The Uses of Radicalism

This interview with radical historian Eric Foner is full of goodness. The focus is on Reconstruction and its interpretation, and this bit on the function of radicalism speaks clearly to the present:

Anti-Slavery Poster

“The abolitionists show you that a very small group of people can accomplish a lot by changing the discourse of the country. After the Civil War, everybody claimed to have been an abolitionist. But they weren’t!

There weren’t a whole lot of abolitionists before the war. There were a few beleaguered individuals scattered about, in upstate New York, for example. There were only a couple dozen abolitionists in New York City!

Now, there was a free black community, they were very militant, and you could say they were abolitionists, but I’m talking about the organized abolitionist movement. That was very small. Nonetheless, they managed to actually accomplish quite a bit. They pioneered the use of the media of that time — the steam press, the telegraph, the petitions, the traveling speakers — to change public discourse. If you want to learn something from the abolitionists, that’s what you learn. The first thing to do is intervene in public discourse.

And the Occupy movement — success, failure, gone, still around, whatever you want to think about it — it changed the public discourse. It put this question of the 1 percent and the 99 percent, inequality, on the national agenda. That doesn’t mean they’re going to do much about it in Washington, but it is now part of our consciousness, just as by 1840 the abolitionist movement put the issue of slavery on the agenda in a way it had not been. Now, it took twenty years for anything to happen, but I think that’s something to learn from them, how they managed to do that.

Here’s the point. I am a believer in the abolitionist concept — that the role of radicals is to stand outside of the political system. The abolitionists said, ‘I am not putting forward a plan for abolition, because if I put forward a plan, people are just going to be debating my plan. “Oh, it’s going to be two years, five years, seven years.” No: I’m putting forward the moral imperative of dealing with slavery.’ And if people are convinced of that, then politicians will come up with a plan to do it. That means politicians are eventually going to pick up those ideas and use them in other ways and turn them into political strategies.”

>  31 August 2015 | LINK
Selected readings about activism and digital campaigning.
Twitter  19 August 2015 | LINK
Ousted from the Georgia House of Reps for opposing the Vietnam war, Julian Bond wrote a comic:

Twitter  17 August 2015 | LINK | Filed in ,
Twitter  10 August 2015 | LINK | Filed in ,

Suicide Rate for Black Children Surges

Three months ago, I read a story in the NY Times with a chilling lede: the suicide rate among black children has nearly doubled since the early 1990s, while the rate for white children has declined.

The story haunted me, and when the Harper’s Index repeated the statistic it prompted me to track down the source. It turns out the study cited uses data from the Centers for Disease Control, data that is easily accessible via the web. So I created a chart to show the change over time. The data is spiky but the overall trend is clear and horrifying.

Suicide by Adolescent Boys

Here is a csv of the chart’s data drawn from the CDC Fatal Injury Reports, 1999 - 2013 and 1981 - 1998.

>  8 August 2015 | LINK | Filed in
Twitter bot idea: links to stories covering police actions in passive voice.

Twitter  5 August 2015 | LINK | Filed in ,
Cool initiative from the Library Freedom Project will install Tor exit nodes in libraries.
Twitter  29 July 2015 | LINK | Filed in
Fax Robot: an Open Source website for sending faxes
Twitter  28 July 2015 | LINK | Filed in
@Bipartisanism: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” #SandraBland

Twitter  26 July 2015 | LINK | Filed in
How the NYPD Abused Citizens in the Name of Data, and How One Cop Exposed It

Twitter  22 July 2015 | LINK | Filed in ,
Building an open database of police union contracts, and fact sheets on police accountability for 100 U.S. cities:
Twitter  10 July 2015 | LINK | Filed in ,
Seen in the subway: this lovely know-your-rights poster for rent-stabilized tenants by the Center for Urban Pedagogy, CAAAV and IntraCollaborative
Rent-Stabilized Tenants Have Rights
More info here →
Twitter  8 July 2015 | LINK | Filed in , ,
Secret campaign contributions
Secret trade agreements
Secret subpoenas
Secret evidence
Secret courts
Secret prisons
Twitter  30 June 2015 | LINK | Filed in
🌒 Display the current phase of the moon in your command line.
Twitter  24 June 2015 | LINK
🐝💀 = 😳💀
Twitter  17 June 2015 | LINK | Filed in ,
Support fair pricing for library ebooks #FairEbookPrices
Twitter  15 June 2015 | LINK | Filed in
Ford Foundation shifts grant making to focus entirely on inequality.
Twitter  13 June 2015 | LINK | Filed in
All Day I Dream About data Structures
Twitter  6 June 2015 | LINK
“Wherever you go in this world, you should always look for the exits.”
— life wisdom from UN security.
Twitter  6 June 2015 | LINK
So many big organizations need internal legibility. Visualizing “Where are we working?” is often a good first step towards understanding “How are we doing?”
Twitter  6 June 2015 | LINK

More? See June’s archives.
Or May’s.