Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Yesterday, we received some extremely disappointing news. The U.S. Department of Justice determined that it did not have sufficient evidence to prove that George Zimmerman intended to violate Trayvon Martin's civil rights. In video below, I share my thoughts about the decision and I briefly discuss the continuing struggle for justice.
By the way, although George Zimmerman is not incarcerated, he will never be free. For the rest of his rotten life, he will be known as the real thug who followed and killed an unarmed African American teenager based on a false and racist assumption. In fact, given George Zimmerman frequent acts of violence and run in with the law, it is only a matter of time before he kills or hurts someone else. Sadly, the blood will be on the jurors' hands. The blood will be on the American criminal injustice system filthy hands.
Thursday, February 19, 2015
The President is correct. Islam is not America's enemy. Terrorism and extremism are the enemies of America and Islam. ISIS, Boko Haram and other similar terrorist groups pimp religion to justify their barbarism and brutality. They exploit and hijack Islam in order to achieve calculated political objectives.
Their primary targets are other Muslims. ISIS is killing Muslims in Iraq and Syria. Boko Haram is killing Muslims in Nigeria. Both groups kidnap, enslave, rape and massacre innocent civilians. That is not Islam and they are not real Muslims. That is evil and they are devils. They do not belong in the modern world.
Islam represents enlightenment and guidance, not darkness and ignorance. We cannot allow anyone to commit such sick and demented atrocities in the name of God and Islam. They must be challenged, condemned and ultimately destroyed.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
The Grio and the AP reports that:
HAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — A man, his wife and her sister — all college students — were shot to death at a quiet condominium complex near the University of North Carolina, but police had not yet given a motive or released details about the suspect.
Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, was charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the Tuesday shooting, Chapel Hill police told local news outlets. He is being held at the Durham County Jail and was expected to make a first court appearance Wednesday morning.
About 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, police responded to a report of gunshots. They found three people who were pronounced dead at the scene. They were identified as Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, of Chapel Hill; Yusor Mohammad, 21, of Chapel Hill; and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, of Raleigh.
Barakat and Mohammad were married, and Abu-Salha was Mohammad’s sister, according to UNC.
Barakat was a second-year dental student there, and Yusor was scheduled to begin dental studies in the fall.
Both had graduated from North Carolina State University, school spokesman Mick Kulikowski said. Barakat graduated with a business administration degree in the spring of 2013. Mohammad graduated in December with a biological sciences degree.
Abu-Salha was a freshman design major who had started classes last fall, Kulikowski said.
The neighborhood where they were found — immediately east of campus — consists mostly of apartments and condominiums rented by students. Neighbors there said Wednesday morning that never before seen police or had crime problems.
This is truly despicable and heinous. Although the investigation is not complete, it appears that Craig Hick committed an act of terrorism. However, the mainstream media probably will not refer to him as a terrorist. They will probably describe him as mentally ill, depressed or lonely. As far as the media is concerned, only Muslims and Arabs commit acts of terrorism.
Instead of calling him a terrorist, some people will quietly consider that blood thirsty killer to be a patriot or a hero. Will there be any Charlie Hebdo style marches of solidarity in the streets of America for those three slain students? I doubt it.
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
CNN reports that:
A South Carolina judge on Wednesday threw out the convictions of the Friendship Nine, who were jailed in 1961 after a sit-in protest in Rock Hill, South Carolina, during the civil rights movement. "Today is a victory in race relations in America," said Bernice King, daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., said in a news conference following the ruling. "It is a new day." The prosecutor who pushed for this momentous day, 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett of Rock Hill, cited King's father when explaining to CNN on Tuesday why he was motivated to take up the cause of the Friendship Nine: "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."
I commend these brothers for their courage and sacrifice. They risked life and limb. They went to jail so that we can be free from segregation and humiliation. They were not simply fighting for the right to eat a particular white owned restaurant. They were not fighting for the right to give their money to their oppressor. They were fighting for basic human dignity and respect.
Those Jim Crow laws were oppressive and degrading. Instead of obeying such unjust laws, civil rights workers such as the Friendship Nine realized that they had a moral duty to defy and disobey those despicable laws. Today, those brothers were vindicated. History has absolved them.
As a result of their work, we can eat wherever we what. The "Whites Only" and "No Coloreds" signs are down. Such progress is commendable. However, today's social justice movement must advance to new heights by emphasizing entrepreneurship.
Instead of giving all of our money to white businesses and other non-black businesses, we must create more black businesses. Ultimately, that is the route towards true independence. It makes no sense for the vast majority of the businesses in our communities to be owned by foreigners and outsiders. Often, we do not even own the soul food restaurants in the black community. That is not integration. That is exploitation and economic disintegration.
As I reflect on the Friendship Nine's struggle, I think about political prisoners such Mumia Abu Jamal who unjustly languish in America's prisons. I think about those Black Panthers who were wrongfully convicted of crimes that they did not commit. Moreover, I think about Assata Shakur who is in asylum in Cuba.
Those sisters and brother fought against the same oppressive system that the Friendship Nine fought against. Like the Friendship Nine, our political prisoners should be exonerated, pardoned and redeemed as well. They are heroes, not villains. They should not be stigmatized for fighting against an unjust system. They should be celebrated.
Thursday, January 22, 2015
As many predicted, apparently, no civil rights charges will be filed against former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson for the killing of unarmed black teen Michael Brown. The New York Times reports that:
Justice Department lawyers will recommend that no civil rights charges be brought against the police officer who fatally shot an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Mo., after an F.B.I. investigation found no evidence to support charges, law enforcement officials said Wednesday.At this point, bloggers, activists and civil rights organizations must escalate and intensify our demand that a special prosecutor be appointed in Ferguson. We must relentlessly continue to demand that a new grand jury be convened. We must blog, petition, march, agitate and disrupt until that happens. This grave injustice cannot stand.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and his civil rights chief, Vanita Gupta, will have the final say on whether the Justice Department will close the case against the officer, Darren Wilson. But it would be unusual for them to overrule the prosecutors on the case, who are still working on a legal memo explaining their recommendation.
A decision by the Justice Department would bring an end to the politically charged investigation of Mr. Wilson in the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. The Missouri authorities concluded their investigation into Mr. Brown’s death in November and also recommended against charges.
But a broader Justice Department civil rights investigation into allegations of discriminatory traffic stops and excessive force by the Ferguson Police Department remains open. That investigation could lead to significant changes at the department, which is overwhelmingly white despite serving a city that is mostly black.
Benjamin L. Crump, a lawyer for Mr. Brown’s family, said he did not want to comment on the investigation until the Justice Department made an official announcement.
“We’ve heard speculation on cases before that didn’t turn out to be true,” Mr. Crump said. “It’s too much to put the family through to respond to every rumor.”
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Good morning, family. Here are a few excerpts from President Obama's State of the Union address.
Tonight, after a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis. More of our kids are graduating than ever before; more of our people are insured than ever before; we are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we've been in almost 30 years.Just when I was about to criticize the President for not mentioning the Voting Rights Amendment Act and Ferguson, he said this:
Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over. Six years ago, nearly 180,000 American troops served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, fewer than 15,000 remain. And we salute the courage and sacrifice of every man and woman in this 9/11 Generation who has served to keep us safe. We are humbled and grateful for your service.
America, for all that we've endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this:
The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.
At this moment -- with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production -- we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth. It's now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next fifteen years, and for decades to come...
Here's one example. During World War II, when men like my grandfather went off to war, having women like my grandmother in the workforce was a national security priority -- so this country provided universal childcare. In today's economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than ever. It's not a nice-to-have -- it's a must-have. It's time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women's issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us. And that's why my plan will make quality childcare more available, and more affordable, for every middle-class and low-income family with young children in America -- by creating more slots and a new tax cut of up to $3,000 per child, per year.
Here's another example. Today, we're the only advanced country on Earth that doesn't guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers. Forty-three million workers have no paid sick leave. Forty-three million. Think about that. And that forces too many parents to make the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home. So I'll be taking new action to help states adopt paid leave laws of their own. And since paid sick leave won where it was on the ballot last November, let's put it to a vote right here in Washington. Send me a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave. It's the right thing to do.
Of course, nothing helps families make ends meet like higher wages. That's why this Congress still needs to pass a law that makes sure a woman is paid the same as a man for doing the same work. Really. It's 2015. It's time. We still need to make sure employees get the overtime they've earned. And to everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it. If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise...
Forty percent of our college students choose community college. Some are young and starting out. Some are older and looking for a better job. Some are veterans and single parents trying to transition back into the job market. Whoever you are, this plan is your chance to graduate ready for the new economy, without a load of debt. Understand, you've got to earn it -- you've got to keep your grades up and graduate on time. Tennessee, a state with Republican leadership, and Chicago, a city with Democratic leadership, are showing that free community college is possible. I want to spread that idea all across America, so that two years of college becomes as free and universal in America as high school is today. And I want to work with this Congress, to make sure Americans already burdened with student loans can reduce their monthly payments, so that student debt doesn't derail anyone's dreams...
We may go at it in campaign season, but surely we can agree that the right to vote is sacred; that it's being denied to too many; and that, on this 50th anniversary of the great march from Selma to Montgomery and the passage of the Voting Rights Act, we can come together, Democrats and Republicans, to make voting easier for every single American.Instead of mentioning those important issues in passing, he should have elaborated and focused more on those vital matters.
We may have different takes on the events of Ferguson and New York. But surely we can understand a father who fears his son can't walk home without being harassed. Surely we can understand the wife who won't rest until the police officer she married walks through the front door at the end of his shift. Surely we can agree it's a good thing that for the first time in 40 years, the crime rate and the incarceration rate have come down together, and use that as a starting point for Democrats and Republicans, community leaders and law enforcement, to reform America's criminal justice system so that it protects and serves us all.
Moreover, although the President's proposals are impressive, unfortunately, it is improbable that the Republican dominated Congress will pass most of his bold initiatives. What did you think about the President's State of the Union address?
On that note, I will leave you with the swagger moment of the evening.
Obama had that Muhammad Ali confidence. He's a badddddd man!
Monday, January 19, 2015
It is easy to love someone when they are dead. That is especially true when you take that person's image and distort it, sanitize it, dilute it and neuter it. What is left is a hollow shell, a one dimensional shadow of the original person. The remnants are malleable, capable of being twisted and contorted to support positions diametrically opposed to everything the real man stood for. That has happened to our dear beloved brother, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The brother gave his life for equal rights and justice. He fought for African Americans to obtain the right to vote. As a result of his work and the work of countless civil rights activists and organizations, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act. That Act was written in the blood of the martyrs and the victims of police terrorism.
Approximately 50 years later, in the case of Shelby County v. Holder, the U.S. Supreme Court dismantled a key component of the Voting Rights Act, Section 4. Section 4 established the formula that was used to determine which states and jurisdictions were subject to preclearance. Section 4 applied to states with a long history of discriminating against black voters. Those states were required to obtain approval from the Department of Justice and/or a federal court before implementing any voting law changes. Section 4 prevented discriminatory laws from enacted without the need for long and costly litigation. It stopped discrimination before it had a chance to happen. Unfortunately, as a result of the disastrous decision in the Shelby County, we no longer have that critical safeguard. Consequently, several states are now free to enacted voter ID laws, restrictions on early voting, restrictions on third party voter registration and other laws designed to suppress the black vote.
As Congress celebrates the life of Dr. King and professes to love the man, the Voting Rights Amendment Act remains stalled and black voters remain in jeopardy. Voting rights should be a non-partisan issue. Unfortunately, that is not the case. As reported in the Hill,
The head of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) is teeing off on Republicans over the absence of voting right protections in the GOP's new congressional agenda.If they really want to honor King, Congress should pass the Voting Rights Amendment Act. If we really love King, we must pressure Congress to pass the Voting Rights Amendment Act. Finally, if you willingly surrender to apathy and voluntarily forfeit your right to vote, please keep Dr. King's name out of your mouth.
Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) said he's "deeply troubled" by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte's (R-Va.) recent comments that Republicans have no intention of replacing central provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) shot down by the Supreme Court in 2013.
"If this is indeed the position of the entire Republican Conference, then they have clearly drawn a line in the sand — one in which they are on the wrong side of," Butterfield said in a statement.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Goodlatte said congressional action is simply not necessary to improve the VRA because the parts of the law remaining after the Supreme Court ruling are "substantial."
"To this point, we have not seen a process forward that is necessary because we believe the Voting Rights Act provided substantial protection in this area," he said during a breakfast in Washington sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.