Tuesday, September 1, 2015

In Defense of Black Lives Matter

There is a war on Black Lives Matters. There is a deliberate effort to discredit and neutralize that progressive movement. The opposition has desperately tried to link the movement to the killing of Harris County Deputy Darren Goforth. The critics assert that the movement's rhetoric and slogans inspired the violence. Fox News described the movement as a "murder movement" and a "hate group."

There are two problems with such assertions. First of all, Black Lives Matter does not advocate violence against police. The opposition cannot point to any statements made by Black Lives leaders explicitly encouraging violence against law enforcement. If they had such proof, they would have repeatedly broad casted such statements on Fox News and other news stations.

The protest chants that Fox News did broadcast are ambiguous at best. By the way, the term "pig" is not a reference to all police officers. Pigs are police officers who abuse their authority and abuse the people. Pigs are those who unjustifiably harass, intimidate, humiliate, racially profile, beat and kill black people. Such criminals masquerading as police officers have earned our condemnation. Such condemnation is not the same as advocating indiscriminate violence against police.

Second, there is absolutely no connection between the movement and the killer. In fact, Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman acknowledged that he has no "details of a motive." There is no proof that alleged killer, Shannon J. Miles, was affiliated with the Black Lives Matters movement. There is no proof that he was inspired by the movement. Instead of blaming and condemning Black Lives Matter, the critics should blame and condemn the alleged killer, Shannon J. Miles.

In addition, people have attacked the slogan "Black Lives Matter." During his press conference, Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman said we should "drop the qualifiers" and say "lives matter." Obviously, the Movement is not saying that non-black lives do not matter. They are emphasizing black lives because American society devalues black lives. For example, police disproportionately target and kill black people. As reported on the Huffington Post,
Young black males in recent years were at a far greater risk of being shot dead by police than their white counterparts – 21 times greater i, according to a ProPublica analysis of federally collected data on fatal police shootings.

The 1,217 deadly police shootings from 2010 to 2012 captured in the federal data show that blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, while just 1.47 per million white males in that age range died at the hands of police...

ProPublica's risk analysis on young males killed by police certainly seems to support what has been an article of faith in the African American community for decades: Blacks are being killed at disturbing rates when set against the rest of the American population.
Often, when the police kill black people, the police are not prosecuted. On the rare occasions when they are prosecuted, they are not convicted. For that reason, the emphasis on black lives is appropriate. Washington Post reports:
“To charge an officer in a fatal shooting, it takes something so egregious, so over the top that it cannot be explained in any rational way,” said Philip M. Stinson, a criminologist at Bowling Green who studies arrests of police. “It also has to be a case that prosecutors are willing to hang their reputation on.”

But even in these most extreme instances, the majority of the officers whose cases have been resolved have not been convicted, The Post analysis found.

And when they are convicted or plead guilty, they’ve tended to get little time behind bars, on average four years and sometimes only weeks. Jurors are very reluctant to punish police officers, tending to view them as guardians of order, according to prosecutors and defense lawyers...

Among the officers charged since 2005 for fatal shootings, more than three-quarters were white. Two-thirds of their victims were minorities, all but two of them black.

Nearly all other cases­ involved black officers who killed black victims. In one other instance, a Latino officer fatally shot a white person and in another an Asian officer killed a black person. There were a total of 49 victims.
Such alarming statistics regarding low prosecution rates and low conviction rates generate righteous black outrage. In light of the statistical disparities, it is simply ridiculous for Kelvin Jackson to dismiss the movement as "nonsense."

We have to understand that this is nothing new. The opposition often deploys Negro proxies to discredit the movement. Those black surrogates buffer claims of racism and add legitimacy to the racist opposition. They use official mouthpieces like Kevin Jackson and Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke to justify racial profiling and police brutality. Sheriff Clarke actually claimed that Black Lives Matter has weakened policing.

Police accountability does not weaken policing. Police do not have to resort to unjustified brutality in order to be effective.  Furthermore, racial profiling wastes resources by unnecessarily targeting innocent black and Latino people based solely on the color of their skin. Such resources should be devoted to targeting actual criminals. Racial profiling and police brutality undermine policing by breeding animosity and distrust in the black community. Without trust, the people are less likely to report crime, and they are less likely to cooperate with the police.

Not only does the opposition use official Negro spokespeople, they exploit gullible, uninformed African Americans on social media. When African Americans get on camera and attack the Black Lives Matter Movement and other prominent civil rights groups, the opposition and corporate media share, promote and make those videos go viral.  Such videos deflect away from police brutality and over emphasize so-called black-on-black violence. They focus on elements of so-called black dysfunction and virtually ignore the police brutality.  Police brutality and inner city violence are two completely separate issues. Those issues must be addressed separately. The suggestion that urban violence must end before we can address police brutality is absurd.

We must defend the Black Lives Matter movement. We should not allow anyone to label the movement as a hate group. In the words of Malcolm X, "a label can kill you." Remember the government labeled the original Black Panther Party ("BPP") as a hate group. While the larger black community just sat back and watched, BPP leaders and members were jailed and killed. We cannot allow that to happen Black Lives Matter. We must defend, protect and strengthen them.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Jonathan Ferrell's Life Does Not Matter

CNN reports that:
Prosecutors in North Carolina will not seek a retrial of a police officer charged in the shooting death of an unarmed man, according to a letter from the state attorney general's office.

Officer Randall Kerrick of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department was charged with voluntary manslaughter after he shot and killed Jonathan Ferrell, a college student and football player, in 2013.

A judge last week declared a mistrial after the jury could not reach a verdict.

Prosecutors made their decision after speaking with jurors from the original trial. They said they will submit paperwork for dismissal of the charge.

"In consideration of the jurors' comments, the evidence available to the State, and our background in criminal trials, it is our prosecutors' unanimous belief a retrial will not yield a different result," said the state attorney general's letter to the Mecklenburg County District Attorney's Office.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said at a new conference on Friday that he still stands by the decision to bring the case to trial.

"The loss of Jonathan Ferrell's life is a tragedy -- it should not have happened," Cooper said. "Our prosecutors have talked with Jonathan's mother about this decision. It was the right thing to bring this case before a jury and seek a conviction, but now we need to listen to what the jury said."
This is a disgrace. It is an act of cowardice. Instead of having the fortitude to retry the case, the prosecution caved under pressure like some weak chumps. The prosecution should have presented the case to a new jury and let the jury decide. In lieu of that, Attorney General Roy Cooper essentially decided the case for them.

Despite all of the pleasantries and phony expressions of concern, his message is loud and clear: Jonathan Ferrell's life does not matter. Black lives do not matter.  They never have, and probably, never will.  Now, another black man is dead, and another white killer cop walks free. In fact, Randall Kerrick will probably be rewarded for killing Jonathan Ferrell. Kerrick will probably receive thousands of dollars for interviews.

Unfortunately, we are to blame for this outcome as well. We allowed ourselves to be pacified by a grand jury indictment and a trial. We lost focus and fell asleep at our post. For a second, we were deluded. We actually thought that justice was in sight. We stopped protesting and blogging about this case.

With virtually no pressure from the public, it was easy for the prosecutor to decide not the pursue the case. The prosecutor made his announcement on a Friday for a reason. Sadly, many of our people are more concerned about going to the club than they are about pursuing justice. By Monday, it will be business as usual and no one will give a damn about our brother Jonathan Ferrell.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Black Lives Matter Movement Now Has A Legislative Agenda

Yesterday, a faction from the Black Lives Matters movement finally followed the advice of critics. The movement developed and released a comprehensive legislative agenda. The Guardian reports that:
Leaders in the new civil rights movement campaigning against the killings of African Americans by police set out their most comprehensive set of policies and demands so far on Friday, as they moved to intensify their rapidly increasing influence on US politics.

The coalition of protesters outlined proposals for new laws at federal and state levels such as restricting the use of deadly force by officers, outlawing the supply of military equipment to police departments, instituting training to prevent racial bias and forcing the US government to keep a comprehensive record of fatal incidents.

“We must end police violence so we can live and feel safe in this country,” the group stated on a new website, Campaign Zero, which also establishes an issue-by-issue system for monitoring the policy positions of candidates for the Democratic and Republican US presidential nominations...

These policies, like our resistance, will save lives and introduce a new way of viewing political strategy,” said Aurielle Lucier, the co-founder of the Atlanta-based activist group It’s Bigger Than You. “This is a blueprint for ending police violence,” said DeRay McKesson, another leading activist involved in the project.

The manifesto was shared with the Guardian in advance of its publication. It calls for the establishment of a new national standard authorising police officers to use deadly force “only when there is an imminent threat to an officer’s life or the life of another person” and the use of deadly force is “strictly unavoidable”. Under a 1985 US supreme court ruling, officers may currently use deadly force if they believe a fleeing suspect poses “a significant threat” of killing or seriously injuring someone.

The protesters’ platform also requests further legislation mandating all police officers to wear body cameras, lowering the standard of proof for convictions in federal civil rights inquiries, and banning police union contracts that they say obstruct investigations into officers responsible for fatalities.
Now, that the Black Lives Matter movement has an agenda, it must effectively push that agenda. It must demand that all local, state and federal governments adopt that agenda. They must pressure Democrats and Republicans to embrace that agenda. Before disrupting campaign rallies and other political gatherings, the Movement should make a diligent effort to meet with the candidates to discuss the agenda.

If the politicians fail to meet with the movement, the disruptions will be justified. By the way, when asked about meeting with Black Lives Matter, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) called the idea "ridiculous." He has an earned a disruption or two. We must demand that both parties pass legislation to end racial profiling and police brutality.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Shaun King and the White Savior Syndrome

Breitbart reported that:
An investigative blogger has accused Shaun King, a key figure in the Black Lives Matter movement, of misleading media icon Oprah Winfrey by pretending to be biracial in order to qualify for an “Oprah scholarship” to historically black Morehouse College. The blogger says King is white and has been lying about his ethnicity for years.

King is a high-profile campaigner against “police brutality” and “justice correspondent” for the liberal Daily Kos website who told Rebel magazine in 2012 that he was biracial, with the magazine reporting that he is the “son of a Caucasian mother and an African-American father.” He has also described himself as “mixed with a black family” on Twitter.

King has been lionised by the press, praised as hero of civil rights and social activism. He has written extensively about a childhood in which he was terrorised by “decades old racial tensions.” He claims to have been “the focus of constant abuse of the resident rednecks of my school.”

Yet, in recent weeks, rumours have been circulating about his ethnicity. A 1995 police incident report lists Shaun King’s ethnicity as white. And blogger Vicki Pate, who has been assembling forensic accounts of Shaun King’s background and family tree on her blog, “Re-NewsIt!,” has published her findings.

She claims that King is entirely white and says a birth certificate, which Breitbart has since independently acquired from the Kentucky Office of Vital Statistics, names a white man as his father.

King’s case echoes that of Rachel Dolezal, a civil rights activist from Washington who claimed to be biracial while in fact being of caucasian origin. Dolezal continues to insist she “identifies as black,” despite her parents revealing that she is entirely white.

If Pate is right, Shaun King, who often uses black and white photographs of himself online rather than colour images, may have misled African-American hero Winfrey by applying for and accepting an Oprah Scholarship to the historically black Morehouse College. Oprah Scholarships are given exclusively to black men.
In response to this controversy, Shaun King wrote, in part:
The reports about my race, about my past, and about the pain I’ve endured are all lies. My mother is a senior citizen. I refuse to speak in detail about the nature of my mother’s past, or her sexual partners, and I am gravely embarrassed to even be saying this now, but I have been told for most of my life that the white man on my birth certificate is not my biological father and that my actual biological father is a light-skinned black man. My mother and I have discussed her affair. She was a young woman in a bad relationship and I have no judgment. This has been my lived reality for nearly 30 of my 35 years on earth. I am not ashamed of it, or of who I am—never that—but I was advised by my pastor nearly 20 years ago that this was not a mess of my doing and it was not my responsibility to fix it. All of my siblings and I have different parents. I'm actually not even sure how many siblings I have.
I do not know if Shaun King is black or white. Since Breitfart is an unreliable, biased source with a right wing agenda, I will reserve judgment until all of the facts have been revealed.

Throughout American history, progressive whites have been involved in various social justice movements. They participated in the Abolitionist Movement and the Civil Rights Movement. Many of them dedicated their lives to the fight for equal rights and justice. People like John Brown,Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and many others were martyrs for the struggle. That history must be acknowledged, appreciated and respected. Obviously, one does not have to be black to be involved in the African American struggle for justice.

For that reason, it is completely baffling that some people like Rachel Dolezal, and possibly Shaun King, feel compelled to virtually masquerade around in black face. People who engage in such deception are not worthy of leading any organization, especially not a black organization. When one lies about basic things such as their identity, how can anyone believe a word that comes from their mouth? Those people should not be spokespersons for the movement. They completely undermine the credibility of the organizations that they claim to represent. When they speak on important issues such as police brutality, racial profiling and mass incarceration, people will question the veracity of their statements. The movement cannot afford that.

Although I do not object to white involvement in the movement, I do have a problem with white "saviors" infiltrating, leading, dominating and controlling the movement. We cannot possibly be so desperate. We should not allow any and everyone to lead us.  Black organizations should be led and controlled by black people. We must shape our own destiny as a people. Whites and others can support us without joining and leading our organizations.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The New Black Panther Party is A Fraud

Shout out and hat tip to fellow Howard University alum Bro. Kofi Khalfani!

On August 13, 2015, the New Afrikan Press International issued the following press release:
Movement Activists Violently Attacked at Atlanta Conference

On Saturday, August 8, 2015, a group of six Black Liberation Movement activists were violently attacked at a downtown Atlanta hotel. The group included members of the Free The People Movement, including their Coordinator, Kalonji Jama Changa, members of the Nation of Gods and Earths and Dhoruba Bin Wahad, the internationally recognized former Black Panther Party leader and political prisoner of 19 years. The group was jumped by 25 to 30 members of The New Black Panther Party at “The Power Belongs to the People 2015 Summit” in Atlanta, Georgia, an event hosted by the New Black Panther Party.

According to eyewitnesses, 71 year-old Dhoruba Bin Wahad and the others approached the side of the stage where attorney Malik Zulu Shabazz was speaking. While standing there, Shabazz, leader of the New Black Panther Party asked, “Who is that?” Bin Wahad replied, “You know who I am!” Shabazz responded “WAHAD! We’ll deal with you later!” Bin Wahad countered with “You can deal with me now…” Knowing that Dhoruba Bin Wahad was there with information that would publicly expose Shabazz’s government affiliations that contradict his stance as a Nationalist and activist for Black liberation, Shabazz immediately ordered the NBPP members in attendance to “Get his b*tch ass out of here!” At that point the whole group was mobbed and violently attacked by at least 25 members of the audience. As they defended themselves, the men were struck with chairs and other objects. Bin Wahad’s jaw was broken in three places, one of his associates was choked unconscious and others received head gashes that required staples.

As of this release, Bin Wahad is undergoing a 6-hour surgery to reconstruct his jaw and the others have been treated and released. More details will follow as information is gathered.
Dhoruba Bin Wahad was a real Black Panther Party leader. When the F.B.I. declared war on the real Black Panther Party, the brother joined the Black Liberation Army. As a result of the F.B.I.'s Cointelpro Program, Mr. Wahad spend 19 years in prison. He is a veteran of the Black Liberation Movement. His love for the people and the movement cannot be questioned.  He deserves our respect for his commitment, dedication and sacrifice.

The people who attacked Mr. Wahad are a fraud. They claim to be committed to movement.  Yet, they brutalize a veteran of the movement.  Not only that, they stole the real Black Panther Party's name, imagery, logos and trademarks. Anyone who has studied the history of the real Black Panther Party knows that the New Black Panther Party("NBPP") is a cheap, rip-off, bootlegged organization. The NBPP opposes the very principles and ideals that the real Black Party stood for. As noted on Huey Newton Foundation website,
In response from numerous requests from individual’s seeking information on the “New Black Panthers,” the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation issues this public statement to correct the distorted record being made in the media by a small band of African Americans calling themselves the New Black Panthers. As guardian of the true history of the Black Panther Party, the Foundation, which includes former leading members of the Party, denounces this group’s exploitation of the Party’s name and history. Failing to find its own legitimacy in the black community, this band would graft the Party’s name upon itself, which we condemn...

Secondly, they denigrate the Party’s name by promoting concepts absolutely counter to the revolutionary principles on which the Party was founded. Their alleged media assault on the Ku Klux Klan serves to incite hatred rather than resolve it. The Party’s fundamental principle, as best articulated by the great revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara, was: “A true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love.” The Black Panthers were never a group of angry young militants full of fury toward the “white establishment.” The Party operated on love for black people, not hatred of white people.
Instead of being a true movement for black liberation, the NBPP is a creature and tool of Fox News. The Right exploits the NBPP to stoke White America's fears. The Right manipulates that fear to drive reactionary anti-black positions and policies.

For the vicious and senseless attack on our dear brother Wahad, the NBPP and Malik Zulu Shabazz must be condemned, rejected, isolated and held fully accountable.  Through their sickening and violent actions, they have exposed and discredited themselves.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Brothers March Against Violence in Baltimore

"You need to have a rally in your own living room! Have a rally in your own kitchen! You need to have an occupy my house rally! That's what you need!" Newark Mayor Ras Baraka

The Baltimore Sun reports that:
Striding backwards at the head of about 40 men and boys who had walked 29 miles from Baltimore and had more than a half-dozen to go under the scorching summer sun Monday morning, Munir Bahar focused his gaze on the line of five boys at the front.

They had linked their arms around each other's shoulders in an expression of solidarity to propel them forward through the pain.

Each was a member of Bahar's Youth COR, which is tapping young people to serve as community ambassadors in the wake of the unrest after the death of Freddie Gray in April and the unprecedented spate of homicides across the city since...

Their journey from Baltimore to Washington was part of an effort by Bahar and his 300 Men March organization to shine a national spotlight on the group's anti-violence work at a time when the killing in Baltimore is spiraling out of control. The city has seen more than 200 homicides this year, with a spike in recent months that has pushed the count far ahead of last year's pace.

"We're just trying to show love," said Eric Baker, 19. "Love is action. It can actually have a huge impact."

The 300 Men March puts men who share an "enough is enough" mindset on the streets for regular walks through some of Baltimore's most violent neighborhoods.

As Bahar sees it, with the right resources, the model could be scaled up across the city.

Bahar intended the 35-mile march from Baltimore to Washington on Sunday and Monday to draw attention to the program and the "Emergency Operating Plan" he has created as a pitch to potential donors.
Despite assertions to the contrary, black people regularly protest against inner city violence. We hold countless prayer vigils for young men and women gone too soon. The courageous work of the 300 Men March is just one of many examples. I commend those brothers for their bold commitment to peace and decency. I hope that the group receives many donations to fund their important work.

We must save our communities from self-destruction. To paraphrase Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, we need to rally in our own homes. We must ensure that our sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, brothers and sisters are not entangled in this sick culture of death and mayhem. As my imam says, this is "our community and our responsibility."  We must rally against benign neglect, poverty, failing schools and unemployment as well. Those problems fuel the violence.

Lastly, we must hold our elected officials accountable for failing to adequately address the out-of-control carnage in Baltimore. We must march to the polls and vote out the politicians who have failed us. We must elect politicians who actually have concrete and viable plans to improve this city.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Remembering Julian Bond

Yesterday, I was scrolling down my Facebook news feed and I noticed that a colleague posted an article announcing the passing of civil rights icon Julian Bond. I was stunned, shocked and speechless as you can tell from my last post.  Often, we assume that people are going to be here forever. Yet, we are aware of our morality.  We are all just visitors passing through this place called life.

As many people know, I work for the NAACP. When I first began working for the Association in 2004, Julian Bond was the Chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors. Although I have been in the same room with him on many occasions, I did not know Mr. Bond. I never had a single conversation with him. I regret that.  Unlike many of colleagues, I never took an individual photo with him.  However, I did meet him once and shook his hand. For that, I am proud. Although I have great respect and admiration for the man, I was just too reserved to play the role of fan. Quietly, I was in awe to be in his presence.

For me, Mr. Bond was an unapproachable, larger than life figure, walking history. The legendary brother was a contemporary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Roy Wilkins, Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Stokely Carmichael, Thurgood Marshall and many other great black men and women. From the early 1960s until the day of his passing, Mr. Bond was at the forefront of the fight for equal rights and social justice. He was a trail blazer. Mr. Bond supported "marriage equality" before many of his colleagues. He supported it before it became popular and mainstream. Although I still do not support gay marriage, I recognize and commend Mr. Bond for having to the courage to stand by his convictions. I commend him for his consistency and vision.

When Bond was Chairman, I always looked forward to hearing his powerful speeches at the NAACP National Convention. During those days, the Bush Administration was in power. I enjoyed hearing him rail against the extreme right with brutal honesty and unadulterated truth. Not only did he challenge the right, he challenged the left as well.  He did not spare so-called progressives such as former President Bill Clinton. Not only were his speeches fiery, inspiring and entertaining, they were truly educational. Every speech was an informative, scholarly and engaging history lesson. During every speech, class was in session. I miss that. We will all miss Chairman Bond. He was one of a kind. May he rest in peace and power.