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  • Thursday, June 02, 2016 10:00 AM | Anonymous member

    By Ron Grant

    There was a time in my life, not all that long ago, when I was completely disillusioned with the entire political/voting process. The year was 2004. I was a student at Oakland University in a city 30 minutes north of Detroit, MI. The Presidential election consisted of the choices of George W. Bush and John Kerry. I looked out at the election landscape and was thoroughly fed up with and disgusted by what I saw and heard.

    In all honesty, I believe this year's version of the race for the White House, as well as more locally-focused elections in Georgia and around the country, have many of the people I know, love and consider family and friends feeling the same way that I felt back then. Furthermore, I'd be nothing more than a boldface liar, a fraud and a hypocrite if I said that I still didn't harbor at least some of those old feelings when seeing what I see during the current election cycle. However, even with all of the frustration and disillusionment, there is no question that I still believe that, individually and collectively, we must do all that we can to make our voices heard and take to task anyone and anything that seeks to prevent us from doing so. Right now.


    The concerns must go far beyond the Presidential election though. The results from May 24th’s primaries here in Georgia don’t lie. From the U.S. House and Senate races to contests for state legislatures, from educational proposals to voting injustices in Fulton county (officials reported people were listed in the wrong district and reported concern for basic accommodations for disabled people), we have been shown, once again, the importance and consequences of both voting and not voting.

    Allow me to be transparent for a moment. I understand that many of us see the choices in the 2016 Presidential election as being, for lack of a better term, deplorable. I understand that much of what we're seeing can be construed as out and out lies, ridiculous theatrics, sloppy, problematic propaganda and overall foolishness. I get that, once again, we seem to be on the road to a choice between of the lesser of two evils. I get that many of us have seen that we're under a system that does not work for a majority of our brothers and sisters, friends and family, neighbors and acquaintances. Not only does it not work for us, but many needlessly suffer as a result of that system.

    But what we must understand is that voting is never merely a matter of only voting. There is hard, unglamorous, unsexy work that has to be done prior to and after voting and that work must be done by us! So vote and start a block club. Vote and join a civic/social organization. Vote and educate yourself on the way the system is set up and what needs to change about it. Vote and attend community meetings. Vote and join a protest. Vote and have conversations with other people about how they vote regardless of party affiliation or viewpoint. Vote and become more familiar with the legal system and how it positively and negatively impacts your own life and the lives of people in your community.

    Vote and learn about how your vote impacts dollars and resources flowing into and out of your community. Vote and host a potluck meeting at your house. Vote and tune into diverse sources of news about your community and the world around you. Vote and do voracious research. Vote and pool resources for groups you want to support. Vote and do what you can to hold people and policies that you vote for accountable.

    Simply put, vote and take action; regardless of whether you claim to care or not care about politics, government and elections; regardless of who or what you believe in or claim to support; and regardless of what side you call yourself falling on. Because when all is said and done, if you don’t turn onto politics, politics has the potential to turn on you.

    The thoughts and opinions expressed in The PoliTicker are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily supported by ULGA-YP.

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  • Thursday, May 19, 2016 10:00 AM | Anonymous member

    By Tennielle Hamilton-Clark

    It’s 1985. I’m 3 years old. I can feel the warm Jamaican sun on my face. Sweet, perfectly ripened mango covers my mouth, my hair, my fingers, and even my favorite stuffed bunny named Bun-Bun. My mom tells me we are moving to this new country that she calls, “America.” I immediately wonder, “What’s America?”

    In America, I walked a tightrope of cultural identity for years. At school, I was in America. But as I stepped off the bus and entered my house, I was back in Jamaica. At home, everything was different. When discussing politics, we used terms like Prime Minister and parish. My parents would have barrels of things from Jamaica like clothes, food, and newspapers shipped to America to preserve our Jamaican culture. They felt that they needed to maintain a connection with our homeland, even though we started a new life in a foreign land.


    With every step on American soil, I became more and more Americanized. I used to go home and talk about what Reagan or Clinton was doing in office, social security, and other issues that would impact our future. The racial injustices that happened in America, from Emmett Till to Rodney King, were frequent topics of discussion. My fear of riding my bike around the neighborhood because I was frequently called “nigger” and had eggs thrown at me just for being black in Pennsylvania didn’t even stop the transformation. These social concerns receded from my conscious Jamaican thought to recesses of my American mind.

    By the time I was 18, I was just like many of my friends. I was more concerned about Destiny’s Child, Spring Break, what my college roommate was going to be like, and if I was going to drive myself to college like my friends. My hatred for George Bush’s administration just compounded the issue. As an African American, I felt my voice didn’t matter. I felt like Kanye West, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” As an immigrant, I felt he cared even less about me. When people in power do not look like or think like you, how can they speak for you?

    As I got older, my Jamaican passion for social issues was brought back to the surface by my experiences as an “African American woman.” Since I could “pass” as a native born woman, I would find myself in conversations where foreigners were ridiculed for not speaking English or for taking jobs from ‘real’ Americans. The Jamaican in me couldn’t stay silent. I would “out” myself to let them know not to let my dialect fool them. I, too, was an immigrant that was brought to this country to learn, grow, grind, and dream. My family being here didn’t cost anyone any job. Last time I checked, there wasn’t a line at the job fair for truck drivers, taxi cab drivers, janitors, or construction workers –  the jobs my family came for, sacrificed for, and bettered our lives with.

    By the time President Obama took office and fought for 7 years, the social cataracts that had developed due to my American indifference were fully removed. With every decision and battle, President Obama widened the scope of political discourse from a white America-big business-lobbyist focus to an everyday people focus. Once again, I saw my face in magazines. Corporations were trying to figure out what my needs were. I felt it was cool to be black.

    I am often asked, “Are you a citizen?” While I am not a citizen, I have decided to pursue citizenship; however, this is not without some reservations. As President Obama leaves office, my fear that our voices will be silenced again almost causes me to hyperventilate. And if Trump is elected, I may just pass out. But hey! My family still has a house in Jamaica. You might just see me waving to you from the ‘boat I came in on’ – off to enjoy the warm Jamaican sun and the sweetest, perfectly ripened mango that covers my hands, face, and even hair, but no Bun Bun.

    The thoughts and opinions expressed in The PoliTicker are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily supported by ULGA-YP.

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  • Thursday, May 12, 2016 10:40 AM | Anonymous member

    By A. W. Dashing

    Earlier this week, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) intention to sue the state of North Carolina for its “bathroom bill,” an act Ms. Lynch called “state-sponsored discrimination” against the people of the Tar Heel State and reminiscent of Jim Crow laws from more than a century ago.

    North Carolina state government has come under fire for enacting the law its Legislature passed during a special session back in March. House Bill 2 (HB2) overruled and banned legislation passed by the Charlotte City Council permitting bathroom accommodations to transgender persons, and required transgendered persons to use bathrooms corresponding with their birth gender. The bill was signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory and immediately met with resistance from residents, human rights organizations, corporations, entertainers, NASCAR and the NBA.

    Many may wonder what all the fuss is about, and rightly so. There have been arguments from both sides about the fear (real or perceived) of predatory actions against children and straight men abusing the law to act as peeping toms. It’s important to note that at no time before HB2 were transgendered persons required to use bathrooms associated with their birth gender anywhere in the United States. However, the core matter is simply if the new requirement places an unfair (and unnecessary) burden on a class of people. As with most controversial measures, there is a deep divide on the utility of the law.


    This action is about a great deal more than just bathrooms. This is about the dignity and respect we accord our fellow citizens and the laws that we, as a people and as a country, have enacted to protect them – indeed, to protect all of us.”  -Attorney General Loretta Lynch, May 9

    Just over a year removed from the announcement by former Olympian Bruce Jenner that he would live as a woman named Caitlyn, transgender rights have been re-introduced to the public consciousness with a greater spotlight.  Jenner recently told the New York Times she finds the law to be discriminatory and would break it if she ever needed to use a bathroom in North Carolina. The state’s university system has also decided to break the law, choosing to comply with federal law in a move most believe protects its transgender students and hundreds of millions of dollars in anticipated federal funding from the Department of Education.

    As the nation’s top prosecutor, Ms. Lynch has a special responsibility to protect all Americans against actions and policies that possibly discriminate. Lynch said the state’s law violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 1972 Title IX Education Amendments, both of which prohibit gender discrimination. The legal battle has just begun, with both the state and federal governments filing lawsuits against each other. The DOJ lawsuit is a countersuit to North Carolina’s filing against the federal government, asserting that Congress should make the rules on who goes where, not the DOJ.

    What are your thoughts on HB2 and its effects? Do you have issues with transgendered persons using bathrooms outside of their birth gender? Are there issues the law presents that have not been discussed? Should HB2 stand as law or be struck down? Leave them in the comments section.

    The thoughts and opinions expressed in The PoliTicker are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily supported by ULGA-YP.

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  • Wednesday, April 27, 2016 11:30 AM | Anonymous member

    By Wade Ivy, III

    Endless hordes of mindless, blood-thirsty humans, haunted by the memory of their former lives, descend upon our major cities, clumsily falling over themselves in search of that one thing that drives them, that brings them life, that gives them purpose. This is not a scene from the next season of The Walking Dead, but a very real, horrifying nightmare that a Donald Trump presidency would bring.

    Unlike the classic zombie flick, Trump zombies don’t lust for flesh; they lust for hate, and the Trump presidential campaign is Patient Zero. His substance-less onslaught of vitriolic ramblings has infected the masses and succeeded in popularizing hate and emboldening the hateful. He is a virus that can ultimately bring about the demise of the civilization we call America.


    So, what can you do to survive the Trump zombie apocalypse? Below are the three things you must do to effectively ward off the zombie hordes and survive a collapse of American society as we know it.

    1.     Get vaccinated.

    Luckily, there is a cure and vaccine for the Trump virus. All people in the affected areas should inoculate themselves with a pure strain love, understanding, and tolerance. The Trump virus is weak and is easily destroyed when met with antibodies of love. It can’t penetrate cells infused with love, not matter how many mutations it undergoes. It should be noted that behaving in a loving manner is difficult when others are out to devour you. However, reminding oneself that the zombies were once humans, with children, hobbies, fears, and passions, can help humanize these bloodthirsty beings. Although these zombies are dangerous, remember they are victims too.

    2.     Find protection.

    Many people will not get vaccinated, or will refuse treatment, and will therefore, be a threat to those around them. Hence, in addition to vaccinating yourself, you must get protection to ward off the Trump zombie. Guns, knives, swords, and baseball bats wrapped in barbed wire are not the proper tools for this outbreak. Harsh language and insults will only make them more aggressive and entrenched. However, there is one sure-fire way to repel the Trump zombie – FACTS! A fact to a Trump zombie is like a cross to a vampire; it repulses them, forcing them to cower in shame.  Unfortunately, facts can be hard to find during the apocalypse.  Traditional news media outlets will be obsessed with covering the gory details of the zombie attacks across the country, and will prove to be useless in your fact-finding mission. Internet-based shows like The Young Turks, The Thom Hartmann Show, This Week in Blackness, and The Best of the Left Podcast are great sources of facts and in depth analysis of political and social issues. NPR also has a sound reputation at reporting facts and serious analysis.  For those survivors with HBO, the Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and VICE are great programs with hard-hitting political analysis and investigative journalism.

    3.     Store food and water.
    No really, store food and water. Zombies are really unpredictable. However, even with ample nutrition, there may still be a risk of starvation, political and civic starvation, if you disengage from the fight and become apathetic. The sheer size of the Trump zombie horde can lead to feelings of hopelessness and depression – the feeling that total collapse is inevitable and intellectual death is imminent. It isn’t. No matter how daunting the task may seem, fighting back against this wave of misinformation, historical revisionism, and regress is the only way we will survive.

    Winter is coming – the winter of 2016. Being prepared for the potential dystopian future that awaits us is the only way to ensure the survival of sanity, rationality, community, progress, justice, and democracy. So, stock up, develop a plan, and practice it with your loved-ones. The fight for the soul of America is coming.

    Wade Ivy, III, is a passionate advocate for equality, justice, and progress. He is the founder of The American Roundtable, an honest discussion on race, culture, and politics with people of all walks of life. Follow him on Twitter: @WadeIvyIII and @AmRoundtable.

    The thoughts and opinions expressed in The PoliTicker are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily supported by ULGA-YP.

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  • Tuesday, April 05, 2016 1:35 PM | Anonymous member

    By A. W. Dashing

    House Bill 514 was passed on the final day of the 2016 Georgia legislative session, affording residents of unincorporated Fulton County a vote on becoming a city this November.

    The proposed city of South Fulton would give approximately 100,000 residents its own city hall, locally elected representatives and public safety arms. It could also make this area the second-largest city in Fulton County behind Atlanta.

    For those who follow these issues, this is not news. Everyone else may wonder, "What exactly is the big deal?' If a community wishes to establish a government, and doing so is permissible by state law, then why the fanfare?

    Many issues are at play, including home rule, or the authority passed from a state to a locality to govern itself. That authority typically includes the powers to develop branches of government and to collect taxes and fees for the provision of municipal services. Historically, such authority has been passed from states to counties. Counties exist at the will of states to establish and manage road maintenance, libraries, health and human services, courts and justice, elections and other public services.

    However, what Fulton County does for the unincorporated area is unique. Currently the county taxes the area to provide services a city normally would, like police, fire and parks. Beginning with the establishment of Sandy Springs in 2005, the model for service delivery in newly incorporated cities included agreements with professional services firms, structured like the agreement Fulton County offers its unincorporated residents. Public works, for example, was provided at cost until knowledge and resources were procured. This startup model for municipalities saw early success but soon faded as Fulton County reduced its role and cities bore the full cost of managing themselves.

    Aside from the central issue of local control, here are some other reasons why the issue matters:

    Political representation – supporters of cityhood believe municipal services provided by Fulton County are substandard and their calls for improvement go unmet by the Fulton County Commission. A city with its own branches of government can meet taxpayer expectations better than the county. Also, with a population of over 100,000 residents, South Fulton would instantly own a seat at the table for county and state resources that others would envy.

    Economic development – defenders of the current structure assert the new city is a patchwork of land with no real sense of community, contrary to other recent cityhood movements. Supporters counter that the new territory is fertile ground to make partnerships and invite business interests, as well as attract individuals and families to call the area home.

    Annexation – Seven cities exist in Fulton County south of Atlanta – Chattahoochee Hills, College Park, East Point, Fairburn, Hapeville, Palmetto and Union City. Communities adjacent to those cities can annex into an existing city by July 1. Existing cities are vying for communities ahead of this deadline, including the highly coveted Fulton Industrial District along Fulton Industrial Boulevard.

    Atlanta Map.png
    Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Taxes – a 2014 study performed by Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University concluded that a city of South Fulton would sustain fiscally on annual revenues of roughly $65 million. The study operates on the assumption that South Fulton would provide the same level of services as Fulton County – services that supporters of cityhood have labeled inadequate. As the report states, the new city could tax at levels beyond what the county collects.

    Apathy – The recent history of incorporations in metro Atlanta also brings about the issue of fatigue for residents, who may experience the fifth new city in 10 years. It also begs the question of if the incorporation attempt is a legitimate residential interest or the pipe dream of a few aspiring politicians looking for a place to govern.

    The role (and future) of Fulton County government – Recent census figures show the Fulton County population topped 1 million. With no more areas to offer municipal services, how many people stand to lose their jobs? And would South Fulton hire them?

    Now that the bill has passed, groups on both sides will develop platforms for a months-long campaign. In 2007, 85 percent of voters said no to incorporation, but it is unclear where the current populace stands on the issue. There has been no recent polling from anyone on either side of the issue, and at this point both sides can do no more than hope the issue resonates with voters.

    Because the stakes are greater than a city’s city boundaries, expect to see much more about South Fulton incorporation in the near future.

    The thoughts and opinions expressed in The PoliTicker are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily supported by ULGA-YP.

    Be part of The PoliTicker team. We are rounding out our team of writers/bloggers and editors. Email political@ulga-yp.org to get involved.

  • Thursday, March 31, 2016 11:00 AM | Anonymous member

    By Jennifer Young

    When Black Lives Matter activists challenged Senator Bernie Sanders, he responded to their protest by saying, “I am not crazy about being interrupted by anyone…”.  To hear this from the architect of an insurgency campaign, whose whole point is to disrupt the regular functioning of the Democratic Party, is deeply disappointing. And it highlights the distance between rhetoric and responsible politics.

    As Sanders’ record receives closer scrutiny, that distance keeps growing broader.  The Daily Beast recently reported that black leaders in Vermont have been “invisible” to Sanders, and that he consistently fails to acknowledge structural racism, rather seeing income inequality as the root of all of the problems and injustice in America.

    “I think Bernie tends to run away from racial and ethnic issues,” said Vaughn Carney, a corporate lawyer and a leader in the state’s black community.

    In his stump speeches, Sanders touts his civil rights record, yet his home state where he served as mayor, congressman and senator has the 4th highest incarceration rate for African-Americans in the nation.  He rails against the havoc that Wall Street has wreaked on the economy, but he has catered to the NRA’s demands to expand access to guns – including five votes against the Brady Bill.  Sanders also voted to create called the so-called “Charleston loophole” that allowed a madman with a criminal record to obtain a gun and murder nine worshipers at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston. For too many African-Americans, the danger to their lives comes not from a campaign donation but from a gun sold in their neighborhoods.

    We must also consider how the candidates govern themselves in the political arena, particularly when racial animus is a clear dimension of the fight. In 2012, Sanders called President Obama “weak”, a “disappointment” and urged a primary opponent to his re-election. His attack on a sitting Democrat who had just passed the single largest transformation of civil society in a generation was offensive. And his suggestion that the nation reject the first black president—who faced an enormous racist backlash to his election— showed a dangerous tin ear to the dog-whistle politics that blacks face.

    Sen. Sanders became a Democrat late 2014 in a bid to find the broadest platform for his message. After decades of rejecting the party of FDR and LBJ, he decided to join because it was easier than running as an independent. Democrats have welcomed his candidacy, as we do in our big tent. Yet, even having been embraced, Sen. Sanders continues to ignore the racial implications of his rhetoric, saying that President Obama had “failed the leadership test,” and when asked whether race relations would be better under him than President Obama, he replied, “Of course.”  Does Senator Sanders not understand that in the loss of the House, which weakened Obama’s power to do more, racism played a crucial role?  Does he blame the President for the well-organized and well-financed Congressional coup against him?

    We should take Senator Sanders at his words. He indeed marched and was arrested for civil rights, but in the time between then and now, he has been curiously absent.  He must continue to move towards a deeper understanding of the complexity of race in our nation. Wall Street reform as the answer to every problem presumes that either every black person is poor, or that every act of racism is inspired by the economy. 

    Black America is not a monolith, and our needs and concerns are varied as are the injustices that we constantly face. We need a candidate who is aware of those injustices, speaks to them on a deep and meaningful level, and works to bring the voices of those most affected to the table. Secretary Clinton has been doing this work for more than forty years, learning and growing while also acknowledging her privilege. I will vote for a person who fights alongside us and who always has— Secretary Hillary Clinton. 

    Jennifer Young is an educator out to engage communities around their own strength, beauty, and power. Her love of politics and policy drive her to inform those around her about just what is happening locally and nationally.

    The thoughts and opinions expressed in The PoliTicker are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily supported by ULGA-YP.

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  • Tuesday, March 22, 2016 9:00 AM | Anonymous member

    by Chastity C. Williams

    Late June 2015, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling that left hundreds in the LGBTQIA community dancing in Atlanta’s streets. “Love wins!” we chanted. Rainbows lit up national monuments, and many people cried pained, joyful tears of relief. A new legal precedent for gay marriage began, and it seemed like the era of discriminatory marriage laws finally ended.  The moment felt both monumental and ephemeral, for many of us knew that basking in victorious glory would only last a moment before the storm of opposition reared all of its angry gales and gusts. Oh, and it did.

    Over half a year, a couple of reluctant state chief justices, impassioned county clerks, and tsunami-like homophobic winds later, we now have HB757. You’ve heard of it: The Pastor Protection Act. It could also be called  “The Completely Unnecessary Piece of Legislation to Protect Religious Organizations That Are Already Protected by the U.S. Constitution  But We Just Really Want You To Know That We Do Not Support Those Gays And This Is The Only Power We Have Act.” However, that would be too wordy and a bit too honest for our Georgia General Assembly. Georgia representatives introduced the bill in January, and here we are in March with a revised version passed by both the House and Senate.  In three months, we have a piece of legislation, clearly created in opposition to a huge gay rights victory, waiting for Governor Deal to sign. Three months. Remember that.

    For those of us who are queer people of color, the summer of 2015 felt ragged, sore even.  We had a “win”, but tragic cultural events clouded the celebratory atmosphere.  Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, the Department of Justice’s scathing report of the Ferguson Police Department, and  Anthony Hillare only a few of the national and local cases of police brutality that battered the public consciousness during that time. People of color were (and still are)  being jailed, beaten, raped, and killed by police officers at a higher rate than others, and, that summer, television producers scrolled bloody footage through the news constantly. It was rough.

    Thankfully, the Black Lives Matter, ACLU, and other organizational chapters spent the year constructing and proposing legislation to local lawmakers that could help create government accountability for police officers and increase public safety for communities of color. In our state, two of these bills were HB56 and SB46.

    House Bill 56 sought regulation of “no knock warrants” in Georgia after multiple incidents where officers executing these types of searches and seizures harmed or killedpeople, including children. It proposed specific times when officers could use these types of warrants, mandated that supervisory officers attend the search and create feasible operational plans, suggested training programs for completing these searches with minimum force, and required departments report all search and seizure warrants of any kind to the Governor and the House of Representatives. Senate Bill 46 required that police departments receiving federal funds outfit  police officers who conduct traffic and emergency stops with audio and video recording body cameras or receive decreased funding and other penalties; in addition, it proposed awarding grants to pay for the entire endeavor. Considering that grand juries rarely indict police officers of misusing deadly force, with or without video evidence, this could have been the beginning of essential accountability reform.

    Senators and House representatives introduced both in January 2015. Neither bill made it past a second read where it originated. No one has broached either bill in the 2016 legislative session. No votes. No revisions.  One year and three months later, we have…nothing. Well, that’s not true; we have HB757. Our elected representatives decided that crafting and passing discriminatory legislation warranted more effort. There’s also HB941seeking more protection and more secrecy during grand jury proceedings for officers accused of misusing deadly force. One of the few proposed bills that would hold police departments accountable for their actions is HB827, which would set necessary regulations for testing rape kits effectively and efficiently. The House passed it unanimously! This could almost feel like another “win” except that Senator Rene Unterman has aggressively denied requests for a hearing since February, and only two days remain in this legislative session. Eh, almost.

    In a cultural landscape where the topic of our justice system dominates national media and anchors much of our current presidential hopefuls’ election rhetoric, it is irresponsible for Georgia’s lawmakers to opt out of any conversation about its own police departments. They have not addressed the issue, nor do they plan to. Their actions this legislative session have made their priorities clear, and those priorities do not include maimed children, rape survivors, or violence in vulnerable communities. Instead, they will protect their safe (tax-exempt) pastors and their fragile (but still safe) religious liberties. They have shown us this truth.

    Now that we know, we cannot pretend that this election year is only about the presidential candidates, because the important laws that affect our day-to-day lives begin right here in our local and state government. It’s time to research and act, for senators and representatives that ignore the rights of the citizens do not deserve their positions.  Listen to their truths. Check their voting records. Then…kick them out.

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  • Friday, March 18, 2016 3:07 PM | Anonymous member

    by Damian J. Denson, PhD, MPH

    Maybe you, do you remember when?
    Fireworks at Lake Michigan
    Oh, now I'm coming home again
    Maybe we can start again.

                            “Homecoming” ~ Kanye West

    I have a love/hate relationship with Chicago.

    It was my second year in the city when brother Kanye dropped Homecoming and I fell in love with Windy and spoke her name as if I had loved her long time too. I experienced seven consecutive Summertime CHI’s and lived to tell that there is indeed nothing like a city that defrosts with such a vengeance. Oprah was there then. The lakefront from South to North never disappointed. Meanwhile, I lived in Hyde Park blocks away from Obama manor. And I was there to feel jubilation like I’ve never felt since on that fateful election night of 2008. She became home.

    But there were also the winters. Two back-to-back blizzards hazed me into submission soon after my arrival. Sadly, I almost became immune to murders. Segregation. Poverty. Crime. Violence. Corruption. All of the things that make up most of inner city America were on display in Chicago.

    And so, having left bittersweet Chicago in 2013 with my own tale of two cities, I was struck with concern when my alma mater, the University of Illinois at Chicago, announced that they were to host a campaign stop for the leading Republican candidate for president, Donald Trump, last week. This real estate developer’s documented xenophobia, sexism, and racism was untimely for a city that had been embattled for far too long by its own societal ills. It was apparent that this would not heal, but only worsen the hurt.

    However, I was moved close to tears to see Chicago unite, protest, and literally shut down hate. The revolution was televised. It was as if a battered wife had finally decided that enough is enough. The scene was also poignant in that it happened at UIC’s Pavilion, which was the exact site where I had graduated and marched across the stage with the usual pomp and circumstance. Ironically, it also felt eerily similar, albeit conversely problematic, to election night of 2008. But it was still what winning feels like nonetheless.

    I knew that a message was sent, but I was unsure if a tide had turned. Shutting down one event is remarkable, but having votes that say, “Hell no!” is better. After the high, I remained worried.

    Chicago, and the entire state of Illinois, voted in the presidential primaries this week. And, regardless of the cancellation of the rally, Donald Trump won the Republican primary decisively. This is a referendum from conservatives on the country whether we like the outcome or not. As these primaries and caucuses resume around the country, it would behoove progressives to begin strategies that take the embers from Chicago and ignite a counter offensive that translates into voter registrations and Election Day votes. We cannot continue to watch this election as if it is a reality show. Primary season has historically been about vetting candidates and decision-making. This time around it feels like something unholy. But like it or not, the Republicans basically have their nominee. This is actually the real world. I can only hope that while we have made it known that vitriol is worth protesting, we also must remember that democracy can work too.

    Despite the outcome, I thank Chicago for once again giving me hope.

    Damian J. Denson is a research scientist, political junkie, and popular culture critic. He can also be found mouthing off on Tumblr, Facebookand Twitter.

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  • Tuesday, March 15, 2016 5:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Bernie Is Not Welcome at the Party

    By Wade Ivy, III

    It’s your birthday, so your bestie throws you a big party and everyone is invited. A friend asks if she can bring along another friend, and your bestie says, “Sure! The more, the merrier.” However, as the party gets jumping, the outsider turns out to be the life of the party – telling hilarious jokes, wowing people with amazing stories, and leading the best rendition of the Electric Slide anyone has ever seen. You and your bestie quickly begin to resent this outsider for stealing your limelight. Who does he think he is? It’s your party!

    With another win in Michigan last week, Bernie Sanders continues to steal the show, shocking the country by establishing himself as a real threat to Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary election. His unapologetically progressive message and quirky, yet honest, style has many Americans “feeling the Bern.” Unfortunately, it is apparent that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is not only cold on Bernie, but has been working to extinguish his fire since the beginning of the race.

    The latest chapter in the Bernie takedown happened this week, with DNC lifting the last restrictions preventing the DNC from receiving direct contributions from Wall Street and special interest lobbyists. Under the new rules, political action committees and other corporate lobbyists and special interests can donate unlimited amounts of money to the DNC itself. Since reining in the influence of corporations on our politics is a cornerstone of the Sanders campaign, these new rules could provide a boost to Hillary’s fundraising efforts, as she has set up a joint fundraising committee with the DNC, the Hillary Victory Fund, which has raised $27M, compared to Bernie’s total of $1000 from a similar fund.

    The Bernie takedown began when the DNC, led by Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former campaign co-chair for Hillary Clinton’s run for President in 2008, initially scheduling only 6 primary debates, compared to 25 in 2008. On top of a sparse schedule, 3 of the first 4 debates were scheduled on weekends, 2 of which on Saturday nights. What better way is there to bury an unknown candidate and his message than to schedule ridiculously few debates, and then have them on Saturday nights?

    Against the odds, Bernie’s message began to resonate with the people and he became a real threat. At that point, it was no longer sensible for Hillary to stay quiet and let her name recognition catapult her into the presidency. At that point, the DNC increased the frequency of the debates and the scheduling returned to primetime. Starting on January 25, all of the next 5 debates were scheduled on weekdays, except one (on a Sunday).

    The next strategy was to handicap the Sanders campaign by exploiting a mistake made by a Sanders’ campaign staff member. A contractor improperly accessed confidential voter information collected by Hillary's team when a software error opened up the firewall to the data. The campaign immediately fired the staffer, but the DNC took this opportunity to doll out a heavy-handed and unprecedented punishment. The DNC cut off the Sanders’ campaign’s access to a very valuable database of voter information, which significantly hampers the campaign’s ability to fundraise. Access to the data was restored in approximately one day, after the Sander’s campaign filed a lawsuit to get access to the data.

    As we go into the third Super Tuesday today, Bernie has his back against the wall. If he can manage to pull off a couple of upsets in Florida and Ohio, Hillary’s campaign threat level will be at DEFCON one. If that happens, the DNC should accept the will of the people, get out of the way, and welcome the populist challenge that Bernie’s presents. After all, a party is more fun when the old guy in the room gets going.

    Wade Ivy, III, is a passionate advocate for equality, justice, and progress. He is the founder of The American Roundtable, an honest discussion on race, culture, and politics with people of all walks of life.

    The thoughts and opinions expressed in The PoliTicker are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily supported by ULGA-YP.

    Be part of The PoliTicker team. We are rounding out our team of writers/bloggers and editors. Email political@ulga-yp.org to get involved.

  • Thursday, February 25, 2016 5:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Discrimination by Any Other Name

    By Wade Ivy, III, PhD

    February 25, 2016

    On Friday, February 19, 2016, an amended version of the Georgia House’s religious freedom legislation passed the state Senate. It appears that the Georgia Republicans are desperately trying to join other regressive states in their pathetic attempts at insulating those who disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage from the reality that the days of legalized discrimination are coming to an end. This is being done under the guise of “protecting religious freedom,” but discrimination by any other name is still discrimination, even if you think God ordains it.

    According to CNN, the amended bill, House Bill 757, combines two religious freedom bills that, together:

    1. Clear ministers from having to perform marriages that violate their religious beliefs;

    2. Allow business owners to close businesses on Saturday or Sunday if working conflicts with their religious beliefs;

    3. Allow religious institutions to bar rental of their facilities for ceremonies that violate their beliefs;

    And, as stated in the bill,

    4. “Prohibit discriminatory action against a person who believes, speaks, or acts in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such marriage" (from Senate Bill 284).

    House Bill 757 does many things, but restoring religious freedom is not one of them. Firstly, there is no attack on religious freedom. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution ensures our right to practice any religion we choose, or to not practice at all. Secondly, the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage does not violate anyone’s rights. It does not require anyone to be gay or lesbian, officiate same-sex weddings, open businesses on Sundays, or endorse same-sex marriage in any way. Instead, it grants gay and lesbian couples the opportunity to marry and, thereby, ensures that all people are treated equally under the law.

    Americans do not have a religious right to discriminate against gay and lesbian people or same-sex couples. Religion is not a justification for discrimination or hate. However, it is my belief that we, indeed, have a right not to be involved with a religious ceremony with which we disagree (see First Amendment). Therefore, in reference to points 1-3 above, they are plainly redundant with the First Amendment. However, the fourth point is particularly vile, for it paves the way for uninhibited discrimination of same-sex couples and the LGBTQ community in general. Additionally, with the inclusion of, “or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such marriage,” such nonsensical legislation unintentionally (or intentionally) allows for the discrimination of unwed mothers and live-in partners (of any sexual identity), the opposition to teaching comprehensive sexual education, and strips people’s right to love as they choose without fear of discrimination.

    We have fought many battles against slavery, domestic terrorism, and Jim Crow laws in this country. Love and progress won. Hate and intolerance lost. After those battles were fought, and America had decided it would stand on the moral foundation embedded in the proclamation “all men are created equal,” those who wanted to continue discrimination were not allowed to delay justice until the day they were comfortable with it. We demanded that they get on board and accept just treatment for all people. So, contact your state representatives and tell them to, “Get on board!” as Georgia does not deserve to have discriminatory legislation voted into law. It is regressive and an embarrassment to the progress that has been made in the cradle of the Civil Rights Movement.

    Wade Ivy, III, is a passionate advocate for equality, justice, and progress. He is the founder of The American Roundtable, an honest discussion on race, culture, and politics with people of all walks of life.

    The thoughts and opinions expressed in The PoliTicker are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily supported by ULGA-YP.

    Be part of The PoliTicker team. We are rounding out our team of writers/bloggers and editors. Email political@ulga-yp.org to get involved.

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