Therese Okoumou, today's hero, has been arrested for climbing up on to the base of the Statue of Liberty during an action hosted by a group called Rise and Resist. It was the most beautiful thing that I have seen and on a today like to day, it was needed. But, my joy soon faded to anger and curiousity about ways to divert help to get Therese out of police custody. My anger is directed at white people who call themselves allies, but refuse to put themselves on the line for Black and Brown bodies. The ones who refuse to become accomplices.
This is the second time in the last 24 hours that I have witnessed a Black woman and a Brown woman being thrown under the bus by white folks (seeking elected office, white Democrats) and their white adjacent friends who call themselves "activists" that have either policed these women for expressing their pain as people DIRECTLY affected by fascist immigration policies or not standing in solidarity and sheilding them from arrest. In one interview with Daily News Jay Walker (and organizer with Rise and Resist) stated that “She’s been an active member of Rise and Resist for four or five months,” Walker said. “She’s participated in quite a few of our actions.” But when compaired with the statement that Rise and Resist posted on Medium, it is clear that they abandond Therese while attempting to show (Disingenuous at best) concern for her well being. SEE FOR YOURSELF:
"The person who climbed the Statue of Liberty was one of forty participants in our planned banner action, but her decision to climb the statue was made independently of the group, without consulting any other member of the group. We understand and share her desire to see the immediate release of children from detention and reunion with their parents. We hope that her legal representation will arrange for her release under her own recognizance."
I call bullshit, it is clear that this is a white led org that may be well intentioned, but they've neglected to meet up to their own standards... Rise and Resist DOES NOT live up to its own mission:
Rise and Resist was formed in response to the 2016 U.S. election. We are a direct action group made up of both new and experienced activists committed to opposing, disrupting, and defeating any government act that threatens democracy, equality, and our civil liberties. We work collaboratively, creatively, respectfully, and with all the joy we can muster for the health of the people and the planet.
We reject State sanctioned violence, bigotry, and systemic discrimination in all its forms, including those directed at people because of their disability, gender identity/expression, immigration status, race, religion, sex, and sexuality. We condemn all the oppressive policies that define the current government regime."
The fact that this org even spawned because of the 2016 election, is not a comforting thing.
Yes, some great activists were born from the 2016 election, BUT when white people came forward they had no understanding of the activist landscape. They came to police activist who had been on the ground fighting for our communities and their presence became disruptive. Apparently, they still are disruptive. We took time to teach and train white folks how to be accomplices, some got it and some didn't get what it really means to stand between Black and Brown bodies and law enforcement.
HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT YOU ARE ALLIES WHO STAND UP AGAINST OPPRESSION, BUT YOU DIDN'T SHIELD THERESE FROM THE PIGS?
HOW CAN YOU DO THIS WORK AND DISAVOW A COMRADE INSTEAD OF QUIETLY SEEKING QUICK RELEASE FROM CUSTODY AND LEGAL REPRESENTATION?
HOW CAN WE TRUST YOU TO TAKE DONATIONS TO HELP THERESE, WHEN YOU HAVE DISTANCED YOURSELF FROM HER?
A simple step into the right direction requires that white people STOP trying to take leadership in movements in a ways that center yourselves and your whiteness. The movements of the marginalized are not your movements, you play a support role. The Black Lives Matter movement is not yours. You don't deserve the attention, the Black and Brown people you claim to support deserve that. Do not speak for us when we can speak for ourselves, we don't need a translator so that your white cohorts can understand. Stop saying "us" and "we," when you post and speak about issues that directly affects/effects the Black or Brown communities. You don't know what it is to be part of the Black or Brown diaspora(s). You are needed in the spaces where you don't normally see Black folks or even in spaces where we are not welcome, that is when you you speak up. Then after you speak up, bring a Black person into the space so we can speak for ourselves.
Had Rise and Resist done these things, Therese may have been able to avoid arrest. Think about it white and white appearing people don't have to worry like folks with darker skin tones about the things we worry about in our daily lives. Do better white folks.
UPDATE: RISE AND RESIST HAS RESPONDED
"So don't lecture me about the border & immigrants & things that we need to do. I'm doing everything that I can right now & I will continue to do everything that I can." - Beto O'Rourke
On the surface the rec looks good, HOWEVER, all of the screeners who interviewed the candidates lacked one important ingredient.... MELANIN! There were no Black folks that took part in screening for this race and worse, the screeners could not make a real justification for why they automatically supported Thornton who recently lost earlier this year during the primaries over Brown who does (this is not to say that Thornton doesn't) great work anywhere he decides to go. He has marched with me, He has actively worked on cases to advance Transgender rights and I only see Ms./Mrs. Thornton during the moments she decides to run for office.
The reasons that they gave for recommending Thornton ranged from her experience, which really meant she was older, which is ageism.They then claimed that "we sent emails to everyone and that it was so last minute." People in the room of all races disputed the claim that emails were sent. NONE OF US were notified and this rec was a farce and clear example of the white privilege that persists in the Caucus. The truth is that many people in the Caucus don't want to admit that they have a problem with picking folks they think will best meet their requirements, be docile negroes and play the game. But every single time, they fuck up their chance to be truly "Progressive." In the end, I and Jolanda Jones had to make a special motion and Jeremy Brown won the endorsement with a majority vote. Let this be a lesson that white and white adjacent people don't get to pick Black leaders, BLACK PEOPLE DO.
As I dealt with this triggering ass Caucus meeting, Beto O'Rourke held a town hall just outside of Houston... I kept wondering why my twitter notifications kept going off, and then when I saw:
As I left the Caucus meeting that is what I saw... a live stream of a comrade challenging Beto about his stance against abolishing ICE. This comes after a couple of days of Dems, mostly white (as usual) who keep repeating those insulting statements. Speaking to us like we are putting a purity test on candidates like Beto, because they want us to be quiet about our marginalization for their comfort and because they want their candidates to look good to the voters.
As you can see, Sarahy's concerns are VALID and even if Beto did all that he said that he has done, when did it become ok to reprimand a potential voter by inserting "don't question me" into his statement that really did NOT address her concerns. To make things worse white guests and general Beto volunteers/staffers took part in trying to silence Sarahy, even reaching for her phone. OH, and let’s not forget that salty ass white man in the audience leaning on his patriarchy and white male privilege. NO, none of us wants to vote for Ted Cruz and I won't, but know that my vote for Beto in November will be BLANK, I will skip it unless he changes his stance.
We bring up the issue and you "Progressives" want us to shut up, ya'll stupid fucks say shit like:
"Beto has been fighting the fight for a long time on many issues and truly cares about the community he serves. We’ve SEEN this already. He’s one of best candidates we are going to get. Don’t take it for granted over EGO. Beto has the heart we are looking for. Appreciate that. He’s not going to give you every single thing you are looking for."
OR stupid shit like
"We shouldn’t abolish anything using politics as the basis. ICE has been ordered by the president to do the vile things they are doing. Are there rogue agents, sure. But leadership within the agency and former leaders have expressed their dissatisfaction with current conditions and are calling for change. They need to be working drug cartel and terrorists issues not the chicken shit jobs and crimes against humanity!! Common sense is all but extinct!!"
Please understand that when you say shit like that, you’re preaching to the choir... these are factors that I and many others take into account. Don't insult my intelligence, by posing obvious points as hypotheticals as if I/we haven't been doing this long enough. That is so surface and does not take into consideration that while it is critical to get the Racists out of office, it is our job as activists to get candidates elected that will work for the people. This means that we must make demands that are aimed at benefiting the most marginalized. Just because you showed up to a protest (for any of the craziness going on) or you volunteer, call yourself an ally... YOU DON'T GET to tell us when we can and can't address something that affects us as marginalized Black & Brown people in this country. If you feel a way about Sarahy or this post, consider asking yourselves if your anger at Trump is really about his racism, nationalism, xenophobia, sexism and etc.
If you find our loudness about the issues to be a problem you are no better than Trump and his goons.
YOU are the Trumps in our backyard, it is not lost on us that ya'll white and white adjacent folks have something to lose and it’s easy to support marginalized folks UNTIL. You know, UNTIL we get to a place that we can get Trump and Co. out of office... I feel that many of you will fall back into your privilege and all the issues that the marginalized face will fade into the background. Well guess what, WE WILL NOT BE SILENT!
SILENCE EQUALS DEATH
HOUSTON WE HAVE A PROBLEM: 419 Hope Partners LLC Profits Off Houston & Child Immigration Detention Center
By: Sam Oser
This is part TWO of a series investigating and illuminating what the Trump administration, government contractors, state/county/municipal governments and other entities involved have been doing.
Over the weekend Houstonians learned a child immigration detention center will be placed in their city. 419 Hope Partners LLC will be leasing (AKA profiting off) their building to Southwest Key to house the detention center. Immediate outrage sparked the city and Mayor Sylvester Turner came out against it. However, due to the mayor and city council’s entrenchment with developers, one can’t help but to wonder if this is simply PR or if real action will be taken. The city has given money to 419 Hope Partners LLC, the corporate entity leasing the building for the detention center, after all.
RELATED: Houston Corporate Tentacle Map: Mayor & City Council
419 Hope Partners has gotten money from the city for dormitory-like housing for displaced Harvey victims. While this PDF should take you to the agenda showing when they voted to make that ordinance happened (Jan 2018), the link has suddenly become forbidden. Even though the agenda has been removed from website, here’s an article from Houston Style Magazine that talks about the agenda item. Here’s a link to video of mayor and city council discussing ordinance.
Screenshot of Google search “419 hope partners llc and Houston city hall” — the link worked Sunday night and no longer works:
This link is supposed to show you how 419 Hope Partners LLC will provide college-dormitory-style housing after Hurricane Harvey, but the link does not work. Both of these links worked last night when I was doing this research. This morning as I type this, the city hall website is non-functioning. What an odd coincidence.
Screenshot for Google search “419 Hope partners and Houston agenda” — the link worked Sunday night and no longer works
RELATED: Valero Illegally Releasing Hydrogen Cyanide in Houston Neighborhood
First of all, you’re not going to find much on 419 Hope Partners LLC because according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts this corporation has only recently been incorporated.
Screenshot from Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
This says R. David Denenburg, and based off Corporation Wiki network map that it provides one would think Ryan David Denenburg and David Denenburg are separate people. However, Houston Chronicle says they reached out to David Denenburg, listed owner of property, and he declined to comment. Seems like Ryan David Denenburg and David Denenburg are the same person?
With that said, let’s learn more about Denenburg.Denenburg donated to Mitt Romney.
Denenburg contributed to the Texas Association of REALTORS Political Action Committee. This one is weird because he doesn’t donate a lot and he’s listed as David A. Denenburg. This is why I’m not sure if Ryan David Denenburg and David Denenburg are the same person.
Here he is at Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation’s Young Professionals Group third annual “Jungle Book Gala.”
Can’t make this up even if I tried, but in sweet sweet irony he’s a member of The Children’s Fund, Inc.
Denenburg on the board of EaDo’s management district.
Last April, Denenburg attended Preservation Houston Cornerstone Dinner, where Gerald Hines, a local developer, received an award and Turner pronounced it Gerald D. Hines Day. Hines has “steadily grown into a global powerhouse in real estate investment, development and management,” according to his firm’s website.
RELATED: Houston Corporate Tentacle Map: Mayor & City Council
RELATED: Houston Corporate Tentacle Map: County Judge & Commissioners
In part THREE of this series we will explore: THE 419 HOPE PARTNERS LLC'S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CITY OF HOUSTON.
HOUSTON WE HAVE A PROBLEM: AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE TRUMP MANDATE TO SEPARATE REFUGEE CHILDREN FROM THEIR PARENTS
That government contractor is SOUTHWEST KEY PROGRAMS:
- Based in Austin, TX
- Houses more than 5,100 immigrant children (half of all those currently in government custody)
- Is paid more than $400 million to care for immigrant children in 27 shelters across Texas, Arizona and California.
If they are not familiar to you, they should be! Don't you remember when Sen. Jeff Merkley (Dem, Oregon) was barred from entering one of its biggest facilities? That facility is located in Brownsville, TX at a former Walmart building and houses almost 1,500 immigrant children between the ages of 10 and 17.
Before I continue...
I must clarify that the Star of Hope organization sold its facility on Emancipation in 2016 and moved bigger location on Reed Road. According to the Houston Chronicle the facility was put back into use during the aftermath of Harvey when the city leased the 53,600-square-foot facility and partnered with nonprofit NEW HOPE HOUSING to run its operations. There is a screenshot of a 2017 property tax statement showing that Star of Hope is still the owner, please stop sharing it. This is the proper information:
As you can see, the CURRENT owner of the property is 419 HOPE PARTNERS LLC and they are ultimately the ones who stand to benefit from leasing out their facility to house refugee children who have been torn away from their parents and loved ones. The Chronicle made sure to note that the "facility underwent a full occupancy inspection and a certificate of occupancy was issued last week. It also received a change-of-ownership inspection in March. She said it has a food service establishment permit allowing it to provide meals on site." Now that we have clarification on who to direct our ire towards, the Chronicle listed David Denenburg as a contact and tried to reach out to them, "with 419 Hope Partners, the listed owners of the property, declined to comment. Denenburg specializes in the restoration and re-purposing of buildings, with an emphasis on historical structures, according to his website. One purchase includes the 1938 Schlumberger building in the East End." It seems that the paperwork is in order and the only thing standing between this facility being used for an internment camp is the Texas Department of Health and Human Services Commission which is reviewing the licensing request from Southwest Key.
In part two of this series we will explore:
WHO ARE THE PLAYERS BEHIND 419 HOPE PARTNERS LLC?
By Kandice Webber
Ted Cruz does not care about Black people. He never has and he never will. We all know it and he makes no effort to hide it. He thinks he is untouchable and for far to long he has managed to scare enough white people into voting for him, by convincing them that WE are the enemy. He has pushed his anti <insert anything non-white, Christian and wealthy> agenda straight to DC. He almost clinched the White House with his adopted southern bigotry and racism. Instead, we got Trump. The man that insulted Ted Cruz’s father and wife is now the man that has Cruz feeling emboldened to flaunt his privilege in our faces. But we knew this about Ted Cruz. We know that Ted Cruz has accepted at least $77k from the NRA to push their lethal agenda in congress. We know Ted Cruz has tried to dismantle healthcare for the poor, sick and dying at every turn. We know Ted Cruz picks and chooses the constituents that he engages and he NEVER CHOOSES TO ENGAGE WITH BLACK AND BROWN TEXANS.
This is not about Ted Cruz. This is about the white liberal elitist who pretends to give a damn about social responsibility. This is about the man that stood in front of cameras, with tears in his eyes, pleading for healthcare for all. The same man that helped launch NoRA, the coalition that was formed to take on the NRA. This is about Jimmy Kimmel and how a wealthy white man takes advantage of everyday people to advance themselves.
There are some key issues that need to be stated, here. This weekend is Juneteenth weekend. Black people, in Texas, have celebrated this day since Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to spread the news that the Emancipation Proclamation freed Texas slaves. Juneteenth is not some well-kept secret. It’s a huge deal in Texas but it is also celebrated in all but six states. It is a day when Black folk gather together to celebrate our ancestors’ freedom.
For the linear thinking white liberal, I will repeat myself. JUNETEENTH IS THE DAY BLACK FOLK GATHER TO CELEBRATE OUR ANCESTORS’ FREEDOM!!! On that day, our ancestors learned they no longer had to live in chains and fear the whip of Massah.
We were freed that day but Black people have never truly seen freedom. We have fought and struggled for the most basic rights that white men take for granted. Education is one of the key struggles in Black American history. Texas Southern University, as we now know it is the result of Black struggles, won. The origins of TSU date back to 1927. It was positioned in the heart of the third ward of Houston, Texas. It grew from a junior college inside Yates High School into a four-year university. Under the Separate but Equal concept, The Texas State University for Negros began to thrive. It expanded its curriculum to offer postgraduate degrees including law. A large part of the prosperity of this Historically Black University is due to the dedication the community in Third Ward paid. This university is something for us, by us. It wasn’t until June 1, 1951 that the name was changed from Texas State University of Negros to Texas Southern University (TSU). This came after the students petitioned the state to remove the phrase “for Negros” (tsu.edu). Texas Southern University is a cornerstone of the Black community. We love it and we have always fought to preserve its mark on our community. It is our home and an institution that represents the ability and dedication, of our people, to withstanding the constant attacks of oppression.
All the words I’ve shared with you, to this point are the things that ran through my head when I saw that tone deaf advertisement Jimmy Kimmel ran on twitter about his upcoming basketball game with Ted Cruz. I didn’t expect Kimmel to know the history of TSU but I certainly expected him to give a damn enough about his “perception of caring” to do his research on Black History. If he didn’t give a damn, surely one of his many producers could have Googled “things happening in Houston, Texas on June 16th.” Actually there is a list of things Jimmy and his camp could have Googled.
1. How do Ted Cruz’s politics affect Black people?
2. How do Black people, in third ward, feel about Ted Cruz and would they want him there on Juneteenth?
3. Am I respecting the community I am visiting by participating in this stunt?
4. Do I have a right to put a price tag on the comfort of Black people, in their own neighborhood?
5. What message am I sending to this community and my country about my true position on Healthcare for All and ending senseless gun violence?
Jimmy didn’t ask himself those questions because like Ted Cruz, he does not care about Black people. It doesn’t matter to Kimmel that he is about to bring thousands of Cruz supporters to my neighborhood. It doesn’t matter to him that he is doing this at a time that MY family and I will be celebrating our ancestors’ triumphs in American history. Maybe it hasn’t occurred to him that people who support Ted Cruz disrespect and belittle the people that live around TSU everyday. I know for certain that he knows Ted Cruz refuses to come to our neighborhood to talk about what he plans to do for our community because it Jimmy Kimmel knows Ted Cruz has no plans to do ANYTHING for our community. It doesn’t matter to Jimmy Kimmel because Black lives do not matter to the white moderate.
“I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner; but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice…”
The words of Martin Luther King Jr… He saw this type of indifference play out in his time. He warned us from his cell in Birmingham jail. If I could ever be so bold as to transpose his words to this current situation… I am gravely disappointed in white liberals. It is obvious that the Black man’s greatest stumbling block is not Ted Cruz and the GOP but those like Jimmy Kimmel who would rather play games with our oppressors and pretend we can all agree to disagree. Fiction is favorable to fact because it spares the feelings of white people rather than expose the oppression and create an environment in which we can all live freely.
I am sure Jimmy Kimmel feels pleased with himself. After all, he has chosen Texas Children Hospital as his charity. How white of him! He can afford to feel good about this publicity stunt because, at the end of the day, he has money to provide for his children. This is something people like Jimmy Kimmel consider “a bonus.” He can have a little fun, raise a little money and boost the hell out of his ratings. Kimmel has the privilege to selectively forget about Ted Cruz’s track record on healthcare. In reality that $5K won’t amount to a hill of beans when it comes to changing the life of just ONE heart baby that wasn’t born to a millionaire. Ted Cruz giving five lousy thousand dollars to a charter school in third ward is the equivalent to robbing a bank and volunteering to pay the reward for the capture of the crook. Ted Cruz is the crook and he will continue to rob us like a thief in the night as long as dangerous white liberals, like Jimmy Kimmel, profit from the heist.
Just look at them. Ted Cruz thinks so little of his Black constituents that he refused to meet us for a town hall but turns around and plays basketball with his rich white friend on our court. They open the doors to our neighborhood, on one of our days of celebration, as if they own it. Cruz knows exactly what he is doing. He is inviting the same people that open carry through our neighborhoods back to flex on Juneteenth. He is throwing our children scraps from his table in the form of a charitable donation when he is the very person that is dooming them to an educational desert. This is a show of force from Ted Cruz and his MAGA hat wearing supporters. They are sending a message that our own space no longer belongs to us, even on one of our most celebrated days. Jimmy Kimmel has decided to be the amplifier of that message.
Let Jimmy Kimmel be a lesson to us all. No matter how believable the pleas of white liberals may be, they are not like us. They have the privilege of laying their convictions down while we die for ours. We are not the same and if we ever forget, they will remind us, even on Juneteenth.
.At the close of last week Huffman ISD announced that it "will implement a Guardian Plan beginning the 2018-2019 school year." The district claims that the "safety of every student is a top priority for the Huffman ISD administration and Board of Trustees." Citing a year long review of safety plans and district facilities, they claim have researched options into "making every campus in our district the safest place possible for students and staff." One of the things many parents and allies have been concerned about is how will people be screened or monitored when entering school properties. Huffman's answer is makng use "well-controlled entrances on each campus and better utilizing our security resource officers, we have been working closely with the Harris County Sherriff’s Office (HCSO) to consider resources available to us with regard to school safety." But there is a bigger solution that they are proposing and it is one that I and many others have been warning against..... ARMING TEACHERS AND STAFF.
While this school system his a majority of white students, Black and Brown students face a very real danger. The emphasis that they place on working with HCSO is not very comforting given their racist track record. As this Facebook post went viral among locals, the comments section lit up like a christmas tree. One comment in particular really stood out to me because the district representative over the account decided to reply as the district. Below are screenshots from the thread and the responses from the district are quite problematic...
These responses on behalf of Huffman ISD came from Dr. Shirley Dupree their Executive Director of Human Resources and Communications. Her stance and projection throughout the exchange screams "PROTECT THE CHILDREN," BUT it seems more personal than well thought out. Aside from the "I" statements Dr Dupree seems to be intent on moving forward and even gave the impression that the plan had already been at play. Not only is this sickening, it is deadly to make these kinds of decisions without the input of parents from the BEGINNING. It is deadly because Black and Brown students in districts like this are subjected to an institutionally racist lack of understanding and care that exists among whites and the polices they produce.
Because this lack of understanding and care exists, Black children from all backgrounds are hyper-criminalized. The evidence points to Black children who are bullied and feel the need to protect themselves before, during and after school. Often, reports of bullying go ignored, Black children are told to just deal with it, and when the bully attacks, Black children are suspended, expelled, and ultimately put into alternative schools for defending themselves. Think school-to-prison pipeline on steroids. It is a known fact that Black children, deemed violent, unteachable, problematic, and worthless, are punished much more harshly than their white and Latinx counterparts. The general public has been taught to regard Blackness in a way that blunts our humanity.
Armed teachers and staff will lead to the death of many more Black children for speaking up, defending themselves or simply because the teacher or staff are closet racists. Our kids are already over-policed, and the idea that teachers (and staff) would be deputized is untenable. Think about the reports that expose the racism of many people who choose to wear the badge and uniform, and how white supremacists infiltrated police departments nationwide. Now think about all of the teachers who secretly carry that same racist ideology locked in a classroom with Black children. What happens when the teacher claims self-defense while a little Black child is murdered for asking for a pencil? It sounds extreme, but it can and will happen if we’re not careful. Listen to us, we are not the enemy. That area of Harris County is not the safest area for non white folks, so why would I want my child around an armed teacher who probably prays to the confederate flag?!
CONTACT THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES AND LET THEM KNOW THAT THIS IS A DANGEROUS DECISION:
The next regularly scheduled Board of Trustees Meeting will be on Monday June 21 at 7 p.m. in the Board Room of the Huffman ISD Administration Building, 24302 FM 2100.