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  • Prof. C.

“People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically...the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” ― Rosa Parks

Some media reports suggest that all the black men killed by the police in recent weeks "deserved it." They were resisting arrest, running from the cops, struggling with the cops, doing anything and everything but quietly, peacefully submitting to the cops. And the media has rubbed our noses in the fact that these men were not saints. This is deifintely true for Eric Garner. Had Eric Garner been a saint, he would not have gotten so tired---tired of being harrassed, tired of being profiled, tired of giving in. But he was not a saint, and he did get tired. "Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. I'm tired of it. It stops today."

Do we villanize Eric Garner because he got tired of giving in? Or do we see him as our Rosa Parks? We have all been giving in, teaching our sons to give in, to just submit to the cops. No matter how many times they stop you, no matter how many times they force you to disrobe in public, no matter how many times in one day or one week they go through your pockets and through your car while you lean against the wall with your legs spread apart. Do not make any trouble. Just give up your seat and stay alive. Don't be a martyr for something so intangible as human dignity.

What are we, as a people, as a nation, to do with a man like Eric Garner who died for that intangible? Do we dismiss him as a fool and continue our daily lives? Or do we see in his resistance something greater-- the beginnings of a new movement--not for civil rights but for the greatest of all human rights--the right to life. Do we fan his spark? Join this movement? Do we lift our voices alongside Eric Garner's and say you are not alone in being tired. We are all tired. Tired of dead black boys. Tired of dead black man. Tired of submtting to and merely surviving police violence and abuse.

These days, there are no bus boycotts for us to join, and no national march on Washington has been called. But, we have opportunities today that are a direct result of those marches and boycotts. We can vote. And one vote that can make a real difference in the daily violence and indignities suffered by black men-- in whether your son or father or husband or brother is the next Eric Garner-- is a vote for police body cameras. No more unexplained "suicides" in the backs of police cars or mysteriously broken spines while being transported in police vans. No more unsubstantiated tales of self-defense that villianize the victims. No more killing of black men in the dark. .

Presidential candidates are advocating body cameras these days, but you don't have to wait until 2016 to support body cameras. It is city officials who currently have the most power on this issue, so all you have to do is care enough to take five minutes to make your voice heard in your own city.

If you do nothing else after reading this post, please email the mayor of your city and let them know that you want police officers to be required to wear body cameras. Given how small elections for mayor generally are, a small determined group can have an enormous impact on whether or not body cameras are adopted in a particular city. #nomorekillinginthedark


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When I'm home in Beaumont, I see literally dozens of payday and car title loan shops lining the streets, always in the poor, predominantly black neighborhoods. Admit it, you've seen them too! The Harvard Law part of me recognizes that these shops are predatory lenders, preying on the most financially vulnerable members of society and trapping them in cycles of high-interest debt from which there seems to be no escape. The Northend part of me recognizes that these payday and car title loans, however abusive and unfair, are a source of credit many individuals need just to survive the curve balls life sometimes throws at us--car that broke down, baby daddy that suddenly missed his support payment, an illness that caused you to miss work for a few days (or a few weeks!). These loans meet a very real need for credit for a lot of people in a lot of communities, but they are also extradonarily abusive. Getting a $300 cash advance on a credit card would cost about $13 if repaid in 30 days. The same cash advance as a payday loan would cost about $105 if repaid in thirty days. If you had an extra hundred dollars just to throw away on fees, you probably wouldn't be taking out a payday loan in the first place, right? Well, the good news is that a new government agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is trying to develop some new rules to make payday loans less unfair. Many of these rules are designed to keep lenders from offering you a pay day loan they know you can't repay and will have to roll over or renew at their outrageous interest rates. In other places, state governments are stepping up and putting limits on how much these lenders can charge. If you're in Texas, the "cap" for a two-week payday loan is 309% APR! Not much of a cap when compared to DC, which caps small loan rates at 24%. But it is much better than Lousiana where the cap is 780% APR. (Louisiana, this is outrageous! Who dat y'all voting for???)

But I digress. The basic point of this post is to raise awareness. The new regulations will make payday loans cheaper to get or harder to come by. If you are someone who sometimes uses payday or car title loans, and you have a preference--you want them to be cheaper to get rather than harder to come by--please make your voice heard. I doubt that anyone who works at this Burea has ever taken out a payday or car title loan, so help them out by sharing your experiences and views at this link.

They are a bureau dedicated to protecting YOU, the consumer. So, don't be shy. Let them know what you need and what you don't!

If you want some ideas on how to get out of a payday loan debt cycle, or how to avoid payday loan debt, or just want more information about payday loans and how they work in your state, you can check out this site.

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