Austin C. McCoy is a Phd Candidate in History at the University of Michigan. He is writing a dissertation on progressives’ responses to plant closings and urban fiscal crises in the Midwest during the 1970s and 1980s.
President Obama, Paul Ryan, and Bill O’Reilly walk into a bar. Rather than engage in abstract conversations about the role of America in the world or the federal government’s role in the market, they decide to talk about an issue where they can forge some common ground. What issue could the three men come together around? It is probable they would likely converge around trying to explain and address the poverty of black men and women in the United States. This common ground is possible because national conversations about public policy never seem to escape the orbit of culture, meritocracy, colorblindness, and normative understandings of gender and family. More specifically, Ryan’s, Obama’s, and O’Reilly’s recent comments on the subject revolve around two political archetypes—the heteronormative family and the black male. When considered together, they take a special place in our nation’s “gendered imagination.”
Political hip hop songs tend to focus on the typical manifestations of state violence, structural racism, and corporate capitalism—police brutality, poverty, the prison-industrial complex, ghettoization, and war. Themes of healthy eating and food justice, however, are underappreciated topics in rap music. One is more likely to hear rap songs about drug, alcohol, and eating binges… Read more →
Renisha McBride’s death once again reveals how the criminalization and dehumanization of black youth and the violent policing of black bodies persists in spite of triumphant declarations of post-racial America. On November 2, nineteen-year-old Renisha McBride became the latest African American to die because someone perceived her presence as a threat. That night, McBride was involved in a car accident with a parked car in Detroit. Two hours later, she was shot dead in the face at a house in Dearborn Heights. McBride’s parents claim she was looking for help. The homeowner thought she was trying to break into his home, and his gun discharged accidentally.
I wish I found the idea of cutting $39 billion from the federal government’s food stamp program (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP) during a recession unbelievable. But, as usual, House Republicans continue to thwart all belief and reason. Some Republicans like Paul Ryan (R-WI) are concerned about the program’s sustainability. They worry that the size of the program will not shrink fast enough over the next four years. However, as Travis Waldron of Think Progress notes, SNAP is based upon income and not employment, therefore explaining the program’s projected marginal decrease.
The debate over who should serve as the next chairperson of the Federal Reserve (Fed) is indicative of the glass ceiling that persists in the world of finance. Many consider President Obama’s former economic adviser, Larry Summers, as the front runner to serve as the next chairperson of the Fed once current chairman Ben Bernanke steps down next year. Yet, several Democrats, economists, and journalists have voiced their support for the current Vice Chairwoman of the Fed’s Board of Governors, Janet Yellen.
Rap superstar Jay Z and CNN news anchor Don Lemon added some extra hot sauce to the “conversation about race” in the wake of one of the “hottest” and racially-charged summers in recent memory. In a July 24 interview with journalist Elliot Wilson, Jay Z responded to a series of comments that Harry Belafonte made about Jay Z, Beyoncé, and other black celebrities in an interview last year. When asked to respond to Belafonte’s lamentation about current black celebrities’ inability or unwillingness to use their fame to advocate for social change, Jay Z shot back: “I’m offended by that because first of all, and this is going to sound arrogant, but my presence is charity. Just who I am. Just like Obama’s is. Obama provides hope…”
I am not accustomed to writing autobiographically, but Jacqueline asked us to reflect on our experiences blogging for Nursing Clio. First, I want to express how much I have enjoyed contributing my voice to the outstanding chorus that Jacqueline and the rest of Nursing Clio’s editors orchestrate on a daily basis. I am grateful that Jacqueline asked me to write for the blog because I appreciate the value of producing what we in The Ohio State University’s African American and African Studies Department called “relevant scholarship”—intellectual content aiding people of color and progressives in their political struggles. I thought I would write of my writing experiences generally so I can illustrate how writing for Nursing Clio fulfills a responsibility to act as an activist-minded public scholar.
On December 15, 2011, the Obama administration announced “administration action” to protect the nation’s 1.7 million home care workers. President Obama called for the establishment of minimum wage and overtime standards that all workers recognized in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) received. These new reforms would virtually eliminate the “elder companion exemption” in the FLSA that Congress established in 1974 which allowed home care employers to continue their exploitation of home care workers.
President Obama delivered this announcement four years after the Supreme Court decided unanimously that the case’s plaintiff Evelyn Coke, and other home care workers, were not entitled to minimum wage protections and overtime pay. Like most home care workers, Evelyn Coke worked long hours for little pay. Coke performed what scholars Jennifer Klein and Elieen Boris call “intimate labor”—she cooked, cleaned, and bathed her clients. Coke worked 24 hour shifts often and she worked decades without receiving benefits. When Coke decided to sue for back pay, the Supreme Court ruled against her, reinforcing the historical stigmatization of intimate labor. Two years later, the home care workers’ movement lost Evelyn Coke. Home care workers are still waiting for Obama’s “administration action” four years after the ruling.
The Steubenville rape case and CNN’s disturbing response to the conviction of the two football players illustrate the pervasiveness of rape culture in American society. As Blogger Lauren Nelson highlighted in her piece, “So you’re tired of hearing about rape culture,” politicians, news pundits, athletes, teenagers, men, and women have displayed some or all the characteristics of rape culture recently—victim-blaming, shaming, and (online) bullying, objectifying women, demonizing sexually active women, perpetuating the notion that (young) men, especially athletes, are entitled to act upon women’s bodies without their legal consent, and sympathizing with those judged guilty.
Some political observers have pointed out how President Obama’s second inaugural address contained plenty of memorable lines. The President’s affirmation of women’s rights, civil rights, and gay rights, via his Seneca Falls, Selma, and Stonewall allusions, does not just stand out as an impressive use of lyrical alliteration; it represents the acknowledgement of Obama’s electoral coalition. Also, Obama’s nod serves as a ringing validation of the same manifestations of “identity politics” that some critics have chided while lamenting the fate of the U.S. Left after the 1960s. Obama’s adoption of the rhetoric in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution highlights feminists’, civil rights advocates’, and gay rights activists’ efforts to expand democracy by forcing the nation to live by its own creed articulated in the founding documents.