Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Testament Project at Bryn Mawr College

"Jessica" by Kris Graves
Kris Graves' The Testament Project, currently on view at Bryn Mawr College, is a powerful engagement of the visual and emotional senses.

The artist presents carefully constructed photographs of Black people larger than life and sublimely doused in bright color. They are images of Black faces, some steadily holding the viewer's gaze, some looking beyond the reach of the camera. To a vision? To a dream deferred? The mystery is part of what is so affecting about this exhibit.

The colors confront the viewer's assumptions of what people of color are, what they look like, and how they negotiate the space they inhabit. The artist makes clear that his subjects collaborated with him on how they were presented in the portraits, lending an element of control that disrupts the traditional imbalanced relationship between the viewer and the object being viewed.

The Testament Project is installed in the Canaday Library's Rare Book Room, where Black faces keep sentinel over dusty medieval books, the canon of an ensconced tradition of White-conceived "humanities." The faces demand to know: "Who controls education? Who controls the values of our society? Who is allowed to be in here?"

They ask the nearby portrait of M. Carey Thomas, a revered administrator of Bryn Mawr College from 1894 to 1922, and a (reputedly) queer suffragist who opposed marriage on the principle that it led to loss of freedom for women. She also steadfastly refused admission to women of color into the school. "Who belongs here?" the faces ask, intently. "Who gets to read these books, write more books, be the faces of advancement and the future?" The faces - powerfully - insist on engagement on their own terms. "Here we are," they say. "We are exactly who we are."

By hosting such an exhibition, College invites the confrontation of these questions. It is an especially timely invitation, given several on-campus racial conflicts in recent years. The artist's wish to "create a space that is participatory and empowered" is possible here. We would be collectively improved to pursue it.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

15 years

Today I've got some 9/11 trauma, remembering how everything was violent and uncertain and scary, and not being able to get home from school, and the phones not working, and not knowing whose parents died or just happened to have missed the train that morning, and if we'd ever know what happened or why, and who was this Al Qaeda anyway, and how we watched the videos again and again and again and the people jumping and the people running and the people covered with dust, and the firefighters bravely running towards the fire and the melting and the smells and the horror and the smoke clouds you could see for weeks and weeks, and that store with all the jeans neatly folded and covered with ash, and then....and then.... and then there were backpack checks on the subway and bombsniffing scary dogs and war and fear and the triage center at Stuyvesant High School and everyone wearing American flag this-and-that, and what would happen, people bursting into tears on the street and strangers comforting them, and what do we do...and then...and then...and then there was still war and the phantom lights every year, with the names of the dead read by their children, now grown, who were just babies at the time, and also that man who cried for his father the window-washer on national TV who I will never forget, and all those signs for the missing: "Have you seen my ___ ?????" Oh my G-d it was awful.

Now the war has receded to the back rooms of humdrum dronekiller video game players, bombing people far away who had nothing to do with all that, and there's also war every day in the minds and bodies of people who are there or were there or might be getting ready to go there, and the "there" keeps changing, and the "why" seems irrelevant, and what are we building, and what are we tearing down - these are questions nobody answers with any degree of trustworthiness.

There was potential for positive social and political change. There was a tide of global sympathy and love. Now there is war and death and killing and burning and more violence, more extraordinary than before.

Now we wonder why people kill people in nightclubs, or beat their wives, or swear allegiance to a credo of killing and kidnapping and bombing yourself. We wonder why people rip headscarves off women's heads, using the rhetoric of "freedom" and "choice." We wonder why professional athletes don't stand for the American flag anthem. We wonder why our veterans are not getting good or even adequate care in hospitals supposedly built for them. We wonder why we have homelessness, drug addiction, crappy schools with reactionary and corporatist ideologues running them, scourges of disease and poverty, and people not being able to take care of themselves.

Today is a hard day, every year. But it is also people's birthdays and wedding days and time-to-study-for-a-test days. We are rooted in violence, but we don't have to be. We can take our memories and our traumas and fears, and we can acknowledge them, learn from them, and grow. We can be healers and collaborators, and problem resolvers. We can teach children what happened that day, and ask them to invent ideas for making things right. We can build our own future, and it can be better than what we have now.

...In the morning, I walked out barefoot
Among thousands of flowers
Heavy with dew like the eyes of tears,
And each had a name...


- "The Names," by Billy Collins

...This is the music space
where music is most difficult
this place of joy and horror
....I think the music of the spheres
can be heard in this space...


- "A Little Ramshackle Shack," by Abdal-Hayy

Friday, June 17, 2016

May their memories be a blessing

I went to temple tonight to say mourner's Kaddish for my grandfather - dead for two years - and the victims of the Orlando massacre. New to the Philadelphia area, I chose to attend a synagogue based on its website's proclamation that "We welcome all who wish to participate in Jewish life." I felt like after absorbing the news of last weekend - on top of recently beginning a rigorous academic program - I needed to do a centering activity in a comfortable, familiar space.

I knew I chose wisely after I was greeted by a very pregnant rabbi and every single member of the 15ish-person congregation who showed up to pray together on a lush June evening. Somebody even complimented my cat blouse, so it was clear I was in good company. The rabbi was careful to use non-gendered, non-patriarchal language to refer to G-d. She had a sweet singing voice, and invited people to check in with themselves as to how they felt about participating in the service. "Rise if you are able," she said at one point. "Stay seated if that feels better."

I expected the rabbi to at least mention the events in Orlando, and I wanted to say the Misheberach healing prayer in honor of the survivors and the larger queer community feeling quite terrorized these days. The rabbi went further, guiding us through a collective reading of two poems hopeful for a more accepting society. She then read all the names of the people who were murdered in that nightclub. Everybody rose to say the mourner's Kaddish together. I burst into tears.

After the service, the rabbi warmly asked me to share a memory about my late grandfather. I was so distraught and choked up, I could only thank her for reading the names of the people who died in Orlando. She sighed, and said how crazy it all was. I told her I didn't think it was crazy at all, that it made sense. At the time, I couldn't articulate that I meant the events were a microcosmic consequence of our country's worship of toxic masculine frameworks, ignorance of foreign experience, violence at home and at war, and straight up homophobia. I couldn't find the words to say that I was upset because I keep imagining how scared those people at the nightclub must have felt. They must have been so terribly scared. They must have been so scared. I cry again.

The rabbi encouraged us to sign a letter of support to the Jewish queer community of Orlando. I appreciated this act of solidarity, and wondered what the congregation was doing to support the queer community here in Pennsylvania. Often to cope with great loss and confusion, we both personalize and otherize tragedies. We are upset because we can relate to the trauma; we manage our feelings by focusing on the actual tragic actions, and not the everyday ways we can work to prevent them from occurring. This can help us in the short term, but it keeps our imaginations small.

I remember feeling this way when gay marriage became legal last year. So many people came out of the woodwork to say, "Love wins!" and add rainbow overlays to their Facebook profile pictures. I thought this was beautiful, and I thought this was strange. How were all these people passively supporting marriage equality - as an imperfect stand-in for human equality - when real live queers were getting bullied, beaten, killed, denied access to resources, fired, kicked out of their homes, forced to act inauthentic...all for being queer? Why are all these newly rainbow-anointed brethren so pleased with themselves when so many neglect to show real solidarity and support for queers in their communities? Don't they know that the rainbow used to be a secret code for queers to communicate and build safety with each other? Don't they know this symbol was born out of violence? And now they're using it to show, "Hey look, I'm on your side." That feels off to me.

I have always believed revolution begins in your heart. In this sometimes ugly world, it is enough to be a loving person, but it is better to actively express that love to those who need it most. Tell a queer you love them, you care for them, you are sad for the violence in their community, you want to do something about it. If you are queer, tell yourself you love yourself. Write it down if it feels weird to say out loud. Be who you are. May your life be a blessing. May their memories be a blessing. May we build a better way.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Friday, April 1, 2016

Anti-oppression / Anti-bullshit voting guide for New Orleans elections, April 9

Hello, team, and welcome to the April 2016 edition of the anti-oppression / anti-bullshit New Orleans voter guide!

We are being invited to the polls to vote on two fundraising initiatives, and that's it. Of course there is already a kerfuffle brewing about "public safety" and all the veiled racist claptrap that brings up, but what's a New Orleans election without a kerfuffle and veiled racist claptrap, amirite?!


It's your right to turn up and turn out, so here's what we recommend:
 (Select 1)
Shall the New Orleans City Council be authorized to annually levy an increase in ad valorem taxes of a total of seven and one-half (7.5) mills as follows: (1) dedicated solely for recruiting, hiring, equipping, and paying police officers for increased police protection, in the amount of and not exceeding five (5) mills on the dollar of assessed real property valuation throughout the city and (2) dedicated solely for fire protection in the amount of and not exceeding two and one-half (2.5) mills on the dollar of assessed real property valuation throughout the city, for twelve (12) years, beginning January 1, 2017 and ending December 31, 2028, (an estimated $17.73 million reasonably expected to be collected at this time for an entire year as a result of the 5 mills increase for police protection and an estimated $8.87 million reasonably expected to be collected at this time for an entire year as a result of the 2.5 mills increase for fire protection), in accordance with Article VI, Section 26(E) of the Louisiana Constitution? 

Basically, this mill - also known as a property tax - is pulling a tricky number by tying firefighter money to police money. The firefighters have spent years confronting the City on overdue backpay and pensions, only to have their union diluted and the City renege on court-imposed payment timelines. This mill would designate more money for the firefighters (2.5 mills), but it would also funnel a bunch more money (5 mills) to the police.

As we know, firefighters perform an inarguably useful service to the City and to humanity. As for the police: Well, we're not so convinced. Regardless, politicians need to stop combining this stuff because not only is it confusing to voters - Nobody wants to vote against firefighters - but it's not fair to play further games with firefighter money by linking it to entirely different City service budgets.

Hmmm
What we also don't like is the fear-mongering PR campaign behind this election, funded by some outfit called the "Citizens for Public Safety PAC." They recently sent out a shiny mailer with a blurry photo of a white woman clutching her purse while a shadowy figure in a hoodie approaches her from behind. The suggestion is that if we vote for this mill, we'll be safer from criminal danger. Of course, it begs the questions of WHO is going to be safer from WHOM, and WHOM the police protect and serve.

Now, we've never met a single New Orleans citizen who is against public safety, but it's a stretch to say that giving more money to the police actually results in a reduction of crime. As our friends at European Dissent put it, "The NOPD is already the highest funded department in the New Orleans government and its budget has only grown over time." We can think of at least 500 other initiatives in the City that would address the roots of crime more effectively than giving money to the police.

VOTE: No

PW Prop. (Capital Improvements) - $120M Bond - CC - 30 Yrs. (Select 1)
Shall the City of New Orleans, Louisiana (the "City"), incur debt and issue up to $120,000,000 of bonds, in one or more series, to run not exceeding thirty (30) years from the date thereof, with interest at a rate not exceeding eight percent (8.00%) per annum, for the purpose of making capital improvements, including constructing, renovating, acquiring and/or improving (i) $100,000,000 for roads, streets and bridges, base stabilization, drainage adjustments and related sidewalks, curbing, street lighting, stormwater management, and landscaping associated therewith; (ii) $15,000,000 for public buildings and facilities and parks and recreational facilities, and (iii) $5,000,000 for fire trucks and firefighting equipment, including acquiring all necessary land, equipment and furnishings for any of the foregoing, which bonds will be general obligations of the City and will be payable from ad valorem taxes to be levied and collected in the manner provided by Article VI, Section 33 of the Constitution of the State of Louisiana of 1974 and statutory authority supplemental thereto, with no estimated increase in the millage rate to be levied in the first year above the 25.5 mills currently being levied to pay General Obligation Bonds of the City?

This one is asking to issue City bonds - basically a gambling way for the City to borrow money against its future ability to repay it - for street repair, which should be a no-brainer except SURPRISE! it never is.

First of all, this proposition doesn't specify which streets are going to be repaired, so we really don't know what we're voting for.

Also, the Bureau of Government Research (BGR) makes the point that "Even with the pressing need for street repairs, there are potential drawbacks to funding the work with bond issues that have a 30-year life. The lifespan of streets repaired through the bond proposition may very well be shorter than the repayment period contemplated by the city." So we might fund street repair with promissory notes only to wind up in the same exact position after we've paid back the debt. SMH, New Orleans, SMH.

But the normally tax-averse BGR thinks we should vote Yes on this, as long as the City seeks other funding sources for street repair. Basically, we all agree that our streets are jacked and anything we can do to fix them would be a good thing. Okay.

VOTE: Yes

Monday, November 23, 2015

Where to spend money in New Orleans during the holiday season, 2nd Annual Edition

Hey you! Over there, with the disposable income!

Just in time for this holiday season, here's a list of places to spend money in New Orleans where your dollars are going to have positive impact on the local economy.

Consider donating money to the following groups in honor of your sister or whoever, for whatever holiday you observe. It beats that "candles and potholders" gift idea you had for her!

In no particular order:

Health
Trystereo / New Orleans Harm Reduction Network
Provides health supplies, wellness education, wound-care consultations, toiletries, and clothing to drug-users in southeastern Louisiana. Facilitates workshops on safer drug-use, first aid practices, and overdose prevention. Self-funded (no overhead!). Runs a 12-Step Alternative support group for people who feel kinda judged or unwelcome at AA/NA/etc meetings.

Sex Workers Outreach Project
This anti-violence network provides health, legal, and safety information to people engaged in sex work (stripping, escorting, etc)  in New Orleans. It is an important support in an industry where many laborers experience stigma and alienation.

Women with a Vision
Facilitates the empowerment of low-income women of color through legislative advocacy, educational programming, and other initiatives that nobody else is taking up. They do important work around harm reduction for drug-users and sex workers; they're currently running domestic violence support groups as well.

Common Ground Health Clinic
"Solidarity, not Charity" is the motto of this Algiers community-based clinic that focuses care on low-income residents of New Orleans. They also publish and distribute a free (and extremely useful) guide to mental and physical health resources in the GNO area.

Food Justice
Supporting Urban Agriculture
Grows food in the Lower 9th Ward and gives it to the neighbors, sells it to the people who can pay. Kinda evens things out, and promotes healthy eating for everybody.

Community Kitchen
Makes and serves free meals (including vegan and gluten-free options!) for anyone who's hungry. Caters events for other radical groups in the city.

Youth
Break Out
Organizes against police profiling and brutality of queer and transgender youth of color. A totally self-determined group of badass visionary young people.

Apex Youth Center
Originally run by a couple out of their living room, this organization does an awesome job of providing free afterschool care for youth in the city. Kids get snacks, clothes, tutoring, whatever. The older kids are the "mentors." The center is often open to the neighborhood for barbecues and other parties. The founders even negotiated with the police to extend the nighttime youth curfew to kids leaving the Center late at night.

Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools / The Rethinkers
A participatory education group of New Orleans students who reject the school-to-prison pipeline, and the teach-to-the-test pedagogical approach. Instead, they work to make their schools supportive environments for learning and leadership development.

Arts, sports, foreign language, yoga, drama, dance, culinary, etc. classes for youth in New Orleans. This program - formerly called CP3 Afterschool Zone - used to be funded by Chase Bank, but Chase Bank no longer cares about the children of New Orleans. Somehow the program has to fund itself now. You can help!

RUBARB
All-volunteer run bicycle shop that teaches neighborhood kids how to build and repair their own bikes.

LOUD: New Orleans Queer Youth Theater
Queer youth create, design, and perform top-notch theatrical productions. Also produce educational workshops on civil rights and sexual health.

The Prison System, and the People Affected by It
Cornerstone Builders
Free buses to prisons around Louisiana. Help a mama visit her son while he's locked up!

Books 2 Prisoners
Sends free books to people in the South's jails and prisons. 

Voice of the Ex-Offender
Helps formerly incarcerated individuals re-acclimate to society. Provides legal resources, financial management education, and leadership development opportunities. Promotes community education and collaboration around voting rights and interaction with law enforcement.

Resurrection After Exoneration
Say you spent a lot of time in prison for a crime you didn't commit. Then you get released, but you have nowhere to go. This organization will let you live in their house for free! They'll also hook you up with clothing, legal resources, and whatever else you might need.

Housing
Youth Rebuilding New Orleans
Founded by two New Orleans-born brothers in their 20s, this agency engages youth to build houses for public school teachers. They also make room to train and mentor young people doing court-mandated community service.

LowerNine.org
Rebuilds people's houses in the Lower 9th Ward. Pretty simple. The homeowners just pay for the construction materials; volunteers do the rest. On a side note, it's pretty ridiculous that we're still relying on volunteers and donations to rebuild people's houses in the Lower 9th Ward. Let's get it done already.

Survivors Village
Stands up for people whose housing was seized after Katrina for "abandonment," "blight," or other political reasons, when really they just didn't have enough money to come home.

Labor
New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice, specifically:

Congreso de Jornaleros / Congress of Day Laborers
One of the bravest groups around - a union of undocumented workers. These people rebuilt New Orleans after Katrina; now they're being deported. Fuck that. Give them money to access healthcare, education, labor rights, housing, and stable legal standing.

Stand with Dignity
Tirelessly advocates to improve the housing, employment, and educational opportunities for low-income residents of New Orleans. These people were left in deplorable conditions during Katrina, and stood up to (successfully) demand radical changes to the city's shelter and evacuation protocols.

General Community Development
Puentes
Asserts the rights and needs of Spanish-speaking populations in New Orleans. They do stuff like: help clinics translate health flyers; advocate to get interpreters wherever they're needed; link families to information about schools and housing; and hold businesses and social services accountable for working with Spanish-speakers.

Vietnamese Initiatives in Economic Training
Promotes education, economic self-sufficiency, and access to social resources in the Vietnamese communities of New Orleans East. Runs free summer camps for children.

Arts
Ashe Cultural Arts Center
Promotes African, Caribbean, and African-American art and artists. Hosts community groups about health and fatherhood, among other themes.

The successor of the Free Southern Theater, this organization produces and encourages social justice-driven art. Recent productions have concerned the privatization of New Orleans schools, and the experience of displacement in the environmentally fragile Gulf Coast.

A film festival that spotlights the struggles and triumphs of marginalized populations.

A multidisciplinary arts group that produces works around ecological and other civic concerns. Their stellar outdoor "Cry You One" show was performed on the canals and swamps of St. Bernard Parish, highlighting the human consequences of environmental degradation.

A multidisciplinary performance arts group that uses theatre as a tool of healing and recovery. Runs a theatre group at Louisiana's St. Gabriel prison for women.

New Orleans Community Printshop & Darkroom
A low-cost studio space for artist-entrepreneurs. Also runs free workshops for neighborhood kids to learn screenprinting, photography, and zine-making.

Books & Other Things for Purchase
Jala and the Wolves, and the Jaden Toussaint series, by Marti Dumas. Lacking many promising options for literature featuring children of color as the main characters, this New Orleans mom and educator started writing her own books.

Immigrant Dreams & Alien Nightmares, by José Torres Tama. Explores the bilingual, bicultural identity of the author as he poetically documents his own experience of immigration to the United States and in New Orleans.

Mixed Company, by women of color in Louisiana. A collection of writing and visual art that confronts spatial and mental boundaries, and expresses contemporary Black intellectualism.

Floodlines: Community and Resistance from Katrina to the Jena Six, by Jordan Flaherty. Tells the oftentimes underheard stories of grassroots organizing and collaboration in New Orleans, during and around the time of Hurricane Katrina.

Art, comics, and ephemera, by Ben Passmore. This hyper-talented, hyper-sensitive Black New Orleans-based artist explores masculinity, anarchist theory, and police violence in his playful art.

Also check out:

* * * *
Hit up the comments section if you want something included! Thanks to everyone who helped me compile this list by doing the work / shouting out others who do the work.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Anti-oppression / Anti-bullshit voting guide for New Orleans RUNOFF elections, Nov. 21st


Hello, New Orleans!

We're back with your runoff election voting guide for November 21st, 2015.

Early voting is November 7th-14th, but not November 8th or November 11th. Who said democracy is convenient?

As always, we are against oppression and bullshit, and we are for a reasonable way of life. This guide is a working draft, and we welcome your input in the comments section below. Please see our guidelines as to what constitutes "reasonable." Big thanks to local human rights attorney Monique Harden for compiling the candidate demographics.

This election is the runoff for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General. Depending on where you live, you might also be asked to vote for State Senator, State Representative, and/or Orleans Parish School Board member. Check GeauxVote for the ballot that corresponds to your address.

Vote early and vote often! Or there's always a vote for Nobody. Why vote for Nobody? Because Nobody is the best candidate. Nobody cares. Nobody will keep election promises. Nobody will listen to your concerns. Nobody tells the truth. Nobody will lower your taxes. Nobody will defend your rights. Nobody has all the answers.

Love ya!

Governor
John Bel Edwards - Democrat, White, Male
David Vitter - Republican, White, Male

Good Lord, this is truly not a good situation. On the one hand, we have Vitter, an anti-abortion, pro-business career politician guided by his conservative religious conviction. On the other hand, we have Edwards, an anti-abortion, pro-business career politician guided by his conservative religious conviction.

The benefit to a Governor Vitter is that if we truly believe that the apocalypse is upon us, he will hasten it by killing the environment even faster than we already are, with his hands in the diapers of oil&gas.

Edwards pays lip service to improving higher education and pay equity for women, so that's good.

VOTE: Edwards, just because Vitter is actually crazy enough to kill us all

Lieutenant Governor
Melvin "Kip" Holden - Democrat, Black, Male
"Billy" Nungesser - Republican, White, Male

Of the bunch last time, we liked Holden the best (disliked him the least?). To review: He may or may not have sexually harassed his employee; he thinks that oil&gas are just a part of state economic development, not the whole thing; and he's done quite a bit to invest in the arts in Baton Rouge.

The Pat Buchanan-booster Nungesser is likable in the avuncular, Plaquemines-punchy kind of way, and he has stood up for the defense of coastal Louisiana throughout his political career, at least on camera. His record as Plaquemines Parish president is warped towards conservative fiscal and social values. He has also been sued for sexual harassment. (Maybe that's a campaign requirement these days?) Pretty much everyone who's endorsing Vitter is also endorsing Nungesser.

VOTE: Holden

Attorney General
James "Buddy" Caldwell - Republican, White, Male
"Jeff" Landry - Republican, White, Male

The tricky part about this race is that our favorite from the last go-round, Geri Baloney, endorsed Jeff Landry in the runoff. I'd say to trust her judgment but hang on, this guy is like NRA Gangbusters, fresh from the Tea Party Caucus. The dude literally kicked the underdog during his career as a business lawyer, when - in his words - he "represented numerous job creators and business owners" [read: oil&gas corporations] "against frivolous lawsuits" [read: the environment]. In 2012, he lobbied against an LGBT studies program at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, saying it was "an unnecessary use of taxpayer money." He thinks people don't serve enough time in jail for criminal activity, and wants more surveillance for those on probation and parole. Get a grip, wingnut.

Then there's Wingnut #2, Elvis-impersonating incumbent Buddy Caldwell, who not only spent public funds on golfing equipment and a vacation to Montana, but actively refused to prosecute his own embezzler family members. Before that, he was a district attorney who boasted about keeping non-violent offenders locked up. This guy has engaged in seriously dubious ethics and flouted the public interest mandate of his position, only to seek election to his third frickin term.

VOTE: Ugh, it breaks my heart to endorse Caldwell. But as my neighbor Creole Sassy says, "We have to hold our nose for him because otherwise, who knows."

State Senator, 7th District
Jeffrey "Jeff" Arnold - Democrat, White, Male
Troy Carter - Democrat, Black, Male

Troy Carter is a former City Councilmember and State Representative endorsed by Mitch Landrieu. He supports Medicaid expansion, and is against further state budget cuts to higher education and healthcare. His nephew just won the election for the State Rep position that Troy Carter held in the 90s, and that Jeff Arnold is vacating due to term limits.

Confused, much? Yeah, these two are career politicians from political families.

Current State Rep and NBC Bank Vice President Jeff Arnold has publicly called for the secession of Algiers from the city of New Orleans. He sees crime as a major problem in New Orleans, and wants to "examine" public defender services as a dimension of criminal justice. Arnold is the son of Algiers' assessor.

VOTE: Honestly, it's a toss-up. Nobody impresses us here, but we can't in good conscience tell you to vote for a banker. Troy Carter it is.

State Representative. 99th District
Ray Crawford - Democrat, Black, Male
"Jimmy" Harris - Democrat, Black, Male

A Ray Crawford canvasser accosted me with great enthusiasm at the Mirliton Festival this past weekend, and told me that "Ray's a pastor, so you know he's gonna look out for you." Being Jewish myself, I wasn't so convinced. But Crawford's said some good stuff about Medicaid expansion, as well as the rights of teachers and parents to make decisions for public education. His candidacy was originally challenged in the Louisiana Supreme Court on the grounds of residency requirements, but it was allowed to proceed when it was found that the court documents misnamed him as "Raymond," instead of "Ray." Ah, the mighty wheels of justice.

Former Attorney General staffer Jimmy Harris' campaigning has focused largely on incentivizing business development in this district, which includes parts of New Orleans East and the 9th Ward. He used to be part of Congressman Cedric Richmond's machinery, and we usually like us some Cedric Richmond.

VOTE: Harris, but Crawford probably wouldn't be terrible either.

State Representative, 100th District
John Bagneris - Democrat, Black, Male
Alicia Plummer Clivens - Democrat, Black, Female

We like Alicia Plummer Clivens' consistently strong advocacy for public education and accessible healthcare in her community. Endorsed by teachers' unions and the AFL-CIO, she has confronted the Landrieu administration on New Orleans East's stagnant post-Katrina recovery. She is also endorsed by an outfit known as the Independent Women's Organization, which promotes female Democratic Party candidates. The NRA gave her a 0% rating, which is probably good for the children of America.

Bagneris is from a political family with ties to the Morials. He shares Clivens' goal to attract business growth to the East, as well as her 0% NRA approval rating. He might be fine as a State Rep, but we're trying to undermine political dynasties here.

VOTE: We're gonna go with Alicia Clivens on this one.

State Representative, 103rd District
"Ray" Garofalo - Republican, White, Male
Casey Hunnicutt - Democrat, White, Male

Ultra-conservative current State Rep Garofalo was one of two legislators to support something called the "Marriage and Conscience Act," which, as you can imagine, was not designed with any kind of recognizable civil rights orientation except towards businesses that want to discriminate against LGBTQ employees and still reap the benefits of state tax incentives. So you could say he's really gone out on a limb for his rightwing gay-hating constituency.

Casey Hunnicutt was elected to St. Bernard Parish Council at age 24, and has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO. It's hard to find more information about him, but he's probably not worse than Ray Garofalo.

VOTE: Casey Hunnicutt

Orleans Parish School Board, 1st District
Keith Barney - Democrat, Black, Male
John Brown - Democrat, Black, Male

Keith Barney was a special education teacher before joining the charter board at Mary Coghill, a Gentilly school under the purview of the state-run Recovery School District. He voted not to return the school to the locally controlled OPSB last year, citing poor leadership and "bad behavior."

Former principal John Brown was somewhat contentiously appointed to the OPSB back in March, after former member Ira Thomas was indicted for bribery. At the time, Brown was asked to pledge not to run for the position this November, but whoops - he forgot about that. So you can see the ethical precedent on this Board is, er, let's say "not strong." But Brown has contended that success in public education occurs "where community partnerships are reciprocal and demand coordination, collaboration and mutual investment...[The Orleans Parish school system should be] providing quality learning environments that promote academic excellence and engaging the family and community in the support of student achievement." Stand for Children endorses his candidacy.

VOTE: John Brown