Monday, December 15, 2014

This is A Movement, Not A Moment




The Washington Post reports that:
WASHINGTON — Demonstrators nationwide protesting the fatal shootings of unarmed black men killed by police chanted “I can’t breathe!” ‘’Hands up, don’t shoot!” and waved signs that read “Black lives matter!” as family members of three victims packed a stage in front of the U.S. Capitol, urging thousands of supportive marchers to keep pressing for changes to the criminal justice system.

The march in Washington on Saturday — attended by family members for Michael Brown and Eric Garner, who were killed by police in recent months, and Amadou Diallo, who was fatally shot by police more than 15 years ago — coincided with nationwide demonstrations that spanned from iconic Fifth Avenue in New York to the streets of San Francisco and the steps of the Boston Statehouse. Most were peaceful protests, although about two dozen people were arrested in the Massachusetts capital for disorderly conduct.

“My husband was a quiet man, but he’s making a lot of noise right now,” said Washington protest marcher Esaw Garner, widow of Eric Garner, 43, who died in July after being put in a chokehold by New York City police during an arrest for allegedly selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.

“His voice will be heard. I have five children in this world and we are fighting not just for him but for everybody’s future, for everybody’s past, for everybody’s present, and we need to make it strong.”

Nationally, chanting demonstrators also staged “die-ins” as they lay down across intersections and in one city briefly scuffled with police blocking an onramp to a highway.
For coverage of the entire March, visit C-Span.org.



Battle tested civil rights veterans like Rev. Al Sharpton are still on the front lines of the struggle.  Also, there is a new vanguard of young people who are no longer waiting for saviors and leaders. They are seizing the time and organically developing their own organizations and leadership.  In cities around the country, young people of all races are marching in the streets and engaging in acts of defiance and civil disobediance. Despite the passage of time, the call for justice remains strong. This is a movement, not a moment.

We should be inspired by their courageous example. The time for spectators and armchair revolutionaries is over. Tweets, hashtags, blogs and Facebooks statuses are good, but they are no substitute for real grassroots activism. We will must get involved in the struggle. Justice for Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice and everyone else!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Alia Atkinson Makes History


The Root reports that:
Alia Atkinson made swimming history on Saturday by becoming the first black woman to win a world swimming title: the women’s 100 breaststroke at the world short-course championships in Doha, Qatar.

Atkinson, who swims for Jamaica, tied the world record with a time of 1 minute, 2.36 seconds, which, according to the standards of the international swimming governing body FINA, counts as its own record. Even Atkinson was surprised at her win.
Congratulations, Alia Atkinson! We are proud of you.




Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Black Athletes Take A Courageous Stand Against Police Brutality

"A time comes when silence is betrayal." Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.




Last week, despite irrefutable video evidence of an unjustifiable homicide, a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo for choking Eric Garner to death. The grand jury's message was loud and clear. They told the world that black life is worthless. They told the world that police have a license to kill black people with impunity. They told the world that it is open season on black people.

During Eric Garner's last seconds of life, he repeatedly said, "I can't breathe." Yet, the police officers remained on top of him and continued to hold him down on hard sidewalk. The brother's last words have become a rallying cry of today's human rights movement. Nationwide, a diverse group of young people are engaging in acts of civil disobedience to protest against injustice and police brutality. That movement has touched the world.

It has even penetrated an enclave that has been closed to politics for far too long, the sports arena. For decades, in the face of racism and injustice, most black athletes have remained silent. Despite all of their physical prowess, they have been rendered impotent like eunuchs when it comes to addressing black issues. They have sold their manhood and their souls for fame and fortune. For example, people like Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan "protect" their brands by avoiding discussion of any racial issues. By remaining silent, they have betrayed their people. 

Even worst than that, some like, Charles Barkley, have voluntarily played the role of mouthpieces for white supremacy. That imbecile actually tried to rationalize and justify police brutality and racial profiling.


However, there is a glimmer of hope. After weeks of negative press about black athletes abusing their wives, girlfriends and children, there is finally some positive news. At least for this brief moment, several famous athletes such as LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Reggie Bush, the Saint Louis Rams and others have finally taken a brave stand against injustice. They have expressed solidarity with the movement by wearing "I Can't Breathe" T-shirts. Some have taken a stand by making  the "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" gesture at games.  That gesture has been used as a symbol to demand justice for Mike Brown.

By engaging in such actions, those brothers are telling the world that the grand juries in Staten Island and Ferguson were dead wrong. Those are telling the world that those killer cops should have been indicted. Those brothers are telling the world that black lives do matter.

Many of those athletes were probably motivated in part by their own encounters with the police. Many of them have probably been stopped and harassed by police for driving an expensive car while black.Many of them have probably been stopped and harassed for being in a rich, white, gated community while black. They see themselves when they see Eric Garner and Mike Brown. They see their brothers, sons and nephews when they see Eric Garner and Mike Brown.


Celebrities have great influence. Unlike this blog which only reaches a few dozen people, these athletes reach millions. Obviously, wearing a T-shirt or making hand gestures is not going to end police brutality and racial profiling overnight. Nonetheless, it is an important step in the right direction. At the very least, such action helps further a much needed dialogue about racism and police brutality. Perhaps, it will inspire more young people to march and protest. Instead of using their brand to sell products, it is refreshing to see celebrities use their brands to demand justice.

I am proud of those athletes for continuing the legacy of brave people like Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown. I have much respect for each and every one of them. If any companies stop endorsing these brothers, we need to stop endorsing those companies.




Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hell Up in Ferguson Part 2



Good evening. Early this morning, I recorded and uploaded this YouTube video. In the video, I provide my response to the grand jury's decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the senseless killing of Michael Brown. It is a good thing that I recorded the video the morning after the decision.  Otherwise, my video would have been even more fiery and controversial.

As I read and watch more news stories about the injustice in Ferguson, I become more and more angry. Despite all President Obama's rhetoric and beautiful symbolism, there is a strong possibility that no federal charges will ever be filed against Darren Wilson. That thought sickens me.

Black life simply has no value in America. It has been open season on black people for far too long. It is time for us to exercise our legal and moral right to self defense. Maybe then, the police will think twice before they kill another black teenager.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hell Up in Ferguson

"I don't want no peace. I need equal rights and justice." Peter Tosh


CNN reports that:
Ahead of a grand jury's decision on whether to indict a police officer in the killing of Michael Brown, Missouri has both called in the National Guard and diminished the role of the Ferguson Police Department.
 
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency Monday as a precaution, he said, in the event of unrest or violence.
 
It's unknown when the grand jury will hand down a decision on whether to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson for his fatal shooting of Brown, a teen. Prosecutors have suggested the grand jury would be done deliberating in mid- to late November.
 
At the national level, the FBI last week issued a bulletin to law enforcement urging vigilance in the days before the Ferguson grand jury decision, according to a law enforcement official. 
The bulletin did not cite any specific intelligence to suggest there was any ongoing threat to officers. It was based on what had occurred during previous protests.
Mike Brown is not just an individual. He is our son. He is our brother, flaws and all. For decades, police brutality has plagued the black community. For decades, our young men and women have been shot, beaten and strangled by the police. Every day, there is a new victim. Yesterday, it was Rodney King, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner and countless others. Today, it is Mike Brown. His brutal killing is a reminder of that long and continuing legacy of police oppression. Often, when white police officers kill or injure black people, the officers are not convicted.  They are free to kill and maim again. Our lives are declared worthless. Time and time again, we are denied justice. Unfortunately, it appears that Mike Brown case may be another example of such a denial.

Early on, the stage was set to deny justice for Mike Brown. The prosecutor, Robert McCulloch, has a strong bias in favor of law enforcement. According to CNN, Mr. McCulloch's father was a police officer. When McCulloch was 12 years old, his father was killed in the line of duty by a black man. Additionally, in 2000, as reported in the Washington Post, Mr. McCulloch agreed with a grand jury's decision not to indict two white officers for killing to unarmed black men. The article provides other examples of Mr. McCulloch's bias in support of law enforcement.

Despite proof of bias, no special prosecutor was appointed. Instead of filing criminal charges against Officer Wilson and having a public preliminary hearing, Mr. McCulloch brought the matter before a grand jury. The grand jury process is closed to the public. There is no transparency. That lack of transparency breeds skepticism, mistrust and rage.

According to the New York Times, the court process is taking so long because, the prosecutor is "'presenting absolutely everything' to the grand jury, including eyewitness accounts of the fatal altercation and forensic conclusions that might be diametrically opposed." That is unusual. As Mark O'Mara points out in his CNN article, prosecutors often "stack the evidence in favor of their case in order to ensure an indictment -- often excluding details that would support the case for the accused." Mr. McCulloch did not do so in this case because he probably does not want Darren Wilson to be indicted. Mr. McCulloch wants to use the grand jury as a scapegoat, a fallguy.

Apparently, the Governor knows that the die has been casted. By declaring a state of emergency, the Governor is essentially prematuring concluding that there will be no justice for Mike Brown and the black community. The Governor is basically saying that Officer Darren Wilson is going to get away with killing unarmed black teen Mike Brown. The Governor's declaration is not going diffuse the rage. It is only fueling the flames of hell on earth. Ferguson is going to burn literally and figuratively.  When a people are rendered invisible and their legitimate cries for justice are muted, they have no choice but to take matters in their own hands.

If Darren Wilson is not indicted, we must raise hell. There must a national strike. College and high school students should walk out of school and take to the streets. Black workers and black professionals should leave work and take to the streets. There must be a national campaign of civil disobedience around the country. There should be demonstrations at police stations, state houses, mayors' offices and governors' offices around the country. There should be a new march on Washington.  We must stop traffic and business. Businesses in Ferguson and Missouri should be boycotted. Business as usual must cease until we have justice. No justice, no peace!

The demonstrators should demand several things. They should demand that a special prosecutor be appointed immediately. They should demand that criminal charges be filed against Darren Wilson immediately. They should demand that Darren Wilson be arrested immediately. They should demand that Congress pass the End Racial Profiling Act. They should demand that Congress establish uniform, federal standards for police use of deadly force. They should demand that all police be required to wear functioning video cameras at all times will on duty. Until those demands are meant, the protests should continue.

In addition to making demands on law enforcement and politicians, the protesters must make demands on themselves. They must register to vote and actually vote. Ferguson is over 60 percent black. However, the mayor and the police chief are white. Only one city council member is black. Only one school board member is black. There are 53 police officers on the Ferguson police force. Only three of them are black. (Source: Mother Jones) Those stats are outrageous and ridiculous. Also, in the words of Kwame Ture, each one of us should join a black social justice organization and get involved in today's movement.  If we want to change the situation in Ferguson, we must use every single means available to us.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

African Americans, Missed Opportunities and Black Dummies


When I woke up this morning, I was eager to hear the good news that Maryland elected its first African American governor, Anthony Brown. Today, I thought that I would be blogging about another example of new possibilities in America for black people. Instead, I was shocked and stunned by stories like this one from the Baltimore Sun:
Republican Larry Hogan's campaign to "Change Maryland" scored a stunning upset Tuesday as he defeated Democrat Anthony G. Brown in the race for governor..

Hogan, 58, ran on a promise to curb state spending and cut taxes. He will become Maryland's second Republican governor in half a century, and will face a Democratic-controlled legislature that may not be willing to help him.

Brown conceded defeat shortly after midnight.

Hogan spokesman Adam Dubitsky acknowledged Maryland remains a Democratic stronghold but said voters wanted change.

"It's not a realignment. It's not turning a blue state red," Dubitsky said. "It's people who are tired of the last eight years."

Hogan, an Annapolis businessman, ran a comparatively shoe-string campaign against Brown, who spent more than four times Hogan in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans two to one.

Brown, a retired Army colonel and Harvard-educated attorney, campaigned as the candidate to continue Gov. Martin O'Malley's policies on education and the environment. It was a platform that some Democrats said invigorated them, and others said made them vote for a different direction.

Democrats held two other statewide offices, with Comptroller Peter Franchot winning a third term and state Sen. Brian Frosh of Montgomery County succeeding Douglas F. Gansler as attorney general.

Brown piled up strong majorities in Baltimore city and the Washington suburbs but could not overcome a dismal showing in rural Maryland and suburban Baltimore. The lieutenant governor narrowly won the early voting, but Hogan swamped him with an Election Day surge.

The governor's race offered voters a sharp contrast between Hogan's laser focus on economic issues and Brown's broad pledge to create "a better Maryland for all Marylanders."

As Hogan relentlessly hammered on the need to cut taxes, Brown eventually pledged not to raise them.

Critics said Brown failed to offer a clear vision to voters, instead working to portray Hogan as a "dangerous" Republican who would seek to overturn Maryland's abortion rights and gun control laws.

Hogan repeatedly denied that. The Republican portrayed Maryland as a state in economic crisis, with businesses and individuals moving elsewhere because of high taxes and burdensome regulations. He promised to roll back what he called O'Malley's "40 consecutive tax increases," but offered no specifics on how he would pay for that.

Brown, meanwhile, told voters he'd work to close the gap between Maryland's most and least prosperous. As the signature issue of his campaign, Brown said he would gradually offer free pre-kindergarten to all Maryland 4-year-olds. Skeptics questioned whether he had a realistic plan to pay for it.
Unfortunately, Maryland missed the opportunity to make history. Brown's crushing defeat was probably the result of Obama fatigue and Martin O'Malley fatigue. If more African Americans voted, perhaps, Brown would have won. Who knows? If you did not vote, shame on you.


To console us, some will assert that we should celebrate historic African American victories in Utah and South Carolina. As reported in the Grio,
Utah’s Mia Love and South Carolina’s Tim Scott certainly had a lot to celebrate last night as the results came in. The two black Republicans made U.S. history with their election victories.

Last election season, Love was only narrowly defeated by the incumbent, Democratic Rep. Jim Mattheson, by less than 800 votes — total. Despite her loss, she was an instant hit with the Republican party — she even gave a speech at the Republican National Convention! This time around, Love won a seat at the House, making her the first black Republican woman in Congress but also the first ever Haitian-American ever in Congress.

Scott was already in the Senate when he ran this year, but he hadn’t been elected. Governor Nikki Haley appointed him after Senator Jim DeMint resigned in November 2012, so this year’s race against Democratic challenger Joyce Dickerson was about finishing out the rest of DeMint’s six-year term. Scott will have to run for re-election in 2016 to earn a full six-year term himself. But he has already made history nonetheless — his win marks the first time an African-American has been elected in the South to the Senate since Reconstruction. The win also makes him the first ever African-American to serve in both the House and Senate.
Their victories are victories for them and their families. Their victories are not our victories. Similar to the appointment of Justice Clarence Thomas, their election is antithetical to the interests of black people. Their positions are diametrically opposed to our interests. Just like dummies, they say and do exactly what their white conservative masters tell them to say and do. So, no. There is no cause for celebration. They do not represent new possibilities. They represent the continuing American tradition of tokenism. They are pawns used against their own people.