Friday, April 28, 2006

Toussaint vs. Toussaint

A few weeks ago I posted an entry about Lil Kim’s Countdown to Lockdown that I took down a few days later because I did not like how it read. Some friends who checked out the piece have been asking me why I took it down, and while I have been telling them the truth that I thought it was poorly written, I also felt as if I wasted my time writing it. Pointing out how B.E.T. programming targeted at young adults does not represent black women that well is like pointing at the sun in Hawaii—it does not take that much effort.

I then challenged myself to write about things slightly more difficult or which I could say something new about—rather than things that I am merely just adding another loud voice into the chorus. Unfortunately it seems I can not get away from this lockdown theme as much as I try. This week’s saga revolved not around Lil Kim, but Roger Toussaint, the leader of Local 100 Transit Workers Union, who led the December transit strike in New York. Toussaint was released today four days into his ten day jail sentence.

The Toussaint issue has been fairly conspicuous because (1) he was bold enough to lead the union in a strike, (2) the strike seemed relatively successful until his union voted down their agreement, (3) the MTA and New York government’s response bankrupt the union by leveling 10million dollars worth of fines against it, (4) NY officials and media representatives insist on referring to it as an illegal strike. Taylor Law aside, since when are strikes ever legal?

Of course one can not overlook race and ethnicity in this issue because not only is Toussaint black, but his union is also largely black and Latino, therefore making it only logical that they’d be poorly treated by NYC govt. and media officials. One friend went as far putting Toussaint’s imprisonment in a historical context evoke his namesake Toussaint L’Ouverture, the leader of the Haitian revolution who was seized by the French after leading the slaves in Hispaniola in an illegal uprising against their French slave masters. This might be a stretch, but then again, what’s in a name, if not a legacy?

I still have not made up my mind on this subject. Sure, I supported the strike. I am in support of Toussaint. But for some reason I think that there’s more to be done on this subject—but exactly what? If you got any ideas let me know, I’m all ears…

In the meantime here are some pieces to check out on the situation…

Haitian Revolution

Roger Toussaint

Transit Workers Union + Strike

Taylor Law

Labor Notes vs Roger Toussaint

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