Justice or Else: Black Out Black Friday

Count down to Black Friday. What’s more important to you? Buying gifts or uniting for justice and equality. Stand for something! If 1 million of us don’t shop on Black Friday, on that day alone, we can control well over 500 million dollars in this country. What can we do with the money? We can put that back into our communities, start rebuilding, start implementing social and educational programs in or community. Take control of the economic system in this country and utilize it to gain equality for black and brown people in America.
Alternatives:
1. If you feel compelled to shop at least support small black and brown businesses, discontinue giving money to large corporations that don’t have our best interest in mind.
2. If you feel compelled to shop at least cutdown on the amount you purchase, let’s get back to understanding that there is no need to purchase thousands of dollars worth of merchandise for this one day. Purchase one meaningful gift for children, let’s go back to teaching them to be grateful for what they have received and start rebuilding strong characters agains.
As the Football team at the University of Missouri showed, the power is in the dollar. Justice Or Else! Not a Moment a Movement!

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Continued Heartache in the Black Community

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Candlelight Vigil held at Barclay Center in Brooklyn, NY Photo by Stephanie Strickland

When will the heartache subside?  Will my people ever be safe? Year after year, month after month and minute after minute these senseless killings of members of the black community continue.

A week ago another senseless killing occurred in Charleston, South Carolina. The killing of 9 black members of the Emanuel AME African Methodist Episcopal Church. In an almost eery resemblance of times past, this historic structure continues to be engulfed by racism, bigotry and hate dating back hundreds of years.  In the late 1700s Emanuel AME  church was started by blacks and slaves. Denmark Vesey organized and stood for the right for blacks to not only organize but congregate together for pray, only for racist bigotry to burn the church down and execute many members including Vesey. Today the challenges and plight of black people has not progressed as much as we would hope.

This is evident with the murder of 9 innocent people of the black community at the hands of a white racist.  Race crimes are on the rise in recent years and with the influx of police brutality targeted towards the black community you have to ask yourself, how far have we actually come and where do we go from here? Rev. Clementa Pinckney and the other 8 members suffered the same fate as Vesey and the 34 that were executed at Emanuel AME so many years ago.  History is coming full circle for the black community. And the question remains – where do we go from here?

No one seems to have any answers on how to keep the members of  black communities safe from systematic annihilation. No one seems to have the pulse on a community that is running around in circles, continually protesting, continually marching, continually praying, continually mourning, continually burying loved ones and as we have for hundreds and hundreds of years – continually live in fear for our lives as blacks and fear for the lives of our loved ones – sadly with no reprieve in sight.

The weight of the black community is heavy right now and I am not sure who can carry that burden on their shoulders. One thing is clear – we can’t go much longer the way things are.

Black Lives Matter!

The Capitol and the Nation Under Construction

Capitol Changes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 13, 2014 marked a pivotal day in the nation as over 50 thousand protestors from all over the country marched down Pennsylvania Avenue in the nations capital of Washington DC participating in the Justice4All March organized by Reverend Al Sharpton, founder of National Action Network.  The protestors marched against police brutality, excessive force and for the safety and rights of black and brown men in communities across the country.

The Capitol is among the most symbolically important buildings in the world. The Senate and the House of Representatives have met there for more than two centuries and it stands as a monument to the American people and their government. The Capitol is where Congress, as the legislative branch of the federal government, represents the American people and makes the nation’s laws which serve as the voice of the people.

So how ironic for the symbol of justice in American, The Capitol, to stand in the background of this monumental march for justice under construction and under going renovations.  A true testament of the state of the justice system today, broken and in need of repairs.

Tens of thousands marched and millions watched across the world as protestors stood shoulder to shoulder both young and old, of all races, religions and ethnic backgrounds with one unified goal – to be heard as one nation in an uproar following the grand juries decisions not to press charges against the police officers in the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri and the Eric Garner case in Staten Island, New York. The thousands of protestors were also marching for justice for all the black males and males of color all around the country who have recently lost their lives by the hands of police officers in their own communities.

The protestors chanted “No Justice, No Peace!’ “Hands Up Don’t Shoot!” and “We Can’t Breathe!” as the sea of signs cascaded down Pennsylvania Avenue like a strong wave for justice and then ebbed as the crowd dissipated that evening, but the outrage and fight for justice definitely did not diminish as protesting continued on through the night in cities all over the country.

And we must continue to protest each and everyday until those renovations to our justice system are complete and all human beings are treated equally and fairly in this country regardless of the color of their skin.  We must not become weary. The crimes against these black males may not have happened in your community but if it happened in ANY community in America its wrong and it will inevitably affect you one day if we don’t unite together as one and fight for those changes in the policies and laws that govern us.

I paraphrase Brother James Baldwin in a letter he wrote to Angela Davis in 1970:

“We must fight for our rights in American society as it stands today for black people, we must treat Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin and all others who have lost their lives as our own lives and render unpassable the symbolic corridor to the death chamber because understand one thing they came for Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin in the morning and they will be coming for us tonight!”


Reading:

If They Come In The Morning – by Angela Davis (and other political prisoners)

Schomburg Conversations: Slavery, Universities and Inner Cities

Schomburg TalksOn December 9, 2014 at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture an amazing discussion surrounding slavery, universities and inner cities ensued. MIT Professor of History, Craig Wilder and Trinity College’s American Studies Professor, Darvarian Baldwin participated in an intellectual and stimulating dialogue that provided insight on the dynamic surrounding the climate of higher education both past and present.

The professors provided insight on the many areas of society, government, education and industry that historically have a direct link to the African diaspora. We can attribute the contributions and inclusion of slaves on college campuses as far back as the 1700s.

It’s no secret that colleges and universities played a major role in colonialism. It is also no secret that many of the top universities in the country are centered in impoverished areas which are disproportionately occupied by African Americans.

Higher education has become a top dollar industry and universities hold stakes in much more than just continuing education. Universities have fast become conglomerates and major contributors in the economic standings of communities which includes real estate and commerce. Baldwin talked of universities competing as big businesses but still participating in educational specific PILT programs (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) geared towards allowing payments to federal government in lieu of paying taxes on state owned land.

Building colleges in these impoverished communities benefits the university. The land is cheaper and in turn the universities charge high real estate prices

I encourage everyone to further research this historical topic that sheds light on an area of African diaspora that is not often discussed. It’s important to gain an understanding of the correlation between slavery, universities and inner cities. As a community we should become knowledgeable and hold the institutions of higher education accountable for the economic progression in their communities.

Readings:

Craig Wilder – Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities.

Davarian L. Baldwin – Chicago’s New Negroes: Modernity, the Great Migration, and Black Urban Life.

 

 

The Slow Disbanding of Justice

The community and the nation all feel that there is now where to turn.

The community and the nation all feel that there is         nowhere to turn.                                                      Photographer – Stephanie Strickland

*What type of a world do we live in?

The world we live in today is becoming cruel, inhumane and downright incorrigible. We sit back and allow these hate crimes to continue and they continue because it’s a known fact that there is no penalty.

In the last ten days I have been knocked off my feet with the blatant injustice shown towards my people in the black community. The failure to indict in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases escape any rational thought in my mind. The concept of excusing a police officer that uses excessive force and shoots an unarmed man six times is unimaginable. The concept of not pressing charges against an officer who had so much hate and rage inside him that he actually use physical force – his bare hands- to choke an unarmed man to death and yet the state grand juries in Missouri and in New York come to the decisions that there was no probable cause to charge either of these officers for these killings.

My heart aches for these families, water wells up in my eyes for the pain they must feel. The shrill in their voices as they make statements to the media while attempting to present a brave face simply cut me to the core.

Eric Garner’s murder is the most troubling to me.

Do you realize how long it takes to kill someone with your bare hands? Do you realize how void of humanity you have to be to stand one foot away from someone who is yelling “I CAN’T BREATHE!” 11 times and you do nothing? This was not a taking of someone’s life in an instant with a gun, as in the case of Michael Brown. There were multiple opportunities for that officer to release Eric Garner’s neck and he would still be alive today.

Another troubling factor in both of these cases is the fact that both Garner and Brown (by witness and video account) were conceding. For centuries the universal sign for surrender has been to put both hands in the air. Although witness accounts state that both Eric Garner and Michael Brown both exhibited this old world conceding gesture – the officers either were oblivious to its meaning or blatantly ignored it.

As I reflect on what this world is becoming (has become) it is disheartening.  I find myself asking:

*Are police being trained to protect us and our communities or are they being trained to inflicted pain on us?

There was a time when the police officers in our communities were a part of the communities that they worked.  They were respected as someone who was invested in maintaining a safe place for their own themselves and their families and hence yours.

*Where did those conviction go?

Unfortunately the general consensus in today’s society seems to be summed up by a statement made by former NY mayor Rudy Giuliani on Meet the Press with Michael Eric Dyson November 23, 2014. Giuliani suggested that “white police officers wouldn’t be there if you [blacks] weren’t killing each other.”

This is an egregious statement that only fuels the narrow minded and allows officers to feel that they can in fact get away with murder.

Although it appears that justice is not on our side we have to continue to stand up for the rights of our fallen brothers.  We have to demand justice for everyone who has been treated unjustly by those that have been given the responsibility to protect us. Justice is disbanding specifically in the black community and currently we are being systematically annihilated – let’s not grow weary of the struggle – our legacy is on the line.

Stay Strong in Peace, and Love and in the Struggle!

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