from Detroit’s corporate community to either ignore or and forcefully deny us access to the very institutional resources of sustainability; housing, schools, education, preventative health care, total water accessibility, housing, safety without policing, jobs, grants for businesses, grants for programs here that the people can run themselves, and at this very moment forcing our adherence to a slipshod distribution of community resources to really end this Covid 19?

This city’s corporate elite totally wants us to believe that this Detroit government is doing ALL it can possibly do. So, therefore, we have to submit to acts of a probable genocide of us and our spaces of living.

Who are these people and what is the extent of their control over the world? We need to crack that nut to see who we can politically kick in the shins.

We cannot be afraid to pursue this movement here in the city and world to continue developing the control of our own global, glocal, and local political economic destinies. At this point we have no other alternative.

All power to the people!

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What We’re Reading

 

SENATE INFRASTRUCTURE BILL WOULD INVEST $500 MILLION IN “SMART CITY” SURVEILLANCE TECHNOLOGY

Privacy advocates caution against giving the government another tool to monitor its citizens – read more @ The Intercept                            

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“How do we build movements capable of generating the power to compel governments and corporations to curtail their violence?” – Angela Davis

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