Tag Archives: Leftists in the U.S. South

The South fights back too

Visit http://www.occupytogether.com for information on your local “Occupy” event

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Filed under Leftists in the U.S. South, Southern Strategy, Southern United 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

Stetson Kennedy dies at 94 in Fla.

From Forbes.com:

MIAMI — Author and folklorist Stetson Kennedy, who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan six decades ago and exposed its secrets to authorities and the public but was also criticized for possibly exaggerating his exploits, died Saturday. He was 94.

Kennedy died at Baptist Medical Center South near St. Augustine, where he had been receiving hospice care.

In the 1940s, Kennedy used the “Superman” radio show to expose and ridicule the Klan’s rituals. In the 1950s he wrote “I Rode with the Ku Klux Klan,” which was later renamed “The Klan Unmasked,” and “The Jim Crow Guide.”

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Filed under African Americans, Florida, Race, racism

Tampa, Orlando, and Feeding the Homeless

by KurtFF8

Tampa has recently joined with Orlando in cracking down on groups that feed the homeless on public property.  According to an article published today on tbo.com, Tampa police have shut down an operation of church group volunteers that have been feeding the homeless in downtown Tampa for 6 years.  This comes after Orlando police have been arresting activists with Food Not Bombs for feeding the homeless in Orlando.  Why is it that the “Sunshine State” has been cracking down on folks who are literally just trying to feed the homeless?  There has been some speculation that in the case of Tampa’s recent actives, it has to do with the upcoming Republican National Convention and an effort by the city to “clean up” before the convention is underway.  While the city denies it is related to the GOP convention, the effort to “clean up” the streets is certainly cited by officials.

There has been a recent upsurge in the population of those without homes, that has come at a time of continued economic crisis.  Florida is home to one of the hardest hit housing markets in the wake of the Great Recession.  It has also ceased to be one of the fastest growing states in the US, which has lead many in power facing an image problem (along with recent attacks on unions and immigrant workers by the state legislature).

There is certainly a problem with painting efforts to arrest and harass those feeding the homeless as “cleaning up” the streets of a given city.  It assumes that homeless populations are themselves a “problem” that need to be “taken care of,” and instead of addressing the real roots of that problem, they assault those who are the victims of economic circumstances.  Similar rhetoric has been used against the communities that recently were hit by major riots in the United Kingdom.

This crackdown on those feeding the homeless comes after years of non-enforcement of these ordinances that as the TBO.com article points out: are difficult to demonstrate laws were broken.  It really comes down to the class nature of law enforcement in places like Florida, where property is considered a “right” (see: the advice by the city to move the feedings to private property) and where human rights and dignity are pushed to the wayside.

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Filed under class struggle, Florida, housing, Southern Strategy, Southern United States

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

Memphis SP Statement on Obama’s Commencement Address at BTW High

[This originally appeared on the Memphis Socialist Party’s Website]

While Memphians celebrate the victory of Booker T. Washington High School in President Obama’s 2011 Race to the Top Commencement Challenge, a critical analysis of the President’s educational policies has been absent from public discussion, despite the fact that schools like BTW could eventually fall victim to the administration’s tacit goal of mass privatization through the President’s market-based “reform” agenda.

Although President Obama’s administration does not use the anti-public education rhetoric of the hard right, he is clear about his ideological alignment with Bush’s No Child Left Behind program. Moreover, Obama’s Race to the Top—a competitive program of corporate school reform that pits public schools and communities against one another for scarce federal funding—is a natural continuation of the neoliberal agenda, which seeks to create a favorable market for profit-driven charter schools by busting teachers’ unions and closing schools in communities reeling from the disastrous effects of global capitalism. Race to the Top ensures that the most vulnerable students will continue to be marginalized as their schools remain underfunded and understaffed, if they remain open at all.

Teachers, students, and parents understand that successful schools have small class sizes, support staff such as teachers’ assistants, nurses, and counselors, and an approach that values a variety of learning opportunities for individual students with different needs and talents. The Obama administration and its corporate partners, however, take a regressive approach that focuses on standardized testing as a measure of student achievement and teacher effectiveness while firing masses of school staff and replacing neighborhood schools with charters, which are unaccountable to communities and no more successful on average than their public counterparts.

However, barriers to providing a quality education for all people will remain in one form or another under any reformist agenda no matter how progressive or student-centered the approach. Education reform will not solve the major problems created or reinforced by global capitalism: poverty, segregation, institutional bigotry, mass unemployment, mass incarceration, labor exploitation and social alienation. The corporate think tanks and foundations responsible for creating and implementing Obama’s educational policies have no interest in educating all students; in order to maintain low wages, low expectations, and high profits, capitalists depend upon a large unemployed population and a much larger population of working poor.

The recent uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, organized largely by disaffected youth, have provided more concrete evidence for what the capitalists already know: if society provides an education without providing jobs, the people will revolt. The ruling class is much too sophisticated to risk losing power by providing effective education beyond what is necessary for them to continue to develop new consumer products and instruments of war. Until the masses of people on the losing end of this rigged system organize and commit ourselves to a revolutionary restructuring of our social and economic relations, those who write the rules of the game will continue to have access to quality education while the rest of us will continue to be denied that right.

The students of historic BTW will always remember the day that the first black president of the United States delivered their commencement address, but they deserve much more than empty platitudes about hope, change, the “American Dream” or “Equality of Opportunity”—they deserve a future where their children will not have to compete with their sisters and brothers to “win” an education; they deserve a future where their neighborhood is safe and clean, and where all people have a right to engage in meaningful work. This future will not be created for us.

As revolutionary socialists, we believe that workers and the poor have the ability to create a better world than the status quo maintained by the capitalist class—capitalists’ power lies not in god-given mandates or managerial prowess, but only through convincing the people that we are incapable of controlling our own lives. We reject this notion, just as we reject the notion that the solution to the harms inflicted by global capitalism lies in education reform alone. Instead, the situation today compels us to organize ourselves and our communities to create an actual and revolutionary change in socioeconomic relations. Together, there is a world to win and a world to defeat!

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Filed under Education, labor movement, Leftists in the U.S. South, Southern Strategy, Southern United States, Tennessee

The Florida Legislative Session

by KurtFF8

The following video was produced by the Florida AFL-CIO about the actions that workers took to fight back against the reactionary legislature in Florida.

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Filed under class struggle, Corporations, Florida, Gulf States, labor movement, labor unions, Leftists in the U.S. South, Southern United States, Students, Tallahassee