ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
Catholic voters . . . are most concerned about bread-and-butter issues of personal economic
security. They are influenced more by what the candidates will do about preserving
Social Security and Medicare, improving health care and education, and fighting crime
Commentary By Caryl Rivers
New Report Reveals
Catholics Defy Stereotype of Monolithic Voting Bloc
For Immediate Release — October 15, 2002
Voting behavior of group most sought by politicians shows independence and volatility;
disagreeing with bishops on key issues, refusing to be tied to either major party.
Washington, DC — A new report released today by Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC) analyzes the voting patterns of Catholics in America and reveals that they defy the stereotype of a monolithic voting bloc. Catholics are one-quarter of the electorate, but despite a convergence of concern for social justice and the value of the family, they show an increasing independence and volatility in voting. A large and crucial portion of Catholic voters refuse to be firmly tied to either major party, even as cultivating their vote has become a top priority of the Republican and Democratic Parties.
The report, entitled Beyond the Spin, was produced by CFFC, a social justice organization, to help candidates, policymakers and media better understand the place of the 63.8 million Catholic laypeople and their leadership in the 2002 elections. By analyzing national surveys and polling, political reporting, and social research on Catholic voters, Beyond the Spin illuminates Catholics swing vote relationship to the Republican and Democratic parties and how their attitudes towards reproductive health issues are often misrepresented by the Catholic hierarchy, confusing candidates about what is spin and what is reality.
The report stresses that issues important to Catholics are not unlike those significant to mainstream voters. A recent survey of Catholic voters, for example, showed they are most concerned about bread-and-butter issues of personal economic security. They are influenced more by what the candidates will do about preserving Social Security and Medicare, improving health care and education, and fighting crime, than by church-defined issues of morality.
” Like other Americans, Catholics vote their wallets. ” Stated Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice. “Candidates need to be more aware of the issues of real concern to Catholic voters, and to understand their true opinion on moral issues that the church falsely promotes as important to Catholic voters.”
Beyond the Spin explores how both national parties are presently making the strongest bid in over a decade for what they perceive of as the “Catholic vote.” Their attention is due to the large concentration of Catholics in key battleground states and because of their track record of going with the winner in every presidential election since 1972. The only exception to that trend was in 2000, when more Catholics voted for Al Gore than George W. Bush.
Cultivating the Catholic vote has become the cornerstone of President Bushs political strategy for both this years Senate and House races and for his own re-election effort in 2004. Since the 2000 election, the GOP has tried to attract more churchgoing Catholic voters by stressing moral and religious themes and “compassionate conservatism.” But the bid for the “Catholic vote” is based on a general lack of understanding about how Catholics do and do not vote. Many candidates and policymakers are unaware of exactly what the “Catholic vote” means.
On a range of issues, the report shows that Catholic voters are more likely to stand with other Americans than with the US Catholic bishops and the Vatican. Majorities of Catholic voters, for example, support the death penalty (80%), legal abortion (66%) and the practice of allowing doctors to assist in the suicide of terminally ill patients (56%). These issues have made their way into political races. For example:
In Michigan, anti-abortion protestors flocked to the parish of Attorney General Jennifer Granholm, the Democratic nominee for governor who professes a “100 percent prochoice” stance. When Granholms parish priest urged fellow Catholics to try to understand her position, he was scolded by his bishop. Protesters even picketed the home of Cardinal Adam Maida, the Detroit archbishop, to try and get him to publicly condemn the candidate for her position.
In Texas, Bishop Edmond Carmody of Corpus Christi banned gubernatorial candidate Tony Sanchez and lieutenant governor candidate John Sharp, both Roman Catholics, from speaking in Catholic facilities in their hometowns because they favor abortion rights.
In New Jersey, the Most Reverend John Smith, Bishop of Trenton forbids publicly honoring any Catholic pro-choice politicians or inviting them to speak at public events and educational programs; similar prohibitions are in force in dioceses in Illinois, Kentucky, New York, and around the country.
Jennifer Bernstein, director of public policy at CFFC states, “Catholics dont go to church to hear political statements. A majority of Catholics are not influenced by the political recommendations of their priests, their bishops or even the Pope.”
A copy of the full report, Beyond the Spin, can be obtained by calling 202-986-6093 or by going to CatholicVote (4.5Meg PDF). Catholics for a Free Choice shapes and advances sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflect a commitment to womens well-being, and respect and affirms the moral capacity of women and men to make sound decisions about their lives. Through discourse, education and advocacy, CFFC works in the United States and internationally to infuse these values into public policy, community life, feminist analysis, and Catholic social thinking and teaching.
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Not Gone With the Wind Voices of SlaveryHenry Louis Gates, Jr.9 February 2003Unchained Memories, an HBO documentary that makes its debut tomorrow night, provides a powerful answer to that question. It gives us, through the faces and voices of African-American actors, an introduction to a vast undertaking that took place in the 1930’s: the collection and preservation of the testimonies of thousands of aged former slaves in an archive known as the Slave Narrative Collection of the Federal Writers’ Project. This archive unlocked the brutal secrets of slavery by using the voices of average slaves as the key, exposing the everyday life of the slave community. Rosa Starke, a slave from South Carolina, for example, told of how class divisions among the slaves were quite pronounced:
”Dere was just two classes to de white folks, buckra slave owners and poor white folks dat didn’t own no slaves. Dere was more classes ‘mongst de slaves. De fust class was de house servants. Dese was de butler, de maids, de nurses, chambermaids, and de cooks. De nex’ class was de carriage drivers and de gardeners, de carpenters, de barber and de stable men. Then come de nex’ class, de wheelwright, wagoners, blacksmiths and slave foremen. De nex’ class I members was de cow men and de niggers dat have care of de dogs. All dese have good houses and never have to work hard or git a beatin’. Then come de cradlers of de wheat, de threshers and de millers of de corn and de wheat, and de feeders of de cotton gin. De lowest class was de common field niggers.”
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Go to Hell
Lyrics by Nina Simone
If your mind lies in the Devil’s workshop Evil-doin’s your thrill And trouble and mischief is all you live for You know damn well That you’ll go to hell (yeah) You’ll go to hell Now you’re living high and mighty Rich off the fat of the land Just don’t dispose of your natural soul ‘cos if you do you know damn well That you’ll go to hell (yes, you will) You’ll go to hell Hell Where your natural soul burns Hell Where you pay for your sins Hell Keep your children from doing wrong (if you can) ‘cos you know damn well That they’ll go to hell They’ll go to hell Hell Man, woman were created Hell To live for eternity Hell With an apple they ate from the tree of hate So you know damn well Oh… they went to hell (yes, they did) They went to hell Some say that hell is below us But I say it’s right by my side ‘cos you see evil in the morning Evil in the evening, all the time You know damn well That we all must be in hell We got to be in hell We all must be in hell We must be in hell.
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For July 1st through August 31st 2011
#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane
#10 – Covenant: A Thriller by Brandon Massey
#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva by Ashley and JaQuavis
#12 – Don’t Ever Tell by Brandon Massey
#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide by Ntozake Shange
#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper
#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber
#18 – Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare
#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey
#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe
#22 Thug Matrimony by Wahida Clark
#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark
#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber
#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter
#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson
#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History by Ahati N. N. Toure
#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley
#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell
#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit by RM Johnson
#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins
#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell
#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard
#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris
#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice
#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields
#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class by Lisa B. Thompson
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A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family thats about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrinas inexorable winds is the voice of Wards narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her familys raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brothers blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt. Her fathers hands are like gravel, while her own hand slides through his grip like a wet fish, and a handsome boys muscles jabbered like chickens. Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isnt usually just metaphor for metaphors sake. She conveys something fundamental about Eschs fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, whats salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.WashingtonPost
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Wilderson, a professor, writer and filmmaker from the Midwest, presents a gripping account of his role in the downfall of South African apartheid as one of only two black Americans in the African National Congress (ANC). After marrying a South African law student, Wilderson reluctantly returns with her to South Africa in the early 1990s, where he teaches Johannesburg and Soweto students, and soon joins the military wing of the ANC. Wilderson’s stinging portrait of Nelson Mandela as a petulant elder eager to accommodate his white countrymen will jolt readers who’ve accepted the reverential treatment usually accorded him. After the assassination of Mandela’s rival, South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani, Mandela’s regime deems Wilderson’s public questions a threat to national security; soon, having lost his stomach for the cause, he returns to America. Wilderson has a distinct, powerful voice and a strong story that shuffles between the indignities of Johannesburg life and his early years in Minneapolis, the precocious child of academics who barely tolerate his emerging political consciousness. Wilderson’s observations about love within and across the color line and cultural divides are as provocative as his politics; despite some distracting digressions, this is a riveting memoir of apartheid’s last days.Publishers Weekly
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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update 25 December 2011