Thursday, June 27, 2013

Nonprofit Thursday: Voting Rights, The Right Wing, Shona Sculpture, studying vacant lots, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and John Patrick Carney vs. Mariama Whyte …

So I woke up the other day, checked the headline news on my smartphone, and saw that Ohio’s supine, reactionary, and corrupt legislative majority had voted to cut taxes on the wealthy, raise the regressive sales tax, ban Medicaid expansion, and continue the fight against modernity, history, and biology by enacting more restrictive measures against women.

So why would I be surprised that the US Supreme Court decided to cut the heart out of the Voting Rights Act?

The reality is the forces of money, power and privilege in America NEVER TAKE A DAY OFF. That’s what capitalism means. The forces of democracy, liberty, and justice, on the other hand, seem to think that winning a battle means winning the war. If that were so, Ohio would still have the nation’s best set-aside law, an updated Voting Rights Act would still be intact, and we would not have this continued testosterone assault upon women’s reproductive rights.

You’ve heard it before: eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Better instill that piece of Founding Father wisdom in your soul before these Tea Party legislatures rewrite local public school curricula to excise that bit of Americana the same way they are working on whitewashing George Washington’s slave-holding past from school books.

So if you are upset about any of this, you should get busy at: 
1. Keeping yourself informed about what your elected officials are doing, 
2. Informing your friends, neighbors, and social media family about what your local officials are doing, and 
3. Getting involved on some level in fighting for what you say you believe in.

And if you are one of my Republican friends being courted by Ohio’s governor and the chair of the Republican National Committee, you should seize every audience and opportunity you have to challenge the whack social and fiscal policies their brethren are systemically and systematically advancing across the nation.

It would also help to study a little history so that you can respond with facts when people use superficial labels to claim, for example, that the Republican Party of 1854 is the same as the GOP of today or even the GOP of the 1960s.
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On to more pleasant matters. A couple of decades ago, before the World Wide Web was actually worldwide, there was a print version of THE Real Deal. We tried to cover civic, commercial and cultural affairs of relevance to Greater Cleveland’s 350,000 African Americans and perforce to those astute enough to know that what affected them should be of concern to the entire community.

One of the pieces of which we were most proud was a cover story on an exhibit at Cleveland’s Museum of Natural History written by our ace correspondent Evelyn Castillo. The unforgettably spectacular exhibit was a display of Shona Stone sculpture fashioned by artists from Zimbabwe. Some of the pieces were immense; almost all were gorgeous.

What brings this to mind was receipt of a notice from the Deuteronomy 8:3 Café regarding a limited exhibit and sale of Shona Sculpture this coming weekend. Starting tomorrow the café will host a brief display of Shona Stone sculpture from the Zimbabwe Gallery collection in Philadelphia. Gallery owner Collin Thompson will speak at tomorrow’s 7PM opening reception.

The exhibit will close its brief run on Sunday afternoon, June 30. Deuteronomy 8:3 Café is located at 1464 East 105 St, Cleveland OH 44106 at the north end of University Circle. Exhibit hours this weekend will be 11AM-6PM on Saturday and Sunday. For more info, call 216.376.9695 or visit Zimbabwe Gallery, visit

Selected pieces for purchase are priced between $100 and $1,000.


Learning from vacant lots

Today’s Plain Dealer carried a story on an Ohio State University entomologist who has received a $900,000 grant to study the management of biodiversity in vacant lots, which Cleveland has in abundance thanks to the [unpunished] criminal behavior of those responsible for the housing meltdown and the evaporation of 50% of the wealth of African Americans who, as always, were disproportionately affected.

In any event, the PD headline and story led to the grant from the National Science Foundation being heavily maligned by the usual aggregation of numbskull trollers at

The story does raise eyebrows of course, as the environmental and caretaking cost of vacant lots is higher than one might imagine. So if you want to understand why the grant was made, or just be more knowledgeable about all the vacant lots around us, spend three minutes here.

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Thoughts about Cavs’ draft tonight

The Cleveland Cavaliers have the first pick in tonight’s NBA draft. There is likely no franchise player available so the team needs to go for the surest bet of a frontline player. I would be tempted to take Victor Oladipo of Indiana University. He’s smart, tough, and tenacious, plays hard all the time, and is the kind of guy who will get better and better over time. He would especially fit in with the team’s new emphasis on defense.

I will be ok with the likely selection of Georgetown’s Otto Porter Jr. Just don’t bring home Nerlins Noel, who is a foot taller than I am but weighs less. And I’m not as out of shape as I thought I was [I overhauled my five year old grandson in a race last week on a steamy Los Angeles afternoon.].

Two events for tonight:

I haven’t made up my mind between going over to the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Community Center [3450 Lee Road, Shaker Heights 44120] at 7PM to meet John Patrick Carney, a state representative who is probably going to run for State Auditor next year, or to head over to Nighttown [12387 Cedar Road, Cleveland Heights 44106] for a Society of Urban Professionals event featuring live music from Cleveland native Mariama Whyte [5:30PM-9PM].

I’m sure Carney will be coming around again, so …

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