Welcome to the official website of Professor andré douglas pond cummings. Within, you will find links and connections to all of the activities engaged by this dynamic scholar. This greetings/introduction page will serve to showcase the latest insights and work of Professor cummings as he seeks to challenge the status quo and work toward equality and social justice. According to renowned public intellectual Dr. Cornel West, Professor cummings scholarly "reputation goes far beyond . . . the nation, and is heard in every corner of the globe, wrestling with legacies of legal thinking on one hand and popular culture on the other."
Taibbi writes: "You may have heard of the Libor scandal, in which at least three - and perhaps as many as 16 - of the name-brand too-big-to-fail banks have been manipulating global interest rates, in the process messing around with the prices of upward of $500 trillion that's trillion, with a "t") worth of financial instruments. When that sprawling con burst into public view last year, it was easily the biggest financial scandal in history - MIT professor Andrew Lo even said it "dwarfs by orders of magnitude any financial scam in the history of markets.
That was bad enough, but now Libor may have a twin brother. Word has leaked out that the London-based firm ICAP, the world's largest broker of interest-rate swaps, is being investigated by American authorities for behavior that sounds eerily reminiscent of the Libor mess. Regulators are looking into whether or not a small group of brokers at ICAP may have worked with up to 15 of the world's largest banks to manipulate ISDAfix, a benchmark number used around the world to calculate the prices of interest-rate swaps.
Interest-rate swaps are a tool used by big cities, major corporations and sovereign governments to manage their debt, and the scale of their use is almost unimaginably massive. It's about a $379 trillion market, meaning that any manipulation would affect a pile of assets about 100 times the size of the United States federal budget. It should surprise no one that among the players implicated in this scheme to fix the prices of interest-rate swaps are the same megabanks - including Barclays, UBS, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and the Royal Bank of Scotland - that serve on the Libor panel that sets global interest rates."
Why and how did the manipulation of LIBOR and ICAP take place? Taibbi answers: "Dating back perhaps as far as the early Nineties, traders and others inside these banks were sometimes calling up the company geeks responsible for submitting the daily Libor numbers (the "Libor submitters") and asking them to fudge the numbers. Usually, the gimmick was the trader had made a bet on something – a swap, currencies, something – and he wanted the Libor submitter to make the numbers look lower (or, occasionally, higher) to help his bet pay off."
Saturday, April 13, 2013
American Indian Mascots Continue to Divide
Moni Basu at CNN has just written yet another "take" on the American Indian mascot conundrum. In Native American Mascots: Pride or Prejudice?" Basu interviews Suzan Shown Harjo who brought the now famous case Harjo v. Pro Football, Inc., attempting to have the trademark for the "Washington Redskins" canceled because it is offensive, derogatory, and contemptible.
Although "Harjo was defeated in the courts, . . . public opinion has been shifting steadily on the matter. In March, several lawmakers introduced a bill in Congress that would amend the Trademark Act of 1946 to ban the term “redskin” in a mark because it is disparaging of native people. Among the sponsors of the bill is civil rights activist Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia. Harjo says she hopes the legislation will accomplish what litigation has failed to do so far. If passed, the bill would force the Washington football team to discard its trademarked name and ban the use of any offensive term in any future trademarks."
THURSDAY, APRIL 11, 2013
Catching Up On Links . . .
Several important stories have surfaced over the past several weeks, including:
Describing JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon's role in the "London Whale" scandal that lost JP Morgan billions. According to Goldstein: "Even in the wake of the financial crisis, the bailouts and ongoing bank malfeasance, Washington has remained deferential to the financial industry. Regulators parrot the industry's talking points and use them as an excuse to water down important parts of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. And congressional representatives on both sides of the aisle continue to introduce bills to slowly gut Dodd-Frank. What has JPMorgan Chase been doing while Washington is so dutifully doing its bidding? In the words of the stunningly comprehensive [Senate] subcommittee report [on the London Whale scandal], JPMorgan Chase 'manipulated models; dodged OCC oversight; and misinformed investors, regulators, and the public about the nature of its risky derivatives trading.' Lest you think this is all, rest assured that there is more: JPMorgan was also hiding losses and ignoring its own internal warnings that risk was increasing dramatically."
King Cotton's Long Shadow, by Walter Johnson [New York Times] Answering the question of "What was the role of slavery in American economic development?" According to Johnson: "The most familiar answer to that question is: not much. By most accounts, the triumph of freedom and the birth of capitalism are seen as the same thing. The victory of the North over the South in the Civil War represents the victory of capitalism over slavery, of the future over the past, of the factory over the plantation. In actual fact, however, in the years before the Civil War, there was no capitalism without slavery. The two were, in many ways, one and the same."
Who Will Get the Real Mortgage Crisis Profits? by Peter Miller [Ourbroker.com] Describing the massive profits housing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac received in 2012, and wondering who will ultimately reap these rewards if Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are privatized.
Inside the Belly of the Beast: Corrections Corporation of America and the Recession, by Hadar Aviram [California Correctional Crisis Blog] Describing the business model of the private for-profit prison industry, particularly in recessionary times. According to Aviram: CCA institutions - of which it operates 67 and owns 49 - are located in 20 states and in DC (6 of their institutions are, at this point, vacant). After an initial period of time, population in its private institutions averages 89%. A minimum occupancy is often, albeit not always, mentioned in its contracts with the states to whom it provides services. The business model is structured around the concept of a "per-diem", that is, the state pays a price per-inmate-per-bed-per-day. . . . Who are CCA's main customers? Well, the federal government, for one. Revenues from federal clients comprise 43% of CCA's total revenue for the years 2010 and 2011. But of the states that contract with CCA, California is a major contributor, providing CCA with 13% of its management revenue."
[photo courtesy of Steve Jurvetson, via Creative Commons]
FRIDAY, APRIL 5, 2013
GEO Group Stadium Naming Deal Fails
FAU Students Protesting GEO Group Naming Deal
When the GEO Group and Florida Atlantic University agreed to a$6 million football stadium naming deal in February 2013, neither GEO CEO George Zoley or FAU President Mary Saunders anticipated the incredible backlash that descended upon the private for-profit prison company (GEO) and the University. Due to student protests, faculty opposition, national media attention being drawn to GEO's terrible record ofhuman rights violations in its private prisons, and the quickly assigned nickname of "Owlcatraz" to the FAU Owls football stadium, GEO Groupannounced yesterdaythat it waswithdrawingits pledged stadium naming donation. In pulling its $6 million pledge, CEO Zoley released a self-serving statement blaming "distractions" as the reason that the pledge was being withdrawn. Per Zoley: "What was originally intended as a gesture of GEO's goodwill to financially assist the University's athletic scholarship program has surprisingly evolved into an ongoing distraction to both of our organizations."
The "surprising . . . distractions" to which Zoley refers include (a) student protests challenging FAU to reject the donation as hypocritical pointing out that GEO Group's profit base is derived almost entirely from human misery and suffering, (b) an overwhelmingly passed faculty resolution calling upon President Saunders to cancel the deal because GEO Group's "business practices do not align with the mission of the university," (c) a sit-in held in President Saunder's office by students, (d) a mocking national spotlight from Stephen Colbert's comedy/news show (suggesting that one of the problems of drawing attention to your business, is that people will pay attention to what your business actually does), and (e) community outrage protesting GEO's intimate affiliation with an institution of higher education.
As has been discussed in this blog space often, private prison companies are perversely incentivized to generate profit based on human misery through working to increase the incarceration levels of United States citizens and immigrants. Private prison corporations pay dozens of millions of dollars to lobby legislators for harsher sentencing regimes, new crimes that require incarceration (AZ SB1070), and increasing prevalence of private prison contracts based on dubious claims of efficiency and cost savings. Without providing any product or needed public good, GEO Group, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), and other private prison companies profit in two primary ways that are incredibly objectionable:
First, private prison companies contract with state and federal governments to warehouse U.S. prisoners and are paid in taxpayer funds on a "per bed" basis. Essentially, taxpayer funds are being transferred from taxpaying citizens into the pockets of private prison company executives and shareholders for no recognizable good or service. Almost all of the recent emerging evidence suggests that private prison companies run prisons LESS efficiently, LESS safely, and LESS cost effectively than do federal and state governments. The Lake Erie Prison report just released finds that CCA is so profit driven, that the CCA- run prison at Lake Erie does not provide proper supervision of prisoners and that drug use and violence are rampant, both in an attempt to avoid costly prisoner lawsuits.
Second, private prison companies exploit the labor of the prisoners in their care by entering into contracts with companies like IBM, Victoria's Secret, WalMart, and McDonald's for prisoners to work for pennies with the contractual rewards paid into the coffers of the private prison company (thus to shareholders and executives). Prisoners are paid between $0 and $4 for the labor that they engage in sewing for Victoria's Secret, manufacturing for WalMart and McDonalds, with the fruit of their labor being paid to the prison company rather than to the prisoner. Indentured servitude continues in our prisons in the United States and the GEO Group and CCA profit from these immoral activites.
Rendering of how GEO Group Stadium would have appeared
That both of these profit sources continue in the United States today is shocking. That the students, faculty, and community at FAU recognized this appalling business model is heartening. The GEO Group's name will NOT adorn the football stadium at FAU. It appears that "surprising . . . distractions" of massive protest are just beginning for the private prison industry.
The private for-profit prison industry stakes its claim for securing government contracts to warehouse prisoners on providing greater efficiency. Executives for private prison corporations claim that they can better manage taxpayer monies by running prisons more cost effectively and more safely. Recentresearch indicates that both of these claims are simply untrue. Why any state or government would turn over prison care to private concerns is becoming a mystery in light of this emerging evidence. Unless of course, greed is the primary motivator and massive profits for executives and shareholders is the end game. Private prisons have become a money-grab, simply transferring taxpayer monies to private industry players, who provide failure in return.
To wit, the Lake Erie Correctional Institution that was purchased in 2011 for $73 million by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) from the state of Ohio. A report out last month describes in harrowing detail the dysfunction and failures that have occurred at the prison since CCA's takeover. The Executive Summary of the non-partisan report detailed the conditions of Lake Erie Prison since CCA took possession:
"LAECI’s primary issue is safety and security. Staff interviews, inmate focus groups, the inmate survey, and institutional data all indicate that personal safety is at risk at LAECI. Assaults, fights, disturbances, and uses of force have all increased in comparison to prior years. There is a high presence of gang activity and illegal substance use. Inmates reported frequent extortion and theft.
Incident reports indicate that staff hesitate to use force even when appropriate and at times fail to deploy chemical agents prior to physical force, risking greater injury to both inmates and staff. Staff also do not appropriately sanction inmates for serious misconduct. At the time of the inspection, the facility had no options for sanctions other than the segregation unit, which was full.
The above issues are compounded by high staff turnover and low morale. New staff generally do not have the experience or training to be able to make quick judgments regarding the appropriate application of force or how to handle inmate confrontations. Staff also reported that they are often required to work an extra 12 hours per week, which may impact their response."
More efficient? Hardly. The actual result at Lake Erie since CCA took charge is greater violence, increased gang activity and illegal substance use, higher staff turnover, less safety, and greater chaos. Guards believe that CCA management is so concerned with being sued (and thus losing profits) that they do not allow the guards to properly police the prison population.
The private for-profit prison experiment is failing.
Professor Paul Butler penned an opinion piece for the New York Times this week, Gideon's Muted Trumpet, where he traces the history of incarceration in the United States since the Gideon v. Wainwright case was decided fifty years ago. Essentially, Gideon guarantees that a poor person will be given access to a lawyer when charged with a serious crime. Often the Miranda warning, repeated on a loop in television police dramas, comes to mind when thinking about Gideon's guarantee of legal representation (i.e., You have the right to remain silent . . . You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you . . .). But what has this guarantee wrought after fifty years?
Per Butler: "A poor person has a much greater chance of being incarcerated now than when Gideon was decided, 50 years ago . . . . This is not because of increased criminality — violent crime has plunged from its peak in the early 1990s — but because of prosecutorial policies that essentially target the poor and relegate their lawyers to negotiating guilty pleas, rather than mounting a defense."
Butler's op-ed discusses the underrecognized problem of prosecutorial discretion, which infuses an enormous amount of power in the men and women that prosecute federal and state crimes in the U.S. Butler writes: "The so-called war on crime greatly expanded criminal liability. A prosecutor can almost always find some charge: there are over 4,000 crimes on the federal books alone. Recreational drug use is one of the more popular activities in America, but racial minorities suffer the brunt of drug-related convictions. In part because of federal grants to states to incarcerate drug offenders, the United States experienced the largest increase in incarceration in the history of the free world. Our population is less than 5 percent of the world’s but we have nearly 25 percent of its prisoners. When Gideon was decided, about 43 percent of defendants were indigent. Now, over 80 percent are."
The United States continues to wage an internal war against its own citizens, particularly if a U.S. citizen happens to be poor and minority. It is simply the easiest way to appear tough on crime and to fill our nation's prisons, increasingly operated by private prison corporations for profit.
Bonuses on Wall Street rose 9% in 2012, nearing former record highs, at the same time that pay for U.S. workers continues to stagnate. Up until the 1970s, worker compensation and productivity rose simultaneously, rewarding workers for gains in productivity. However, since 1978, worker compensation has flatlined while productivity has increased markedly. The benefits of greater productivity have gone almost exclusively to shareholders and corporate executives and not to the employees driving the gains. "Companies are on a tear in terms of productivity and profits, but they aren't sharing much of the gains with their workers. . . . Productivity, which measures the goods and services generated per hour worked, rose by 80.4% between 1973 and 2011, compared to a 10.7% growth in median hourly compensation . . . ."
With unemployment still hampering many American workers, bonus pay on Wall Street is projected to rise another 8% in 2013. Despite the increase in compensation, Wall Street banks continue to slash jobs to cut costs and spur profits. Meanwhile, "[e]mployers are achieving their gains with fewer workers . U.S. economic activity is now 2.5% higher than it was when the recession began in late 2007, but there are more than 3 million fewer workers on the job, said Mark Perry, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute." To that end, Wall Street continues its tone deaf march intent on enriching its executives at the expense of its employees and the United States economy.
Hip hop writer Sebastian Elkouby asks "Is Hip Hop Destroying Black America?" in hisRapRehab.com article published this week. Commercialized hip hop is castigated by Elkouby as he responds to the common refrain from some quarters that hip hop positively injures African American youth and communities. Elkouby writes:
"Is Hip Hop Destroying Black America? To answer this question fairly, we must first discard the distorted image of Hip Hop that mainstream media has passed off for the past 20 years. Hip Hop is a movement consisting of 4 main artistic elements: DJ’ing, Rapping, Breaking and Graffiti. But at its core, it is a philosophy based on the idea that self expression is an integral part of the pursuit of peace, love and unity. It was created by young visionaries who tapped into their greatest potential and gave birth to one of the most important cultural phenomenon the world has ever seen."
Elkouby rightly asks why critics so expressly point to artists for perpetuating negative stereotypes, glorification of violence, and disrespect of women, while ignoring the record executives, the "adults" in the room, who fill the nation's airwaves with banal messages and low-brow fare. "It’s easy to blame talentless top 40 rappers for dominating the airwaves of so called hip hop radio stations like L.A.’s Power 106 or New York’s Hot 97 while Rick Cummings, president of programming for Emmis Communications, which owns both stations, isn’t held accountable for his part in broadcasting filth to millions of listeners. Time and time again, the real decision makers get away with murder while rap artists are projected as the embodiment of everything that is wrong with Hip Hop and young Black males. Kind of how gangs are perceived as the lone cause of urban violence while those who bring guns and drugs into the community remain anonymous."
Further, Interscope President Jimmy Iovine gets called out as the real "gangster" in gangsta rap music, for propagating ridiculousness in hip hop, particularly after signing Chicago 16-year old Chief Keef, who does little more than extol the virtue of blunt smoking and snitch killing in his music.
Wealth inequality between white families and African American families continues to worsen. According to a new study out of Brandeis University “[t]he wealth gap between blacks and whites has nearly tripled over the past 25 years, due largely to inequality in home ownership, income, education and inheritances . . . .” The largest driving factor in this inequality is in homeownership, more specifically, where homes are purchased as home appreciation is severely limited in non-white neighborhoods making it much more difficult for black families to gain value based on home equity and appreciation. On average, white families are able to purchase a home eight years sooner than a black family and often with larger down payments such that white-owned mortgages have lower interest rates. Further, predatory lending, particularly in the run-up to the mortgage meltdown of 2008, often targets minority communities.
Additionally, white families benefit at substantially higher percentages than do black families when it comes to inheriting family wealth. “Among the families studied, whites were five times more likely to inherit money than blacks, and their typical inheritances were 10 times as large.”
While the wealth gap has widened in the past two decades, the financial market crisis exacerbated the problem as African American and Latino wealth dropped by more than 50%, while white wealth dropped by only 16%. According to Pew: "The Pew Research analysis finds that, in percentage terms, the bursting of the housing market bubble in 2006 and the recession that followed from late 2007 to mid-2009 took a far greater toll on the wealth of minorities than whites. From 2005 to 2009, inflation-adjusted median wealth fell by 66% among Hispanic households and 53% among black households, compared with just 16% among white households."
The GEO Group, one of two nationally prominent private prison corporations in America has just signed an agreement with Florida Atlantic University to "name" the football stadium at FAU. Understandably, this has caused an uproar from many on the faculty and in the student body at Florida Atlantic. "The GEO Group Stadium" at Florida Atlantic University immediately conjures up images of the now retired "Enron Stadium" where the Houston Astros used to take the field, except that The GEO Group is undoubtedly more sinister and harmful to United States citizens than Enron ever was (a fact absolutely lost on FAU President Mary Jane Saunders until student and faculty protests erupted).
The GEO Group is a private prison company. As I have written about extensively, private prison corporations essentially collect taxpayer funds from federal and state governments (a "per diem" or per bed fee) in order to house prisoners on behalf of these governments and do so with an immoral profit maximization motivation. Private prison companies profit on human misery. Shareholders of GEO Group stock expect the board of directors and executives to return handsome profits from imprisoning United States citizens (and increasingly illegal aliens). The perversity in this arrangement, of course, is that in order to increase profits for shareholders, private prison companies, including the Corrections Corporation of America (the other prominent U.S. private prison company), seek to aggressively imprison more Americans by lobbying legislatures to increase sentencing laws, divine new laws/ways to imprison individuals, and even engage in drafting model legislation like SB 1070 (Arizona's "show me your papers" law) and three-strikes laws. In "All Eyez on Me: America's War on Drugs and the Prison Industrial Complex," I describe the perverse incentives that motivate the private prison industry by examining the immorality attendant in leadership of private prison companies debating successful ways to increase profit by incarcerating more United States' citizens.
Private prison companies have flourished in recent years based upon the increasingly dubious claim that they provide prison services for less cost than do governmental agencies. While numerous studies dispute this assertion, the bottom line economic transfer is that taxpayer funds are being funneled to private prison companies (and its executives and shareholders) without those companies providing any genuine public good or manufacture of product. Indeed, recent reports indicate that private prison companies engage in gross human rights and constitutional violations, more egregious than government run prisons.
And now, FAU has signed an agreement to partner with The GEO Group allowing GEO to prominently appear on the facade of its' football stadium and increase its corporate branding. FAU's President appears to have not engaged in any due diligence when signing the naming right, relying singularly upon the fact that the GEO Group Chair is a proud alumnus of FAU. This is particularly egregious in Florida, where private prisons have attempted to seize on opportunities to stealthily motivate state legislators to sanction massive expansion of the private prison industry. Students recently orchestrated a "sit-in" where President Saunders was forced to speak to the group, though she claims the naming agreement is a "done deal." Whether students protests will lead to a repudiation of the agreement remains to be seen. Sans repudiation, Florida Atlantic University may go down as one of the first American Universities to openly celebrate the incredibly perverse and immoral private prison industry and lobby.
Will the Washington "Redskins" Finally Get A New Name?
Dave Zirin wrote an article this week in The Nation entitled "Redskins: The Clock is Now Ticking on Changing the Name." We have regularly debated the offensiveness of American Indian mascots at theSports Law Blog, and once again, Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder has been called upon to change the team moniker of our nation capital's NFL club. Zirin's article was inspired by a symposiumheld in Washington D.C. at the Smithsonian's Museum of American Indian History decrying the use of all American Indian mascots.
According to Zirin: "It’s an awkward fact of life in Washington, DC, that we are home to both the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and the Washington Redskins. One attempts to preserve the Native American cultures that weren’t eradicated by conquest; the other is both a symbol and result of the same eradication. These two worlds collided this past week when the museum hosted a day-long symposium about Native American sports nicknames. In a packed auditorium, panelists and audience members took the local team to task, calling their name 'ugly,' 'offensive' and 'a racist slur.' Former Colorado Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, the only Native American senator in US history, said from the stage, 'If you want [your mascot] to be a savage—use your own picture.' Not one person either in the audience or the crowd defended the use of 'Redskin,' because, as one fan of the team said to me, 'it really is defending the indefensible.'"
While the NCAA has taken strong action against the use of offensive nicknames and imagery, will Dan Snyder, and other professional sports team owners (including the Braves, Indians, Chiefs, Blackhawks, etc.) finally heed the call for change and eliminate offensive and stereotyping monikers and mascots?
Has it been twenty years since The Chronic dropped in 1993? Apparently this is true as National Public Radio (NPR) has undertaken to chronicle 1993, a "remarkable year in music." In looking back at this remarkable year in music, NPR begins by examining Dr. Dre and his Chronic record which "had roots in the cultural and social upheaval sparked by the Los Angeles riots the year before."
While hip hop had long enjoyed wide popularity and important social commentary status, The Chronic became an anthem album for millions of young people in the United States and across the globe. In responding in part to the L.A. Riots, The Chronic captured the anger, angst, and anxiety that encapsulated a city and community that considered itself, in some ways, at war with the police employed to protect them. Hip hop had critiqued police brutality aggressively before 1993 and The Chronic, particularly in Dr Dre's former group N.W.A.'s still fiery "F*#k tha Police, and Public Enemy's "Get the F*#k Outta Dodge," but The Chronic was the first to deal with police brutality following the world's introduction to the Los Angeles Police Department's brutalization of Rodney King, which precipitated the L.A. Riots.
Recall, that in the late 1980s when NWA released "F*#k tha Police" and Public Enemy recorded "Get the F*#k Outta Dodge," hip hop was acting as the "Black CNN" reporting on inner city community ills that were largely ignored by the mass media. NWA and Public Enemy came under intense criticism for their anti-police brutality songs in the late 1980s, as law enforcement officials and politicians simply denied such critiques. Only after the LAPD was captured on a grainy hand-held video beating the prone and subdued Rodney King was America clued in to the truth that NWA and Public Enemy had been claiming through narrative lyric: U.S. law enforcement commonly brutalizes the communities they are charged to protect.
Seizing on this moment, (i.e., America's eye-opening moment that police brutality continues against people of color), The Chronic bemoans the circumstances that attend life in the 'hood (through Lil' Ghetto Boy, Nuthin' but a G Thang, and The Day the N*#*#z Took Over, amongst others). The NPR story concludes: "[The Chronic] is an audio document, with a lot of creativity and art and entertainment going along with it. Some people might think that that's wrong, but it's art, it's poetry. And it's supposed to have pain in it. You can gather that from listening to The Chronic — about the L.A. riots — you can feel it, you can kind of understand. And a lot of people agree that they captured it incredibly well. . . . [The Chronic] doesn't have all the answers, and it didn't solve the problems of its time. It's low-riding party music, intended to provide an escape. It also gives voice to the frustrations borne of burned-out buildings, grinding poverty and a feeling that nobody cared."
HipHopLaw.com favorite Chuck D and Public Enemy will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. When Chuck D provided the keynote address to the "Hip Hop and the American Constitution" course in April 2012, offered collaboratively by Drexel Law and WVU Law, he spent the first portion of his address sharing with our law school students and invited guests, the induction speech he had written for 2012's R&R HOF inductees, The Beastie Boys. Now Chuck and PE will have the opportunity to craft their own acceptance speech for their own HOF induction.
Public Enemy's Hall of Fame induction is important for many reasons: First, PE will be only the fourth hip hop group inducted into the R&R HOF (following on the heels of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, RUN-DMC, and the Beastie's), but PE will become the first overtly political and socially conscious hip hop group to be inducted and recognized for the movement that they inspired.
Third, PE, certainly Chuck and Professor Griff, viewed themselves as educators AND entertainers, not simply entertainers. With a strident message to deliver, Chuck, Griff and PE were relentless in their lyrics and their delivery. For this, PE was annihilated by critics when they emerged in the early 1990s. Still, PE knew that their target audience was not the establishment nor their critics, rather young people that needed to be educated in a way different than was being delivered by most U.S. public schools. "Messages" delivered below:
In rewatching Can't Truss It, one is reminded just how controversial and edgy PE was when they came out in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The choice for induction in the R&R HOF is certainly deserved as this groundbreaking group paved the way for so many others to follow. Congratulations to Chuck D and Public Enemy on their selection for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
The September 2012 edition of the ABA Journal reports favorably on the "Hip Hop and the American Constitution" course offered last spring semester collaboratively between Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law and the West Virginia University College of Law. In an article entitled "Hip-Hop at Law," reporter L.J. Jackson writes:
Public Enemy (in Hamburg, Germany 2000)
"Back in 1989, when Chuck D and Flavor Flav exhorted Public Enemy fans to 'Fight the Power,' it’s likely that they never envisioned their
anti-establishment anthem would be deconstructed and analyzed as part of
an innovative law school curriculum. But the lyrics and discographies
of Public Enemy and other hip-hop artists are indeed the subjects of a
recent law school seminar and a forthcoming anthology studying the
intersection of the Constitution and hip-hop. Law professors Donald Tibbs and andré cummings are working on a textbook
based on the class they co-taught this spring called 'Hip-Hop and the
American Constitution.' The lecture series brought an eclectic mix of
law professors, formerly incarcerated people and rap artists to the
classroom to discuss hip-hop’s legal implications. 'It initially was a
hope and dream' to teach the class, says Tibbs of Drexel University, who
conceived the idea and pitched it to cummings of West Virginia
University." The entire article can be read here: Hip-Hop at Law (photo courtesy of MikaV, Creative Commons License)
Election 2012 Outcomes
Several frightening outcomes have surfaced following last week's presidential election. Of course, many very positive takeaways have emerged as well, with Professor Steve Ramirez writing about two of them in this Corporate Justice space. Yet, the frightening outcomes appear to show that our nation remains deeply divided along racial and class lines.
Following the election, statisticians and social media analysts got busy and turned up the following two charts, which should give Americans everywhere pause. First, the chart below shows that we are most definitely not a post-racial place, as evidenced by the number and intensity of racist tweets that were sent on election night following President Obama's re-election.
The next chart shows how the state's with the most educated populations voted, versus how the state's with the least educated populations voted for president. How "educated" a state is was determined by percentages of citizens 25 years of age and older with a college degree or more.
These two charts seem to evidence that our nation remains deeply divided, both on issues of race and of class. Racist tweets in the deep south were prevalent, most obviously in Mississippi and Alabama following President Obama's re-election success. Still, racist tweets were evident throughout the nation. Further, if "education" level is to be measured by college degree, then those states with the most college graduates voted overwhelmingly for President Obama, where those states with the fewest college graduates were nearly as overwhelmingly in support of Mitt Romney. We must continue to try to bridge divides in the United States by honestly confronting issues of festering racism and poverty.
Dr. Donald Tibbs in collaboration with Professorandré douglas pond cummingsare offering a first-of-its-kind law school course entitled "Hip Hop and the American Constitution," this spring semester 2012. Through an innovative link-up between Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law and the West Virginia University College of Law, Tibbs and cummings are presenting to law students at both schools an intellectual and academic experience connecting the intersections of hip hop with the law. The course is being presented primarily as a lecture series, where academics and activists from across the nation are traveling to Philadelphia and presenting their published work which examines various aspects of the the law through the lens of hip hop, its artists, culture and messaging. Students will be required to read the lecturing scholars work, be it law review articles or books, and will then intellectually engage with the visiting scholars following a lecture presented by each visiting professor. In addition, students will keep a journal of their insights through the semester, and will present a final paper tackling a current issue in the law and how hip hop music or culture critiques this law. The lecture series will occur on Thursday evenings at Drexel Law throughout the spring 2012 semester and is being broadcast live to students at WVU Law. The lecture series line-up will proceed throughout the semester as follows:
January 19, 2012: ProfessorBret Asbury, Drexel Law, "Anti-Snitching and the Hip Hop Community"
January 26, 2012: Professor andré douglas pond cummings, WVU Law, "All Eyez on Me: Hip Hop, Mass Incarceration and the Prison Industrial Complex
February 3, 2012: Professor Paul Butler, George Washington Law, "Let's Get Free: A Hip Hop Theory of Justice
February 9, 2012: Dr. Imani Perry, Princeton University, "Prophets of the 'Hood: Politics and Poetics in Hip Hop"
February 16, 2012: Professor Akilah Folami, Hofstra Law, "Law, Hip Hop and the Black Public Sphere"
February 23, 2012: Dr. Tryon Woods, UMass - Dartmouth, "Law, Black Sexual Politics, and Punishment"
March 1, 2012: Professor Kim Chanbonpin, John Marshall Law, "Legal Writing, The Remix: Plagiarism and Hip Hop Ethics
March 8, 2012: Professor Anthony Farley, Albany Law, "Sarah Palin: The Last Black President or Straight Up Gangsta"
March 22, 2012: Professor Pamela Bridgewater, American Law, "Is Feminism Dead? Is Hip Hop Dead? And Other 21st Century Questions of Marginal Utility"
March 29, 2012: Professor Andre Smith, Widener Law, "OPP - Other People's Property: Hip Hop's Inherent Clashes With Property Laws and its Ascendance as Global Counter Culture"
April 5, 2012: Dr. Donald Tibbs, Drexel Law, "From Black Power to Hip Hop"
April 12, 2012: Guest Finale/Keynote Speaker (TBA)
Contributing scholars who will teach portions of the WVU Law section include Professor Atiba Ellis, WVU Law and Nick Sciullo, Ph.d candidate, Georgia State University.
Each of the above lecture series participants will publish their articles or book excerpts in an anthology that Tibbs and cummings will edit, slated for publication in 2013.