The Greenest Man in America!

Going green is about more than buying all the gluten-free quinoa you can fit in your Prius. It’s about community organizing against corporate polluters and challenging environmental racism — and then enjoying your quinoa.

Yuri Kochiyama and Amiri Baraka play 2-on-2 in Heaven

I had this crazy dream last night. Yuri Kochiyama and Amiri Baraka were up in heaven…playing Ronald Reagan and Strom Thurmond in a game of 2-on-2 basketball. The stakes? Dismantling the segregated institutions of heaven. Why all the clouds gotta be white?

Keystone XL has a Job for You! (video satire)

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When Keystone XL’s top job recruiter comes to town, he reveals just what types of jobs the controversial oil pipeline would really create. Oil executives like to claim that the Keystone XL would create thousands of jobs. But in a project fueling so many environmental and health risks, only one man is honest enough to say exactly what those jobs would be. Hint: they’re not in construction. It’s true, Keystone XL has a job for you!

Jewish vs. Goyish! – Hilarious Video just in time for Hanukkah

As Hanukkah approaches this week, earlier and more turkey-filled than ever, it’s important to ask that age-old question: What’s really Jewish? Rabbis and poets and the atheist uncles at my family’s Seder table have debated the question for generations. Forget the scholars and drunks, I say. The best answer I’ve ever heard came from a comedian. His name was Lenny Bruce.

A Dream Detained

A Dream Detained
(after Langston Hughes)
    For the Dream Defenders, occupying the Florida state capitol for Trayvon Martin and racial justice
    And the #Dream9 immigrant activists, who were detained at the border and won their freedom
what happens to a dream detained? does it wilt like a rose
in the Arizona sun? does it sink into the ocean
as water fills its lungs? or does it fight to come home,
cross borders and spread hope
until it has won?   this is not a weak dream
a beach margarita dream
a suburban house and two car garage dream
this is an American dream
call it Aztlán
call it the hood
call it the walled-off ghetto
of Beverly Hills
we call it home
so bring them home
bring our youth back to us
safe and breathing
with a bag of Skittles and a smile
I have a dream
that one day Martin Luther King
will not be misquoted
by Bill O’Reilly on national TV
fake colorblind fallacies
affirming misplaced actions
tell me, what is so conservative
about killing a young black boy
walking home to watch
the all-star game with his dad?

The Millionaire Tax Virgin: Spread the Love for Prop 30

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Taxes are sexy. Yeah, I said it. I know that most times you hear about taxes – from Obama to the latest Tea Party wingnut to your local city council bureaucrat – that conversation is boring, it’s policy-wonkish, and it’s usually pretty conservative. Well, it’s time to change the debate. Meet the Millionaire Tax Virgin.

The Tree Hugger

This is a poem for Oakland, for the fallen brothers, for the fallen trees —
and for the good men in my life. The Tree Hugger
his skin is brown
limbs long, he is lanky like me
but still: strong arms, thick spine
he is an oak
tree rooted in the Town
find him from Lower Bottoms
to top of the hills
from Berkeley border to Deep East
he is a tree and we
have never spoke,
clapped hands, dapped it up
i barely look him in the eye
* * *
i remember the first time
someone asked me to hug a tree
DC, 10th grade
field trip for all the city kids, all boys,
took us all the way past the suburbs
to the mystical land of West Virginia
land of miners and mountains
union bumperstickers and a Confederate flag
sharing the same Chevy in front of our bus
poor white folks and the richest forests
my greedy eyes had ever seen
i loved climbing trees
used to race my brother to the top
like we were running from the cops
which he was,
but no sirens singing out here in coal country
just pines and firs and miles and miles of
oaks: thick, brown, and beautiful
with green goatees and high-top fades
like Will Smith from the ’80s
hiking through the woods
in our oversized Timberlands
that actually made sense for once,
we reach a green meadow
and in the middle:
a single, giant oak. Mr. Jeffries, biology teacher
in khakis and a comb-over, says
“Alright, boys. One by one,
I want everyone to go hug that tree.” What?

White Terror in Wisconsin: Paul Ryan, Segregation, and the Sikh Temple Shooting

I remember the first time I saw a Confederate flag in Wisconsin. It was my sophomore year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and I was driving with my friend Kevin to go see The Roots in Milwaukee. Complaining how we needed to drive an hour and a half just to see a decent hip-hop show, Kevin told me to speed it up. I moved into the fast lane, casually glancing at the truck ahead of us — and there it was. Blazing brightly at us from the bumper of an old Chevy pickup truck, there shined the Confederacy’s version of red, white, and blue.

Wisconsin after the Recall Beatdown: Down but Not Out

It is election night in Madison, Wis., and I am standing where it all began, in front of the state Capitol here in the heart of America’s rebel dairyland. Earlier today was the recall election against Gov. Scott Walker, the viciously right-wing governor whose legislative attacks on public workers and unions sparked a grassroots rebellion in early 2011 involving hundreds of thousands of angry Wisconsinites. The Wisconsin uprising, through its occupation of the Capitol and its sheer massive numbers, inspired people across America and beyond to fight for economic justice in bold new ways, paving the way for Occupy Wall Street in the fall. For me, the movement was as beautiful as it was personal — I’d gone to college in Madison, taught in the Milwaukee public schools, and organized events in Green Bay. Scott Walker was attacking my old teachers, my students, and my friends.