Latest “DOCTOR WHO” deals front and center with racism

Doctor Who has received significant viewer and critical acclaim for an episode featuring Rosa Parks (Vinette Robinson) that tackled racism and discrimination

❝ Called “Rosa” and cowritten by Noughts & Crosses author Malorie Blackman, the episode featured the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and her assistants visiting Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. They meet Parks in the days before she refused to move from her seat in the “coloured section” of a segregated bus to make way for white passengers.

DON’T RTFA – unless you’re prepared for spoilers. I know I didn’t. But, the Cloud DVR within Sony’s Playstation VUE already has it recorded for me. I’ll watch it in the next few days. You can search for the Good Doctor from your TV provider.

Israeli airline asked her to change seats – must not offend an Orthodox male

Renee Rabinowitz is a sharp-witted retired lawyer with a Ph.D. in educational psychology, who escaped the Nazis in Europe as a child. Now she is about to become a test case in the battle over religion and gender in Israel’s public spaces — and the skies above — as the plaintiff in a lawsuit accusing El Al, the national airline, of discrimination.

Ms. Rabinowitz was comfortably settled into her aisle seat in the business-class section on El Al Flight 028 from Newark to Tel Aviv in December when, as she put it, “this rather distinguished-looking man in Hasidic or Haredi garb, I’d guess around 50 or so, shows up.”

The man was assigned the window seat in her row. But, like many ultra-Orthodox male passengers, he did not want to sit next to a woman, seeing even inadvertent contact with the opposite sex as verboten under the strictest interpretation of Jewish law. Soon, Ms. Rabinowitz said, a flight attendant offered her a “better” seat, up front, closer to first class.

Reluctantly, Ms. Rabinowitz, an impeccably groomed 81-year-old grandmother who walks with a cane because of bad knees, agreed.

“Despite all my accomplishments — and my age is also an accomplishment — I felt minimized,” she recalled in a recent interview…

Now, a liberal advocacy group that had spent two years searching for a test case on switching seats plans to sue the blue-and-white flag carrier on Ms. Rabinowitz’s behalf in a Tel Aviv court next week.

“We needed a case of a flight attendant being actively involved,” explained the group’s director, Anat Hoffman, “to show that El Al has internalized the commandment, ‘I cannot sit next to a woman…’ ”

❝ “When did modesty become the sum and end all of being a Jewish woman?” Ms. Rabinowitz asked. Citing examples like the biblical warrior Deborah, the matriarch Sarah and Queen Esther, she noted: “Our heroes in history were not modest little women.”

I have no notion of how Israeli courts will rule. That nation’s relationship with state religion is obviously very different from the United States. As are many other countries with official state religions. There are standards for international commerce and travel and I believe – at a minimum – segregated flight isn’t allowable.

Maybe not.

Confederate flag taken down


Click for videoJohn Moore/Getty Images

Citizens of South Carolina celebrate removal of a symbol of racism and slavery

Some Americans still vacillate between ignorance and bigotry. Certainly Black folks in South Carolina know the history of slavery and racism in the Confederacy. It’s been shoved in their faces all their lives. But, the idjits who prattle about Southern Heritage being represented by that stars and bars rag are too ignorant to breathe on their own.

It was a dead issue in the South until it was adopted by racist politicians trying to preserve segregation as part and parcel of Southern life. There were NO southern statehouses flying the Confederate flag the first time I was arrested in a sit-in. That ploy hadn’t yet been thought of by corrupt officials in Southern states.

There’s nothing to preserve. Only one more tactic, part of a range of mediocrities adopted by fools and bigots to prop up their failed belief in racial superiority.

The progress of resegregation in the American South


Unlike her father—and now her daughter—Melissa Dent attended an integrated high school

Tuscaloosa, Alabama’s…Central was not just a renowned local high school. It was one of the South’s signature integration success stories. In 1979, a federal judge had ordered the merger of the city’s two largely segregated high schools into one. The move was clumsy and unpopular, but its consequences were profound. Within a few years, Central emerged as a powerhouse that snatched up National Merit Scholarships and math-competition victories just as readily as it won trophies in football, track, golf. James Dent’s daughter Melissa graduated from Central in 1988, during its heyday, and went on to become the first in her family to graduate from college.

But on that sunlit day last October, as Dent searched for Melissa’s daughter in the procession coming into view, he saw little to remind him of that era. More caravan than parade, Central’s homecoming pageant consisted of a wobbly group of about 30 band members, some marching children from the nearby elementary schools, and a dozen or so cars with handwritten signs attached to their sides. The route began in the predominantly black West End and ended a few blocks later, just short of the railroad tracks that divide that community from the rest of the city.

The reason for the decline of Central’s homecoming parade is no secret. In 2000, another federal judge released Tuscaloosa City Schools from the court-ordered desegregation mandate that had governed it for a single generation. Central had successfully achieved integration, the district had argued—it could be trusted to manage that success going forward.

Freed from court oversight, Tuscaloosa’s schools have seemed to move backwards in time. The citywide integrated high school is gone, replaced by three smaller schools. Central retains the name of the old powerhouse, but nothing more. A struggling school serving the city’s poorest part of town, it is 99 percent black. D’Leisha, an honors student since middle school, has only marginal college prospects. Predominantly white neighborhoods adjacent to Central have been gerrymandered into the attendance zones of other, whiter schools.

Tuscaloosa’s schools today are not as starkly segregated as they were in 1954, the year the Supreme Court declared an end to separate and unequal education in America. No all-white schools exist anymore—the city’s white students generally attend schools with significant numbers of black students. But while segregation as it is practiced today may be different than it was 60 years ago, it is no less pernicious: in Tuscaloosa and elsewhere, it involves the removal and isolation of poor black and Latino students, in particular, from everyone else. In Tuscaloosa today, nearly one in three black students attends a school that looks as if Brown v. Board of Education never happened.

Tuscaloosa’s school resegregation—among the most extensive in the country—is a story of city financial interests, secret meetings, and angry public votes. It is a story shaped by racial politics and a consuming fear of white flight. It was facilitated, to some extent, by the city’s black elites. And it was blessed by a U.S. Department of Justice no longer committed to fighting for the civil-rights aims it had once championed.

Leading paragraphs from a solid historic narrative. An enjoyable read grounded in sound journalism, solid research, this is a tale that gets hands around all the variables that ebb and flow through one part of our nation’s racist history. A history marching backwards since the days of Reagan, lies that became institutionalized in the days of Nixon, lies enhanced and given a whirlwind of fire and growth by the Bushes and Blue Dog Democrats.

I’m not going to launch into what I think needs to be done, today. This crime is repeated throughout our nation, provoked by motivations running the gamut of economics to education with racism as it always is – at the core of so much lousy American politics. The Deep South gets the main hit in this article. But, the New York City of Mayor Bloomberg, the Chicago of one or another Daley, slips from the same mold that distorts the reality of America as the land of opportunity – if you’re not white.

A worthwhile read.

Thanks, Mike

Home schoolers make a play for high school teams

Patrick Foss is a top teenage soccer player who plans to graduate a semester early and enter the University of Virginia next January. His neighbor is a point guard on the local public high school basketball team in northern Virginia.

Next fall, Patrick, 17, would like to try out as a kicker on the football team at Freedom High School in South Riding, Va., but he is home-schooled and thus ineligible.

“My parents pay the same exact taxes as my next-door neighbor who plays varsity sports,” he said. “I just want to be part of the community. You shouldn’t have to pick between athletics and academics.”

The usual beancounter’s excuse. Why fight for improvements in the public school system when you can go outside the system. And, then, you want to cherry-pick what bits and pieces you find fit your desires.

A hotly contested bill that passed the Republican-controlled House of Delegates in the Virginia General Assembly on Wednesday would change that, permitting home-schooled students to play varsity sports at public high schools. The Virginia bill is the latest attempt by home-schooling advocates around the country to gain greater access to extracurricular activities at public schools…

Opponents of the bill argue that playing varsity sports is a privilege surrendered when students opt out of the public school system; that home-schoolers might take roster spots from public school students; and that it would be extremely difficult to apply the same academic, attendance and discipline requirements to home-schooled students as to those who are monitored daily in public schools.

To maintain varsity eligibility, for instance, Virginia’s public school students must take five courses in the current semester and must have passed five in the previous semester. Home-schooled students do not have to adhere to that standard…

Continue reading

Israel’s Rosa Parks refuses to take a back seat to religion


Dangerous uppity woman, Tanya Rosenblit

When Tanya Rosenblit boarded an inter-city bus bound for Jerusalem from her native Ashdod Friday morning, she did not anticipate the storm it would spark within Israel. The public bus she boarded normally carries ultra-Orthodox passengers and travels to an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem.

As a matter of custom women sit in the back portion of the bus, because the ultra-Orthodox avoid mingling of the sexes according to their beliefs. She was the first passenger that morning on the bus and took a seat behind the driver. As the bus took on more passengers along its route, an ultra-orthodox man demanded she should sit in the back of the bus as is the custom on that route.

“I heard him call me ‘Shikse,'” Rosenblit wrote on her Facebook page, referencing a Yiddish term for a non-Jewish woman. “He demanded I sit in the back of the bus, because Jewish men couldn’t sit behind women (!!!). I refused…”

An argument ensued and ultimately the bus driver called the police to intervene…The responding police officer tried to talk to everyone and calm things down. Rosenblit said he asked if she was willing to show respect for the objectors and move to the back of the bus. She refused and, after a 30-minute delay, the bus moved on to Jerusalem with her sitting up front…

A spokesman for Egged, the transportation company that runs the bus line, told CNN in a statement that it “does not deal with seating arrangements” on its buses and that “even if there are population groups that prefer to sit separately due to their beliefs, it is a voluntary choice and does not bind the other passengers.”

Rosenblit describes herself as secular and said she did not ride the bus looking for a confrontation…

It is wrong to use religion as an excuse to eliminate people’s basic rights: the right for freedom and the right for dignity.”

I couldn’t agree more. One more great reason to separate civil law and the operation of a state or nation from religion.

London is being turned into apartheid-era Johannesburg


Classes haven’t changed or added colors since they graduated in 1993

Children are being taught in “ghettos” as inner-city schools are increasingly divided along racial lines, a leading headmaster has warned.

David Levin said parts of London were starting to resemble apartheid-era South Africa, with black and white pupils being separated at a young age. He insisted that Britain was becoming a “silo society” as many young people never leave their own housing estate or mix with children from different racial and religious backgrounds.

The comments come amid continuing alarm over segregation in inner-city communities.

Entrenched segregation in the education system was seen as one of the fundamental causes of the race riots that rocked parts of northern England a decade ago. A recent report found that schools in Oldham – one of the worst flashpoints – are still largely split along racial lines…

Mr Levin, the head of fee-paying City of London School, said he grew up in South Africa “where apartheid was imposed and people had to live in different areas”…

Speaking at the annual meeting of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, which represents 250 leading independent schools, Mr Levin told how his teachers and pupils were involved in partnership programmes with state schools in the capital to help raise standards. This includes the “gifted and talented” scheme designed to push the brightest children…

Some 97 per cent of pupils at one of the schools – Stepney Green Maths and Computing College – are of Bangledeshi origin, he said.

Mr Levin added: “A number of those children through no fault of their own have not been out of their council estate, never mind Tower Hamlets. This cannot be a good thing…”

In my view, I think London is sleepwalking towards Johannesburg. The ghettoisation of the community.”

Mr Levin said that children in many of these inner-city schools were “not mixing with other people from different faiths, different races and different socio-economic backgrounds”.

There’s little or no justification for maintaining the foolishness of segregated society. Yes, everyone has great “natural” reasons about how this occurs. Everyone too lazy to be concerned.

There is never a shortage of rationales to justify bigotry and discrimination. But, when avenues from the bottom of society leading to the top are blockaded by a ittle mistake here, a little slip-up there – and children grow into disaffected youngsters, unemployed and unemployable – the result is always the same. A breeding ground for crime and violence – which officialdom hopes will always be directed into the segregated society instead of striking out at the profiteers of a divided society.

The Beatles banned segregated audiences

The Beatles showed their support for the US civil rights movement by refusing to play in front of segregated audiences, a contract shows.

The document, which is to be auctioned next week, relates a 1965 concert at the Cow Palace in California. Signed by manager Brian Epstein, it specifies that The Beatles “not be required to perform in front of a segregated audience”.

The agreement also guarantees the band payment of $40,000 (£25,338). Other requirements include a special drumming platform for Ringo Starr and the provision of 150 uniformed police officers for protection…

The Beatles had previously taken a public stand on civil rights in 1964, when they refused to perform at a segregated concert at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida.

City officials relented, allowing the stadium to be integrated, and the band took to the stage.

“We never play to segregated audiences and we aren’t going to start now,” said John Lennon. “I’d sooner lose our appearance money.”

I knew there was another great reason why I always loved the Beatles. Actually, among folks active in the civi rights movement – in the Land of the Free – we all knew about the Beatles’ stance against racism. It was only the “official” newspapers and radio and TV stations that wouldn’t admit it.

Liberation of Paris in WW2 orchestrated by the Allies to be ‘whites only’

Papers unearthed by the BBC reveal that British and American commanders ensured that the liberation of Paris on 25 August 1944 was seen as a “whites only” victory.

The leader of the Free French forces, Charles de Gaulle, made it clear that he wanted his Frenchmen to lead the liberation of Paris. Allied High Command agreed, but only on one condition: De Gaulle’s division must not contain any black soldiers.

In January 1944 Eisenhower’s Chief of Staff, Major General Walter Bedell Smith, was to write in a memo stamped, “confidential”: “It is more desirable that the division mentioned above consist of white personnel. This would indicate the Second Armoured Division, which with only one fourth native personnel, is the only French division operationally available that could be made one hundred percent white.”

At the time America segregated its own troops along racial lines and did not allow black GIs to fight alongside their white comrades until the late stages of the war.

Given the fact that Britain did not segregate its forces and had a large and valued Indian army, one might have expected London to object to such a racist policy. Yet this does not appear to have been the case…

Finding an all-white division that was available proved to be impossible due to the enormous contribution made to the French Army by West African conscripts. So, Allied Command insisted that all black soldiers be taken out and replaced by white ones from other units.

When it became clear that there were not enough white soldiers to fill the gaps, soldiers from parts of North Africa and the Middle East were used instead. In the end, nearly everyone was happy. De Gaulle got his wish to have a French division lead the liberation of Paris, even though the shortage of white troops meant that many of his men were actually Spanish.

I doubt if the average American soldier, today, knows much about his service’s racist past. It took the Marines to break the color barrier in the U.S. military. And a number of years for the other services to catch up.