State of the Black Union: California & Prisons

OK, so Tavis is mad that Obama is hiring other black folks that went to Harvard and saying that he's being classist! Hey Tavis, Cornel West went to Ivy League schools so are you gonna stop being homies with him?

Lani Guinier, the only black professor at Harvard Law School is here and just said that the black agenda is the American agenda! Says we have to reframe what the black agenda/American agenda is. It's about redefining merit itself. We have to believe that each of us have merit.

Says it's not about high scores on the SAT or about getting A+'s at Harvard Law School, because you can still come out and not be a good lawyer despite all that.

Recommends a book by Scott Page called "The Difference". He's saying is that "diversity in problem solving groups trumps individual ability."

The normal American preference is to hire the people who get the highest score. If John gets 7 questions right and Steve gets 6 right and Jane gets 5 right, the way it works is that John and Steve get hired. But what if Jane got correct the questions that Steve and John got wrong? SO John and Jane should be hired! Interesting!

Our suffering is a clue to the larger problem. You can't talk about black people without mass incarceration and you can't talk about mass incarceration without talking about drugs. Notes that the money to pay for prisons is taken from education.

Since 1995, California has spent more money building prisons than building schools. We have to change the idea that the place for young black people is not college, but is instead prison.

The SAT is a wealth test, not a test of your talent. The SAT correlates with parent income more than 1st year college grades. She wonders why don't people talk about this?

Says we've moved into an arena of modern scientific racism and how now tests and metrics make racism invisible. These tests, whatever you think about them are violating the first principle that talent is equally distributed among groups. Says many of us have good strategic guessing abilities, but we shouldn't be the only ones getting ahead.

-- I feel her on that but I also think that if you're getting a good education, you should be able to pass the test. The key is getting people that education!

Our last panelist is Karen Bass, speaker of the California State Assembly. Tavis wants to know how we should interpret Lani Guinier's comments about California? Bass says there are always the votes for prisons but not for education. We cut $8 billion from education in the California budget. The only way to not do this was to raise taxes but Republicans wouldn't do that. Three Republicans voted for tax raises, and now right-wing radio is calling for them to be recalled.

Talks about how prisons become the new economic development for some communities. When three strikes went into effect, the State of Califonia had to build 14 more prisons, and communities lobbied to have them because they're seen as steady jobs since there will always be criminals.

In the State of California, there are 56 occupations you can never have if you're a felon. I'm wondering what those are and she gives the example that in state prison, we teach them to be barbers, but you can't get a barbering license, she she had to pass a law allowing people to get temporary licenses. Feels like this is critical when they're talking about green jobs.

Oh, California...


Unknown said…
You did such a great job blogging the State of the Black Union. Anyone that did not attend/watch really could learn a lot from your posts. Thank you for doing this.
Shiona said…
I must say I definitely learned a lot and will be letting people know about the State of the Black Union. I still canot believe I never heard about this. There's no excuse for that. Even in my little town we had 1 new school built about the same time as 2 new prisons. Definitely a sad testament to CA.
Tavis - STFU!

President Obama has hired black folks who went to other top tier schools.
Ah I was having so much fun reading your comments on Twitter yesterday. I linked back to your blog posts as well. I really like your detail. Recording it and trying to download video would take me days so I'm waiting for some others with the time to post to You Tube but C-Span does have video - that you can't import but I highlighted certain sections. I really want to know who the woman was that was forceably removed who'd been asking about the "slave mentality" of those in attendance (and hosting). Tavis really has an issue with unbowed Black women.
Shiona:You may have not heard of it because it is effective. It's what Gina McCauley at WOAD blog refers to as the Negro SuperBowl. It comes and goes with much pomp until the next time but it doesn't actually achieve anything. Yes a few people can be educated but it's all about Tavis and the promotion of him as a product. He needs Blacks as victims to keep his hustle on: just like Revs Al & Jesse. Their footsoldiers and financial supporters are always Black women who don't take power for themselves but instead are waiting to be rescued by their Black Messiah - which also leads to the worship of Obama. Whatever "good" comes out of it is a byproduct but the focus in the end is always about elevating themselves. - Sorry Liz for the long post but I had to add this comment...
Anonymous said…
So much of it is a poverty issue, and we need to be putting more of our money (such as it is) into reducing poverty and increasing access to education. But that will only happen if the very wealthy aren't allowed to own the vast of the resources in this country.
Liz Dwyer said…
Thank you! I kept wishing I could type more quickly... and I had to go back and edit a couple of things where I'd totally stopped typing mid-thought! I don't know if I would have watched this year if it hadn't been in LA, but it was certainly fascinating to do so.

You all have one school and two new prisons? Yeah, that is CA, isn't it? Don't worry about not having heard of this before. I thought so much today about so many of the themes and conversations were the same this year as they have been in previous years. However, this year everything had to go through the Obama lens. That was the only difference this year.

The more Tavis talked, the more I kept thinking how he's got issues! I mean, why is it bad to hire black folks who went to top tier schools???

I was so curious who that woman was as well! Fascinating that that's what she was asking about because I couldn't hear her! They really dragged her out of there and I saw her in the hallway but she was getting chatted to by some serious looking people so I didn't go bug her. Yeah, I guess she wasn't one of the "submitted" black women so her question wasn't cool. And Gina is SO right! It totally is the Negro Super Bowl! (Glad you added the comment!)

I totally agree about where our money goes and the need to put more into education instead of prison. When Karen Bass was talking about how elected officials never vote against building another prison because it'll make them seem soft on crime, but they'll vote for education budget cuts or not fully fund things, gosh, that just broke my heart. It's SO true!
Anonymous said…
Los Angelista,
I want you to know, that according to my daughter, you ‘like totally ruined her computer time’. She may not forgive. See, Dad (who almost never uses the home computer) got so engrossed in carefully reading all the “State of the Union” blogs, that she had to get ready for school the next day before I finished.
I shall reap the wrath.
Liz Dwyer said…
Eek! I've brought some daughter wrath down on your head! That is very funny! Yeah, you definitely might get some eye-cutting coming your way for at least the next day!
Ndelible said…
Thank you so much for live blogging this. I totally forgot it was this weekend - couldn't have gone anyway, too many standing appointments, but that's another story. I think it was great that they had it here. I got to see a little bit, mostly Eric Dyson's awesome sermon, cause that's what it was.

Totally agree been hearing this stuff for years, every year and somebody's gonna do something, but I'm not sure who that is...

Tavis really should stopping hating on Obama though. It does seem to be all about him and that smacks of so much in the BC - heck US society at large.

Thanks again, totally enjoyed my lunch hour reading the posts!
MartiniCocoa said…
Again, I really enjoyed your posts on the State of theBlack Union event.

Since you were there live and in person...
can you share what were the deliverables that Tavis highlighted from producing the event for the last 10 years?
Unknown said…
What great coverage. I am a total Tavis fan. He has educated the community on so many issues over the years.

I know a lot of folk give him stuff for his Obamahateration...but he is really an advocate for the improvement of black life. Flaws and all, his State of the Black Union is always informative and your coverage was awesome, THANKS.

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