Tuesday, November 26, 2013

France Urges UN Authorize Intervention in Central African Republic, Lest Religious Genocide Worsen There

Beginning of Reuters article on conflict in Central African Republic, which is south of Chad and north of the two Congos:

France said on Thursday that Central African Republic was "on the verge of genocide" and it expected the United Nations to give Paris and the African Union permission to intervene.
Central African Republic, a landlocked nation of 4.6 million people, has slid into chaos since mainly Muslim Seleka rebels, many of them from neighboring Chad and Sudan, ousted President Francois Bozize in March.
Seleka leader Michel Djotodia, installed as interim president, has lost control of his loose coalition of warlords. About 100 people died in fighting between Seleka and Christian militias in September, and thousands of villagers fled renewed clashes this week. Attacks on magistrates in the capital Bangui have fuelled concern about lawlessness.
"The country is on the verge of genocide," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told French television station France 2. "France, CAR's neighbors and the international community are worried. The United Nations will give permission to African forces, the African Union and France to intervene."
While U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday he may be prepared to deploy U.N. peacekeepers, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has made it plain Washington favors an African peacekeeping force.
Ban said further tensions between communities "might well lead to uncontrollable sectarian violence with untold consequences for the country, the sub-region and beyond".
According to the CIA World Factbook, Christians make up half the population and Muslims 15 percent.

A 2,500-strong regional peacekeeping force is due to be beefed up next month and come under African Union command but there are increasingly urgent appeals for broader international action as the violence escalates.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Capitalism is a “dirty word”: America’s new socialist council member talks to Salon

Capitalism is a “dirty word”: America’s new socialist council member talks to Salon

Capitalism is a “dirty word”: America’s new socialist council member talks to Salon

Newly elected, America's first big-city socialist council member in decades speaks to Salon

Capitalism is a Kshama Sawant (Credit: AP/Ted S. Warren)
On November 5, Seattle voters made Occupy activist and economics professor Kshama Sawant the first avowed socialist city council member in their city’s history – and the country’s first big city socialist council member in decades. In an interview Thursday – one day before her vote count lead spurred her opponent to concede the race – Sawant slammed Obama economics, suggested she could live to see the end of U.S. capitalism, and offered a socialist vision for transforming Boeing. A condensed version of our conversation follows.
It appears you’re on the cusp of winning a major city’s council race as a socialist. How did that happen?
I think the basis for everything that’s happening in Seattle, and everywhere else, is the fallout of the economic crisis … In Seattle, we are seeing a city that is very wealthy but is very unequal, and has become unaffordable for the vast majority of people …
Along with our [state Legislature] campaign last year and [city council] this year, we’ve seen a movement towards $15 an hour through the fast food movement … workers have courageously gone out on one-day strikes … The workers of [nearby airport city] SeaTac and the labor movement, they put a $15 an hour minimum wage initiative on the ballot for SeaTac city, and that is now leading …
All of this is happening in the cauldron of the economic crisis and the burden placed on the shoulders of working people … The conditions that shape people’s consciousness in Seattle are not different from anywhere else. And in fact, there is a deep frustration and disgust with the political system … This is the background in which our campaign has had a resounding echo.
After the 2008 financial crash, were you disappointed that there wasn’t more of a left turn in U.S. policy at the national level?
I think it’s been it’s been demoralizing for the left for a while. But at the same time, I think what we’re seeing is a slow but steady change, and the Occupy movement was a really significant expression of the disenchantment from the system that we knew that everybody was feeling…
In the absence of movements, especially mass movements, people tend to feel atomized, and everybody is privately thinking that “the system is not working for me.” The Occupy movement, what it did was it ended that silence and people were more openly talking about the economic crisis, the fact that the banks got bailed out and the rest of us were left with unemployment, low-wage jobs, and an epidemic of foreclosures and evictions. So I think, contrary to what people thought…It’s really been a period where newer, small but new movements are starting to rise up. There’s been the Occupy Homes campaign in Minnesota, which has actually prevented several foreclosures…And there’s been sort of initial eruptions of the environmental movement.
…Now, what [the] Left has to do is to recognize that there is an opening here, there is a hunger among people in the United States, especially young people, young working people…In reality, what has become a dirty word is capitalism. Young people can see that the system does not offer any solutions. They can see that a two-party system is not working for them. But what is the alternative? We have to provide the alternative…
Boeing workers…rejected this contract that has been forced on them by Boeing executives [who are] holding the state hostage to their demands…Every few years Boeing demands a massive corporate giveaway from the state, and the state each time gives into it – and this is a Democratic governor of the state who was leading this effort. For Boeing workers, it’s very clear that neither of the two parties is going to stand by them. And so the signal that it sends to the labor movement is that we have to have our own political organization.
So what is the most likely path in your view to making the United States more socialist?
I wouldn’t call it “more socialist,” in the sense that it doesn’t make sense: It can be either capitalism or socialism. But what we can do, in the journey toward making the economy into something that works for everybody: We have to fight for major reforms under capitalism … We are going to be pushing forward for $15 an hour minimum wage in Seattle in 2014 …
The only way we can get that any of these demands to be fulfilled is if we have mass movements of workers and young people coming together in an organized way and demanding these reforms …
But we also have to be honest … That’s not going to be enough. Because the system itself is a system of crises … Capitalism does not have the ability to generate the kind of living wage jobs that will be necessary in order to sustain a decent standard of living for the majority … So we have to have a strategy where we not only fight for every reform that we can get, including single payer healthcare, but … It can’t be in isolation from also thinking about fundamental shift in society …
In all this discussion, we cannot ignore the questions about climate change that are looming large in terms of this. And capitalism has shown itself completely incapable of addressing this crisis. And in some ways that’s as compelling a reason as any to think about a fundamental shift.
Do you believe that capitalism can or will end in the United States in your lifetime?
I can’t give a definitive answer to that because it will depend on what role we play – you know, we as in working people, young people, older people, people who have a stake in changing society, you know – it’s in our hands … We have to point the way forward, and that is the responsibility of the left, and we’re trying to do that. But we need other forces to step in.
We need the labor movement to play a huge role in this. And you know, one of the things that the labor movement can do is it can join hands with the environmental movement … The other thing the labor movement needs to do is run their own candidates, independent of the two parties, independent of corporate money, and show that it’s possible.
I mean, our campaign has shown that you don’t have to obey the rules.
In the best case scenario for you, the day that capitalism ended in the United States — how would that happen, what form would that transition take?
It would be difficult for me to lay out a blueprint of that. But … we can think about what it will require …
Capitalism is a system where it’s extremely productive, and productivity rates are at an all-time high, but the gains of the productivity are delivered almost exclusively to a very tiny elite at the top …
Boeing has an enormous factory, [as well as] all the auto factories that are lying defunct right now in the U.S. — they all have enormous capacity for production. And there’s any number of workers with the skills, and people who have the potential of learning those skills. And instead we have a situation where, because we don’t have a say in the production, either the machines are lying idle, or the machines are being used to produce destructive machines like drones.
So what we need to do is to take the machines and the factories into democratic, say, democratic ownership — and the workers can contribute rail cars or buses, something like that, something that is beneficial to society. And that’s something that creates jobs — it will create living wage jobs …
That’s the kind of system that we need, where the decisions on what to do with resources, and what to produce, how much of it to produce, that is made in accordance with democratic principles, and in accordance with what human society needs, not because the Wal-Mart CEO needs to make 2 percentage points more profits this quarter.
Under that vision of socialism, would there still be a Seattle City Council?
Absolutely. There has to be elected representation. There would still be unions. There has to be accountability.
What will change is how democracy actually functions. I mean, today we have a certain level of democracy — I mean, when you look at the vote, that’s true. And we are running within the system. But it’s a very limited form of democracy. You know, in order to get your message across, if you are a campaign with loads of corporate money, it’s easier for you. If you’re going against the status quo, it’s harder … And voters themselves are disenfranchised in so many ways …
Democracy is nonetheless absolutely the bedrock of socialism. In fact, I would say that democracy is absolutely critical for this vision to come alive. And in fact democracy is antithetical in many ways to capitalism. And in fact this democracy that we have is something that allows us to do a little bit within the system, but that’s not what the capitalist class want. I mean, they do not want us to fight for $15 an hour, they don’t want to give that. But we’re able to fight for it within the system. But that’s despite capitalism, not because of capitalism.
President Obama told the Business Roundtable – speaking of “the capitalist class” – in his first term that he’s an “ardent believer in the free market,” and that he sees three roles for government: to create rules for a level playing field; to provide things that individuals can’t do for themselves; and to provide a social safety net. What do you make of that kind of politics?
First of all, I think Obama is being quite honest … he believes in capitalism. And so for people to have the faith that he is going to really fight against those ideas … there is no basis in reality for that …
I would say that the “free market” is basically free for the super-wealthy, and extremely un-free for the rest of us. Because they dictate the terms. And so this idea that the free market can generate conditions where social programs can thrive and a level playing field can be created — it is an oxymoron. Because what the capitalist market does – and that’s what they call the “free market” – is that if you are a big player, like one of the oil companies, then you are in the best position to consolidate your wealth even further … One of the systematic, statistical realities under capitalism is intergenerational transmission of wealth and intergenerational transmissions of poverty …
I often ask my students, “What do you think is the best way of making money under capitalism?” They often give me interesting answers, like maybe [creating] an app for an iPhone … I tell them, “Look, the best way of making money under capitalism is to have money in the first place” …
You also hear people saying, well, it’s “crony capitalism” or it’s “disaster capitalism” or some other capitalism. Well, the fact is, you know, they’re all dancing around [that] this is capitalism … It’s not built into the system that the goal is to ensure that socially responsible life is possible. The goal is to maximize profits for those who already have wealth …
The reality is that capitalism rewards the biggest corporations and it tends toward monopoly. That is what capitalism is.
If you end up on the city council, how different is your agenda on the council and your voting record going to be from the liberal Democrats on the Seattle City Council?
Most of them are typical, homogenous block of more pro-Big Business conservative advocates, although in name they’re all Democrats … Seattle, like most major cities of the United States, is ruled by the Democratic Party establishment. And all of the problems that we see here, you know, crisis of affordable housing, low-wage jobs and all of those things, lie at the doorstep of the Democratic Party …
One [example] was a vote on whether the city should allow regulated homeless encampments … a very necessary stopgap measure to protect families from the ravages of homelessness. And my opponent … was the fifth vote that crushed it …
Another example — this is also politically really instructive — is the paid sick leave for Seattle workers  … That was possible because rank-and-file workers and the labor movement took it on themselves — I mean, they were the ones who championed it. They were out on the streets demonstrating and demanding that the council pass a paid sick leave initiative … That, in combination with the fact that there are one or two more progressive voices on City Council who took that on and pushed for it, ensured that basically the issue was passed … My opponent [cast the] sole vote against it. That one thing should be enough for people to not elect him again, because that was a completely unconscionable thing to do…
When we launched our campaign, and it was early this year, no one else was talking about $15 an hour except for us and the fast food workers, and all the corporate candidates — including the mayoral candidates — were very, very carefully avoiding it … Ultimately, it was impossible for the corporate candidates to ignore, and toward the end of the campaign you had both of the mayoral candidates putting on paper that they support $15 an hour …
What I can do on the City Council as one socialist is really far more than what people imagine it to be. Because it won’t just be my voice … to talk to other council members, but it’s also going to be to continue to really encourage and to invite public pressure into it. Which is how this camp succeeded.
Are there countries that you look to as good examples of socialism?
There is no real full example … but there are elements of what we are talking about in our vision for a future society …
In the United States, the creation of the welfare program in the first place. The creation of Social Security. All the advances that have been made in women’s rights and LGBT rights — a lot of this is well within the vision of what I would consider a really humane society in the future, and what I consider socialism … The gains that we have today are very consistent with our vision for a socialist society, and also they came about because a lot of these movements were headed by socialists.
And there are elements of socialism or socialist society in many other countries as well. So if you look at Finland and the funding for public education, how strong the teachers’ unions are, the full funding for healthcare in Cuba, also education. These are all elements that we would want to see put in place in a future society.
But at the end of the day, it’s not possible to have socialism in one country … If resources are organized globally along capitalist lines, it’s just not possible to provide that really high standard of living that some people have to everybody else  …
[A] small section of the working class has attained a really good standard of living. But first of all, that was not delivered to the vast majority. And secondly, and more importantly, those kinds of living are starting to disappear … It’s a politics of austerity in Europe, and all of these programs are under major assault. And so that shows you that you can’t have socialism in one country, and you can’t stop at social democracy. You can’t stop at having reforms … We have to have a fundamental shift.
In the past few decades, has the United States been moving closer toward that ideal of socialism, or further away from it?
As far as what has been happening broadly in the economy, no, it hasn’t been moving closer to socialism. And in fact what’s been happening is that some of the gains of the post-Second World War era, the creation of the middle class, for example, the funding for public education, a lot of these things are under attack … You don’t have to be a socialist economist for someone to admit that the middle class is fast disappearing. You know, Paul Krugman talks about it. So that’s going in the wrong direction.
What it shows is that, you know, when there is a major crisis in capitalism, the people who are going to be squeezed are working people.
When did you become a socialist and what brought you to socialism?
Consciously, I became a socialist when I came to Seattle, and I just happened to attend a meeting where somebody from Socialist Alternative gave a speech. And for me, there was — that was exactly what I was looking for. And I haven’t looked back since then.
But I would say more accurately that I have always been a socialist, but less consciously. From my very childhood, it was just the experience of growing up in Mumbai, India, and seeing just the ocean of poverty and misery all around me. And for me, it was not simply a question of outrage or fellow-feeling. Of course that’s the starting point, but for me it’s a logical question as well. Which is: How is it possible that there is so much wealth in society, and you can see that there are so many wealthy people who are just wealthy beyond measure, and you have such unimaginable poverty and misery, and just absolute horrendous conditions that human beings are living in …
It just seemed very, just unacceptable to me logically that that situation was a natural one. I mean, I could see that it had nothing to do with resources or productivity. It was clearly a political obstacle to eliminating poverty.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

9 Retail Chains that Won't Ruin Thanksgiving, and 11 that Will


 by Mary Noble
Senior Editor

These stores will remain closed so that all employees can enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday:

Monday, November 18, 2013

Are Workers Truly Getting Forced Into Part-Time Jobs?

At the Motley Fool:

Are Workers Truly Getting Forced Into Part-Time Jobs?

Since the end of the Great Recession in 2009, there has been speculation that the United States has been experiencing an epidemic of part-time work, intensified by legislative changes in the Health Care Reform Law, which would require employers to provide health insurance to employees who work 30 hours or more per week.
Is it true that we're becoming a nation of part-time workers, sentenced to diminished workweeks that no longer provide the full employment that the majority of us need? Unfortunately, there is evidence that an increase in part-time work appeared during the recession following the financial crisis, and persists still. Let's take a look at the reasons for this phenomenon, as well as the probability of this state of affairs becoming a permanent part of the new employment landscape.
A recessionary increase in part-time work
Recently, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco addressed this very issue, noting that the percentage of people working part-time -- defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as working between one and 34 hours per week -- increased during the recessionary years of 2007 to 2009, rising from 17%, to 20% of the workforce during that span of time. The study noted that the level remained elevated through mid-2013.
Rather than label the change as a permanent fixture of the new job environment, however, the study's authors noted  that such an occurrence is common during recessions, although the persistence of the phenomenon is unusual. Using adjusted metrics, the report noted that the reduced participation of workers aged 16 to 24 years old has actually exerted downward pressure on the percentage of part-time workers, because that age group is more apt to work fewer than 35 hours per week.
 . . .

Go to Are Workers Truly Getting Forced Into Part-Time Jobs? for the rest of Amanda Alix's article.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Socialist Alternative Candidate Now Beating 16 Yr. Dem. City Council Incumb. in Seattle Race

Kshama Sawant Jumps to 1,148 Vote Lead, Beyond the Automatic Recount Margin                                

            on Thu, Nov 14, 2013 at 4:13 PM


With a total of 171,858 ballots counted, Socialist Alternative challenger Kshama Sawant has climbed to a 1,148-vote, 50.2 percent to 49.5 percent lead
 over 16-year incumbent Richard Conlin in their race for Seattle City
Council. Sawant won a healthy 55.4 percent of today's batch of 5,646
ballots, extending her total lead outside the margin of an automatic recount. Conlin would need to win better than 55 percent of the approximately 11,000 ballots remaining in order to take back the lead.
Fat lady, sing.
In other races, supporters of SeaTac Prop 1, the $15 minimum wage initiative, are exhaling a tiny sigh of relief
 after the "yes" vote's 62 percent of today's ballot drop increased it's
 total lead to 53 votes out 5,621 counted. This was the "yes" side's
best percentage performance of any batch, but only 142 ballots were
counted. Yesterday, Prop 1 led by only 19 votes. There are only about
300 ballots remaining, but since these could be coming from anywhere,
they defy prediction.
As for Seattle's Prop 1—public campaign financing—it looks like too little too late.
 The "yes" side continued to close the gap, picking up 52.3 percent of
today's 5,908 ballot batch. But that's just not enough. It continues to
trail 50.7 to 49.3, and by 2,656 votes.

Monday, November 11, 2013

It's the Inequality, Stupid: Eleven charts that explain what's wrong with America

Eleven charts that explain what's wrong with America.

Want more charts like these? See our charts on the secrets of the jobless recovery, the richest 1 percent of Americans, and how the superwealthy beat the IRS.

How Rich Are the Superrich?

A huge share of the nation's economic growth over the past 30 years has gone to the top one-hundredth of one percent, who now make an average of $27 million per household. The average income for the bottom 90 percent of us? $31,244.

The richest controls 2/3 of America's net worth

Note: The 2007 data (the most current) doesn't reflect the impact of the housing market crash. In 2007, the bottom 60% of Americans had 65% of their net worth tied up in their homes. The top 1%, in contrast, had just 10%. The housing crisis has no doubt further swelled the share of total net worth held by the superrich.

Winners Take All

The superrich have grabbed the bulk of the past three decades' gains.

Aevrage Household income before taxes.

Out of Balance

A Harvard business prof and a behavioral economist recently asked more than 5,000 Americans how they thought wealth is distributed in the United States. Most thought that it’s more balanced than it actually is. Asked to choose their ideal distribution of wealth, 92% picked one that was even more equitable.

Average Income by Family, distributed by income group.
Download: PDF (large) | JPG (smaller)

Capitol Gain

Why Washington is closer to Wall Street than Main Street.

median net worth of american families, median net worth for mebers of congress, your odds of being a millionaire, member of congress's odds of being a millionaire
member max. est. net worth
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) $451.1 million
Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) $435.4 million
Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) $366.2 million
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) $294.9 million
Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) $285.1 million
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) $283.1 million
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) $231.2 million
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) $201.5 million
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) $136.2 million
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) $108.1 million
combined net worth: $2.8 billion
10 Richest Members of Congress 100% Voted to extend the cuts
Congressional data from 2009. Family net worth data from 2007. Sources: Center for Responsive Politics; US Census; Edward Wolff, Bard College.
Download: PDF (large) | JPG (smaller) 

Who's Winning?

For a healthy few, it's getting better all the time.


How much income have you given up for the top 1 percent?



See our charts on the secrets of the jobless recovery, the richest 1 percent of Americans, and how the superwealthy beat the IRS. Some samples:


Productivity has surged, but income and wages have stagnated for most Americans. If the median household income had kept pace with the economy since 1970, it would now be nearly $92,000, not $50,000.




Income distribution: Emmanuel Saez (Excel)

Net worth: Edward Wolff (PDF)
Household income/income share: Congressional Budget Office
Real vs. desired distribution of wealth: Michael I. Norton and Dan Ariely (PDF)
Net worth of Americans vs. Congress: Federal Reserve (average); Center for Responsive Politics (Congress)
Your chances of being a millionaire: Calculation based on data from Wolff (PDF); US Census (household and population data)  
Member of Congress' chances: Center for Responsive Politics
Wealthiest members of Congress: Center for Responsive Politics
Tax cut votes: New York Times (Senate; House)
Wall street profits, 2007-2009: New York State Comptroller (PDF)
Unemployment rate, 2007-2009: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Home equity, 2007-2009: Federal Reserve, Flow of Funds data, 1995-2004 and 2005-2009 (PDFs)
CEO vs. worker pay: Economic Policy Institute
Historic tax rates: Calculations based on data from The Tax Foundation
Federal tax revenue: Joint Committee on Taxation (PDF)

Read also: Kevin Drum on the decline of Big Labor, the rise of Big Business, and why the Obama era fizzled so soon.
More Mother Jones charty goodness: How the rich get richer; how the poor get poorer; who owns Congress?

Friday, November 8, 2013

How black girls die in America: The outrage of the Renisha McBride shooting

SALON, FRIDAY, NOV 8, 2013 01:40 PM EST

How black girls die in America: The outrage of the Renisha McBride shooting

In the wake of senseless deaths, do we raise a generation of black children to be paranoid? Do we dare not to?

Demonstrators protest the killing of 19-year-old Renisha McBride outside Dearborn Heights Police Station in Dearborn Heights, Michigan November 7, 2013. (Credit: Reuters/Joshua Lott)

Seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones was shot and killed during a police raid in Detroit in May 2010. In an article about the incident, Charlie LeDuff spoke to Chief Medical Examiner Cal Schmidt who said, “You might say that the homicide of Aiyana is the natural conclusion to the disease from which she suffered … The psychopathology of growing up in Detroit. Some people are doomed from birth because their environment is so toxic.”

This is how we think about Detroit, the once grand city that has fallen into urban decay, abandoned and given over to violence, a city so toxic that even when a 7-year-old girl dies from a gunshot wound, her cause of death is not the bullet.

Renisha McBride was 19. She was involved in a car accident and went to a house, seeking help. It was the middle of the night. She was shot in the head by a white man with a 12-gauge shotgun. He has not been arrested because, like Florida, Michigan is a “stand your ground” state.

Meanwhile, in Florida, Marissa Alexander is awaiting a new trial. During the original prosecution, Alexander was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a shot as a warning to her abusive husband. Florida is a “stand your ground” state. Marissa Alexander was standing her ground but the rules were different for her.

Meanwhile, in Florida, George Zimmerman was acquitted for the murder of Trayvon Martin, who was 17. Zimmerman’s defense team successfully used the “stand your ground” law to absolve their client in the eyes of the law.

Apparently “stand your ground” is only successfully invoked when people stand their ground against unarmed black teenagers.

Increasingly, we are faced with a horrifying truth. The environment in the United States is toxic for black people. There are exceptions, certainly, but Aiyana Stanley-Jones was murdered in her own home, by law enforcement. Trayvon Martin was murdered while walking home from a convenience store. Renisha McBride thought, like any reasonable person, that she could ask a stranger for help.

I want to be able to say something meaningful about all this but these are circumstances beyond words. These incidents, and so many others, are painful reminders about the value of black life. How do we bring black children into this world? How do we prepare them for a reality where they are in danger in their own homes, and when walking home from the store, and when driving, and when walking through the streets of New York, and when trying to ask for help? Do we raise a generation of children to be fearful and paranoid? Do we dare not to?

Last night, near midnight, I was driving out of the airport in South Florida when I came upon two cars — a minivan flipped over, mangled, and a truck on the median, the hood crushed, smoke filling the cab interior — the immediate aftermath of an accident. There was gas pooling in front of the minivan. A young black man in the car ahead of me pulled over and ran to help. He started shouting, “Help me. I need help to get this man out of this car.” I paused for a moment, trying to make sense of the scene, then pulled my rental car over. There was an older white man trapped, bleeding, talking — clearly in shock but lucid enough. He kept saying, “It wasn’t my fault.” The other driver stood, mutely, next to his truck. I think he was in shock, too. Three other cars stopped. Two of the young women who came to help were nurses — one white and one Latina. We needed a knife because the trapped man couldn’t unbuckle his seat belt. One of the young women asked her boyfriend, a tall, rangy guy sporting a mullet if he had his knife and he did. He ran to his truck to get it.

Several of us had called 911 and most of us were put on hold. Having watched a great deal of televised medical drama, I offered that perhaps we shouldn’t move the guy because of potential neck and spinal injuries, but one of the nurses explained something about all the blood rushing to the guy’s head and said other smart-sounding medical things. Before long, the tall, rangy guy was using his knife to cut through the seat belt. One of the nurses was telling the trapped guy, “Just breathe, honey.” A couple of us were holding the guy in place so he wouldn’t fall in on himself when he was finally cut free. A police officer finally showed up and took the lead. A group of us pulled the guy free and helped him to the curb. He said, “I’m fine, I’m fine.” He wasn’t. There was a huge gash on his forearm. His head was bleeding. The officer said, “I believe you are but why don’t you just sit here until the paramedics get here?” The nurses tended to him as best they could while we waited.

For a while after the man was free, we just stood around, the adrenaline ebbing. More police showed up, as did the paramedics. I noticed that we were a group of people of different races and ethnicities but we were also human. Individually, we saw someone who needed help and individually we stopped and together we helped. In the wake of so much terrible news, I needed that reminder that people can be as good as they are terrible. And still, all I know today is that a young woman is dead. Her name is Renisha McBride. May her name forever be on our lips. May outrage over her senseless death be forever in our hearts.

Roxane Gay's writing has appeared in Best American Short Stories 2012, Oxford American, the Rumpus, the Wall Street Journal and many other publications