a digital common place book | an @s_m_i production | one of a few

A recent report by the Center for an Urban Future laments the lack of “low-income” entrepreneurs in New York City. The entire premise of the report is strange to me, the concept that our most vulnerable populations should be responsible for creating opportunities for employment. The very definition of poverty is to be lacking the money to cover the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter and healthcare. If you can’t do that, how can you choose to spend money to start a business when it will ultimately mean yet more physical sacrifice, possibly at the expense of your health, sanity, and what little stability one might have? The risks inherent in entrepreneurship are such that the poor frankly cannot afford it, evident in the questionable success of micro-lending programs worldwide. These pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps perspectives are short-sighted products of the privileged, relieving governments and policymakers of the responsibility to abandon austerity measures and private interests and invest in the types of WPA-style projects that created the American middle class in the first place.

The Coloured Collective | -celebrating women of colour in a world of black and white- (via colouredcollective)

"These pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps perspectives are short-sighted products of the privileged"

Django Unchained knows that America’s relationship to slavery was not merely through legal institutions; it was a physical reaction to black flesh — a potently horrific mixture of abjection fused with desire. That physical sensation is what distinguishes American racism from the racism of Europe or the British Empire, where the hatred of black people was (and still is) rooted in a fundamentally intellectual contempt inscribed in law and custom.

The Oscars likes its racial redemption delivered by white people, through clean, legal means that can be accompanied by swelling music. But Django Unchained is more honest (and much more enjoyable) than Lincoln. Tarantino understands that the laws were only the screen of the real crimes of torture and rape and murder. Redemption for Tarantino comes through genuine respect for and pleasure at the African aspect of the American experience. The soundtrack contains hip-hop as well as spirituals, which is entirely appropriate. The redemption comes, not really through revenge or law, but through love.
Mr. Spielberg’s “Lincoln” helps perpetuate the notion that African Americans have offered little of substance to their own liberation. While the film largely avoids the noxious stereotypes of subservient African-Americans for which movies like “Gone With the Wind” have become notorious, it reinforces, even if inadvertently, the outdated assumption that white men are the primary movers of history and the main sources of social progress.
- An even better takedown here:

In short, the idea that the white north “gave” freedom to the slaves draws from and reinforces an attractively simple and flattering myth, one which formed around the old historiography of the period like a noose cutting off oxygen to the brain: the myth that black slaves were rendered passive by their condition, and that—absent an outside force interrupting their state of un-freedom—they would simply have continued, as slaves, indefinitely. It’s only in this narrative that freedom can be a thing which is given to them: because they are essentially passive and inert, they require someone else—say, a great emancipator—to step in and raise them up.

In Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln,’ Passive Black Characters - NYTimes.com

  Bruce Springsteen loves Barack Obama. Bruce Springsteen does not love Chris Christie. Being overtly supportive of Barack Obama might get Chris Christie his holy grail: The approval of Springsteen, even a meeting with him. Believe me — he’d rather meet with Springsteen than with Obama, or anyone else.
- ‘Bruce Springsteen loves Barack Obama. Bruce Springsteen does not love Chris Christie.’

Why Exactly Is Chris Christie Subverting Mitt Romney? - Politics - The Atlantic

It’s worth trying to imagine any black man associated with a credible black candidate for the presidency, joking about beating down the incumbent president of the United States. Racism isn’t just in what you do and don’t say, but in the terrain you walk. It is baked in the cake — a fact which is hard to understand when you are the party of white people.
- In which Ta-Nehisi Coates is once again in my brain, thinking my thoughts about life, society and politics, and expressing them so much more eloquently than I could.

It’s Funny Because We’re White - Politics - The Atlantic

The thing about not having much money is you have to take much more responsibility for your life. You can’t pay people to watch your kids or clean your house or fix your meals. You can’t necessarily afford a car or a washing machine or a home in a good school district. That’s what money buys you: goods and services that make your life easier.