Category Archives: Alabama

BP ad shows protesters during National Shrimp Festival in Alabama

This was originally posted at al.com

GULF SHORES, Alabama — BP launched its new television advertising campaign this week touting its commitment to the Gulf Coast’s post-oil spill recovery, and a small group of anti-BP protesters are enjoying some extra exposure.

The Alabama Oil Spill Aftermath Coalition held a small demonstration near the site of the 40th annual National Shrimp Festival in October and a few seconds of the popular event are shown in the nationally televised BP ad.

In the minute-long ad’s brief segment showing the Shrimp Festival, crowds line the Gulf Shores beachfront under clear skies. On the beach, beyond the festival grounds, the small group can be seen.

In an email to fuelfix.com, Michele Harmon, who is associated with the coalition, said she noticed cameras panning the scene from the roof of a nearby restaurant.

“I, like the rest of the protesters, assumed they were media filming the crowds at the festival,” Harmon said. “When they panned the cameras our way, we made sure they knew we were there, in hopes of getting media coverage.”

Kim McCuiston of Foley, another organizers of the event, told the Press-Register at the time that the Oct. 15 rally was an attempt to tell people that not enough had been done to clean the Gulf since the spill.

Can’t make this stuff up!

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Filed under Alabama, BP, Environment, Gulf Oil Spill, Gulf States

The economic crisis in the South

From a New York Times article

The once-booming South, which entered the recession with the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, is now struggling with some of the highest rates, recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show.

Several Southern states — including South Carolina, whose 11.1 percent unemployment rate is the fourth highest in the nation — have higher unemployment rates than they did a year ago. Unemployment in the South is now higher than it is in the Northeast and the Midwest, which include Rust Belt states that were struggling even before the recession.

For decades, the nation’s economic landscape consisted of a prospering Sun Belt and a struggling Rust Belt. Since the recession hit, though, that is no longer the case. Unemployment remains high across much of the country — the national rate is 9.1 percent — but the regions have recovered at different speeds.

Now, though, of the states with the 10 highest unemployment rates, six are in the South. The region, which relied heavily on manufacturing and construction, was hit hard by the downturn.

Economists offer a variety of explanations for the South’s performance. “For a long time we tended to outpace the national average with regard to economic performance, and a lot of that was driven by, for lack of a better word, development and in-migration,” said Michael Chriszt, an assistant vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s research department. “That came to an abrupt halt, and it has not picked up.”

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Filed under Alabama, austerity measures, budget cuts, class struggle, immigration, labor movement, Leftists in the U.S. South, Southern Identity, Southern Strategy, Southern United States, workers

Tensions rise as Latinos feel under siege in America’s deep south

[From a recent Guardian article]

In Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina, new laws have been signed that represent the toughest crackdown on illegal immigrants – the vast majority of whom are Hispanics – in America. They give the police sweeping new powers and require them, and employers, to check people’s immigration status. In Alabama, they even make helping illegal immigrants, by giving them a lift in a car or shelter in a home, into a serious crime. For many, the laws echo the deep south’s painful history of segregation, sending out a message to people of a different colour: you are not wanted here.

“That is exactly right,” said Andrew Turner, a lawyer with the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Centre. “We view it within the context of the history of the deep south. It is using the law to push out and marginalise an ethnic minority.”

The new laws’ defenders deny that. They are merely enforcing the law, they say. Their problem is not with immigrants, but with those who came to America illegally. They say the laws are colour-blind and aimed at making sure everyone obeys the same rules and does not cheat the system.

Yet illegal immigrants have become a fundamental part of the American system. Huge swaths of the economy rely on the cheap labour they provide.

 

The article points out an important part of “illegal” immigration that is often referred to in the overall narrative.  That is that undocumented workers have “become a part” of the American system overall.  The mainstream accounts of this often even point to the drive for cheep labor by capital as the source of the “problem” here, yet they continue to allow reactionary rhetoric dominate the discourse and put the blame on those coming here to find exploitative conditions of work.

The only way to fight this framework and empower undocumented workers is to build a movement that fights back.  And this movement is currently underway in much of the South.

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Filed under Alabama, class struggle, Georgia, Southern Strategy, Southern United States, State's rights

Alabama surpasses Arizona with racist anti-immigrant law

by KurtFF8

Alabama recently passed a new anti-immigrant law that many have described as “more harsh” than the controversial anti-immigrant law in Arizona that essentially promotes racial profiling (this argument is focused on the fact that folks can be questioned for being “suspected of” being an undocumented worker).  Georgia recently passed a similar law, making the South the center of the immigration debate.

As usual, both sides of the “mainstream” debate fall short of getting to the real issues at heart: the real manifestations of racism, and international labor relations (see NAFTA as an important variable to immigration itself).  Even the “liberal” arguments against these laws are full of sentiments like “well immigrants do the jobs no one else wants to do for that price.”  This line of logic is just as problematic as the more “overtly racist” arguments by the far-Right, in that the “servant class” role for undocumented workers is seen as justified or not problematic itself.

Florida also recently attempted to pass a similar law, but the state legislature as not unified and faced a strong activist response (with the Florida Capitol looking a lot like the halls of the Wisconsin Capitol for a few days).

These laws need to be fought with a mass movement based on solidarity and workers power.

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Filed under Alabama, class struggle, Florida, Georgia, Human Rights, immigration, Leftists in the U.S. South, racism, Southern United States, Tallahassee, workers

Census: Southern same-sex parents raising children at higher rate

Originally published on http://www.PSLweb.org, the website of the Party for Socialism and Liberation.

Black and Latino couples twice as likely to have children than white couples

By John Peter Daly

FEBRUARY 3, 2011

 

Gay families: raising children with love despite hardships.

In the mainstream media, same-sex couples with children are often portrayed as predominantly white, well-to-do and living in the urban North East or on the West Coast. However, recent data tell a different story.

The 2010 Census indicates that these images are false and ignore the ethnic diversity of families of same-sex couples. Counting gay and lesbian couples with or without children, there are an estimated 581,000 such families in the United States, reports Gary Gates, a University of California, Los Angeles demographer. About one-third of lesbian couples have children as do one-fifth of gay male couples.

More than in any other region in the U.S., child-rearing is most common among lesbians and gays in the Southern states—a region historically known for its institutional racism and bigotry.

In Florida, for example, gays and lesbians have been banned from adopting for 33 years. The ban was lifted just last October in a three-judge state appellate court hearing that declared Florida’s ban on gay and lesbian adoption unconstitutional.

Yet, data from the 2010 Census showed that Jacksonville, Fla., has one of the largest populations of same-sex couples rearing children in the entire country (32 percent), second only to San Antonio, Texas (34 percent).

Also in the leadership of creating same-sex parent families are couples from Black and Latino communities. Black and Latino couples are twice as likely as whites to be raising children, according the Census Bureau sample.

These families are also more likely to be struggling economically. Lesbian and gay families are facing many of the same tough economic times as heterosexual couples with children, but the denial of basic rights for these families makes the economic downturn all the more challenging. For example, very few companies offer health coverage for a domestic partner. This impacts the health of the partner and children. Statistically, children of same-sex couples are less likely to have health coverage.

The new information about gay and lesbian parents paints a picture of a sector of the U.S. working class. Many of these parents already had children from previous heterosexual relationships before coming out or entering into a same-gender relationship; others sought to be foster or adoptive parents. Gay and lesbian couples have actively participated as foster parents even in states like Florida, where until recently lesbians and gays could care for foster children but not adopt them.

Irish revolutionary Bobby Sands once said, “Our revenge will be the laughter of our children.” Perhaps it will be the laughter of the children of gay and lesbian parents in the South that serves as a call to action for the necessary social changes to support and nurture a redefinition of family in a reorganized society free of racism and LGBT bigotry.

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Filed under African Americans, Alabama, Arkansas, Atlanta, class struggle, Florida, Gender, Georgia, Human Rights, LGBT, LGBTQI, Louisiana, Queer, Race

Organize The South! Dante Strobino, co-founder Raleigh, North Carolina, FIST, and UE field organizer. Nov. 13, 2010

This is a great, short talk by Dante Strobino from the Workers World Party national conference. He discusses the specific conditions facing the South, as well as the centrality of developing the revolutionary movement in this part of the country if we are to overthrow capitalism. – hastenawait

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Filed under African Americans, Alabama, North Carolina, Race, Revolution, Southern Strategy, Southern United States, The Left, United States, workers, Workers World Party

Announcement: Southern Human Rights Organizer’s Conference

 

Website here

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Filed under African Americans, Alabama, class struggle, Gulf States, Human Rights, Imperialism, labor movement, Southern Strategy, Southern United States, Uncategorized, United States, Upcoming Events, Women, workers

Sooo…the United States is the greatest country in the world, you say? Best place on earth to live, you say?

Submitted by Dustin Getz, of Alabama

A few days ago a conservative told me that only the radical left saw immense problems at home in the U.S., and that the rest of the country was content to just live their lives as best they could. I gave this some thought, and I think this is far from the truth. I think there are many, many people that sense a huge problem but aren’t quite sure what it is.

Just ask the mother with a nursing baby that was evicted from her apartment despite the fact that she has no family nearby, or perhaps her family is in a position hardly better than her own? Would she say there are no big problems facing this nation? What about the homeless man who can’t get on government programs because of having been convicted of a drug felony?

What about the grandmother that had her home payed off and is raising her grandchildren because their mother is in prison for having to sell her body because she couldn’t find a “real” job and their father is serving a life sentence for selling crack cocaine, and then joined the refinancing craze only to be swallowed up by the adjustable rate trap and had her home she had lived in for 30 years taken from her? What about the family with their credit destroyed to the point of not being able to rent or buy a house because of medical bills?

These people, and millions more, see a problem. Oh yes, they see a problem. It is only a matter of time and effort till we can make them see the solution. A Socialist society is the answer. When this large group of disenfranchised Americans come to realize this on a mass scale, the fat cats in Washington D.C. and the state capitols should tremble. For on that day, the age of capitalism in the U.S. will be in it’s last throes.

Sooo…the United States is the greatest country in the world, you say? Best place on Earth to live, you say?

Lets take a look at the truth of that sentiment. I’m not saying we have it bad off here compared to a lot of nations, it’s just that I tire of people thinking we’re all that. The fact is we’re average on most things, decent at some things and below average on some things. Anyway, I’ll shut up and let the facts speak for themselves.

Life expectancy: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_lif_exp_at_bir_tot_pop-life-expectancy-birth-total-population

Infant mortlity rate:  https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2091rank.html

Abortion rates: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_abo_percap-health-abortions-per-capita

Crime: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_mur_percap-crime-murders-per-capita

Overall crime rates:  http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_tot_cri_percap-crime-total-crimes-per-capita

Education: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/11/26/world/main530872.shtml

“South Korea has the most effective education system in the world’s richest countries, with Japan in second place and the United States and Germany near the bottom, a United Nations study said Tuesday.”

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Filed under Alabama, class struggle, Communism, Revolution, The Left, Uncategorized, United States

The Gulf South as Internal Periphery

In the article, Race, Class and Hurricane Katrina: Social differences in human responses to disaster, the authors, Elliot and Pais, provide a brief overview of the history of the Gulf South region of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. In giving the historical background for their study on the role of race and class in the Katrina disaster, they focus on the underdevelopment and peripheral status of the region. It is important for Leftists in the South to understand this history, as it is the backdrop to the conditions which we continue to face. For this reason I am quoting the relevant excerpt, though the entire article is worth reading. – hastenawait

As Elliott and Ionescu (2003) point out, the Gulf South region of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama has long been demographically and economically subordinate to other parts of the country, including today’s “new” New South. To appreciate the historical underpinnings of this peripheral status, it is useful to review the development of the US settlement system as a whole.

Broadly speaking, the collection of towns and cities that comprise the US settlement system, although long including southern port cities of Charleston, Mobile, and New Orleans, took root and spread principally from colonial cities in the Northeast, specifically Boston, Providence, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. According to Eysberg (1989) this uneven geographic development resulted more from historical accident than from regional divergences in raw materials and transportation options. Central to this “accident” was the British Crown’s policy of encouraging migration of wealthy Anglicans—who, among other things, could afford slaves—to the southern colonies, while encouraging migration of religious refugees to northern colonies. This policy, rather than innate topographical divergences, set into motion the development of two distinct socio-economic systems.

As port cities in the Northeast grew and developed their own entrepreneurial and industrial middle classes, they also began to attract middle-class immigrants, who tended to arrive in kinship groups that generated demand for urban goods and services, which in turn fueled the development of a new urban-based, capitalist economy. By contrast, the disproportionate settlement of British, French, and Spanish aristocrats in southern colonies during the same time period contributed to the development of a caste-like society there with an economy based almost entirely on agriculture (specifically cotton, sugar, and indigo), slave labor, and mercantilist exchange with Europe. As a result of these divergences, urban centers in the South failed to develop strong entrepreneurial networks and remained largely confined to harbor areas such as New Orleans, Mobile, and Charleston.

This uneven geographic development became increasingly hierarchal during the middle to late 1800s, as the growth of transcontinental railroads not only connected southern agriculturalists with northern markets but also rendered them increasingly beholden to northern elites who controlled these railroads and markets. These uneven relations, in turn, helped to reduce the importance of the Mississippi River for trade with growing industrial centers in the Midwest, and made the South, especially the Deep South, economically dependent on northeastern cities, particularly New York, for commerce.

This peripheral status continued in large measure until the late 1960s, at which time “core” urban centers in the Northeast and Midwest began to deindustrialize, pushing millions of people away from pink slips and high heating bills toward booming metro areas in California, Texas, and Florida. These and more recent economic booms in Georgia and the Carolinas have since rendered southern cities such as Charlotte, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, and Houston more prominent players in the US settlement system, while at the same time largely bypassing the Gulf South, where historic port cities such as New Orleans, Biloxi, and Mobile have experienced little demographic and economic growth by comparison (see Glasmeier and Leichencko, 2000).

These historic developments have coalesced to produce a peripheral region characterized by deep and complex relations of racial and class division. Because comparably few “outsiders” of either native or foreign birth have moved into this area during recent decades, these relations have been left to unfold largely of their own inertia, undisturbed by mass in-migration from other parts of the country and the world.

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Filed under African Americans, Alabama, class struggle, Gulf States, Leftists in the U.S. South, Louisiana, Mississippi, National Oppression, Southern Strategy, Southern United States, The Left, Uncategorized, United States, workers, World Systems Theory

Upcoming: Pro-Palestinian/Anti-Zionist demonstration in Birmingham Alabama on August 21st

There will be a demonstration held in Birmingham Alabama at Five Points South on Sat. August 21st, 2010 in front of Highlands United Methodist Church, 1045 20th Street South Birmingham, AL 35205-2623. It will be held from 5:00PM until 6:30PM. Demonstrators will be responsible for bringing their own sign, banner or flag. For any further details contact Dustin Getz at birminghamsds@gmail.com.

Demonstration hosted by Students For A Democratic Society, Fight Imperialism Stand Together, Birmingham Peace Project and Mas Youth.

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Filed under Alabama, Anti-Imperialism, Anti-War, class struggle, Demonstration Announcements, Imperialism, Middle East, Palestine, Solidarity, Southern United States, United States, Upcoming Events