A Message from Mondo

Poet and author Mondo E. we Langa has been designated a “Political Prisoner” by Amnesty International for his wrongful conviction in the 1970 death of an Omaha Police officer while he and his colleague, Ed Poindexter, were the target of the FBI’s infamous “COINTELPRO” program. Mondo wrote the following “Juneteenth Statement” at the request of Nebraskans for Justice for distribution at this year’s June 21 commemoration in Lincoln.

As an African in the United States, when I think of Juneteenth, it is not the so-called ‘freeing’ of the slaves that I think of, or the announcements concerning the official ending of slavery. Rather, I think of those—such as Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey and others—who risked their lives to obtain freedom, not only for themselves and their families, but for all who were being held in bondage.

Chattel slavery was free labor obtained through physical force. Maybe 50 years ago, the saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk, composed a song entitled “Volunteered Slavery.” When a person volunteers to be a slave, he or she is doing something that either does not benefit him or herself or actually works to his or her detriment. And he or she does so without being threatened with physical harm or pain. In this year 2014, while we commemorate the ending of chattel slavery, we have to face the reality that many of us have become volunteer slaves—slaves to clothes with designer names affixed to them, slaves to electronic gadgets, slaves to media hype about celebrities, slaves to the double-talk and rhetoric of politicians, slaves to all manner of mind-numbing nonsense and mayhem. Surely it is a travesty to be rid of one type of slavery, only to replace it with another.

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Listening to the Future: Omaha Public Power District Works on Maintaining Clean, Renewable Energy

The following article by UNO Communications Professor Bruce Johansen and John Atkeison, Energy Policy Director for the Nebraska Wildlife Federation, originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of Prairie Fire (www.prairiefirenewspaper.com) and is reprinted with permission.

Omaha Public Power District is Nebraska’s leader in the use of wind power to make electricity, and thanks to a decision by its board of directors, it has maintained the ability to retain that ranking. On June 19 the OPPD board unanimously adopted a plan that maintains a level of clean renewable energy power equal to at least one-third of its generated electricity for twenty years, among other things.

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Are We Really Color Blind in Addressing Violence in Our Communities?

by A’Jamal-Rashad Byndon

In recent years, there has been a disproportionate increase in violence in the African American community in Nebraska (particularly in Omaha). An examination of the local crime data from the U.S. Department of Justice, local police reports, the Omaha World-Herald crime reporting process, and the race of inmates locked up in our state’s jails and prisons shows that African Americans have more than their share of crimes committed in their homes and neighborhoods. This steady but documented increase has caused a great deal of cognitive dissonance for many who would like to believe otherwise. Reactions among the state’s African American population run from open embarrassment, to charges of under-reporting of crimes among other constituency groups, to blaming generations of racism and oppression for this higher crime rate.

Regardless of the cause, however, the real question is, can we as one community, black and white, have a frank conversation about this burgeoning problem—and, after talking about it, are we in a position to effectively take steps to address it?

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2014 Gandhi Award Given To NFP

by Mark Welsch
NFP Omaha Coordinator

Nebraskans for Peace was the recipient of the 2014 Gandhi Award, presented by The Grace Abbott School of Social Work at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Customarily, this annual award—named in honor of the legendary Indian nonviolent activist, Mohandas Gandhi—goes to an individual. But Nebraskans for Peace was honored in recognition of its 44 years of service as the nation’s oldest statewide Peace & Justice organization. This award is a tribute to everyone who has ever been a member of NFP.

NFP President Mark Vasina and State Board member Frank LaMere, a member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, accepted the award on the organization’s behalf from the School’s director, Dr. Amanda Randall. In the audience were approximately 25 NFP members, including long-time activists Loyal Park, Virginia Walsh, El Siebert, Anne Else, Henry D’Souza and Jo Peterson.

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Israel and Palestine

by Paul Olson, President Emeritus

And so Israel and Palestine are back at it again—not the biggest conflict in the world or even the biggest in the Middle East. The Shia/Sunni conflict pitting Russia against the U.S., Shiite Iran against Sunni Saudi Arabia, and the intermingled Shia and Sunni regions extending from Lebanon to western Afghanistan involves a far greater geopolitical theater, global energy resources and hundreds of millions of people. In contrast, the Palestinian/Israeli conflict embraces no more than 11,000 square miles and 11 million people. (To provide a sense of scale, Nebraska encompasses 77,000 square miles and only 1.8 million people. Palestine/Israel contains six times as many people as Nebraska in one seventh of the area). Real children, however, are dying from Israeli bombs on the supposition that a Hamas member may live in their house. Real rockets scare Israeli urbanites nightly and disrupt life constantly. The struggle has gone on since 1948. We have been desensitized. “It’s just the Israelis and Palestinians going at it again for a week or two.” But the more than 50-year-old war sits in the center, and the other Middle East conflicts are its entailments.

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