Archive for the ‘Race & immigration’ Category

Obama -good image – positive frame

July 14th, 2008 26 comments

*** Apologies – NJ.Com took down the photos, which were originally published on my “NJ Voices” column at NJ.Com. I was able to save the text, but not the photos. What assholes.

I just read an important article about a disturbing pattern of how right wing conservatives use visual and verbal “frames” to manipulate media and politics. In this case, Obama is the target of the latest racist swiftboat operation.

Because I have posted images and criticism of Obama here that could be manipulated or misinterpreted as discussed in this article, I’d like to distinguish my work from the racist attack that is now underway.

See below – The images I’ve posted (under the headline”Obama Rocks Harrisburg“) are dignified positive frames of the Obama Harrisburg Pa. primary rally. They show Obama against a backdrop of the Capitol building (symbolic power); an enthusiastic audience; and inspirational supporters and speakers (black and white folks).

The criticism I’ve offered is principled – regarding the AIPAC speech, Iran, and the disappointing position to support the FISA “compromise”. But the headlines I have used (“caving”) could be distorted and do (unintentionally) reinforce a bad frame.

I strongly urge folks to read this article.

The Bad Frame: Why Are the New Yorker, Salon and Other Liberal Media Doing the Right’s Dirty Work?

This week’s New Yorker cover image of the Obamas is shocking in the racism and gross stereotyping that is built into its supposed satire.

Polluted land and urban schools – A photo essay

June 22nd, 2008 No comments

*** Apologies – NJ.Com took down the photos, which were originally published on my “NJ Voices” column at NJ.Com. I was able to save the text, but not the photos. What assholes.

This news article powerfully tells the story –

New Jersey Program Bought Polluted Lands for Low-income Schools
by Megan Tady
In what critics consider one of the more blatant examples of environmental racism, a fund supposedly intended to give a leg up to impoverished pupils of color was used to put them at risk while favoring private developers.

But they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are photos of controversial school sites across NJ where toxic contamination forced community outrage.

This photo sketch is just the tip of the iceberg – hundreds of schools and day care centers are involved.

Sites are listed in the following order, with a brief narrative caption: 1) Trenton; 2) Neptune, 3) Camden, 4) Garfield, 5) Paramus, 6) Passaic City school; 7) Passaic City day care, 8) Clifton and 9) Gloucester City

Trenton Martin Luther King Jr. school site – toxic soil was imported and used as “clean fill” sparking community outrage that forced demolition of the partially built school at a $27 million loss
Neptune – growth of toxic mold due to shoddy construction and mismanagement forced partial demolition and reconstruction at a loss of millions of dollars
Camden Early Childhood Development Center – being built on old landfill.
Garfield – Middle school was built on toxic industrial site. Cleanup of toxic vapors in soil and groundwater was ongoing when school opened – parents were notified just weeks before school started.
Garfield – early child center is co-located on contaminated former industrial site.
Paramus Middle School – school officials failed to notify parents about a small pile of pesticide contaminated soils. Outraged parents convinced the Mayor to order the school closed and the Superintendent was fired.
Passaic City school sits directly adjacent to toxic old industrial site – DEP and City officials have dragged their feet for years on cleanup.
Passaic City day care center located next to contaminated site. The School Construction Corporation demolished the hospital previously located at the site but have yet to build the school due to contamination discovered after demolition started.
Passaic City day care – trailers and play ground exposed directly to site.
Clifton – proposed new High SChool proposed to be located in covnerted industrial building. Soil and groundwater are contaminated. Polluting industries are located on three sides of building in an industrial zone.
Clifton HS site
Clifton HS site
Gloucester City – middle school to be built on Superfund site. Millions waste on cleanup and relocation of residents
Gloucester City – Polluting industry located directly across street from proposed school on Superfund site.
Gloucester City – school located in an industrial zone on a Superfund site

These are Environmental Jobs

June 21st, 2008 2 comments

Lots of Jobs cleaning up the environment, not building new sprawl

*** Apologies – NJ.Com took down the photos, which were originally published on my “NJ Voices” column at NJ.Com. I was able to save the text, but not the photos. What assholes.

solar – clean energy, good jobs

Why don’t construction unions and the business community ever talk about all the jobs and economic activity created by environmental programs?
In this case, well paid construction jobs were created by DEP clean water requirements.
Upgrading environmental infrastructure and compliance with environmental laws creates thousands of jobs.
Germany recently created 170,000 well paid high technology jobs in just one segment of the solar industry –
NJ could create hundreds of thousands more jobs and thousands of new small businesses right here in NJ in we got serious about investing in and regulating a transition to an energy efficient, renewable energy, high environmental quality economy.
I never hear the lobbyists or officials in Trenton say that. I never read that in the newspaper.

Wonder why?

Landscapes of Memory and Meaning

June 7th, 2008 7 comments
*** Apologies – NJ.Com took down all the photos from their website. This post was originally published at NJ.Com on my “NJ Voices” column. I was able to save the text, but not the photos. What assholes. (I left the captions where the photos were.)

Historic Old Dutch Church and Sleepy Hollow cemetery. This is the place where Ichabod Crane, Washington Irving’s Headless Horseman, haunted folks.

They say you can’t go home – but this picture essay of home town landscapes that shaped my life suggests otherwise. A Falkner character once said that the “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.” The more I reflect on my own past and the wonderful 1960’s period of limitless possibilities, the more saddened I become about the collapse of our democracy, the endless Bush war, the escalating war on the natural environment, and our seeming inability to learn from recent history.

Come join me on this tour – where landscapes, architecture, mystery, memory, institutions, politics, and meaning are one.

This is my home – a place called “Glenville”, a small working class neighborhood just outside of the historic Hudson River town of Tarrytown, NY. My mom grew up here. Her dad was living there raising chickens (and dying at home) at the time we moved in 1962 when I was 5. It was a move “to the country” from Yonkers, where I was born.

We lived directly (50 feet) behind the Glenville firehouse – the siren was so loud it literally knocked me out of bed! As kids, we had a blast playing on the antique fire engine while the adults played cards, tossed horseshoes, and drank beer. Of course, there were regular clam bakes, softball games, Bingo, and carnivals.

Glenville sat in a valley just below hilltop Axe Castle and Hackley prep school. Axe was a real castle – the gargoyles were mysterious and terrifying – more so than that scene from the Wizard of Oz where the flying monkeys kidnap Dorothy. We would explore the woods around the castle and evade the British troops that guarded it.

The Hackley school campus provided endless woods and athletic fields. I spent countless hours rambling in those woods and playing on those fields. The school’s architecture, prep school atmosphere, and discipline of the Athletic Director Mr. Picket who was a mentor and father figure, made a huge impact on me. I deeply resented the wealth and snobbish elitism of the kids, but I was jealous of their opportunity and the quality faculty, coaches, and facilities.

I fell in love with my fisrt grade teacher, Ms. Vera Vradenberg. She was beautiful and a friend of Charles Schultz – we had Snoopy everywhere in our classroom. She instilled a love of learning – I would do anything to impress her, so of course I finished all my reading “SRA workbooks” before most kids even got started and got gold stars and Snoopy smiles. She cried talking about the assassination of President Kennedy – I had never seen an adult cry before then.

Tappan Hill school overlooked the Hudson River – views of the newly built Tappan Zee Bridge were stunning – and nearby Marymount College Campus. 15 years later, I met my first real love who attended Marymount. Don’t tell the nuns, but we made love in that dome – and I’ll be damned, just like the sappy Dan Fogelberg song, she really did marry her an architect who “keeps her warm and safe and dry”. I don’t know if she would agree with the rest of the Folgelberg lyric: “She would have liked to say she loved the man. But she didn’t like to lie.” I always feared we would meet in a scene from Harry Chapin’s “Taxi” – words that still sting:

There was not much more for us to talk about,
Whatever we had once was gone.
So I turned my cab into the driveway,
Past the gate and the fine trimmed lawns.
And she said we must get together,
But I knew it’d never be arranged.
And she handed me twenty dollars,
For a two fifty fare, she said,
“Harry, keep the change.”

Tappan Zee bridge crosses the Hudson River at Tarrytown.That bridge would have huge land use and environmental impacts on the region.

I went to 3rd & 4th grade at Pierson School. Every day we were reminded by that WWI statue on the front lawn that war was hell –note that the soldier’s head is bowed, exactly the opposite demeanor and message of our current “bring it on” “Commander in Chief” permanent war culture. But seeing a statute of a soldier at school wasn’t the only place we learned that war is hell. LBJ had just sent troops to Vietnam – my best friend’s cousin Frankie served there. When he came back, us kids couldn’t figure out why he would sit on the stoop all day nodding off and drooling, but we sensed that something was badly wrong that he never spoke about (he returned from the war a heroin junkie). “Urban renewal” demolition tore out a core of the housing and small businesses in our town, and the place just never recovered. Later that year, we were on our family’s annual vacation pilgrimage to Lake George when I watched national TV coverage of the Chicago police beat hell out of kids protesting the war at the Democratic Convention. I never really came to closure with my mom on her support of Hubert Humphry and I never forgot about police violence or the importance of protest and dissent.

The Pierson school was next door to a protestant church, whose bells were a daily reminder of history and religion. Although I attended (and hated going to) the local Roman Catholic church, unlike our current right wing cultural warriors, religion was never a source of arrogance, hatred, intolerance, or conflict. Peace, compassion, love, respect, individual human dignity, and tolerance were stressed.

Pierson School was right downtown – Almost every Saturday, after going either to the library to hear readings of the tales of Washington Irving or to the YMCA for swimming or basketball, we would go to the Music Hall to see a movie. Rip Van Winkle, Natti Bumpo, Leatherstocking, Tom Sawyer – these were our heroes. It was a wonderful small town Main Street experience – Roy’s deli provided lunch (Roy’s son was the HS football coach). Candy came from Whelan’s, a family owned drug store, and real ice cream sodas and milkshakes were served at “Pinkies”. I opened my first bank account, which received a small share of my weekly paper boy’s pay. I grew up in what we now call “Smart Growth”, but we can’t begin to imitate it because the politics, culture, and economy that supported that scene have been lost. As a result, we are now building Potemkin Places. Architecture and planning have severe limitations and are critically dependent on culture, politics, and economics. Although ironically my mom worked for architect’s and prominent tweed jacketed pipe smoking city planners I was just dying to emulate (Raymond, Parish & Pine), this is something I would learn many years later studying regional planning in graduate school at Cornell.

But Main Street wasn’t all fun and games – this building – now a chinese restaurant for the upscale – used to be a cleaners. My grandmother used to work there pressing shirts. Overworked to exhaustion, she passed out at her press, shattered her kneecap, and was permanently disabled.

For 5th-6th grades, we headed to North Tarrytown (recently renamed by status conscious residents as “Sleepy Hollow”) for WL Morse School. My horizons were literally expanded. Morse was located on Beekman Avenue, the main thoroughfare that led to the (now closed) GM auto plant. It had a working class and urban culturally diverse feel. There was no grass on the school grounds. Other languages were spoken within earshot. Cars full of GM workers double parked while visiting the many bars and liquor stores. We could sneak out at lunchtime and eat real pizza in a family owned joint right across the street from the school (thankfully, it is still there).

On the school bus ride to Morse school, we passed the Board of Education building (my mom was school board member and president for many years) and the statue at the site where Revolutionary War spy and traitor Major Andre’ was captured. We were spoon fed the myths of the revolution – no Howard Zinn’s “People’s History of the US”, views of the anti-federalists, Daniel Ellsberg Pentagon Papers disclosures, or Noam Chomsky books were available to us at that time.

Tarrytown Board of Education building. Many nights of my youth were spent there attending Board meetings, because mom couldn’t afford a baby sitter. Gave me a chance to do my homework and experience real democracy and local politics.

Major Andre taught us about loyalty and treachery – and the price we pay!

At Washington Irving Junior HS, we had teachers who opposed the war and smoked pot! We all left school to protest on the first Earth Day – teachers and students together! I can still remember my biology teacher (Ms. McCarthy) who turned me on to science, and the social studies class where we spent virtually the entire year on “critical thinking skills” and how to interrogate illegitimate arguments or unjust exercises of power and authority. Could you imagine that being taught in 7th grade today?

Washington Irving Junior High School

In Sleepy Hollow HS, I was a nerd (National Merit Scholar, AP and honors classes), a hippie and a jock. Earned 11 (out of a possible 12) varsity letters (soccer (3); hockey (3); golf (4), All County Hockey 1973-74 and 74-75)  and had a pony tail almost down to my butt (spring Junior year and all Senior year). The only academic work I still recall was my 11 and 12th grade english teacher (Peg Warren), who turned me on to Kurt Vonnegut and en entire realm of literature and writing on science, technology and society that still interests me today. Thank goodness for GOOD TEACHERS!

Sleepy Hollow High School

Use your imagination for the rest of the pictures – this is stuff you don’t tell your HS age kids about.

“Rockwood” – now Rockefeller State Park

Tarrytown Boat Club

“The Eagle”


Making friends at Rockwood

Not Another War

June 6th, 2008 6 comments

Don’t let Bush Expand the War and Attack Iran

*** Apologies – NJ.Com took down the photos, which were originally published on my “NJ Voices” column at NJ.Com. I was able to save the text, but not the photos. What assholes.

Obama speaks at rally at Capitol in Harrisburg Pa. on April 19, 2008