July 3, 2015

Why Obama must make ending racial inequality the focus of his remaining time in office

(theGrio President Obama — or Reverend President — has captured America’s attention on racial inequality. He must make the issue his central theme for his remaining time in office.

At the eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney — the state senator who was among the nine killed by Dylann Roof at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. — the president bore the weight of black folks on his shoulders when he articulated the history of slavery and the problem of racism we face in everyday life. His words were a call to action, as he seemed to realize that removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse — without addressing the systemic racism that remains once the flag is gone — risked becoming a squandered opportunity.

As black churches burn concern grows over the resurgence of America’s original terrorists

(theGrio) The recent rash of black church burnings have many African-Americans wondering if this marks a resurgence of the nation’s original terrorists — white supremacists.

Following the June 17 massacre at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. — in which a white supremacist and Confederate sympathizer gunned down nine black congregants attending a Bible study meeting — eight predominantly black churches have burned, including seven in the South.

The latest fire was at Mount Zion AME Church in Greeleyville, which is about 60 miles northwest of Charleston. Although authorities say the church fire does not appear to have been intentionally set, the church was burned to the ground by the Ku Klux Klan 20 years ago.

Reverend president? Obama, grace and legacy come together in Charleston

(theGrio)  Was the President’s eulogy at Rev. Clementa Pinckney’s homegoing service an example of a truly liberated Obama who is now nearing the end of his term? Or did his performance reflect the events unfolding in this country and Obama stepping up?

Ultimately, it was a little bit of both, not to mention a man who is certainly thinking about his place in the world and what his legacy will mean to the nation.

On Friday afternoon at the TD Arena in Charleston, South Carolina, President Obama paid tribute to Rev. Pinckney, a state senator and one of nine black people gunned down by white supremacist Dylann Roof at Emanuel AME Church.

With victories for Obamacare, the Fair Housing Act and marriage equality in the U.S. Supreme Court, it was a tremendous week for the commander in chief. And yet, in the midst of tragedy and soul searching — forced to grapple with its centuries’ old curse of slavery and a virulent symbol of racial oppression in the form of the Confederate flag — South Carolina may have had its finest hour when President Obama honored the fallen Rev. Pinckney.

The danger with making the Confederate flag and Dylann Roof the face of racism

(theGrio) The Confederate flag and Dylann Storm Roof are perhaps the most potent and virulent symbols of racial hatred these days, and understandably so. When Roof committed mass murder by gunning down nine black parishioners at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17, he did so in the spirit of the Confederacy he seems to love so much.

However, as much as we are paying attention to this madman and a Rebel flag which defended slavery, segregation and lynching — and we should — let us not lose sight of the bigger picture. These are merely extreme symbols of racism. Ultimately, we must focus on systemic racism, the pervasive forms of racial oppression that plague our economy, the education system, law enforcement and the judicial system. And if we ignore this painful reality, then we are merely opting for symbolism rather than real change.

Here’s how Rachel Dolezal can redeem herself with black America

(theGrio)  Rachel Dolezal had quite a week, perhaps unlike anyone you know, as her parents revealed that the African-American studies professor, #BlackLivesMatter activist and head of the Spokane branch of the NAACP, is not a black woman but white.

Despite the scathing criticism and unforgiving memes this sister has faced, perhaps even well-deserved, all is not lost for Dolezal.

Can she redeem herself as an ally, after all this backlash?

Is it fair to compare white NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal to Caitlyn Jenner?

(theGrio Rachel Dolezal, 37, the head of the Spokane, Washington, branch of the NAACP, has represented herself as an African-American woman and has built a career as a vocal advocate and academic expert on issues related to race and police brutality. Moreover, she and her husband adopted four black children. However, her white parents outed her as a white woman, providing her birth certificate as proof.

Dolezal has received support in social media, with some using the hashtag #Transracial to compare her to Caitlyn Jenner, 65, the reality show star and Olympic athlete formerly known as Bruce Jenner who recently came out as a transgender woman and appeared in Vanity Fair. If Dolezal identifies as black, just as Jenner identifies as a woman, they argue, should she not be accepted in that way?

Texas pool party incident shows that Jim Crow’s ‘black codes’ may still be in effect

(theGrio)  Swimming while black is a crime? Or having a black pool party? Maybe the police in Texas have lost their minds. Then again, maybe the Lone Star state still denies black people the freedom to assemble, just like the black codes.

A police officer was placed on administrative leave after a video surfaced of police detaining, manhandling and cursing at black teenagers at a pool party in McKinney, Texas, a Dallas suburb. The officers reportedly broke up the party after complaints in the neighborhood that there were too many black young people in the area. An officer is seen pinning a 14-year old girl to the ground and grabbing her by the breasts, and pulling a gun on young men who attempt to intervene. “Call my mama, oh God!” the young woman is heard shouting as the officer forces her to the ground. “On your face!” the officer orders her as he slams her, crying, to the ground, face first.

June 6, 2015

The Case For Reparations: 40 Acres and a Mule Would Cost America at Least $6.4 Trillion Today

(Atlanta Blackstar)  If you were to guess how much the United States owes Black people in economic damages for slavery, how much would it be?

In the part of the “I Have A Dream” speech that no one seems to remember, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. declared: “It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’”

While some people would conclude that no dollar amount can make up for the centuries that Black people were kidnapped, enslaved and forced to work without pay, the fact remains that our misfortune made America wealthy. Slavery built the system of U.S. capitalism. Moreover, some people have estimated what the nation actually owes Black people.

MOVE Bombing: The Day the Police Burned Down a Black Philly Neighborhood

(Atlanta Blackstar)  Never could one imagine the police doing this in a white neighborhood.

On May 13, 1985, the Philadelphia police engaged in a race riot when they dropped a bomb on the roof of a row house in a Black section of West Philadelphia. It was Mother’s Day, and Black mothers and children were killed that day, intentionally burned and shot to death by police. Eleven people, including five children ages 7 to 13 — all members of the radical Black liberation group MOVE — died.

In the end, 61 homes in this Black residential neighborhood were burned to the ground. Most of all, all of it was done on purpose because the officials in charge said their intent was to let the fire burn.

Why the Latest Protests in Tel Aviv is Damming Proof That Brutality Against Black People is a Global Struggle

(Atlanta Blackstar)  #BlackLivesMatter everywhere.

This scene sounds familiar: A Black man was stopped and beaten by police, and the attack was caught on video. In response, Black people protested in the streets—not only because of the police attack on that particular man, but as a reaction to years of the systemic racial discrimination, economic marginalization and police brutality they have collectively faced. Tensions have been brewing for quite some time, and the incident was just the spark that set things off. And of course, police responded to the demonstrators with heavy-handed tactics, causing violence to erupt.

This is not Ferguson, North Charleston, Staten Island or Baltimore—this is Tel Aviv, Israel. And to be Black in Israel, not unlike America, is to be treated like a second-class citizen.

The Community Can Bring About an End to the Police as We Know It

(Atlanta Blackstar)  Observing all of the activity coming out of the U.S. Department of Justice these days, it seems the feds are now in the business of cleaning up police departments or at least telling the police about their business. Will things change as a result, and should the community play a more active role in policing?

The DOJ investigated the Cleveland Police Department and released a report that found that the police had a pattern of using unreasonable and unnecessary force in violation of the Fourth Amendment, including deadly force, Tasers and chemical spray, excessive force against the mentally ill and dangerous tactics that place civilians and officers at risk. The feds told the Cleveland police to stop beating people upside the head with their guns.

Predatory Lending and the Deliberate Destruction of Black Economic Power

(Atlanta Blackstar Economic exploitation in the Black community is real, and a reminder that racism goes far beyond hating Black people and calling us names. Not to downplay the effects of that individualized, person-to-person discrimination, but we need to focus far more on institutional racism, the policies that pick our pockets and rob us blind for generations. Old patterns of systemic discrimination continue, stealing from the Black community and placing it at a disadvantage with wealth accumulation.

Financial institutions still engage in the economic exploitation of Black America, a reality which was brought home amid the devastation of African-American and Latino communities during the Great Recession. As was published in the most recent edition of the journal Social Problems, Black borrowers in segregated cities have been preyed upon with subprime mortgages, destroying families and entire communities. The U.S. housing meltdown and the foreclosure crisis was a racialized process.

States Humiliate the Poor With Food Stamp Crackdown

(The Progressive) Legislators across the country are launching a mean-spirited campaign to block poor people from purchasing certain kinds of foods, products, or services.

Missouri state Rep. Rick Brattin has introduced a bill to prevent food stamp recipients from buying “cookies, chips, energy drinks, soft drinks, seafood, or steak.”

A bill in the Wisconsin Legislature would require people who apply for food stamps or unemployment insurance to pass a drug test. Lawmakers also want to prohibit those on food stamps from purchasing “crab, lobster, shrimp, or any other shellfish."

A New Movement Can Help Reboot America’s Voting System

(TakePart)  Earlier this week, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called for bold reforms to America’s voting system. She suggested that all Americans be automatically registered to vote at age 18, and that voting privileges be extended to ex-felons. She also called for the full restoration of the Voting Rights Act, which lifted many of the barriers to black people participating in our democracy.

Clinton’s remarks underscore the need for voters of color to be engaged—and, ultimately, increase our participation in the political process. Republican-controlled state legislatures are promoting various measures—such as requiring voter identification cards—to limit the risk of voter fraud. The truth is, voter fraud rarely occurs.

These Are the States That Have ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws

(TakePart)  A Nevada murder trial is renewing the debate over America’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense laws.

The story begins in February, when Cody Devine, 34, and Janai Wilson, 29, apparently went, without permission, to a vacant rental property near Reno, Nevada, owned by Wayne Burgarello. According to prosecutors, Burgarello, 73, found Devine and Wilson resting on a floor. He shot them. Burgarello maintains he was acting in self-defense under Nevada’s Stand Your Ground law.

The case is an important reminder about the debate over the controversial laws. Thirty-three states have adopted some form of Stand Your Ground law, according to the American Bar Association. Ten states have introduced bills to repeal or scale back their Stand Your Ground laws this year, and 13 states have pending legislation to strengthen or enact such laws.