Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Lynching of Sam Dubose

The Washington Post reports that:

CINCINNATI — A white campus police officer was charged with murder Wednesday for fatally shooting an unarmed black man after a routine traffic stop last week, an incident a local prosecutor decried as a “senseless, asinine shooting.”

The episode added Cincinnati to the list of cities where white officers have shot and killed black civilians, drawing national attention and fueling an ongoing debate over police use of deadly force against minorities.

A similar shooting in 2001 provoked violent riots here. With that memory still fresh, local officials moved swiftly and deliberately to try to contain the fallout.

“It was so unnecessary for this to occur,” Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters said at an afternoon news conference. Of more than 100 police shootings reviewed by his office, Deters said, “this is the first time that we’ve thought, ‘This is without question a murder.'”

University of Cincinnati police officer Raymond Tensing, 25, now faces life in prison for shooting Samuel Dubose, 43, on the evening of July 19, roughly two minutes after pulling him over for failure to display a front license plate. At first, Tensing said he was forced to shoot Dubose because he was being dragged by the car and nearly run over, according to the initial police report. But Deters said that didn’t happen, and Tensing was wearing a body camera that captured the incident.

In the video below, I strongly condemn the lynching of Sam DuBose. We must end this madness now.

Friday, July 17, 2015

In Defense of Ta-Nehisi Coates

Yesterday, Dr. Cornel West dissed renown writer Ta-Nehisi Coates on Facebook. He are a few excerpts from Dr. West's post:
Coates is a clever wordsmith with journalistic talent who avoids any critique of the Black president in power...Coates’s fear-driven self-absorption leads to individual escape and flight to safety – he is cowardly silent on the marvelous new militancy in Ferguson, Baltimore, New York, Oakland, Cleveland and other places...Coates can grow and mature, but without an analysis of capitalist wealth inequality, gender domination, homophobic degradation, Imperial occupation (all concrete forms of plunder) and collective fightback (not just personal struggle) Coates will remain a mere darling of White and Black Neo-liberals, paralyzed by their Obama worship and hence a distraction from the necessary courage and vision we need in our catastrophic times.
Blah. Blah. Blah.

Anyone who is familiar with my blog knows that I highly respect Dr. Cornel West. I usually defend him. However, today, I cannot and I will not defend Dr. West. He is simply wrong, dead wrong.  Instead, I am defending Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Dr. West asserted that Coates "avoids any critique of" President Obama. Contrary to that assertion, Coates has written several articles criticizing President Obama. Here are a few examples. In his article entitled How the Obama Administration Talks to Black America, Coates wrote:
But I also think that some day historians will pore over his [Obama's]many speeches to black audiences. They will see a president who sought to hold black people accountable for their communities, but was disdainful of those who looked at him and sought the same. They will match his rhetoric of individual responsibility with the aggression the administration showed to bail out the banks and the timidity it showed in addressing a foreclosure crisis, which devastated black America (again). They will weigh the rhetoric against an administration whose efforts against housing segregation have been run of the mill. And they will match the talk of the importance of black fathers with the paradox of a president who smoked marijuana in his youth but continued a drug war which daily wrecks the lives of black men and their families. In all of this, those historians will see a discomfiting pattern of convenient race-talk.

I think the president owes black people more than this. In the 2012 election, the black community voted at a higher rate than any other ethnic community in the country. Their votes went almost entirely to Barack Obama. They did this despite a concerted effort to keep them from voting, and they deserve more than a sermon. Perhaps they cannot practically receive targeted policy. But surely they have earned something more than targeted scorn.
In his article entitled Color-Blind Policy, Color-Conscious Morality, Coates wrote:
And you will hear no policy targeted toward black people coming out of the Obama White House, or probably any White House in the near future. That is because the standard progressive approach of the moment is to mix color-conscious moral invective with color-blind public policy. It is not hard to see why that might be the case. Asserting the moral faults of black people tend to gain votes. Asserting the moral faults of their government, not so much. I am sure Obama sincerely believes in the moral invective he offers. But I suspect he believes a lot more about his country which he chooses not to share.
In Fear of A Black President, Coates wrote:
Whatever the political intelligence of this calculus, it has broad and deep consequences. The most obvious result is that it prevents Obama from directly addressing America’s racial history, or saying anything meaningful about present issues tinged by race, such as mass incarceration or the drug war. There have been calls for Obama to take a softer line on state-level legalization of marijuana or even to stand for legalization himself. Indeed, there is no small amount of in­consistency in our black president’s either ignoring or upholding harsh drug laws that every day injure the prospects of young black men—laws that could have ended his own, had he been of another social class and arrested for the marijuana use he openly discusses.
Clearly, those three articles alone rebut Dr. West's claim that Coates avoids criticizing Obama.

Next, Dr. West falsely claimed that Coates "is cowardly silent on the marvelous new militancy in Ferguson, Baltimore..." It is becoming painfully obvious that Dr. West is not familiar with Ta-Nehisi Coates' writings. In several articles, Coates discusses the rebellions in Ferguson and Baltimore. In Barack Obama, Ferguson, and the Evidence of Things Unsaid, Coates states that:
Black people know what cannot be said. What clearly cannot be said is that the events of Ferguson do not begin with Michael Brown lying dead in the street, but with policies set forth by government at every level. What clearly cannot be said is that the people of Ferguson are regularly plundered, as their grandparents were plundered, and generally regarded as a slush-fund for the government that has pledged to protect them. What clearly cannot be said is the idea of superhuman black men who "bulk up" to run through bullets is not an invention of Darren Wilson, but a staple of American racism.

What clearly cannot be said is that violence and nonviolence are tools, and that violence—like nonviolence—sometimes works. "Property damage and looting impede social progress," Jonathan Chait wrote Tuesday. He delivered this sentence with unearned authority. Taken together, property damage and looting have been the most effective tools of social progress for white people in America. They describe everything from enslavement to Jim Crow laws to lynching to red-lining.
On the issue of Baltimore, Coates boldly asserts in Nonviolence as Compliance that:
When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con. And none of this can mean that rioting or violence is "correct" or "wise," any more than a forest fire can be "correct" or "wise." Wisdom isn't the point tonight. Disrespect is. In this case, disrespect for the hollow law and failed order that so regularly disrespects the community.
Lastly, Dr. West incorrectly claims that Coates does not analyze capitalist wealth inequality. Well, Coates' article entitled The Case for Reparations
addresses wealth inequality. Coates writes:
Black families, regardless of income, are significantly less wealthy than white families. The Pew Research Center estimates that white households are worth roughly 20 times as much as black households, and that whereas only 15 percent of whites have zero or negative wealth, more than a third of blacks do. Effectively, the black family in America is working without a safety net. When financial calamity strikes—a medical emergency, divorce, job loss—the fall is precipitous.

And just as black families of all incomes remain handicapped by a lack of wealth, so too do they remain handicapped by their restricted choice of neighborhood. Black people with upper-middle-class incomes do not generally live in upper-middle-class neighborhoods. Sharkey’s research shows that black families making $100,000 typically live in the kinds of neighborhoods inhabited by white families making $30,000. “Blacks and whites inhabit such different neighborhoods,” Sharkey writes, “that it is not possible to compare the economic outcomes of black and white children.”
In sum, Dr. West's claims about Ta-Nehisi Coates are false. By making such unsubstantiated assertions, Dr. West has undermined his own creditability and reputation. As prominent scholar, Dr. West should have done his research before posting fallacies on Facebook. Such conduct raises disturbing questions about Dr. West's real motives. Apparently, the substantive issues are not Dr. West's motivation. Egoism and jealousy are.  Dr. West should apologize and delete that post.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Clinton Helped Create the New Jim Crow

Yesterday, former U.S. President Bill Clinton addressed the NAACP National Convention. During his address, he acknowledged that he was wrong for increasing sentences for drug offenses.

In Michelle Alexander's brilliant masterpiece, The New Jim Crow, she fully explains how truly wrong Clinton was.  He paved the way for the New Jim Crow.  Ms. Alexander states that:
Despite the jaw-dropping impact of the "get tough" movement on the African American community, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans revealed any inclination to slow the pace of incarceration. To the contrary, in 1992, presidential candidate Bill Clinton vowed that he would never permit any Republican to be perceived as tougher on crime than he...

Once elected, Clinton endorsed the idea of a federal "three strikes and you're out" law...The $30 billion crime bill sent to President Clinton in August 1994 was hailed as a victory for the Democrats, who "were able to wrest the crime issue from the Republicans and make it their own." The bill created dozens of new federal capital crimes, mandated life sentences for some three-time offenders, and authorized more than $16 billion for state prison grants and expansion of state and local police forces. Far from resisting the emergence of the new caste system, Clinton escalated the drug war beyond what conservatives imagined possible a decade earlier. As the Justice Policy Institute has observed, "the Clinton Administration's 'tough on crime' policies resulted in the largest increases in federal and state prison inmates of any president in American history." (page 55)
Ms. Alexander further asserts that Clinton "ended welfare as we know it" and established a "life-time ban on eligibility for welfare and food stamps for anyone convicted of a felony drug offense-including simple possession of marijuana."

Yet, this is the man that y'all adore. This is the man that y'all call the first black president. Smoking weed, playing the saxophone, being raised in a single parent household and being a womanizer don't make you black or "colored". Such a suggestion is racist.

While Clinton was locking up massive numbers of black people, his wife, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, stood by his side and supported those oppressive policies. We need much more than an acknowledgement of the obvious. We need clear answers to tough questions. We need reforms to correct the disaster that Bill Clinton helped create.

Obama Discusses the New Jim Crow

This past Tuesday, President Barack Obama spoke at that NAACP National Convention. For me, that was the highlight of the Convention. Unlike some of his past speeches to black audiences, he did not lecture us about personal responsibility.  He did not entertain us with singing and other Negro antics. In his speech, President Obama discussed real problems plaguing the black communities, problems such as mass incarceration, sentencing disparities, poverty, unemployment and housing discrimination. Obama talked about hope, redemption and reformation. His speech was substantive, timely, relevant and solutions oriented. Even Obama's critics on the left will have a hard time criticizing that speech.

The brother talked about how America incarcerates more people than all of Europe combined. Obama explained in stark terms how the black incarceration rate greatly exceeds the white incarceration rate. He explained how African Americans receive much harsher sentence than whites who commit the same crimes.

No only did Obama discuss the problem, he put forth concrete proposals to address the problem of mass incarceration. He discussed reducing sentences for non-violent drug offenses. He mentioned how he commuted the sentences of over 40 people. He discussed increasing educational programs and other beneficial programs for people who are in prison. Such programs will reduce the recidivism rate and help transform ex-offenders into productive citizens. He mentioned the need to restore voting rights for ex-offenders.  Obama further discussed how investing more in education and other preventive measures is fiscally responsible. The costs of such measures is much lower than the cost of mass incarceration.

The President's proposed reforms are crucial. We must make sure that Obama's speech is not just another speech. We must pressure Congress and the President to actually implement and enact those proposals.

By the way, today, President Obama became the first sitting U.S. President to visit a federal prison.

Friday, July 10, 2015

"This Flag Comes Down Today!"

"This flag comes down today!" Bree Newsome

Yesterday, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed a bill to remove the racist Confederate flag from the state capitol. Today, after years of protesting and boycotting led by the NAACP, the racist Confederate flag finally came down.

I am glad to see that flag come down. However, the removal of that despicable piece of fabric will never make up for massacre of nine innocent African Americans. Although it is a significant step towards healing South Carolina and the nation, the removal of the Confederate flag will never fill the void of that tragic loss.  We will never forget the Charleston Nine.

Love and forgiveness may have brought down that hate symbol, but love and forgiveness did not stop Dylann Roof from slaughtering our brothers and sisters at Mother Emmanuel. Love and forgiveness will never protect us. Realism, vigilance and security will.  If you expect the movement to be appeased and dazzled by the symbolism, you are wrong, wrong as hell. Justice for the the Charleston Nine and Walter Scott.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Integration is not the Answer

As reported in the Washington Post article entitled Obama administration to unveil major new rules targeting segregation across U.S., the Obama Administration announced “long-awaited rules designed to repair” the Fair Housing Act’s “unfulfilled promise and promote the kind of racially integrated neighborhoods that have long eluded deeply seated segregated cities like Chicago and Baltimore.”  The new rules would “require cities and towns to scrutinize their housing patterns for racial bias.”

While President Obama’s efforts are well intended and noble, integration is not a true solution to our problems. There is no guarantee that Obama's late action will last beyond his Administration.

Why does one have to live in a predominately white community in order to have opportunity and prosperity? Sadly, we have accepted the myth of white supremacy.  Unfortunately, many civil rights leaders equate opportunity with one’s proximity to whiteness. They have placed a premium on whiteness. Instead of focusing on improving black communities, they tend to believe that one must escape from predominately black urban jungles and seek refuge in civilized suburban white enclaves in order to enjoy life.

In their minds, one has to attend predominately white schools to get a good education.  When our children arrive at those precious white schools, too often, our children encounter new problems and roadblocks. They are experience problems such as blatant racism, social ostracism, exclusion from honors classes, unfair assignment to remedial courses and disproportionate discipline.

Here are a couple examples of the racism that black students experience. As reported on the Atlanta Blackstar, two white students repeatedly called Phoenix Williams the N word at Bloomfield Hills Middle School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Remember the heartbreaking video of 4 year-old London James crying because a white girl refused to be her friend because she is black.

In such environments, our children are not only subject to ridicule and racism, they are not educated about their history and culture.  As our children desperately try to assimilate and adapt to that white world, their racial identity and pride melt away into nothingness.

As a select few of our people manage to flee to these white so-called “opportunity zones” and reap the benefits, problems such as inner city violence, high unemployment, concentrated poverty, mass incarceration and other significant crises continue to plague our communities.  Such problems continue to loom over the black underclass even when they leave their black communities for whiter and greener pastures.

Why can’t we focus on improving black schools, black neighborhoods  and black institutions? White people do not need us in order to thrive as community.  We should not need them in order to thrive as a community. We look pathetic groveling at the feet of white society begging them to acknowledge that our lives actually matter. We look like na├»ve children begging those people to accept us as neighbors. We look disgraceful begging those people to allow our children to play with their children. Where is our dignity? Where is our pride?

No new rules will socially engineer white people to accept us. As more black people enter those white neighborhoods, many white people will do what they have always done, take flight. So-called integrated communities will only re-segregate and be transformed into black communities.

As we run from our urban areas, upwardly mobile whites will gentrify and reclaim dominance over our communities.  As black students continue to attend failing urban schools, affluent urban white students will attend elite private schools to avoid the Negro problem. Well known businesses and excellent services will magically appear in those new gentrified, predominately white urban communities. Housing prices will soar.  The District of Columbia is a prime example of this phenomena.  It is no longer the Chocolate City that I remember from my years at Howard University. 14th and U Street, N.W. is practically all white now.  Nonetheless, isolated and segregated black pockets of despair persist in the nation’s capitol.

The Confederate Flag is Finally Coming Down

Following the Charleston massacre, the State of South Carolina is finally going to take down the Confederate flag.  Yahoo News reports that:
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The South Carolina House approved a bill removing the Confederate flag from the Capitol grounds, a stunning reversal in a state that was the first to leave the Union in 1860 and raised the flag again at its Statehouse more than 50 years ago to protest the civil rights movement.

The move early Thursday came after more than 13 hours of passionate and contentious debate, and just weeks after the fatal shootings of nine black church members, including a state senator, at a Bible study in Charleston."South Carolina can remove the stain from our lives," said 64-year-old Rep. Joe Neal, a black Democrat first elected in 1992. "I never thought in my lifetime I would see this."The House easily approved the Senate bill by a two-thirds margin (94-20), and the bill now goes to Republican Gov. Nikki Haley's desk. She supports the measure, which calls for the banner to come down within 24 hours of her signature.

"It is a new day in South Carolina, a day we can all be proud of, a day that truly brings us all together as we continue to heal, as one people and one state," Haley said in a statement.
That symbol of slavery, hatred, segregation and treason should have been removed years ago. It is a shame that nine innocent people had to die in order to finally get that hate flag removed.

This is a great symbolic victory. However, we should not be pacified and deceived by symbols. The larger, more significant struggle continues. We must now bring down the Confederate mentality and its institutions.