Our movements have music as the backdrop to ignite the fire and help it burn continuously in the belly of those seeking justice!
Historically it has been the drum and spoken word of our great ancestors.
Our youth need to hear the alternative messages of hip hop!
The HIP lyrics and beats that resonate with your heart. As a result you HOP to positive action!
You don’t ask permission for freedom….You don’t ask permission to breathe…You don’t ask permission not to be shot, maimed or murdered!
If someone puts their hand over your mouth and nostrils….What is the innate response for securing your freedom to breathe?
If someone pushes and attempts to keep your head under water…What is the innate response for securing your freedom to breathe?
Bro. Reggie R
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Here is a man of great intelligence and wit. A man with a beautiful smile and an equally intelligent and beautiful wife with two lovely children. He is studied with great gifts of oratory and persuasion that placed him in the most visible seat of power that the world has known, President of the United States of America. As the first person of color to win the presidency, he has endured a delicate dance of protecting the dominant institutions of the American empire while attempting to give continued hope that the arc of American life will bend toward justice, if we believe in them and trust that the outcomes are good even if they are not perfect.
This is a laborious job in most circumstances. The attempt to direct a country of 300 million people of various backgrounds that the narrative of American exceptionalism, unquestioned moral good, and the possibility of economic advance is open to all, but to do so when you have inherited a great recession and a bungled invasion seems to tilt the balance into the impossible. However, this was a challenge he willingly sought because of his belief that he could navigate us through with his abundant abilities.
Obama entered with a sense of post-racial hysteria fanned by both the corporate press and his own electoral team and administration. His task in the area of racial politics was to make us all believe we shared a common destiny from a history forged through different experiences but still with common values and goals. His technique was to avoid saying anything about black people. He could openly support policies for the other segments of the population, but for us he let his swag speak for him. This was policy enough; with of course the added boot-strap language the black community always gets. He seemed to believe for a time that his mere presence was a fulfilment of racial togetherness as oppose to being the right person at the right time to fill a position.
When racial issues began arising first on the campaign trail with his former pastor Rev. Wright and then after his election with the arrest of historian Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Obama began refining what has become his signature style of racial discourse. He attempted to explain the grievances that blacks and whites have with each other, including assessing the competing interest of being Black and being a police officer who controls black bodies. He used a balanced grievance approach. He attempted to guide us through our troubles by informing us what each group has been experiencing. In this way we could understand where the other side was coming from. He believed that his is extraordinary gifts of speech would serve us all in the impossible task he took on of explaining away history as opposed to examining it.
His most heroic attempts have been wistful sonnets about the American political will to address and overcome strife. He treats us all to post-modernist arguments that there is no right and there is no wrong, just perspectives. The juxtaposition Obama gives us is of two aggrieved groups who must find a middle way. The sweet sounds make us pause in our tracks, until anyone with even a cursory knowledge of American history notices that we are not two sides who are missing each other for lack of a mediator to help us understand. Mr. Obama is a wonderful painter of images, except the canvas is made of crushed bones and grinded flesh.
Mr. Obama did not create the world he inherited, as he has pointed out, but he does embrace its fabric and texture. He will not lift the veil to serve a larger purpose, but hopes only to use his charisma to keep the lid on and hopes that things begin to settle down. There is no deconstructing of the American identity, instead we must suspend truth for the continued unity of the empire.
Black people are asked to pretend that the police and the larger white male population is somehow an aggrieved group worthy of comparison to the Black experience in America. Obama attempts to sell us such feeble arguments that compares the historical loss of millions of lives, culture, language, and land to that of a slightly diminished white-male historical dominance. The enslavement, rape, lynching and mass incarceration of a people later herded into ghettoes, with no collective control over institutions that govern them is compared to lower middle class white-male economic stagnation. The current taking of Black lives with a “shoot first” mentality, that encourages purposeful and mistaken shootings by the police, will never be punished by judicial institutions because there is always a justification. He had a wallet or a candy bar that looked like a gun. She was assertive, he moved to fast, he moved to slow. Her eyes darted, he looked like he was dangerous, sometimes these things happen. The collective control of black bodies by state institutions through prison, schools, healthcare, workfare, child services and policing is somehow comparable to the angst of diminished white male demographics on the scales.
Obama who has not attended the funeral of any black person killed by the police, as that would send the wrong message to such militarized institutions will continue to make sure the agencies that have control over black bodies are given due respect, that proper remorse is paid. The structures of white supremacy and racism will always have an excuse that needs to be considered when black bodies fall, but no excuse will ever be allowed for the shooter of anyone who is wearing blue. Even though the recent shootings against the police were committed, not by activists and or community people but, by people trained by the US government. The same government that claims to deplore violence at home will take no responsibility for blow-back when it trains, teach and desensitize 18-year-olds to kill anyone they decide is an enemy to the US in foreign lands.
The oppressed understand however that Presidents and media institutions that speak of shared grief, that give us community forums seeking mutual understanding, that highlight hand-pick leaders with only staged arrest records, are no more than holders of the flame for continued outside control Black communities and people. New Sharpton’s for a new era.
The post-war, post-recession post-racial presidential warrior will not be able to deliver on ending inherited U.S. wars, on diverting resources to improve economic conditions in black (or white) communities or on improving the racial climate. That should not be taken as a failure but a mismanaged attempt to keep the status-quo functioning while selling us on lovely words of hope and change. Obama’s presidency was never supposed to be the end of war or economic inequity or racial conflict but a better managed system after the previous disaster of Bush.
The job was too big however because the lie of equal grievance was too big. The purposeful misguiding of people on the historical and current purpose of white supremacy being a malfunction of American history as oppose to the root of American history was way too big to manage. In the twilight of his presidency I am sure he can see the threads coming apart, leaving a talented man of great gifts, that could have been used in service to his community and the larger world as little more than a care-taker of a crumbling empire that a few beer summits and sentimental sweet words could not overcome.Post Views: 238
May 25, 2016 | Posted by Ricky Riley
Last March, Mcebo Dlamini, South African Student Representative Council president of Wits University, resigned from his post after making a Facebook post praising Adolf Hitler for his organizational skills.
Dlamini talked about his comments on South Africa’s eNCA last year. In the nearly 11-minute interview, he praises German dictator Adolf Hitler. He says Hitler should be recognized for bringing the nation together. However, this is not the highlight of the interview.
In the final minutes, Dlamini says that all white people have an “element of Hitler in them.” To the surprise of the interviewer, she brings up “good” white people who were part of dismantling the country’s Apartheid to counter his claim.
He defends his statement by stating that “white people have blood on their hands, white people colonized us, dispersed us and enslaved us … that is white people … they are racist and full of hate.”Post Views: 330
In a Rigged Court System, Innocent Black People Wait Years for Their Day In Court, Forcing Some to Accept Plea Bargains
May 14, 2016 | Posted by David Love
Throughout the country, the court system is rigged against poor people and communities of color, and Bronx County in New York City is a most extreme and poignant example of a nationwide crisis.
Although there is a constitutionally guaranteed right to a speedy trial, in practice that guarantee does not extend to those without means, particularly the Black and Latino folks who live in places such as the Bronx — the poorest and Blackest county in New York. These are the people who are arrested and charged with frivolous misdemeanor offenses under a “broken windows” philosophy of policing. And when faced with an under-resourced and broken-down court system, they may wait years for a jury trial — their lives disrupted, their psyche damaged, and often they are compelled to take a plea.
On Wednesday, the Bronx Defenders — a legal advocacy group providing civil and criminal legal services to the indigent — filed a federal class-action lawsuit against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; Janet DiFiore, Chief Judge of the State of New York and Chief Judicial Officer of the Unified Court System; and Lawrence Marks, Chief Administrative Judge of the Unified Court System. The suit, Trowbridge v. Cuomo, filed on behalf of thousands of Bronx residents, claims the state courts are failing to give people their due process and their day in court, making justice an illusion.
The day the lawsuit was filed, Atlanta Black Star spoke with Robin Steinberg, the Executive Director of the Bronx Defenders, on what prompted her organization to take action.
“About three years ago we collaborated with The New York Times on a series on delay in the Bronx … and we hoped that that would bring about some systemic change,” Steinberg said. “What we began to see was not only was there no structural change, the delay problem was getting worse. And in fact, it has gotten worse since The Times did the investigative piece three years ago,” she added. Ultimately, the time had come to do what we need to do, the courts need to come in,” Steinberg said, with the goal to “compel immediate political will” to change the state of the courts in the Bronx.
For the head of the Bronx Defenders, it says a lot that lawyers have to sue the governor and the courts on behalf of their clients because the system is failing.
“It says the clients we represent and the community we represent is one of the most marginalized and overlooked communities in New York City, as is the case across the country. They have very little political power, no access to political power and have been under-utilized and marginalized. This does not happen in the tony community in Manhattan,” Steinberg insists.
The statistics gathered by the plaintiffs paint a picture of a serious epidemic of disparities. As of January 2016, there were 2,378 misdemeanor cases pending for over 365 days in the Bronx, and 538 cases pending for over two years. Last year, although there were 45,000 misdemeanor arraignments, there were a mere 98 misdemeanor trials. And for those select few who get a trial, they must wait 642 days on average for a non-jury bench trial, and 827 days for a trial by jury, which is 99 percent higher than in Manhattan, 66 percent higher than in Brooklyn and 48 percent higher than in Queens.
Meanwhile, under New York’s speedy trial statute, prosecutors are required to be ready for trial within 90 days of arraignment for class A misdemeanors (such as assault, theft and drug possession), 60 days for class B misdemeanors (such as harassment, marijuana possession and stalking), and 30 days for non-criminal violations.
“You have to wait 99 percent longer in the Bronx. You wait longer in the Bronx than any other borough…It speaks to how we resource certain communities and under-resource others,” Steinberg noted. “This has been a known secret for years, and we hope to compel some change.”
Moreover, there are human faces behind these numbers, with a heavy toll taken in terms of lost jobs, frayed relationships and damaged well-being. This is the tax levied on the poor and on people of color. For example, John Carridice suffered through 1,009 days and 20 court dates before he had a trial and was acquitted. Sarah Bello endured 1,166 days and 33 court dates before her charges were thrown out. Joseph Bermudez was also acquitted, but only after 1,258 days and 38 court dates. On at least 16 occasions, both parties were ready for trial, but no court rooms were available.
Michael Torres, 43, had to appear in court 14 times for misdemeanor marijuana possession, typically waiting up to six hours at a time. As a result of numerous absences from work, he was fired. Although his case was dismissed after 877 days because the arresting officer could not recollect the incident, for this father of two, the damage had been done.
“After waiting all that time, I wasn’t even able to have my day in court,” said Torres. “I did everything I was supposed to do, but the system failed me – I joined this case because I want to ensure this doesn’t happen to others.”
One of the devastating effects of the epidemic of court delays is that people are forced to enter into plea agreements to make the case go away. According to The New York Times, 97 percent of federal cases and 94 percent of state cases end in plea bargains. The implications are that the courts are not used for the adjudication of cases and deciding who is guilty or innocent, but for deal making. Rather, the courts become what the American Bar Association, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association and others refer to as a “McJustice” system — one which operates based on the assembly line principles of a fast-food restaurant. For the indigent it means there is a premium placed on expediency over high-quality treatment.
“The truth is that what happens when you have this kind of delay is people end up with an unconscionable choice to come back in to court every month for 833 days — which is a form of punishment — or plead guilty. There is no way to end this punishment unless you plead guilty,” Steinberg said. “Clients continually miss work, miss childcare, miss appointments. It is the system’s best way to extract a guilty plea.”
The Bronx Defender chief shared that when public defenders advocate to their client to stick it out longer and wait, their clients — faced with the torture of court delays — have a right to take the plea, and often do.
Although this lawsuit is about the Bronx courts, and by extension the state of New York, this is a case with national implications. There are other jurisdictions like the Bronx. For example, in downstate Illinois, which does not include the Chicago area, 56 percent of pending misdemeanor cases were over a year old as of 2014, according to the Bronx Defenders. In North Carolina, 16.5 percent of all pending misdemeanor cases were over a year old, while 7.7 percent were older than 731 days, according to the state’s 2014-2015 Judicial Report. Moreover, even in a state with a better track record such as Wisconsin, 19 percent of misdemeanor cases are pending more than 180 days, with 95 percent of the cases taking 360 days before resolution. The state guidelines say that only 5 percent should be pending for that long.
“People need to keep their eyes on this because it is a national problem,” Steinberg emphasized. “People need to pay attention and defenders need to pay attention because our clients’ lives are deeply impacted,” and their humanity is not being acknowledged, she argued.
It is no accident that the Bronx is the poorest borough of New York City and the poorest county in New York state. Further, the South Bronx is the poorest congressional district in the entire nation, according to the U.S. Census, with 38 percent of people living below the poverty line, including 49 percent of children. Bronx also has the highest proportion of people of color of any county in the state, with a population that is 43 percent Black and 55 percent Latino, with whites accounting for 10 percent of the county, according to the most recent Census figures. Not surprisingly, 95 percent of Bronx misdemeanor arraignments involve people of color, the highest percentage in the city.
Meanwhile, those poor and Black people who are subjected to a dysfunctional and unresponsive court system are the ones facing the massive and frivolous arrests, heavy-handed monitoring and racial profiling by the police. In recent years, the New York City Police Department has come under fire for a stop-and-frisk policy that has ensnared hundreds of thousands of city residents, typically Black and Latino young men. As a lawsuit filed against the NYPD by the Center for Constitutional Rights revealed, 85 percent of those targeted by these “suspicionless and racially pretextual stop and frisks” are Black and Latino, who make up 52 percent of the city’s population. According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, more than 4 million New Yorkers have been subjected to police stops and interrogations since 2002, with nine of 10 people being completely innocent.
Ultimately, Steinberg believes this is an issue that will resonate among the public, even among those who are far removed from the court system.
“People will be shocked by this. It is something that is relatable — even if you aren’t touched by the criminal justice system and live in an affluent white community — because it is such a basic issue of a right to a trial,” she said.
“If I have to go to the department of motor vehicles for one day I am outraged,” Steinberg offered. “Imagine if you have to go every day for three-and-a-half years. You see this playing out as people struggle to keep their heads above water. They’re living with the economic and psychological toll of this hanging on their heads.”Post Views: 228