The billionaire Republican Governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, injected himself into ceremonies in Chicago last week presided over by the city’s Democratic mayor and the nation’s Democratic President.
Rauner insisted on attending because he wrongheadedly thought the Democrats were honoring his idol, kingpin George Pullman, the guy who invented the luxury railroad sleeper car, oppressed his workers and suppressed their union.
Rauner, and other kowtow-to-the-rich Republican governors, adhere to the Pullman philosophy that rich people are better than everyone else and that gives them the right to control the lives of everyone else. They don’t comprehend the dreams and desires of the middle class and working poor. So Rauner couldn’t conceive that the ceremony in Chicago’s South Side neighborhood named Pullman by Pullman for his personal self-aggrandizement was not about placing the mogul on a pedestal but really about recognizing the people who ultimately prevailed despite his exploitation.
We recently celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a tireless champion of the fundamental human dignity of every man, woman and child, and a dear friend of the labor movement. It is in his memory and out of respect for the solidarity between Dr. King and the labor leaders of his time that we carry on the fight for fairness wherever it may take us.
That fight includes the right to affordable and fair housing without discrimination. The Supreme Court will soon decide one of the most important civil rights cases of our time, a case with the potential to put justice out of reach for working Americans. Currently, victims of housing discrimination may bring a complaint when there is clear evidence that a housing provider intended to discriminate, or when a practice or policy that is not intentionally discriminatory has a negative impact on a particular group of people, like female heads of households or persons with disabilities. This second approach is based on the disparate-impact protections of the Fair Housing Act and it is precisely what is at stake in this Supreme Court case.
There is history--the facts of events--and then there is myth and fable--the essence of things, the narratives that shape our understanding of complex events inspiring, motivating, rallying and galvanizing us as people and nations.
In the case of the United States, the narrative all too often leaves out people of color. In part, this focuses us on leaders--portrayed as white males--to carry the hero's weight in forging our great nation. In part, it is to skip over the complexity of seeing a nation that prides itself on freedom having to explain slavery. In part, it was to create a narrative that America was a white country.
When Carter G. Woodson argued to establish what initially was Black History Week in February, it was to force attention on the more complex issues--and to move African Americans from invisibility to central roles in the American narrative.
You really need an anthology of catch-phrases you hear in this benighted town of DC to understand the difference between what people actually say and what they mean. When someone says “my good friends from the other side of the aisle…,” they’re not really good friends. And when someone says, “that will cause a trade war!” it means they badly want to pass a trade agreement that’s got a deep flaw, and rather than fix the flaw, they threaten you with the prospect of war.