Black Like Me: How a White American Travelled Through the Segregated Deep South of the 1950s Disguised as a Black Man
John Howard Griffin, Souvenir Press, 2009, 241 pages, $39.99 (pb)
Review by Phil Shannon
John Howard Griffin, a white Texan, was shocked in 1959 when he saw the face in the mirror, “the face and shoulders of a stranger — a fierce, bald, very dark Negro”, glaring back at him.
Reverend Lucius Walker was a veteran US activist involved in many campaigns in solidarity with liberation struggles in Latin America. Walker passed away on September 7 at the age of 80. Below is an obituary from the Committees in Solidarity with the Peoples of El Salvador. It is abridged from www.cipes.org. * * *
In late August, Mexican authorities found the bodies of 72 migrants from Central and South America. They had been kidnapped on their way to the United States, brutally shot and left to die in a remote, abandoned ranch near a small town in northeastern Mexico. Eighteen-year-old Luis Freddy Lala Pomavilla was one of two survivors of the massacre who managed to escape and lead authorities to the crime scene. He claimed he and his fellow US-bound migrants were kidnapped by the Zetas drug cartel and told they would either have to pay a ransom or work as drug couriers and hit men.
For five centuries, Africa has suffered at the hands of the West. Starting with the slave trade, through the colonial era, to today’s neoliberal global economy, the development of industrial capitalism in the West has come at a terrible price paid by Africans. Food riots in Mozambique early this month and looming mass starvation in Niger after floods that were preceded by years of drought both reflect the ongoing economic exploitation. However, they also reflect another creation of the industrialised West adversely affecting Africa: climate change.
Good and evil is back in vogue with the US far right. Former president George W. Bush and the Republican Party attacked opponents of his invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan as aiding the “evil doers”. And such evil should be tackled by whatever means necessary, no matter what the US constitution or international law says. This tactic sent the many liberals and Democratic Party politicians running to the corners and lining up behind the war mongers.
“The Iowa egg producer that federal officials say is at the center of a salmonella outbreak and recalls of more than a half-billion eggs has repeatedly paid fines and settled complaints over health and safety violations and allegations ranging from maintaining a ‘sexually hostile’ work environment to abusing the hens that lay the eggs. “In the past 20 years, according to the public record, the DeCoster family operation, one of the 10 largest egg producers in the country, has withstood a string of reprimands, penalties and complaints about its performance in several states …
“We won. It’s over, America. We brought democracy to Iraq.” Those were the words of a soldier from the 4th Stryker Brigade, supposedly among the last US combat soldiers to leave Iraq, quoted in the August 20 www.DailyMail.co.uk two weeks ahead of President Barack Obama’s August 31 deadline for withdrawal. The Obama administration is claiming the withdrawal of combat soldiers represents a new day for the country. “Politics, not war, has broken out in Iraq”, US Vice-President Joe Biden told an August 23 convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, www.CSMonitor.com said that day.
The Obama administration seems to believe that the president has the authority to order the assassination of anyone, including US citizens, if they meet certain as-yet-undisclosed criteria. One US citizen, accused terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki, has been widely reported to be on a US government “kill list” — making him just one of several US citizens the government is reportedly trying to kill without charge or trial.
“A federal judge has blocked the Obama administration from funding human embryonic stem cell research, ruling that the support violates a federal law barring the use of taxpayer money for experiments that destroy human embryos … “The ruling stunned scientists and other advocates of the research, which has been hailed as one of the most important advances in medicine in decades because of its potential to cure many diseases …
“An oil platform explosion on September 2 in the Gulf of Mexico forced the crew to jump into the sea and threatened further damage to waters still recovering from the BP disaster”, AFP said that day. The explosion on the platform, owned by Houston-based Mariner Energy, comes in the aftermath of the BP-owned Deepwater Horizon rig explosion in the gulf in April, which killed 11 workers. Bloomberg.com said on August 20 that 4.9 million barrels of oil escaped from the leaking well.