Published on Apr 10, 2013 (Thatcher died on April 8, 2013)
Causing howls of outrage, and grimaces on fellow Labour MPs faces, Glenda Jackson MP defies the respectful mood of the chamber by launching a nasty, angry and ferocious assault on ‘Thatcherism’ – earrings bouncing around – in a debate marked by calm tribute to the late great Lady Thatcher.
Tony Baldry shows his outrage, shared by many, to the Speaker if her comments were in order. Follow us @barnetbugle
1960’s The ouster of African-American families from the Fillmore
1960-1970’s SF Redevelopment Agency’s money-driven displacement of thousands of low-income South of Market residents
1960-1970’s The destruction of SROs and other affordable housing
1990’s The dot com boom
“no, the tech companies aren’t even coming close to giving back enough”
“what happens to all of these young geniuses who are part of all these startups and obviously more than 90% of startups never go anywhere at some point the investors and all the people who provided the startup money will be gone and all these young people all of whom are talented gifted and what-have-you will be at a loss they’ll be in our city, will they become the next group of people we have to look out for? I am really concerned about that”
“San Francisco is a microcosm for what is happening all over the world. We have a tradition of helping one another, but as we separate by income and by place, as we segregate geographically by our incomes, as we loose contact across classes, can we maintain a sense of being one people? I’m worried about a city that is becoming out of reach and out of touch.”
“that is the anomalous nature of this internet culture. It is creating winners and losers and exasperating that gap.
Thank you very much for all your support while I was homeless in Berkeley. I flew back to Indiana yesterday to take care of my health and be with family. I’m living at my mom’s apartment now.
I will never forget how strangers, near-strangers, and acquaintances showed me compassion during my mental health crisis, how the community aided me when I got out of John George Concentration Camp (or “psychiatric pavilion”) with no money, clothes, food, ID, or plan. I also had no place to live because the slum lord changed the locks while I was in the hospital.
Without this support network, I would have been much sadder and in physical danger than I was with your aid. I appreciate it so much and will not forget it. You saved my life and I’m living to fight another day.
Thank you to First They Came For The Homeless especially. The rules gave me structure, safety, stability, and helped keep me clean from hard drugs due to camp expectations. I can be filed under “housed due to FTCFTH efforts.” Campers helped me get my head on straight in a community that oddly resembles 24-7 dialectical behavioral therapy (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialectical_behavior_therapy), while giving me time to heal my relationship with my mom.
The Berkeley City Council sickens me and I hope you can get them to act right. Good luck.
I look forward to updates on the ongoing homeless litigation in Berkeley. Give them hell.
Again, thanks for treating me like a human being, cutting through the thorny hedgerows that oppressors use to attempt to keep us apart.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is an evidence-basedpsychotherapy designed to help people suffering from borderline personality disorder. It has also been used to treat mood disorders as well as those who need to change patterns of behavior that are not helpful, such as self-harm, suicidal ide…
The more I read about the controversy surrounding 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to not stand during the national anthem, and his efforts to shine a light on injustice in this country, the more I think about Tommie Smith and John Carlos.In 1968, in the midst of heated racial tension, Smith and Carlos used their platforms to change the world. At the Summer Olympics that year, Smith earned a gold medal in the men’s 200-meter dash, while Carlos won a bronze, and during the medal ceremony the two engaged in a powerful demonstration. With the national anthem playing in the background, they displayed one of the most symbolic gestures in Olympics history: The two men each raised a fist, showing their commitment to the civil rights movement.I’ve always wondered if, at the time, they believed that their showing of solidarity with Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party, and the recently assassinated Martin Luther King Jr., would even make a difference. But, as it turned out, a simple act on the world stage would surprise many, and show that change was needed.
The two competitors inspired millions around the globe and shed light on the oppression experienced by African-Americans in the United States. Their punishment, of course, would be severe. Soon after they took their stand, Smith and Carlos were expelled from the Olympics and made into public enemies. At home in the U.S., they received death threats. A moment of solidarity almost immediately became a swift burden. But when asked back then why he sacrificed the glory of the Games after earning a medal, John Carlos answered: “I can’t eat that. And the kids ’round my block can’t eat it. They can’t eat publicity, they can’t eat gold medals. All they want is an equal chance to be a human being.”
Think about that for a second.
Now, fast-forward to 2016. During his team’s preseason games, Colin Kaepernick has opted to remain seated during the pregame performance of the national anthem. After several recent shooting tragedies and a summer marked by growing racial tensions, Colin felt as though he had to do something. He explained that his actions represent an effort to protest the lack of inclusivity and equal opportunity for minorities, particularly African-Americans in the United States. However, while not his intention, many saw his action as anti-American and anti-military.
It’s important to recognize the distinction between our country’s symbols — such as the flag or the anthem — and the military, or our country as a whole. The flag is a powerful symbol of Americanism — a concept that includes freedom of speech, freedom of assembly andfreedom as a whole.
If you watch the entire interview, Colin was clear that it was not his intention to disrespect the military. His intent was to bring awareness to the injustices faced by regular people every day — people who are judged based on the color of their skin to be dangerous individuals unworthy of equal opportunity or the benefit of the doubt when crossing the street, walking into a store, or peacefully protesting senseless violence at the hands of police and others.
Colin’s goal was to use his platform to raise the visibility of issues that cannot and should not fall by the wayside as the media moves on to other news. He’s not the first athlete to speak up, and he won’t be the last. For those of us who have witnessed and lived injustice, struggled with racism, and experienced police brutality, we have an obligation and a responsibility to make our voices heard. In my case, it was always my dream to play professional football but ever since my dream came true, I’ve walked a tightrope between fans’ expectations of me on and off the field. Those expectations aren’t always harmonious when they collide with reality.
As we step on the field, our job is to play our best football and to help the team win. What we do as players beyond that commitment to our team and to our fans, is individual to each of us, and is part of what it means to be American and to feel comfortable expressing our views when, where and how we believe is best.
When challenged, Colin expressed that he did not regret his decision and that he plans to continue sitting through the anthem as a way to demonstrate the need not only to revive our national conversation on race relations, but also to encourage solutions that can bring about change.
In a modern sports world that is over-commercialized and numb, taking a stand in that way is far from common. It’s so rare that, in fact, it seems shocking. But it shouldn’t be. Smith and Carlos didn’t worry about protecting their endorsement deals or succumb to sponsorship offerings up on that podium in ’68. They felt an obligation to do what was right. So they took action, even though they knew there would be repercussions.
As a society, we so often want to see the arenas and fields solely as a place for play. But what many people miss is the transcendent power of sport. Athletics has always been a part of our political context and has played an important role in shaping the culture we are a part of. And that’s not just the case here in America; it’s been true around the globe. In the battle against apartheid, Nelson Mandela noted that sport, “has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.” Sports can create hope where once there was only despair. And, in some cases, athletics can be more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.
When athletes recognize this and use their platform to spur change within society, fierce criticism is almost inevitable. But the 24-hour news spin cycle and divisive political power plays don’t help matters — we need to figure out how to address the important issues being raised together. Colin intended to elevate a conversation that must continue to be an active part of our dialogue in the country for all citizens, regardless of their race, background or personal history.
In his view, something’s gotta give.
Millions of people, from all walks of life, cried out when Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, the Dallas police officers and others were shot in cold blood. But what has changed? People get angry, make speeches and protest, but what laws are being modified? Who is changing police academy manuals? How are we putting actionable items at the forefront? How is anything really changing?
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have all the answers. But I do what I can, and I believe in what I do. Real courage requires taking action when conditions are not favorable. For me, sports have provided an opportunity to dig in on an issue that I feel strongly about — diversity and the tech sector. Through the GREATER Foundation, I’m actively working to build a pipeline of talented minority engineers. Black and Latino workers are dramatically underrepresented in Silicon Valley, and other tech centers around the world, and if opportunity is truly going to be equal for all, we need to create more on-ramps from a more diverse range of backgrounds to these hotbeds of economic activity.
That subject is something that’s important to me. And just as I have issues that I am passionate about, I believe other athletes have the right to advance issues that are personally important to them — be it Colin Kaepernick, Magic Johnson, Serena Williams or any number of others.
My challenge to athletes, and to anyone else who has a platform available to them, is to be passionate and creative in your thinking and approach. There are so many different ways to address injustice in this country. We can’t all try to solve these problems in the exact same way, and we should welcome a diversity of approaches.
I beg that we graduate beyond the thinking of our predecessors. They marched together and had frequent ways to move the needle, but in the modern, technological age, there are so many additional ways to go about trying to improve how our society functions. There are sustainable grassroots community programs that benefit immensely from athlete influence. In addition, we have social media acting as a direct medium to connect with fans and share our voices — we can use Twitter to call out injustice or correct inaccurate quotes, post photos to show our appreciation for getting the opportunity to do what we love every day, and more. Let’s take advantage of this technology and keep the momentum going.
If you’re not sure how to make a difference, look to what goes on around you — in meetings you attend or at the workplace or in the media. Refuse to be a part of anything that won’t move us as a people forward. Know that your platform, regardless if it’s as big as others, matters to our world.
Oh, and if you’re Colin Kaepernick, know that we see you, man. Thank you for reigniting the conversation and the movement for change.
This week I’m joined by Carne Ross, a former high-flying diplomat and Middle East adviser who lost his faith in western democracy but put his trust in people power and is now putting forward the case for anarchism.
Posted on May 26, 2018 by Ellen Brown (ellenbrown.com)
California has over $700 billion parked in private banks earning minimal interest, private equity funds that contributed to the affordable housing crisis, or shadow banks of the sort that caused the banking collapse of 2008. These funds, or some of them, could be transferred to an infrastructure bank that generated credit for the state – while the funds remained safely on deposit in the bank.
California needs over $700 billion in infrastructure during the next decade. Where will this money come from? The $1.5 trillion infrastructure initiative unveiled by President Trump in February 2018 includes only $200 billion in federal funding, and less than that after factoring in the billions in tax cuts in infrastructure-related projects. The rest is to come from cities, states, private investors and public-private partnerships (PPPs) one. And since city and state coffers are depleted, that chiefly means private investors and PPPs, which have a shady history at best.
A 2011 report by the Brookings Institution found that “in practice [PPPs] have been dogged by contract design problems, waste, and unrealistic expectations.” In their 2015 report “Why Public-Private Partnerships Don’t Work,” Public Services International stated that “experience over the last 15 years shows that PPPs are an expensive and inefficient way of financing infrastructure and divert government spending away from other public services. They conceal public borrowing, while providing long-term state guarantees for profits to private companies.” They also divert public money away from the neediest infrastructure projects, which may not deliver sizable returns, in favor of those big-ticket items that will deliver hefty profits to investors. A March 2017 report by the Economic Policy Institute titled “No Free Bridge” also highlighted the substantial costs and risks involved in public-private partnerships and other “innovative” financing of infrastructure.
Meanwhile, California is far from broke. It has over well over $700 billion in funds of various sorts tucked around the state, including $500 billion in CalPERS and CalSTRS, the state’s massive public pension funds. These pools of money are restricted in how they can be spent and are either sitting in banks drawing a modest interest or invested with Wall Street asset managers and private equity funds that are not obligated to invest the money in California and are not safe. For fiscal year 2009, CalPERS and CalSTRS reported almost $100 billion in losses from investments gone awry.
“Private equity” is a rebranding of the term “leveraged buyout,” the purchase of companies with loans which then must be paid back by the company, typically at the expense of jobs and pensions. Private equity investments may include real estate, energy, and investment in public infrastructure projects as part of a privatization initiative. Blackstone is notorious for buying up distressed properties after the housing market collapsed. It is now the largest owner of single-family rental homes in the US. Its rental practices have drawn fire from tenant advocates in San Francisco and elsewhere, who have called it a Wall Street absentee slumlord that charges excessive rents, contributing to the affordable housing crisis; and pension funds largely contributed the money for Blackstone’s purchases.
BlackRock, an offshoot of Blackstone, now has $6 trillion in assets under management, making it larger than the world’s largest bank (which is in China). Die Zeit journalist Heike Buchter, who has written a book in German on it, calls BlackRock the “most powerful institution in the financial system” and “the most powerful company in the world” – the “secret power.” Yet despite its size and global power, BlackRock, along with Blackstone and other shadow banking institutions, managed to escape regulation under the Dodd-Frank Act. Blackstone CEO Larry Fink, who has cozy relationships with government officials according to journalist David Dayen, pushed hard to successfully resist the designation of asset managers as systemically important financial institutions, which would have subjected them to additional regulation such as larger capital requirements.
The proposed move to hand CalPERS’ private equity fund to BlackRock is highly controversial, since it would cost the state substantial sums in fees (management fees took 14% of private equity profits in 2016), and BlackRock gives no guarantees. In 2009, it defaulted on a New York real estate project that left CalPERS $500 million in the hole. There are also potential conflicts of interest, since BlackRock or its managers have controlling interests in companies that could be steered into deals with the state. In 2015, the company was fined $12 million by the SEC for that sort of conflict; and in 2015, it was fined $3.5 million for providing flawed data to German regulators. BlackRock also puts clients’ money into equities, investing it in companies like oil company Exxon and food and beverage company Nestle, companies which have been criticized for not serving California’s interests and exploiting state resources.
California public entities also have $2.8 billion in CalTRUST, a fund managed by BlackRock. The CalTRUST government fund is a money market fund, of the sort that triggered the 2008 market collapse when the Reserve Primary Fund “broke the buck” on September 15, 2008. The CalTRUST website states:
You could lose money by investing in the Fund. Although the Fund seeks to preserve the value of your investment at $1.00 per share, it cannot guarantee it will do so. An investment in the Fund is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. The Fund’s sponsor has no legal obligation to provide financial support to the Fund, and you should not expect that the sponsor will provide financial support to the Fund at any time.
CalTRUST is billed as providing local agencies with “a safe, convenient means of maintaining liquidity,” but billionaire investor Carl Icahn says this liquidity is a myth. In a July 2015 debate with Larry Fink on FOX Business Network, Icahn called BlackRock “an extremely dangerous company” because of the prevalence of its exchange-traded fund (ETF) products, which Icahn deemed illiquid. “They sell liquidity,” he said. “There is no liquidity. . . . And that’s what’s going to blow this up.” His concern was the amount of money BlackRock had invested in high-yield ETFs, which he called overpriced. When the Federal Reserve hikes interest rates, investors are likely to rush to sell these ETFs; but there will be no market for them, he said. The result could be a run like that triggering the 2008 market collapse.
The Infrastructure Bank Option
There is another alternative. California’s pools of idle funds cannot be spent on infrastructure, but they could be deposited or invested in a publicly-owned bank, where they could form the deposit base for infrastructure loans. California is now the fifth largest economy in the world, trailing only Germany, Japan, China and the United States. Germany, China and other Asian countries are addressing their infrastructure challenges through public infrastructure banks that leverage pools of funds into loans for needed construction.
Besides the China Infrastructure Bank, China has established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), whose members include many Asian and Middle Eastern countries, including Australia, New Zealand, and Saudi Arabia. Both banks are helping to fund China’s trillion dollar “One Belt One Road” infrastructure initiative.
As for California, it already has an infrastructure bank – the California Infrastructure and Development Bank (IBank), established in 1994. But the IBank is a “bank” in name only. It cannot take deposits or leverage capital into loans. It is also seriously underfunded, since the California Department of Finance returned over half of its allotted funds to the General Fund to repair the state’s budget after the dot.com market collapse. However, the IBank has 20 years’ experience in making prudent infrastructure loans at below municipal bond rates, and its clients are limited to municipal governments and other public entities, making them safe bets underwritten by their local tax bases. The IBank could be expanded to address California’s infrastructure needs, drawing deposits and capital from its many pools of idle funds across the state.
A Better Use for Pension Money
In an illuminating 2017 paper for UC Berkeley’s Haas Institute titled “Funding Public Pensions,” policy consultant Tom Sgouros showed that the push to put pension fund money into risky high-yield investments comes from a misguided application of the accounting rules. The error results from treating governments like private companies that can be liquidated out of existence. He argues that public pension funds can be safely operated on a pay-as-you-go basis, just as they were for 50 years before the 1980s. That accounting change would take the pressure off the pension boards and free up hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer funds. Some portion of that money could then be deposited in publicly-owned banks, which in turn could generate the low-cost credit needed to fund the infrastructure and services that taxpayers expect from their governments.
Note that these deposits would not be spent. Pension funds, rainy day funds and other pools of government money can provide the liquidity for loans while remaining on deposit in the bank, available for withdrawal on demand by the government depositor. Even mainstream economists now acknowledge that banks do not lend their deposits but actually create deposits when they make loans. The bank borrows as needed to cover withdrawals, but not all funds are withdrawn at once; and a government bank can borrow its own deposits much more cheaply than local governments can borrow on the bond market. Through their own public banks, government entities can thus effectively borrow at bankers’ rates plus operating costs, cutting out middlemen. And unlike borrowing through bonds, which merely recirculate existing funds, borrowing from banks creates new money, which will stimulate economic growth and come back to the state in the form of new taxes and pension premiums. A working paper published by the San Francisco Federal Reserve in 2012 found that one dollar invested in infrastructure generates at least two dollars in GSP (state GDP), and roughly four times more than average during economic downturns.
Published on May 5, 2018
“This is America” by Childish Gambino http://smarturl.it/TcIgA
Director: Hiro Murai
Producer: Jason Cole of Doomsday with Ibra Ake and Fam Rothstein of Wolf + Rothstein
tour tickets and merchandise available at childishgambino.com
Here Buckminster Fuller takes on the gigantic corporate megaliths that exert increasing control over every aspect of daily life. In the form of a modern allegory, he traces the evolution of these multinational giants from the post-World War II military-industrial complex to the current army of abstract legal entities known as the corporate world.
Basketball is my first love, but it’s not my only one. From the small town in Iowa where I grew up, to Chapel Hill for college, to the Bay Area and now to Dallas, I’ve been lucky in my life to get to meet a wide variety of people, each with their own beliefs, dreams, habits, and outlooks on the world. Interacting with different people with different stories sparked my curiosity about what makes people not only good at what they do, but good, period. I am drawn to leaders who set out to make positive change in their communities.In that spirit, I’m doing a series of interviews this season with people who I admire from afar. I want to get to know them better and share our conversations here.
For my first interview, I got to talk to Dr. Harry Edwards, the sociologist and civil rights activist who is maybe best known as the architect of the protest at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. But as I soon found out, there’s a lot more to learn, and admire, about the man.
Dr. Edwards, it’s a real pleasure to talk to you. I can’t think of a better person to launch this interview series with. So let’s get right into it. You’re close with Colin Kaepernick. When’s the last time you and Colin talked?
Dr. Harry Edwards
We exchanged emails just this morning [Thursday, December 7]. And, you know, we discussed quite a few issues, some of which are confidential. But most of the time when people ask me that question they want to know how he’s doing and my response has been consistent: I’m not worried about Kaepernick, I’m worried about the rest of us. Kap knows exactly what he’s doing, where he is in his life, what he’s dedicated to, what’s important. He’s still in the greatest football shape that I’ve ever seen him in and he’s gonna be just fine. But I’m concerned about the rest of us. We are a society now that, to a substantial degree — and in no small measure as a consequence of who’s sitting up in the Oval Office — appears to have lost its way in terms of its fundamental decency, in terms of its commitment to forming that more perfect union. We’re now struggling to determine who and what we are as a society and where we are, where we should be headed, where we want to be headed as a nation. Kap doesn’t have that problem. He understands exactly and precisely who he is. He understands what he envisions as a more perfect union and he is committed to making the sacrifices, to making the statements, to doing what is necessary in order to get there — working from the ground up, beginning with the children and young adults that he meets with, the camps he holds, the conferences he attends.
I hear some people say they just take issue with the kneeling — with Colin’s protest style. To me that feels like they’re kind of deflecting from the main point. What do you say about that?
You know what I say? Go back and look at history. There has never been a protest by an oppressed minority in American society — not the Native Americans taking over Alcatraz, not Jewish people protesting neo-Nazis in this country, not African-Americans in any case in any era at any time — when mainstream America has stood up and said, “Amen, we agree with that protest.” When it comes to black people protesting, mainstream America was not for the March on Washington, it was not for the march across the Pettus Bridge in Selma, it was not for the Freedom Rides, it was not for the school integration protest, it was not for the sit-ins in the 1960s, it was not for the demonstrations in Mexico City in the 1968, it was not for Muhammad Ali’s refusal to be inducted into the military to fight a war that he thought was immoral, illegal and unjustified. There has never been a protest movement for which America in the mainstream stood up and said, “Amen, we need this message.” So it doesn’t make any difference what Colin Kaepernick’s protest style is. If he took a knee on the sidewalk outside of the stadium before the game during the playing of “Chopsticks” and said, “I’m protesting injustice and racism in America, I’m protesting unconscionable incarceration rates, I’m protesting the fact that a black person has three times the chances of being shot by a police officer than a white person in America, I’m protesting what is happening in this society as far as black educational opportunities and the enforcement of black human and civil rights,” you would have an outcry. So when it comes down to people critiquing Colin’s protest style, I ask them one question: Name me one black protest that America has been in favor of. And you know what I get? Crickets. Nothing. They can’t come up with one, because there’s never been one. Therefore, it doesn’t make any difference what Colin’s protest style is. Just shut up and play football — that’s what they really want us to do. They want us to sit down and shut up. That is the reality of protest. And Colin’s not gonna do that.
Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP Images
Nor should he have to. Do you think there’s another sports story right now that isn’t getting enough attention?
I think that the issue of African-Americans in sports’ higher positions really needs to be looked at. I look at Richard Lapchick’s quote-unquote report card on diversity in the NFL, for example. This year the NFL got an A because we have eight black head coaches — equal to the highest number ever in the league — and 43 African-Americans in high positions such as GM and vice president and so forth. But I look at that and wonder, How could one grade it at all? And secondly, What is the meaning of the grade? Because unless you are telling me that Kap is still on the street because those 43 VPs and GMs and eight head coaches all agree with Jerry Jones and Donald Trump that the players who are protesting the summary execution of black people in the streets of this country are “sons of bitches,” then I have to believe that they’re in position but they don’t have power.
You know, there’s a difference between change and progress. Eight head coaches and 43 presidents and GMs and vice presidents, and so forth, is change. But it’s not necessarily progress — unless there’s a carrying over of power and authority in those positions. I’m looking at Kaepernick on the street and that tells me something. It tells me that those people in those higher positions are not exercising authority and power.
We’re hearing, Well they got black coaches and they got black GMs, so if they are not bringing Kap in, then there must be something wrong in terms of his ability to play. You know what? That’s nonsense. You’re telling me that Kaepernick is the worst quarterback prospect that the NFL could call in? You’re telling me that Colin Kaepernick is not only worse than the 32 starters, the 32 backups and the 32 clipboard holders that are occupying quarterback positions in the NFL today, but that he’s so much worse than them that he doesn’t even deserve a tryout for a position? That’s nonsense.
And I’m not saying that getting Kaepernick back into the league is the whole answer to this situation. But I’m saying that by him being on the street — it’s an indication of where we are in terms of the state of diversity in the league. To argue that we could right this whole thing by a black GM or head coach giving Kaepernick a job would be the equivalent of saying that the whole struggle around the Montgomery bus boycott in 1956 would have been corrected if a bus driver was just willing to give Rosa Parks her seat back. Well no, it’s going way beyond that. We have to look at this thing in terms of its broader implications and understand the dynamics of how these circumstances are being put together and projected in the mainstream sports media.
So don’t tell me that the NFL gets an A for diversity. You have a lot of black people in positions of authority who for a fact have neither authority nor power. And if they tried to exercise it they would find themselves on the street with Kaepernick.
You’ve spent most of your life following the evolution of activism in sports. Where do you think we’re at in that evolution?
Well, first of all, I think social media has had the greatest influence on both the trajectory and the impact of activism. I think that without the social media, it would’ve taken years for the activist athletes of today to create that revelatory climate that we have today. At the end of the 1960s, we didn’t have social media where you hit one button — S-E-N-D — and then all of a sudden you had direct connection with millions of people. Today, athletes have that. So Colin Kaepernick and Malcolm Jenkins and Anquan Boldin and LeBron James and Steph Curry and Eric Reid are in touch with more people instantly than Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, Bill Russell, Jim Brown, Arthur Ashe, or Curt Flood were probably able to connect with directly throughout their entire activist lives.
The second thing that has happened, particularly among professional athletes, is that unlike the conventional wisdom, which states that the more money an athlete makes the less likely that athlete is to take a stand, because of what he or she has at risk, the reality is that the more money an athlete makes, the more a team is invested in an athlete, the more a product is invested in an athlete as an endorser, so the more latitude and power that athlete has. So, when the CEO of Under Armour came out with a statement that Steph Curry did not approve of, Steph got on the phone and that next day Under Armour took out a full page ad in a Baltimore newspaper essentially apologizing. When athletes determined that Donald Sterling was unacceptable as an owner, they made it very, very clear that they wanted him gone. Within two months, Donald Sterling was gone. That kind of thing was absolutely unimaginable back in the late 1960s.
But something that has changed for the worse, going back to social media, is that the sports establishment can go and find one big-name athlete, who they can either buy or bribe or who may legitimately disagree with the position of protesting athletes, put him on social media and all of a sudden that message goes out to three or four million people. The statement of a big-name athlete who has been bought, sold and paid for, carries the same weight and gravity in social media as an athlete who is putting everything on the line in an effort to contribute toward forming that more perfect union that the Constitution talks about. So we simply have to be aware of that. It’s not a one-sided, one-perspective situation we’re in. We always have to be thinking and analyzing, What is the impact of this? What is the source of it? In whose interests is it being done?
Jed Jacobsohn/The Players’ Tribune
Absolutely. So I saw that you spoke on a panel with Jim Brown last year. Can you tell me a little bit about how that went?
It went very well because it gave me an opportunity to express the seminal impact and enduring contribution of black athletes to American society. People forget that W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey were debating over whether blacks should accommodate to segregation, or rely on talent and tests to lead and lift the masses of black people into mainstream competency or whether, in Marcus Garvey’s words, black people should pack up and leave America altogether. While those three brilliant minds were debating those issues, black athletes from Jack Johnson to Jesse Owens to Joe Louis to Paul Robeson were taking on the world. Jack Johnson beat Tommy Burns for the heavyweight championship of the world. Jesse Owens took on the world at the 1936 Olympics along with 17 other black Olympians. Joe Louis knocked out Max Schmeling, a German who was representing white Aryan superiority. So while these debates were going on within the American context of whether we should accommodate Jim Crow, or whether we should put our talent to the test to raise us into integration, or whether we should separate and leave the country altogether, black athletes were taking on the world. Even the Negro Leagues won 60% of the All-Star exhibition games that they played against white All-Stars from the major leagues. Those white All-Stars knew that not only were black baseball players competent and capable, but in many instances they were superior.
When you move up to Jackie Robinson, he had already engaged black people in nonviolent direct actions 10 years before Dr. King took on the Montgomery bus boycott with nonviolent direct action in 1956, the year Jackie retired. He talks about it in his autobiography. Black people attending Jackie’s games were being trained by clergy and lay community organizers on how to behave when they heard the racial slurs hurled at Jackie by white fans. And how to react when they threw black cats on the field, or when they saw opposing players sliding into second with their spikes up trying to hurt Jackie. How do you behave in the face of that? Well, you do what I do on the field, Jackie was saying. You turn the other cheek because if Jackie got into a fight on the field maybe there’d be dugout-emptying brawl. Or if fans got into a fight in the stands it could spill over into the streets and cause an all-out race riot — and the next thing you know the town is burning and nobody else wants to play the Dodgers. So Jackie Robinson was our Gandhi.
The same with regard to athletes in the late 1960s. Muhammad Ali, Smith and Carlos, Arthur Ashe, Curt Flood, Jim Brown and Bill Russell were talking about a demand for dignity and respect — not just desegregation and access, but dignity and respect in the positions that they were in long before you had Barack Obama running for president. If Ali doesn’t demand respect for his name — Muhammad Ali … I mean he literally got in the ring and beat guys and said, “Call me by my name!” — if he doesn’t demand that, there’s no way that the American people vote into the White House a man with a name like Barack Hussein Obama. So the black athlete has always been a trailblazer in terms of where we needed to go and the process by which we needed to get there.
As an athlete, I’m always thinking about habits and goals and how to achieve the things I want to achieve. What principles and habits have guided you?
My entire life’s pursuit has been to learn to dream with my eyes open — to understand the terrain that I’m moving over, the price to be paid in pursuit of those dreams, those goals, and then to maintain at all costs the courage to continue that pursuit. And one gets to that space through study. Malcolm X said that history is the discipline that best rewards study. Rage is not enough. Anger will not get it done. You have got to be a student of life. You cannot allow your life to be something that just happens to you while you’re doing something else. And from that study will emerge clear paths that you can take to achieve the goals that you set for yourself. A life without goals and awareness and commitment is empty. And I see a lot of empty lives around me. I see lives that have been empty for years and people unfortunately sometimes don’t see it until they get up into my neck of the woods. I was fortunate enough to wake up, to become committed, to understand the dynamics of what needed to be done if my life was going to be meaningful when I was in my 20s. When I organized the Olympic Project for Human Rights I was 24 years old. I literally believed that I could change the world and was fearless. And I didn’t expect to live to my 30s, but that did not moderate one bit my commitment to doing what I did in the late 1960s. My late friend, Maya Angelou, who wrote the forward to my 1980 autobiography, used to tell me all the time that courage is the greatest of all virtues because without it no other virtue is possible. And so I think that athletes and others should keep that in mind. I mean, these are the things that Kap and I have discussed during and after his time with the 49ers — and I’m so proud of him in this fourth wave of athletes carrying out that tradition of athlete contribution.
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That is really powerful. Before I let you go, let’s switch gears a bit here for a lighter question. If you could have dinner with anyone, who would you choose and what would you ask?
Oh boy. That’s a tough one. You know who I would love to have dinner with? Michelle Obama. I donated to work as a supporter of Barack both times that he ran for office. But I told him I made it clear that I didn’t vote for him. I told him I voted for the one whose name begins with an M because I knew that as long as Michelle was there he was gonna be all right. And because of the women’s things that are going on right now, which is long overdue, because of the racial issues that are going on now, of all of the political figures in this country today, including Barack, I think she has greater power and potential than any of them. And she’s probably also smart enough not to ever run for office. So if I could sit down and have dinner with anybody, I would want to sit down and have dinner with Mrs. Obama. But of course I would have to get that past Mr. Obama and I don’t think he’d say yes ever since I told him I didn’t vote for him — I voted for her. [Laughs.]
What do you do when you’re not teaching, speaking or writing?
You know, I have a place up on the Mendocino Coast in Northern California. And I go up there and I put on John Coltrane and Miles Davis — I grew up in East St. Louis, literally about a mile from Miles Davis. So I grew up with the music. Sometimes I just go up there and lay back for two or three days and do absolutely nothing. Just listen to jazz and maybe sip some Hennessy, some Rémy Martin, though I generally don’t start that until about 4:30 or five o’clock in the evening. At some point, you have to have a space where you can kind of walk away from it all. Otherwise you will find yourself beaten down by the burden of your own commitments. At some point you have to get into your car and drive away, and I was smart enough and well-positioned enough early on to create that space for me and my family. You’d be surprised that even in the most difficult times how much a walk along the ocean with a pair of headphones on, listening to Kind of Blue, will do for your soul. And a lot of times that is what you have to nurture. Not your brain, not your business, not your calls, but you have to nurture your soul in order to be able to get back to where you need to be and deal with all the other things.
Absolutely, I agree with that. So my last question for you is your advice for young athletes like myself, across all borders, all sports, who want to get involved, who wanna do more. What is your advice for the best ways to get involved and to make a lasting impact — not just do something temporary?
What I would tell young athletes today, especially in the power position that you’re in today — unprecedented in black athlete history — do you homework, study, be careful of who you align yourself with. But when you align yourself with somebody, be able to articulate the entirety of the challenge and explain why you are taking the stand that you are. That has been something that I have struggled to do for the last half century. And I think that to whatever extent I’ve been able to make a contribution, that would be a major part of it. Do your homework, dream with your eyes open, and try to make a contribution beyond the box scores.
I’m often asked, “Are you disappointed that more athletes are not speaking up?” And my response is always no. I’m surprised that the athletes who are speaking up have done their homework so well. Because that’s a hard one to get people to wrap their minds around — that before you step out there, make sure you know how deep the pool is. Before you step out there, make sure you look both ways for oncoming traffic. Before you step out there, realize that you may not be able to step back in the same spot that you left. So do your homework, understand the history, the dynamics, and the trajectory of the issues that you are dealing with. Look around and study what has been done around those issues, especially historically and in the near past. And then try to figure out, How does my voice move things ahead most progressively and most responsibly? Sometimes that’s a matter of joining with other athletes who are making statements, even if it’s a statement such as “I understand what Colin Kaepernick and Malcolm Jenkins and Michael Bennett and these athletes are protesting about because I come from a neighborhood where we have issues with the police.” And by the way, the police are not the issue — the issue is treatment at the hands of the police. Police have a difficult job. They are putting on that uniform, that badge and that gun and going out there every day with a pledge to protect and serve knowing that there’s a certain number of people out there who they’re committed to protecting and serving who want to kill them. That’s a crude description of the job, but that’s the definition of the job. And that can lead to the kind of problems that police lead the nation in: alcoholism, divorce, suicide, mental issues and so forth. And you understand all of that, but you also have to understand that a police officer in South Carolina literally shot a black man in the back running away from him. That’s what we have to correct. So you have to understand all sides of the problem, but you still have to come down on the right side of history and that requires study.
I know you’ve gotta run. It’s been really great to hear your perspective, and I hope we can talk again soon. Thank you very much.
I appreciate your interest, and you can call me any time. And I just want to say, I love your game. We miss you out in Oakland but I love watching your game and I’ll be following you.
San Franciscans deserve a public bank, one that invests The City’s money into local projects that reflect our values. San Francisco has nearly $10 billion we store on the balance sheet of big banks that could go to capitalizing a public bank.
The decisions of where we put our money fall to elected Treasurer Jose Cisneros. Cisneros should actively push for the creation of a bank, and for storing as many of our dollars as possible there. The Treasurer’s Office has repeatedly pointed to state laws around safety, stability and soundness to avoid moving money out of U.S. Bank and Citibank, and it is looking to those rules now to avoid building a public bank. This interpretation of state law is improper and overly constrained. A carefully constructed and well-governed public bank will be safe.
Last fall, nearly 10 years after the financial crisis, the treasurer launched an initiative that could lead to up to a mere $80 million worth of investments in San Francisco-based financial institutions over the course of a year. Impacting less than one percent of The City’s portfolio, this step is much too timid for a city as forward-thinking as San Francisco.
A public bank would serve San Francisco in many ways; first and foremost as a place to ethically store our public dollars. With a public bank, we can ensure that our deposits do not go toward fossil fuel emissions, gun manufacturing or purchases or support of unfair labor practices. We also provide that any profits made off our deposits don’t go to the bottom lines of big banks but rather get reinvesting into our community.
More pointedly, a public bank would save The City money we pay directly to big banks. We currently pay upward of $2 million each year in banking fees just related to The City’s bank accounts. With a public bank, these taxpayer dollars wouldn’t contribute to Wall Street profits, and would instead be invested in San Francisco. Similarly, the bank could also issue city bonds so we don’t have to pay investment bank fees, while the interest earned from public bank loans could be continually reinvested into projects that benefit The City.
With a public bank, we can decide where our dollars go. A public bank could start by helping to fund public infrastructure, provide a stable lending based toward affordable housing and to serve as a “banker’s bank,” which is just a fancy way of saying it could provide low-cost deposits to great local banks and credit unions that would provide bank accounts to local unbanked residents and personal loans and small business loans to folks who can’t access credit at large institutions. This lending to community banks would spur local economic growth and ensure that our pooled investment accounts go to benefit San Franciscans first.
Built on earlier efforts by former Supervisor John Avalos, supervisors Sandra Fewer and Malia Cohen stepped up and advocated for a public bank. Fewer went ahead a requested a detailed policy analysis. The report, delivered in November 2017, concluded that San Francisco had the legal authority to charter a public bank and outlined five key steps involved in setting up and funding an independent bank.
Under pressure, the Treasurer’s Office launched the Municipal Bank Feasibility Task Force, which has met twice.
The task force’s stated policy goals are worthy: to fill gaps in banking for equitable community development; to serve the under-banked, including individuals, small businesses and cannabis businesses; to invest in infrastructure and affordable housing; and to create an environment that confers public benefits related to banking.
After the task force’s sixth meeting, scheduled for July, it will submit a report outlining its recommendations. There are already strong indications that the task force is backpedaling away from a public bank structure and instead considering half-measures, such as a Community Development Financial Institutions Fund. While CFDIs have their place, such an institution wouldn’t begin to leverage the power of San Francisco’s public funds. We deserve better.
Modern technology tools make it possible to build, scale and maintain a bank more efficiently. We should establish an ethical, future-looking bank that reflects our values and benefits our city rather than focusing on how banks have been built in the past.
San Francisco can and should lead the charge in creating a public bank that operates with full transparency, in alignment with community values and in a way that reinvests in its residents. Too frequently, I have seen some elected officials choose the more comfortable, more conservative path rather than doing the more difficult but more publicly minded one. The Bay Area is known for disrupting industries, and it’s time the Treasurer’s Office took part in that disruption by building a public bank rather than serving the national ones.
Zac Townsend is the former chief data officer of California, the former co-founder of open-banking startup Standard Treasury and is currently a partner at Deciens Capital, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm focused on early stage financial technology.
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Thu, 5/13, 8 am — Martín Arboleda, Governing Utopia: on Planning and Popular Power — The global unfolding of capital is a deliberately planned process and this mode of late-capitalist planning has led the way to an era of mass extinctions and extreme social inequality. Current debates on radical economic planning foreshadow new and more intricate visions of state, money, and markets, and of the role that they could perform in a transition towards a future that is exciting and radically alternative — Arboleda is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago de Chile and is the author of… Continue reading →
Thu, 5/13, 11 am — Anticapitalism and Work with Vijay Prashad, Dalia Gebrial, Amelia Horgan — Why is the U.K. government afraid of anticapitalism? Why is it being barred from schools? Why now? And how can we teach anticapitalism? — Organized by the The Left Book Club: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/anticapitalism-and-work-with-vijay-prashad-dalia-gebrial-amelia-horgan-tickets-149161346603?aff=ebdssbonlinesearch&keep_tld=1
Thu, 5/13, 11 am — Revolutions — Join Michael Löwy, emeritus research director at the French National Center for Scientific Research; Marianela D’Aprile, a writer and member of the DSA National Political Committee; and Aline Klein, on the editorial board of Jacobin Brasil, for a multi-media discussion of Löwy’s new book, Revolutions — Moderated by Todd Chretien, who has has contributed to several books, including Socialist Strategy and Electoral Politics — Sponsored by Haymarket Books: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/revolutions-tickets-151555722245?aff=ebdssbonlinesearch
Thu, 5/13, 11 am — The Economy of Care with Cassie Thornton — How do we organise care under current neoliberal conditions? Can precarious conditions lead to uncovering new solidarities and organisational forms? — Thornton is an artist and activist from the US, who makes a “safe space” for the unknown, for disobedience, and for unanticipated collectivity. Her new book The Hologram: Feminist, Peer-to-Peer Health for a Post-Pandemic Future is available from Pluto Press: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-economy-of-care-with-cassie-thornton-tickets-150403281263?aff=ebdssbonlinesearch&keep_tld=1
Join us Thursday for another engaging conversation on our national organizing call at 6PM EST. We’ll be discussing the Supreme court and Birddog strategies with Center for Popular Democracy’s very own Julia Peters from CPD’s Innovation Team! We’ll also be discussing Medicare-for-all and Senate filibuster updates happening in our progressive fight. Hope to see you all Thursday at 6PM. Register here to join! Thank you, Innovations, Center for Popular Democracy CPD Action 449 Troutman Street, Suite A Brooklyn, NY 11237 United States
Show Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Workshops SURJ (Show Up for Racial Justice) hosts workshops on important issues regarding race. Here are a few upcoming events worth checking out: Living on Ramaytush Ohlone Land – Wednesday, May 12, 2021• 5:00-6:30 PM Pacific White Supremacy Culture Characteristics – Thursday May 13, 2021• 5:00 PM Pacific
A Discussion of African-American Labor History: Peter Cole discusses his book about Ben Fletcher Join us this Thursday, May 13th at 6:30 p.m. for a discussion of Peter Cole’s new book, Ben Fletcher: The Life and Times of a Black Wobbly. Ben Fletcher was one of the most important labor organizers of the early twentieth century, and yet his name is almost unknown today. Peter Cole remedies this by shining a new light on Fletcher, one of the founders of the IWW and organizer of the one of the few interracial union locals of the time. Join us for a discussion and celebration of Fletcher’s… Continue reading →
San Francisco Democrats, We are thrilled to welcome Tom Ammiano as our guest for “Let’s Get Loud” a special virtual event we are hosting on Thursday, May 13th at 6:30pm. The time has come, to get all of the T from Tom Ammiano! Join mistress of ceremonies Honey Mahogany as she talks to Tom about his life, his loves, his book, and his thoughts on what is going on in the world of Politics. This will be an edifying and entertaining evening that is not to be missed! We’ll also have a comedic set by Tom’s friend and Bay Area staple Karen Ripley! So don’t wait, get… Continue reading →
ISF Federal Working Group meeting: Thursday, May 13, 7–9 PM. Register here to help us develop strategies to influence our Members of Congress and the Biden administration to enact a progressive agenda. Zoom room opens at 7 PM for discussion and orientation, and the meeting agenda starts promptly at 7:30 PM.