Tag Archives: brave new films

Van Jones & His Green Ideas

9 Sep

From HeatingOil.com

by Tara L. Conley

Van Jones recently resigned from his post as Special Advisor for Green Jobs in The White House, but hopefully the ideas he advocated for like green roof technology will remain.

Before coming to The White House, Van Jones had been advocating for what he called “green jobs” – the confluence of two ideas; creating new jobs while at the same time building a more cost and energy efficient environment. Among Jones’ top priorities as Special Advisor for Green Jobs was to promote ‘green roof’ technology. The idea behind this type of technology is to provide energy and cost reducing benefits to residents, business owners, and surrounding neighborhoods by building rooftop ecosystem covered with living plants. The vegetated roofs add insulation, reduce urban “heat island effects” and storm water run off, and improve the overall quality of the buildings. During the summer months, planted roofs remain cooler, reducing the need for energy guzzling air conditioners. More green rooftop projects would provide employment opportunities for urban area contractors and builders, thereby creating an entirely new sector within the green industry.

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Women of Color in an Obama Era

4 Dec

From Huffington Post.

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Today, like I do everyday around noon, I moved my car from one side of the street to the other as directed by the Culver City parking limit sign. While waiting at the stop sign, a block from theBrave New Films office (my employer), I watched as three Latina women crossed the street strolling along three white children. The women appeared to be related, la abuela, la madre, and the daughter following closely behind. Three generations of Latina domestic workers pushing three white-raced children in a stroller along the pristine streets of Culver City, California – what else is new? This wasn’t the first time I’ve seen Latinas walk white-raced children around the streets of this liberal-leaning city. Fifty years ago, those Latinas would probably have been African-American women – the faces have changed, but not necessarily the situation. 3035695957_00e14567b3

All this got me thinking about women of color and where we fit into this new Obama era. While I don’t believe any politician is ever more powerful than the will of the people, I can’t help but wonder how Obama’s power as President will address the myriad of low wage-(or no wage)-earning, care-taking, health-insurance-lacking, poverty-stricken women of color (WOC) in the United States.

African-American women still comprise over sixty percent of the labor force among women. Women of color in general are much less likely to hold managerial and professional jobs than white women. Women of color are more likely to be poor than white women, and with the exception of Asian-American women, WOC are considerably less likely to hold a BA degree or higher than white women. WOC earn less than white women with the same education level. Asian-American and Native American women in particular share in the highest proportion of female suicide deaths across race, ages 15-44. African-American, Native American, and Asian-American women are significantly less likely to than white women to report being a victim of sexual and domestic violence. Among women, Latinas/Chicanas are the least represented at the highest levels of education.

I thoroughly respect Obama’s National Security choices, including Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and Janet Napolitano. Placing these women at high leadership positions symbolizes a societal transition toward forward thinking shape-shifters. Yet, just as we aren’t in a post-race era, we certainly haven’t transcended gender discrimination and economic and health disparities among women and men – especially as it relates to women of color.

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My African-American mother is the sole caretaker of my white-raced father, a 78-year-old veteran, suffering from heart disease, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and severe emphysema. She, like many other WOC who take care of sick and dying family members, is also unemployed – and not necessarily by choice. Despite the fact that she has chosen to go back to school and finish her Bachelor’s degree, there aren’t many options for a middle-aged black women (with a plethora of work experience) in this day-in age.

But my little familial anecdote isn’t any different from, say, that of women in DC living with HIV, wherein 90% of them are black. Nor is my story any different from the Latina domestic workers in Culver City, or the large majority of Native and Asian-American young women struggling with depression, and taking their own lives as a result. We have progressed as a nation, and while we all can take great pride in our future First lady and First daughters (Michelle, Malia, and Sasha), the problems WOC collectively face in the U.S. are significant in comparison to that of white women and men. In other words, we still have work to do.

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Issues concerning women of color span economy, education, health, poverty, and popular culture. While the problems that arise within these multiple modes of society vary, the fact remains that the struggles we face as women of the growing minority are compounded by race. The implications of an Obama administration upon the lives of women of color is yet to be seen. Though we understand that policies and legislation which positively influence the conditions of WOC can, in essence, impact the entire well-being of U.S. society. If women of color suffer, we all do – because we are the workers, the (First) mothers, the (First) daughters, and yet still, the struggling and dying many.

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Right: Friend, Kami Fletcher, and I at Obama rally in Dallas during the Texas primaries.

Many thanks to Smita Satiani and Axel Woolfolk for contributing insights and editorial suggestions to this essay.

Sources:
Institute For Women’s Policy Research
Eliza Noh, Ph.D., California State University, Fullerton
National VAWA Survey

Caught In Transformation: A Reflection on the 2008 Presidential Election and Athlete Activism

6 Nov

From YouthNoise.

I am still coming down from my high.  I simply cannot put into words this threshold moment. We are in the midst of transition as if being consumed by a giant wave.  Linear perspective has officially suspended.  We can’t quite comprehend this moment because we, as Natalie Portman’s character in Garden State says, are in it.

I blog for you today—the first day of the rest of our lives, and the day after we elected Barack Obama, the first man of color to the Presidency of the United States of America.

This victory means so much to millions of people in the United States and around the world.  The 2008 presidential election has inspired political activism full throttle, even among those apathetic professional athletes I tend to criticize.

William C. Rhoden of The New York Times just published an article today entitled “Obama Duplicates a ‘Joe Louis Moment'” referencing the culturally historic 1938 fight when Joe Louis, a black heavy weight boxer from Alabama, defeated German boxer Max Schmeling at Yankee Stadium.  Mind you, this heavy weight match occurred during one of the most turbulent times our country’s history, World War II.  Louis was herald as a national hero for the masses.  Like Rhoden describes it, “[Louis] was the first universally embraced black hero.”  The proof is documented on the streets of Harlem where upon thousands of African-Americans rejoiced, cheering on the Brown Bomber, the man of whom they considered a living legend.

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Harlem, 1938 celebrating Joe Louis’ victory.  Photo courtesy of www.blackhistoryyeverymonth.com

The election of Barack Obama to the United States Presidency is our generations’ Joe Louis moment.  He single-handedly ousted his political competitors who adhered to tired and raucous campaign tactics.  He breathed new life into american politics by reaching out to young people, white-raced people, poor people, and any other demographic you can think of with open arms.  He called upon all americans using new media technology, innovative grassroots organizing methods, and has coined a new twenty-first century message of hope and change that will undoubtedly solidify his legacy in the history books for generations to come.

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Chicago, 2008 celebrating Barack Obama’s victory.  Photo courtesy of www.oregonlive.com

The 2008 presidential election and the candidates (namely Barack Obama), have notably encouraged activism in the professional sports community.  Major W/NBA, NFL, and MLB players alike have been moved toward political activism in various ways.  From participating in voter registration drives to participating in PSA’s, it’s no doubt that athletes have collectively evolved beyond the Michael Jordan moments of political passivity.  Will this be a sweeping trend in the sports world?  Only time will tell.  After all, many pro athletes still want to protect their most precious interests, paid endorsements.  This summer during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Lebron James and the U.S.A basketball team quickly turned apathetic upon realizing that their professions could be compromised if they used the global sports stage to speak out politically.

Yet still, athletes like NBA player Grant Hill are optimistic.

“What’s interesting is that I’ve seen a lot of athletes lending their support — either way, for both candidates. Just seeing athletes playing more of a role in the political process is something we haven’t really seen for a while. I’ve seen athletes really coming out, lending their support, giving money, going to events, hosting fund-raisers. You really haven’t seen a lot of that in the last 20, 30 years.”

Rhoden believes that this year’s presidential race has “created a free space for activism without risk” for many athletes.  To think that we’ve actually reached a point in our country’s history where we are so hunger for change that even the most mainstreamed athletes feel compelled to do something.  If anything, we are confronting a pinnacle moment of new consciousness most desirable for those starving for revolutionary change.

This presidential campaign has been a long journey for me personally.  I’ve volunteered for campaigns in Texas, outreached for candidates in California, and got out the vote for young voters in Nevada.  I’ve come to that point where I’m emotionally overwhelmed while experiencing an internal quietness at the same time.  It’s like standing alone in the middle of a desolate road waiting anxiously for something I can’t fully describe or comprehend.  Exasperated, I ask myself while in this moment: “Is this actually happening?  Am I really standing here experiencing whatever this is?”

I imagine that’s what folks felt like in 1938 when they crowded the streets of Harlem celebrating Joe Louis’ triumphant win. The moment is so surreal and unimaginable that we question our own existence while experiencing it – it’s as if we don’t believe that we’re actually here and alive.  History has been transformed into a tangible event in which we are living it, breathing it, feeling it, and hopefully embracing it while being touched by it.

What is happening now is that all of us, including our beloved athletes, are wandering along that desolate road looking at one another in utter astonishment.  We’ll continue to wander until that moment when we accept this dream as reality.  Upon acceptance, I hope that all of us, pro athletes included, will continue the fight in order to ensure that our activist efforts weren’t in vain.  I hope that our athletes never lose their activist enthusiasm just because we accomplished the first task.  Though we might feel perplexed and overwhelmed at this transformational moment, we can still move forward while looking back knowing that we made history, herstory, ourstory possible.

Rebirth: Documenting Obama’s Historic Win

5 Nov

Live-blogging from my Blackberry.

I can’t really put into words this moment.

I didn’t think I would be so affected in this way. Witnessing Obama win state after state is an experience like non other. This man, who looks like me, holds similiar ideological beliefs as I do, and understands that being black and white isn’t a burden but a possibilty, makes me proud. It’s a similar feeling I had during the primaries when I witnessed Hillary make herstory. I’m moved beyond words.

I’m sitting here at a company election party writing by myself on my Blackberry while my co-workers indulge in finger foods and cheer at the screen projecting Obama wins. Though I write alone, I’m fulfilled. I’m witnessing history, herstory – our story, right before my eyes.

My mother-in-law (my brother’s wife’s mother) passed away yesterday of complications due to cancer.  She died alone. Some say that we choose to die alone while experiencing a surreal transition.   It’s a sacred moment, like when we’re born. No witnesses, no cameras, no documenting. Just alone.  

I’m awaiting Obama’s acceptance speech – alone. I feel like what I’m about to withness will be sacred. Profound. I suspect that I’ll cry being overwhelmed with heavy emotion. I suspect I will grapple internally when witnessing a shift in paradigm. I figure that I won’t fully grasp the miracle happening because I am apart of it, and made it so.  

I’m looking at Chicago’s Grant Park on television. Tens of thousands gather to witness history. It’s an amazing sight to see. People of all colors, socio-economic backgrounds, and genders convene on the lawn at Grant Park. United States flags wave proudly in the wind; folks r proud this time around because we feel change coming.

It can easily be argued that an Obama landslide is largely due to a failed Bush Administation.  I agree. But I also think that people respond to ideals aligned with radical change. Bush had something to do with it but so did Hillary’s monumental run and Barack Obama’s transformational message.  Things indeed do happen for a reason, even George W. Bush.

***

Barack Obama was just announced President-elect of the United States of America.

I’m crying.  I’m hiding behind my hair.  I’m fixated.  I don’t understand what’s happening.  I don’t believe it.

Co-workers approach me rubbing my back, hugging me.  I’m shaking my head.  Black Revlon mascara drips down my brown cheeks.

I just left the party and now I’m standing alone in the women’s bathroom stall at Bugby’s.  Crying.  I call my mom.  No answer.

White-raced women come in and out of the bathroom.  They notice me crying.  They smile at me.  They understand.

I call mom again.

“Mom, Barack Obama is our new President” I said to her.

“I know.  I never thought I’d see this day” she said to me.

“I’m crying right now mom” I said while listening to other women in the bathroom talk to their mothers and grandmothers on their cell phones.

“Awh, baby.  I know. I know” she says.

Walking back to the party my boss Robert Greenwald approaches me.  Smiling, he hugs me. Sobbing on his shoulders, I thank him.  He understands. 

This moment, though largely due to our efforts, is so much bigger than us.

I await Obama’s acceptance speech.  While waiting, I’m thankful John McCain acknowledges this moment in his concession speech.  Whether for political purposes or not – what’s said is said.  I’m just glad it’s over.

Trying to hold back tears I stand thinking about all that we need to accomplish in the following days.

It’s just the beginning.  Like I said in my 2005 documentary on Hurricane Katrina, we have so much work to do.

I pray, hope, plead, beg, and cry out that Obama uses his power wisely.  He represents us; you and I. Though, just like a child being reborn into this world for the first time, I hope all my crying isn’t in vain.