Essays

Occupy to Liberate

The last few years have been hard for us: record foreclosures, high unemployment, drastic cuts in social services, and government actively doing the bidding of big business at the expense of regular people.

With a combination of bewilderment and frustration, concerned global citizens had asked one question over and again: when and where are people in the US going to rise up and take to the streets?

Turns out, the answer was September 17, 2011 on Wall Street.

Necessary but Insufficient- Principle Reduction and the Foreclosure Crisis

There is an overwhelming consensus right now that we face a severe market failure with regard to housing. One industry expert recently testified before Congress that, unless something is done about it, 8 to 10 million more homeowners will lose their homes to foreclosure(1). That is 1 in 5 owners with an outstanding mortgage, and in addition to the 8 million owners who have already lost their homes to foreclosure since 2007.

As community organizations, the Occupy movement and the general public begin to refocus their attention towards this crisis, “fixing” the market through mortgage principal reductions is one proposal for stemming the tide of foreclosures that has been gaining some political traction. Even the 50 Attorneys General included a form of this demand in talks to settle the lawsuits filed against the Wall Street banks accused of robo-signing documents and other financial shenanigans. The theory is that by allowing for cuts in mortgage balances – debt relief – homeowners will pay less monthly, which will result in fewer foreclosures.

Ban Racism not the 'N' Word

In a move designed to garner headlines instead of results, municipalities across the country, including the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners (BCC), propose criminalizing, albeit without penalties, the use of the n-word. Like so many other acts debated and passed by government bodies, this one will take up time, space and public interest, but will have no beneficial impact whatsoever on the lives of poor, black people...

Gentrification is Dead: A Proposition

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The modern era of gentrification, starting approximately in mid 2002 and ending abruptly towards the end of 2007, is possibly the most extreme- and brutal- since the term was coined in England in the late 1800s. In June 2005, The Economist magazine, widely regarded as the world's most respected financial periodical, argued, with documentation, that never in history have home prices rose so high, for so long and across so many countries, bestowing upon the “housing boom” a more appropriate moniker: "the biggest bubble in history." A significant and integral component of that bubble was speculative gentrification.

The social justice movement in the United States proved woefully ill prepared to counter what became a national crisis with devastating impacts on the local communities the movement serves. Consequently, many organizations and activists entered the gentrification game well in the fourth quarter, down by too many points to compel meaningful compromises from the forces of capital dictating and profiteering from gentrification.

A Requiem for Kerry Supporters

By Max Rameau  November 10, 2004

More than a month after the elections, to those in the Black community and elsewhere, deflated by the return of GW Bush to office after a rancorous, at time brutal, high stakes campaign, I say: get over it, we have work to do.

Lamenting over the prospects of the next four years is inhibiting our ability to process the implications of some very real lessons: first, most whites in the US are largely unsympathetic to the plight of Blacks and other dark peoples in the world; second, the Democrats are not willing or able to address our needs; and finally, the solution to our problems don’t lie in further empowering the Democratic party, but, rather, in empowering ourselves.

The New Affirmative Action

By Max Rameau  May 1, 2002

Lost in the near euphoria following the recent Supreme Court decision is a harsh reality: the new version of affirmative action has absolutely nothing to do with either the redress of past wrongs or a policy designed to advance the chronically underdeveloped Black community. In fact, the Bollinger decision ushers in a new era in which affirmative action exists not for the purpose of advancing the Black community, but to better provide for whites.

Since the 1950s, the affirmative action debate has revolved around the central question of how best to redress the past and present affects of racial discrimination. Over the years the very framework of the debate shifted so fundamentally, that the term "affirmative action" literally does not mean the same today as it meant even a decade ago.

Free the Liberty City 7

by Max Rameau July 1, 2006

On June 22, 2006, the FBI arrested seven Black men, based in the Liberty City section of Miami, Florida, charging them with various counts of planning acts of violence. What distinguishes this case from the myriad of other Black men arrested in poor, oppressed communities is not that the men had no weapons to commit the acts of violence or even that they clearly lacked the capacity to advance the plot ascribed to them, but that in the arrests, the U.S. Government invoked the 't' word- “terrorism.”

Teele and Homophobia

By Max Rameau May 1, 2006

As the shock from Art Teele’s dramatic suicide begins to fade and details of his final thoughts emerge, an entire community is compelled to confront and come to terms with some uncomfortable realities. Some issues are already in the throws of heated debate, however, there is one issue which looms large, but speaks quietly, as if still hiding in the closet: Homophobia.

While a number of factors contributed to Teele’s decision to take his own life, it is most disconcerting that his final conversation with popular columnist Jim Defede focused on being “deeply upset” at allegations of a sexual tryst with another man and how those allegations leveled a “devastating impact” on his college bound son. Art Teele was literally embarrassed to death, not by what he did, but by what he imagined his supporters would think about him, given their attitudes towards homosexuality.