At some point during the presidential election, I read Achille Mbembe’s article “Necropolitics” on defining sovereignty as dictating who can be killed. Russia’s manipulation of the campaign had yet to be raised with any serious credibility except potential blackmail from watersports. Some computer scientists put forward the possibility of tampering with voting machines, but that had been dismissed.  Early on, when the Trump agenda was “The Wall” and he increased the ICE agenda, the connection to Necropolitics was clear. We already have obvious ghettos, and with ICE stomping through to deport “illegal immigrants,” these ghettos start to resemble original ghettos. The Wall’s analogs in symbol,Read More →

This picture of the Obama family arriving in Cuba is iconic. The headline in Huffington Post read “Obama in Havana.” The picture resonates with many other images, so I keep thinking about it. The photographer got lucky, was in the right place at the right time, lined up a perfect shot, at least to my untutored eye. The picture makes me think of Afro-Cuban art, the image of umbrellas that runs through African American art, second line parades in New Orleans, and the way that blocky and flowing images dominate those genres. Even though the color is stark, it’s still lovely.Beyonce’s “Formation” shows how iconicRead More →

Back in 2010, Prince chided Beyonce for her lack of musical knowledge, but was impressed that she understood something about Mixolydian scales and Egyptian styles, WTF. Basically he thought she was quite talented and gifted, but her longevity and survival depended on learning a lot more. I’m not much of a Beyonce fan, and had no interest in Lemonade. The brouhaha over “Formation” is incredibly complex, but not enough to tempt me to listen or buy the album. Visually, the video is fascinating and brilliant, transgressive and offensive. The general invisibility of trans artist Big Freedia, the politics of colorism and authenticity in the deepRead More →

I now view Hillary with the love/hate of an ex-girlfriend. Bernie’s been a great disappointment. Even Jeb Bush is more appealing at this point. A wimp like him would lead the country with safe inaction. But instead, we’ve got Bernie throwing chairs, and Hillary clutching her pearls in lofty dismay. Instead of demonstrating leadership, my party is in the middle of a bad marriage. Clearly, class issues matter here, too: Uptown girls make arched eyebrows and snide excoriations at Brooklyn street kids who resort to verbal shivs. We don’t talk about that, though.   In 08, feminist philosopher Nancy Frasier criticized Hillary and her supportersRead More →

It’s the same shining city for those relative few who are lucky enough to live in its good neighborhoods. But for the people who are excluded, for the people who are locked out, all they can do is stare from a distance at that city’s glimmering towers.

– Mario Cuomo, 1984 DNC
RIP 1/1/2015

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In the 1800s, the Irish were New York City’s “ghetto thugs” and unwelcome “illegal aliens” (ugly words), much the way we think of people of color today. When they were required to defend the North in the Civil War, to risk life and limb for black slaves that most considered subhuman, well, that just added insult to injury. Irish and other impoverished immigrant males in New York City started the Draft Riots in the 1860s to protest. During that time, the New York police force was heavily populated by Irish. By the end of the 19th century, 70% of the New York police force wereRead More →