As the events unfold in Charlotte in the aftermath of the murder of Keith Scott — another Black man by police — questions arise as to what it will take to bring about real change in the realm of racial justice in North Carolina, and the role that corporate America will take.
As part of the so-called “new” South, with a large corporate presence and urban professional transplants from the North, the state wants to have it both ways. President Obama won North Carolina in the 2008 election, and a city such as Charlotte represents growth, progress and diversity, as The Washington Post reported, with “buttoned-up business (a banking center, an airline and retail hub), a multicultural melting pot and a farm-to-table haven.”
And yet, the state has elected a Republican-led, white supremacist state government, with a governor and a legislature that has sought the wholesale deprivation of Black voting rights, leading to the NAACP-led Moral Mondays movement.
Then there is the so-called “bathroom bill” known as HB2, which challenges a Charlotte city ordinance regarding gender-neutral bathrooms. And while the legislation has been known as an anti-LGBT law, it also eviscerated local ordinances, making it illegal for localities to expand the protections of state laws governing minimum wage standards, job discrimination and public accommodations, as the Charlotte Observer noted.
So while North Carolina had positioned itself as more cosmopolitan, progressive and tolerant than its neighbor bordering to its South — South Carolina, which had been embroiled in a Confederate flag debate of late — the state has paid a price with HB2.
According to Facing South, while state officials wish to downplay its impact, a corporate boycott of North Carolina has led to losses in the tens of millions of dollars. Over 200 companies and organizations have expressed their opposition to HB2, and they are taking their business out of the Tar Heel state. For example, PayPal canceled its planned $3.5 million complex, Deutsche Bank placed a corporate expansion on hold, and the NBA will take its All-Star Game elsewhere. The purpose of this and other boycotts, Facing South noted, is “to raise the economic and political costs of doing business as usual, to the point that decision-makers — whether lawmakers or corporate CEOs — are forced to change course.”
But what will it take for corporate America to respond to the calls for racial justice, in the midst of police violence against Black people? If they can take a stand against HB2, certainly these companies can demand that local and state governments do more and enact reforms if they want the dollars to continue flowing.
With a high-profile police killing and a continued effort at Black voter suppression — despite a Supreme Court decision rejecting North Carolina’s voter ID law and other voter restrictions — the time seems perfect for corporations to use their political muscle to benefit Black folks. White reactionary lawmakers believe they can get away with disrespecting African-Americans. For example, U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger, who represents parts of Charlotte and its suburbs, said Blacks are protesting in Charlotte because “they hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not,” as NBC News reported.
And in some cases, with blood on their hands through their role in profiting from slavery, these North Carolina-based companies have a debt to pay Black people. For example, Bank of America admitted its ties to slavery, as two of its predecessor banks had dealings with the slave trade, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Further, a third predecessor accepted slaves as collateral on loans, as Your Black World Today reported. Two companies that were incorporated into Wachovia — now owned by Wells Fargo — owned slaves and accepted them as collateral on loans or mortgages. And the founder of R.J. Reynolds, Richard Joshua Reynolds, came from a large slave-owning family of tobacco farmers. These companies can, at a minimum, support a boycott in North Carolina and a movement around racial justice, and provide support to the descendants of enslaved people in the form of employment, scholarships and community programs.
Writing an editorial in NBC News, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II — president of the North Carolina NAACP and founder of the Moral Mondays movement — summed it up best when he called the riots in Charlotte “the predictable response of human beings who are drowning in systemic injustice.” It is not about Black people hating the police, he noted, but rather people of all races “rising up against systems of injustice that shield officers who kill but leave millions defenseless.”
Declaring that “it’s the ballot or the riot,” Rev. Barber wrote that as hopeless as things may seem, we know what needs to be done to change the conditions that led to Keith Scott’s death.
“Right here in North Carolina, we have seen how people impacted by unjust policies can come together in coalitions across color and lift up a moral agenda that embraces the good of the whole,” he said. “This kind of coalition movement building is not easy, and we cannot win the change we need in a single election. But every step forward in this nation’s history has come from movements like this one.”
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By Elliot Booker — 2 years ago
In their 2000 hit single, “Shackles (Praise You), Tina and Erica Campbell of gospel group Mary Mary sang the lyrics, “Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance / I just want to praise you / I just want to praise you / You broke the chains now I can lift my hands / And I’m gonna praise you / I’m gonna praise you,”
Though Mary Mary may not have been thinking about the institution of American slavery when they wrote those penetrating lyrics, “the afterlife of slavery” is always palpable among Black church folks, notes Saidiya Hartman.
Nonetheless, the theologies proffered by Tina Campbell, specifically, has its limits when just 17 years after releasing “Shackles,” she endorsed the racist, xenophobic, alleged child rapist, misogynist, Islamophobic, non-taxpaying President of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump.
In a Facebook post published on January 25, 2017, she stated, “I choose to believe that that same power that comes from Almighty God is at work in Mr. Donald Trump, and it will be used for the greater good of this nation and its people.”
The endorsement came just one day after Mr. Trump signed a memorandum ordering the secretary of the army to expedite approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and two days before he signed an executive order titled, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.”
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Toveet Radcliffe Was the First African-American Woman to Die in the Israeli Military; Her Death Was Ruled a Suicide But Her Family Isn’t Buying ItBy Elliot Booker — 1 year ago
In America, we’ve become painfully used to the idea that to the police, the Jeff Sessions-led justice Department and, in many cases, the military, black lives don’t matter. Donald Trump’s handling of the death of Army Sgt. LaDavid Johnson; the White House’s silence on the killing of Army 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III by a white supremacist; the deafening silence about racism at the U.S. Air Force Academy, are just a few examples in the last year.
It is often worse for black women in the armed forces, who are victims of racial and sexual violence. Consider the case of LaVena Johnson, who, at 19 years old, was found dead of a gunshot wound in a tent in Balad, Iraq. Yet despite her body being found with a broken nose, a black eye, loose teeth and corrosive chemicals found on her genitals, the Army determined her death was a suicide. Where else in the world are black women’s bodies, even when dedicated to the protection of a nation, so degraded or devalued? Apparently, the Israeli government isn’t far behind America.
Feb. 21 will mark the three-year anniversary of 19-year-old Corporal Toveet Radcliffe’s death, the first African-American woman to die in the Israeli Defense Forces. Radcliffe was found dead at Palmachim Airbase just south of Tel Aviv, Israel, from a gunshot wound to the head. In early February, the IDF ruled that Radcliffe’s case will not be reopened. Investigators ruled that the gunshot that went through her forehead and came out the back was a result of an accidental or intentional suicide. However, Radcliffe’s family and members of the African Hebrew Israelite community aren’t so sure.
Toveet Radcliffe was born in Israel, to African-American parents who moved to there to practice as Hebrew Israelites, an Afrocentric form of Old Testament Judaism. She grew up happy and popular in the southern Israeli city of Dimona, where about 10 percent of the population are Hebrew Israelites, and she was known for her beauty and gregarious personality.
Despite being born in Israel, Radcliffe was not a practicing Hebrew Israelite nor was she an Israeli citizen. In fact, Hebrew Israelites are not automatically granted Israeli citizenship; the Israeli government had tried to kick them out of the country for years (part of a larger problem of the Israeli government discrimination against African and African-American Jews) until eventually granting them a tenuous residency status. Hebrew Israelites often live as second-class citizens, denied public education and state health care because their practice of Judaism isn’t “orthodox.”
Nevertheless, children can earn citizenship for themselves and their families can become eligible to apply for full citizenship after serving a tour in the armed forces. Radcliffe joined the military in October 2013 and died less than a year into her service—not from terrorists or criminals but from a bullet wound to the head while sitting in a guard booth.
She was found just after midnight, bleeding from a head wound, by the soldier that was to replace her on duty; she was declared dead by a military doctor less than half an hour later.
After almost three years of legal wrangling, Judge Major Meir Vigiser ruled it was “highly likely” that no other person was with Radcliffe when she was shot. Vigiser rejected several experts presented by the Radcliffe family suggesting foul play, instead placing the young woman’s death in her own hands.
About 30 members of the Hebrew Israelite community, all wearing white, sat in the courtroom for over an hour, listening as Judge Vigiser’s ruling. Radcliffe’s mother, Khydijah Gray, refused to attend the final hearing because she doubted that justice would come. While the verdict clearly disappointed the Radcliffe family and its supporters, it did not shock them.
“I am absolutely not surprised. I would have been surprised if they had done the right thing,” Shayarah Baht Yisrael said to The Root.
“I think the whole investigation was flawed from the beginning. And that alone is jail time, as far as I’m concerned. The fact that they tried to sweep it under the rug so quickly, I’m very, very frustrated by that,” added Ketreyah Fouch.
As supporters from the community trailed out of the Bar Lev Base, one young woman told The Root: “Toveet was too good to serve in the Israeli army, in general. Like all of us, we’re just too good to serve in this army.”
Hours after attending the court session, African Hebrew activist Ashriel Ben-Israel uploaded a video to Facebook calling the verdict “a big embarrassment”: “We do not accept it, this decision! We no longer believe any army representative regarding this case,” Ben-Israel bellowed in Hebrew, overcome with emotion. “We will not allow this decision to pass in silence,” he added.
Discrepancies in the IDF’s account of her death disturbed Radcliffe’s family and friends from the start. On January 18, 2016, nearly a year after the fatal incident, the IDF published the results of its internal investigation into Radliffe’s death—essentially suicide. At the most basic level, it is hard to believe that 5-foot, 2-inch Toveet Radcliffe managed to shoot herself through the forehead with an M4 (demonstrated below with a paper replica by her sister).
Given that the Israeli government offered to pay the Radcliffe family a lifelong stipend (for a solider who committed suicide), the questionable investigation (significant physical evidence was never examined), and the dismissal of key witnesses and testimony, Radcliffe’s family sought the truth. The Hebrew Israelite community raised funds for a legal appeal that bore fruit a year later. On March 17, 2017, the president of the IDF Court of Appeals, Major Gen. Doron Feiles, ordered a reinvestigation of Radcliffe’s death. In his decision, Feiles conceded that the IDF had not definitively demonstrated that Radcliffe had committed suicide and had not even bothered to seriously consider any other possible explanation for her death.
“It could be that the IDF felt that Toveet’s life wasn’t of value on the scale of social importance. Maybe in its opinion, she was just a girl from a black community in Dimona, just some unimportant girl,” the community leadership said the day after the Vigiser verdict in a press release. “Taking into account the apathy, arrogance and total lack of transparency on the part of the IDF, it must be seen as suspect No. 1.”
Radcliffe’s case had become a national story in Israel over the last few year; it was featured in several CSI/First-48 style TV investigative shows. Yet despite the historic nature of a black girl with African-American parents dying mysteriously in the IDF, it received little or no coverage in the United States. No major news stories, no #SayHerName hashtags. A Change.org petition to President Barack Obama in 2016 on her behalf couldn’t muster 1,000 signatures.
With the case officially over, members of the Hebrew Israelite community vow that they will continue the fight even if it’s unclear how that will occur. The Israeli government can delay, deny or possibly void the citizenship of community members who push back too hard. Furthermore, with little or no international attention or pressure, ala #BringBackOurGirls, there’s no reason to believe the conservative Benjamin Netanyahu government would even care. That doesn’t mean her case doesn’t matter, it only means that if black lives truly matter across the globe, we must add Toveet Radcliffe’s name to the sadly growing list of black people betrayed, abandoned and possibly killed by their governments.Post Views: 62
By Elliot Booker — 1 year agoBy
Colin Kaepernick — the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who was blackballed by the NFL for taking a knee against police brutality — is making a far-reaching impact on society off the field. Kaepernick, who sparked a protest movement against police violence against Black bodies, has moved the debate forward on racial justice for Black people.
In September of 2016, Kaepernick pledged that he would donate $1 million plus the proceeds of his jersey sales from the 2016 season to organizations that work in oppressed communities — $100,000 a month for 10 months. Most recently, he raised $10,000 per day for 10 days with his #10for10 campaign, with 10 of his friends selecting organizations he should donate to and matching his contribution.
As a part of the NFL player’s campaign, R&B singer Jhené Aiko and Chris Brown each donated $10,000 to the Southern California-based Schools on Wheels, a rolling schoolroom which offers tutorial services to the region’s growing homeless population. Homelessness has increased 23 percent in Los Angeles County in 2017 over the year before, and 20 percent in the city of Los Angeles.
Tennis legend Serena Williams contributed $10,000 to Imagine LA, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to ending the cycle of family homelessness and poverty.
Also accepting the #MillionDollarChallenge is the rapper T.I., who partnered with Kap to donate $20,000 to Trae Tha Truth’s Angel by Nature organization, a “boots on the ground” group that has provided relief to Houston post-Hurricane Harvey.
As part of Kaepernick’s campaign, Snoop Dogg gave $25,000 to Mothers Against Police Brutality, a Dallas-based group formed to unite mothers who have lost their children to police violence. “It’s no secret that Uncle Snoop Dogg has transcended into global mega-stardom and even though he’s busier than ever, our brother still finds time to give back to the Community in so many ways. Like a true OG, Uncle Snoop didn’t even flinch when I reached out to him about being part of my #MillionDollarPledge,” Kaepernick said. “With such an alarmingly disproportionate number of African American and Hispanic men and women killed by police, it’s obvious why Snoop chose this organization. Thank you, Uncle Snoop for everything that you have done, and have yet to do, in entertainment as well as the community. Much continued success to you my brother.”
Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors donated $10,000 to United Playaz, a violence prevention and youth development organization based in San Francisco. The organization provides vulnerable young people ”higher education, employment, and healthy living within a safe, nurturing, and collaborative environment.” Curry’s Warriors teammate Kevin Durant contributed to Silicon Valley De-Bug, a San Jose organization that uses storytelling and media creation to promote social justice.
Actor Jesse Williams gave $10,000 to Advancement Project, a “next generation, multi-racial” civil rights organization committed to dismantling and reforming “the unjust and inequitable policies that undermine the promise of democracy through the development of community-based solutions to racial justice issues.”
Nick Cannon and Joey Badass joined Kaepernick in donating $40,000 to Communities United for Police Reform, a New York-based campaign by members of the community, lawyers, researchers and activists to end discriminatory policing practices.
As the sidelined NFL player is taking a stand for social justice and putting his money where his mouth is, the NFL’s own “Let’s Listen Together” campaign — highlighting the league’s $89 million commitment to social justice and equality — has lost its luster. “The campaign will highlight the NFL’s commitment with TV spots, digital content and social media engagement. Hopefully, this will educate the masses, creating some sensitivity for those who need it and spark change,” wrote Jarrett Bell in USA Today. “But it also has the feel of top-shelf marketing and PR spin, with Kaepernick’s original message hijacked as part of an NFL crisis management strategy in the face of backlash from those who could care less.”
Meanwhile, a coalition of players who were handpicked by the NFL as a “safe” alternative to Kaepernick has splintered, as Howard Bryant of ESPN noted. Bryant wrote that the coalition was insulted by accusations it had sold out, and “the league had lured them with promises of social commitment and big money to cover for the real purpose of sabotaging their movement and ending the protests.” The failure of the NFL to sign Kaepernick is a scandal, claims Dave Zirin of The Nation, arguing that despite the self-promoted image of the league as a meritocracy, billion-dollar teams chose to fail rather than sign the athlete-activist this season.
Although he was blackballed and did not even play this past season, Kaepernick was named a finalist in the NFL Players Association’s Byron “Whizzer” White Community MVP award, along with Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long, Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller and defensive lineman J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans. The winner of the award, which honors contributions to the community, will be announced Feb. 1 at the NFLPA’s Super Bowl news conference. The NFLPA will donate $100,000 to the winner’s favorite charity or his foundation, with the other finalists receiving $10,000 apiece. The award honors players for their contribution to the community and recognizes a player each week over the season. After the winner is chosen, the NFLPA will donate $100,000 to that player’s foundation or a charity of choice. The other four finalists receive $10,000 each for their charities or foundations.
The impact of Kap’s contribution to social justice was reflected in a recent cover of the New Yorker magazine, which depicted a kneeling Martin Luther King flanked by Kap and Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks.
In October, Kaepernick filed a right-to-work lawsuit against the NFL for collusion. Proceedings in the case began in early January. Kaepernick alleges the NFL conspired to keep him off the field — which is barred in the collective bargaining agreement — blackballing him for his political stance against the treatment of Black people at the hands of law enforcement. He points to the fact that there are 64 quarterback slots in the league, and several with lesser ability have been signed since he became a free agent. Kaepernick must prove the teams colluded, and many legal experts agree he was singled out for his politics, as Axios reported.
Colin Kaepernick currently ranks as the second most popular NFL player after Tom Brady, even while he is not currently playing for a team. His story is not done, but it is clear the athlete and activist already have left an indelible mark on the Black community, backing up his words with action, and challenging others to step up and contribute.Post Views: 75