Keep the Pressure, Save Our Black Males!

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter

Well, as it turns out – I am as guilty as many people are regarding continuing the fight for justice. I am equally mortified at myself along with those who have systematically continued to wrongly take the lives of black men all around the country. Why? Because when the television cameras went off and the glorified coverage ceased after the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases, I (as well as many of you) went back to our lives as usual. I neglected my blog post regarding events around the world that were affecting black communities. I stopped researching accounts of police brutality (which by the way continued even after the media coverage ceased). Regrettably; when the media decided everything was fine, when they sucked all the sensationalism that they could out of these tragic events and implemented “the spin” that everything was back to normal in the world, I fell in line, followed suit and quieted down.

“The protesting pressure”, as I affectionately call it, stopped. The marching stopped, the organization of leaders disappeared once again to their ivory towers. Holding conferences on how we can get through the turmoil (together) stopped. For all intents and purposes everything was ok in the black community. We went back to life as usual – with the sad assumption or disbelief that we had achieved our goal of equal rights, civil rights, and justice for those wrongfully murdered.  Sadly, there was no justice achieved and in both cases the individuals were not even charged.

Now fast forward to April 12th, 2015. Another young black male murdered.  He was not gunned down nor was he choked to death, but young Freddy Gray suffered a torturous death that no doubt was long and painful.  To sever someones spine in multiple places as well as crush someones larynx, is definitely not a quick suffering. Now we’re back to square one in the city of Baltimore, MA.

Commentator, Ed Gordon made a comment on a radio program (Steve Harvey Morning Show) which struck me as bothersome. He called for the individuals in Baltimore to stop rioting, take a minute and be silent. Isn’t that what we have been doing? Haven’t we been silent for the past 30 years? Sitting in this pseudo comfort, afraid to make waves for fear that we will be seen as agitators, trouble makers and in turn be on the end of a retaliation of some kind that may result our own brutal murder or but possible police harassment.

Although the systematic devouring of our black males in no way began just a few years ago, we just recently began our public outrage in standing up and saying “no more”. We began our outrage in Ferguson over nine months ago, with a mayhem that may not have lead to the arrest of the perpertrators i the Michael Brown or Eric Garner cases, but clearer had an impact on getting some changes made in the law enforcement positions and security amongst a police department that proved to have obvious racial problems for many years. As a people and as a community, we united as one with fostered momentum in the eyes of evil and danger. We stood collectively shouting from the highest pitches of our voices “Black Lives Matter!” and we did this day after day, week after week, month after month. Untiring and uncompromising we held vigil after vigil, rally after rally and march after march. We cross state lines to come together at the nation’s capital gathering at a moment’s notice and insisted on change.

But at some point we failed ourselves and neglected to keep the pressure strong.  This fight will not end in a week, a month or a year.  This fight for racial equality will take years of pressure, years of continuously keeping the issue in the fore front of the media and keeping the pressure for “the wrong type of law enforcement officers” to be held accountable for their actions.

The media coverage should not be a gauge for call to action, our desire to fight for the black and brown communities, our brothers, our uncles and our sons should stay constant!

BLACK LIVES MATTER!

Advertisements

Malcolm X: Importance of Afro-American History in Today’s Education

The 50th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X is February 21st. I feel it’s important to reignite some of the views of a man who was committed to shedding light on the condition of the African man placed in western society. More importantly, Malcolm wanted to provide the tools and knowledge to ensure that oppression was not a dynamic of our future. A heritage of the African people exists and is not just based on a westernized history that materialized post slavery but more accurately the history that spans back to our early civilization in Africa and other Eastern continents.

Although most feel compelled to discuss Malcolm X because of this commercialized, culturally signified month labeled “black history”, I choose rather to acknowledge a day that stunted the growth of our black communities, forcing a halt in our momentum that to this day has yet to be refueled.

With the OAAU (Organization for African American Unity) Malcolm was on the cusp of providing the motivation, tools and backing to begin what he called “the dark rise” in this nation. Sadly, not since Malcolm X has one man had the courage to risk his place in society, jeopardize forfeiting his materialistic gains or risk his life for the betterment of his people.

Malcolm’s focus was to spread knowledge of the past and he also understood how essential providing an understanding of the present would prepare our people for greatness in the future. “The Afro-American has been kept crippled in this society because of our complete lack of knowledge concerning the past.” Malcolm stated in a speech given at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, NY in 1965 several weeks prior to his assassination (Malcolm X 1988).

It is common knowledge that the educational system today does not enforce a curriculum that champions all children. Unfortunately educators are complacent with what is deemed the status quo of only providing children a diluted education; an education that is not rich in research but rather specific facts provided by a tailored system that is drilled into the minds of our children. They are encouraged to memorize these tailored facts and only regurgitate them at the end of the school year through testing.

In today’s mainstream educational forums the term “black studies” sparks apprehension not only by many educational theorist but also by educational scholars alike. The concept is foreign and often viewed as a militant antagonistically based concept, at best. This concept is automatically shunned upon in just about all institutions of education especially those predominantly occupied by our young black and brown children.

The idea of arming the young minds of black and brown children with the knowledge of their own history, which is inevitably their own greatness, has been a tool revoked in order to oppress our people for hundreds of years and sadly we are abetting in this practice today.

If we are unaware of our struggle through the years and void of a basic understanding of the sacrifices and more importantly the major accomplishments that our ancestors have made – then we are doomed. We will not only repeat the mistakes of the past but also more critically be void of any respect for what our people have endured to get us to this point. As we continue to strive for equality in so many areas in society today this knowledge is no longer a novelty but a criticality.

As children of the African diaspora there should be a basic need to become familiar with our culture in some facet. This familiarity and knowledge will spark a pride and self-respect, which breeds a new generation that not only will feel compelled to stay localized in their communities and continue to share that knowledge (based on a inherent love for their people) but in turn foster a sense of community. It is paramount that we begin to educate our children on who they are and what bright futures they can have as black people in society. That future should be fueled by knowledge of the impressions that blacks have made in history through education, architecture and mathematics.

Today’s educational curriculum is based on governmental standards, which not only dictate the course of study but also limits the educational nourishment needed with watered down versions of education. These standards do not prepare students to become free thinkers. This generation of children are not being taught the skills to enable them to problem solve, communicate or articulate the information that they are digesting and provide their own personal views.

As educators we have found ourselves using the excuse that these are the standards set by the government and educational system, which regulates and dictates the educational values in schools today. Our complacency suggests that these limitations that are stringently placed on the guidelines of education are accepted.

Our youth need to be aware of the sacrifices that their ancestors made; they need to have an extensive knowledge of Dubois, Douglas, Woodson, Wright, and Garvey et al. These names should become synonymous with Columbus, Lincoln and Twain, if not more prevalent in their day-to-day knowledge. We need to champion our youth for greatness by exposing them to the information about their history and the greatness they possess by being direct descendants of African astrologists, archeologists, warriors and intellectuals whose contributions began prior to us being brought to the Western world.

A resurgence of a group of young individual whose focus is to research and seek out knowledge must be nurtured. Our children should not only have the skill to memorize facts and take exams but should have the ability to articulate their views on topics that affect the world and their people specifically. Our youth should be armed with the tools of sentence structure, tense and a vast vocabulary. All these things should become second nature and our children should be taught the skill of conversation and expression both verbal and written.

The life of a great man was extinguished on February 21, 1965. A man who should have been able to carry on the important work which he was engaged. It is truly a somber day remembering the great man that Malcolm X was, but its an even sadder day to realize that 50 years later no one has had the courage to carry an entire race on his shoulders as Malcolm X did with pride and commitment.


 

Reading:

1988,  Malcolm X on Afro-American History (Speech to meeting of Organization of Afro-American Unity January 24, 1965), Pathfinder Press

 

 

 

Cities Continue to Mourn and Separate!

Department of Justice, Washington D.C.

Department of Justice, Washington D.C.

One week ago a crazed killer ambushed two officers: Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. It was truly a tragedy when this coward took the lives of two innocent police officers that woke up on the morning of Saturday December 20, 2014 with the intention to protect and serve the community of Brooklyn. These two officers, who spent two and eight year respectively with the NYPD, risked their lives for the safety of others and put their own lives second to providing safety to the community each day.

In the aftermath of this horrendous tragedy I support all the police officers from all around the country that have shown their support for these fallen police officers. I praise all of those that have come out to show their outrage for what happened to these innocent men who lost their lives by the hands of someone who felt that their lives meant nothing and took it upon him to make that determination.

I admire all those who peacefully assembled, by the thousands, to show their respect and to honor the lives of these two police officers. I applaud all those that showed them honor by placing hundreds of flowers and candles, in memorial, at the site where they lost their lives.

I congratulate the Mayor de Blasio, of New York City, for stepping forward and publicly stating his sadness and reaching out to the families with his condolences.

My question is: Why are these particular acts of kindness and humanity separated? Why is it that only the public reaction to the tragic lost lives of the police officers honored and when the black community steps out to march (as our cultural history dictates) to honor the innocent lives of those black males who have fallen it is perceived as aggression? Why is it when the communities at large steps out to show their outrage by simply walking down the street holding signs as memorial, in lieu of placing flowers and candles, it is perceived as a crime or a sign of aggression against the police? This double standard only sheds light on the state of our communities nation wide and shows that when the rose colored glasses of unity in America are removed black lives are not being revered as equally important.

I am curious why there was a call to halt protesting out of respect for the slain officers. As if to say the lives in which we are protesting for were not equal to the lives of the police officers. When in all actuality what we are protesting is an end to senseless violence against police and senseless violence against the black community.

Do we not realize that all of these lost lives are equally tragic? Officer Ramos and Officer Liu did not deserve to die in that way, executed on the street by someone who decided their lives were inconsequential. Eric Garner did not deserve to die on the street in that way by a man who felt that his life meant nothing. Michael Brown did not deserve to die on the street in that way by a man who felt that his life meant nothing. Twelve year old, Tamir Rice did not deserve to die on the street in that way. Treyvon Martin did not deserve to die on the street in that way. Akai Gurley did not deserve to die in that way. Although these are separate tragedies, they are equal in their brutality and should be acknowledged as such. As these cities across the country continue to mourn so many losses of life we are truly beginning to separate and side and this will no doubt be the demise of our communities and our nation as a whole.

I understand that the police officers are a surrogate family and when one of them falls they are expected to come together and assemble by the thousands across the country to pay homage, respect and to grieve the lost of one of their own; rightfully so. What I am having an extremely difficult time comprehending is why as a black community we’re expected to do less than that for our own? We must not acquiesce. We must continue to peacefully unite for justice and ensure our outrage is evident and does not subside.

Cities across the country are protesting for safety, for equality, for the end to brutality against police officers and members of the black and brown communities.  The country is protesting for each and every member of this nation and that includes the heroes around the country that wake up daily and put on a uniform and risk their lives and those they have vowed to protect. The ensuing separation must cease. We have to unite and stand as one, not for a select few or a specific group or caste of people but for respect and Justice For All!

Reading:

Police and the Black Community by Robert Wintersmith (1974)

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.