Black History Through Movements

Today’s guest post is by the always incredible Jeff Horton. Jeff has lived in Japan for 10 years and is originally from the Bronx in New York. We’ve known each other since I moved to Japan in 2011 and he continues to inspire me everyday. Please enjoy the thoughts below and let me know what you think.

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“We shall overcome. We shall overcome. We shall overcome, someday”.

These peaceful protest words of the 1960’s were my first exposure to Civil Rights movement history that I learned as a first grade student in my multicultural elementary school in Harlem, New York City in the mid 1980’s. We were taught a lighthearted version of history where whites and blacks did not get along in the past. We were fed this idea that racism was a mere disagreement between cultures and not the total oppression of a people because of the color of their skin. Now, being an educator myself, I realize my teacher had to show us a history where although there were injustices we were not to blame anyone specifically as to alienate that person/group of people, but rather to just move forward and try to do better than our ancestors did. By taking these steps towards a brighter future “we shall overcome” is what I learned in that classroom. And I believed every word of it because almost all of my friends in elementary school were white. I had felt that we had overcome racial injustices and were on the path to racial equality for all.

“All power to the people”.

Moving from the 60’s to the 70’s, where the far more aggressive and far-left Black political leaders, the Black Panthers, attempt to lead the Black community towards prosperity. Their militant position on Black Nationalism, Maoism, anti-capitalism, anti-fascism, anti-imperialism Marxism-Leninism, Revolutionary socialism, and anti-racism put a negative spin on what Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers worked so hard to get for the Black community. With such powerfully Black led groups growing in power, the government began to lay down laws that would directly affect the Black and brown communities; specifically drug laws. In the 70’s, Richard Nixon led the country in the “war on drugs”. Nixon declared the use of drugs in America “public enemy number one”. With this policy enacted, police began to comb the dangerous/bad (i.e. Black and brown) neighborhoods arresting all that were suspected of drug crimes; both consumption and sales. “All power to the people” had been taken away and given to the government to silence those that would try to oppose its authority.

“One Nation Working together, For Justice and Equality Everywhere”.

The NAACP comes to the foreground in the 1980’s. We see such Black leaders such as Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton take political stances fighting for such things like affirmative action and equal opportunity rights for people of color to have a fighting chance both academically and for job security. At this time we also saw the first possible candidate for a Black male president (Jesse Jackson), which was quickly thwarted once the media got hold of the Reverend Jackson calling New York City “Hymietown”. In addition, we see the government began to fear the Black community more and more thinking they would rise up and topple the government. This led to government pushbacks on Black communities with such programs as Reganomics and Black entrepreneurialism. Both of these policies were put into place to raise the already wealthy class to a whole new level of wealth whilst having the Black community sell dangerous drugs to one another (crack cocaine and malt liquor) destroying Black communities. “One Nation Working together, For Justice and Equality Everywhere” was slowly turning in to dividing a nation into inequality for everyone.

“Can’t we all just get along?”.

With the absence of strong Black leaders in the 90’s we see a drastic increase in police violence towards its Black citizens. We first see the savage beating of Rodney King after a high speed car chase in Los Angeles in 1992. His pleas for the officers to stop what they are doing to him go unheard as they continue to beat him into complete submission. Although the ruthless beating was caught on tape, all of the officers were let go without any charges. We see an even bigger spike in racial tension in the 90’s when O.J. Simpson is accused of brutally killing his (white) wife. The divide in the US was crystal clear. Many white US citizens believed him to be guilty and the Black community believed him to be innocent. When O.J. was acquitted the Black community felt like they had “won” something because for the first time a Black man was able to beat the system like a white man would have been able to do much more easily, but it was a win for the Black community none the less. Towards the end of the 90’s we see an even bigger spike in police brutality towards the minority community when we saw the (once again) videotaped incident of Amadou Diallo. Police officers shot at this young, unarmed Black man 41 times while hitting his body 19 times. This brought to the forefront of what was really going on in Black and brown communities.

Justice for Trayvon”/”Hands up, Don’t Shoot”/”I Can’t Breathe”.

Within the first 15 years of a new millennium, police brutality has become the center of national attention. One of the biggest sparks of bringing police brutality to light was the death of Trayvon Martin. This began a snowball of claims coming from all over the country against the police. Most recently have been the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. With the body count still increasing day by day we are having grassroots movements pop up such as the #BlackLivesMatter group, who have pledged to bring the injustices that go on around the country to light. The general public has decided to stop turning a blind eye to the obvious prejudice that still runs rampant in our legal system. The cries of the people are relentless and share a similar spirit to that of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s. Throughout the decades we can see how racism has affected Black communities through the words they chose to represent each movement. We have gone from “We shall overcome” to “I can’t breathe” and everything in-between.

“All Lives Matter”
Through the trials and tribulations of recent events, the Black Lives Matter movement has taken a lot of flack for its outcry of inequality for Black and brown people. They have been criticized that their message is exclusive and divides people even more than they already are. People have even tried to counter the Black Lives Matter movement by saying that the message should be All Lives Matter. While I wholeheartedly agree with the message that All Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter is not ready to support such a broad statement. By claiming that All Lives Matter at such an early stage of this revolution you cast a shadow over the truth about racial inequality in the United States, that Blacks have been treated more like property and laborers than people for centuries. Blacks make up only 13% of the American population, but make up 80% of the prison system. John Legend recently stated at the Oscars, “there are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850”, which goes to show the state of Black lives after nearly 6 decades of “civil equality”.

From the bottom of my heart, I believe that All Lives Matter will become a part of the Black Lives Matter message, but not just yet. Black Lives Matter needs to move forward with everyone hand in hand to show that people from all walks of life are willing to help the most disadvantaged. Fighting together – Black, white, Asian, African and Latinos – we stand strong showing that through a movement for Black lives we make a positive contribution to the future of all lives.

Marvin’s Black History Timeline Part 3

The Chosen One!

We survived. We gained power. We have successful Black public figures, stars, sports figures, politicians; the whole kit and caboodle. But, we don’t have justice, things are not the same for us as they are for others, we are treated like second class citizens, we’re beat down, murdered; you name it and we’ve lived and felt it. What!! There is a brother, not named Jesse Jackson, who is running for president!! Must be a damn joke, who the hell is he? Where in the world is he from? What? When? Where? HOW? Wait a minute…this brother is young, smart, cool, and funny. Not only is he smart – he is intelligent and charismatic. Both whites and Blacks are listening to him; especially the young who are looking for hope and change. The poor Blacks like him because he shoots ball, talks like them, and has some roots in Chi-town. The older Blacks think that he is the Chosen One, the Black Jesus come to lead his people. Stop! Almost, but not all that, that is too much for one man! He ain’t Jesus, but he has given us a new pride to take things to the next level. We can do this if we try.

2008 Sen. Barack Obama, Democrat from Chicago, becomes the first African-American to be nominated as a major party nominee for president.

• On November 4, Barack Obama, becomes the first African-American to be elected President of the United States, defeating Republican candidate, Sen. John McCain.

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The Now! The real color of America and the broken machine!

As a child born in the 60’s, I was born at a special time, a turning point in Black history. Knowing the past injustices and living in the hood, but also being a baby boomer and enjoying the 70’s / 80’s / 90’s and on, without ever having been physically or mentally touched by racism, but know that just under the skin it is (and has) always been there. We talk and live and think differently from whites, but it doesn’t mean we don’t want the same thing. The 10% that messes up things for everyone are the ones we need to reach, the true niggas with no goals, self esteem, family or community values.

But we must now go back to the Rosa Parks incident and use what was so successful for us. Boycott, strike, don’t work for or buy things from prejudiced establishments, use our economic might to change laws, and to fight the battles that can’t stop a bullet.

We must clean up or own yards, police our own people, find that one binding factor that touches us all and that we will all listen to, but sadly enough it’s been staring us in the face the whole time.

Unite in an economic battle. Don’t buy Nike, buy Black. Screw McDonalds, eat at the Soul Food Factory. Tiger, Jordan, Denzel, Jay-Z, Beyonce, and others have the power to unite us. They must do this for their people; the people that made them.

No more twerking or Worldstar fight clips. Wake up brothers and sister, you can still be cool and have fun, but use dignity, common sense, and what we have that can help bring up those that don’t. No handouts, but programs that teach them and put them into a positive economic environment.

That’s the dream Martin had. Now we must live it, just do it, be it.

Lastly, maybe (just maybe) when Obama’s term is up, he can focus on getting the real message out to his people. I still have hope that he is the One!

Marvin’s Black History Timeline Part 2

Our Leaders Are Taken From Us!

They took Malcolm and John and Martin, and in doing so they broke our spirits and took our hearts and souls. We will still fight and move forward because we are survivors, but without our strong and wise leaders we as a people will never ever be truly united as one. If only the color of our skin could be the glue that binds then we would be strong. However, we, as black people, suffer the same unjust, unequal, and unfair lies that were promised to us. Sadly we do not think or act the same since we come from a slave mentality, broken houses, and a lack of education. We, as a people, will never be unified. There is not one message that touches us all the same way. We have no trust in the establishment.

1965 Malcolm X, Black Nationalist and founder of the Organization of Afro-American Unity, is assassinated (Feb. 21)

• State troopers violently attack peaceful demonstrators, led by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., as they try to cross the Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. Fifty marchers are hospitalized, on what is now called “Bloody Sunday”, after police use tear gas, whips, and clubs against them. The march is considered the catalyst for pushing through the Voting Rights Act five months later (March 7)

• Congress passes the Voting Rights Act of 1965, making it easier for Southern Blacks to register to vote. Literacy tests, poll taxes, and other such requirements that were used to restrict black voting are made illegal (Aug. 10)

• In six days of rioting in Watts, a black section of Los Angeles, 35 people are killed and 883 injured (Aug. 11-16)

1966 The Black Panthers are founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale (Oct.)

1968 Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tenn. (April 4)

“Say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud! James Brown, Ali, Vietnam, segregation, the projects, drugs. It’s all starting to take its toll on us, we are angry, and it’s time to burn this MoFo to the ground! I ain’t no damn slave and I ain’t bailing no hay or picking no cotton. Try to make me do it and see what I do to you! I’m a strong, angry black man and the gate is open. I’m out here, so look out, here I come to get you!!”

I think this image is what scared the hell out of whitey and that’s when the establishment went into protection mode, “We must not let them niggers succeed! We must keep them down, send the watch dogs (the police) to police them, give them drugs and guns, and let them kill themselves. This will prove that they are the animals we know them to be!!”

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1970’s ~ 2000 Social and economical issues

Since the gains of the 1950s–1970s, African-American communities have been suffering from extremely high incarceration rates of their young males. This is due to a variety of factors that include the Drug War, imposition of sentencing guidelines, cutbacks in government assistance, and restructuring of industry (including the loss of working-class jobs) that lead to high poverty rates, government neglect, a breakdown in traditional family units, and unfavorable social policies. African-Americans have the highest imprisonment rate of any major ethnic group in the world.

The Southern states of the former Confederacy, which had historically maintained slavery longer than the remainder of the country and imposed post-Reconstruction oppression, have the highest rates of incarceration and application of the death penalty.

Marvin’s Black History Timeline Part I

Hello everyone! The next three posts will be from my good friend Marvin Dangerfield. Besides having the greatest name of all time he is a Funk/Soul DJ from Detroit who has been living in Japan for awhile. He was a US Marine and found his niche in Japanese Radio and the English Conversation School industries. He is an incredible man who constantly mentors me and makes me sit down when I need it. 🙂 Love you Marvin and thank you for always being willing to contribute to my blog.

Disclaimer: Marvin’s thoughts will be in italics below.

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Black History in America, land of the free, home of the brave!!

When it all began!

Hello brothers and sisters may peace and joy be with you and yours. My little sister Heather has asked me to make some comments about Black history in the 60’s, 1965 to be exact, or current Black American history, so I felt it would be best to do a timeline, go back to the roots, and summarize different eras of importance, so please follow me as I try to do this in a simple and hopefully informative fashion.

1619 First slave arrives in Virginia
1793 Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin greatly increases the demand for slave labor
1857 The Dred Scott case holds that Congress does not have the right to ban slavery in states and, furthermore, that slaves are not citizens.

What if the cotton gin had never been created? What if the first slaves brought to the US had been weak and fragile, un-trainable, and violent to the point of death? Would more slaves have been brought to replenish and replace them? What if?

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Free at last, free at last, thank you Jesus, free at last!! Hold up! Wait a minute! Not, so fast?

The Civil War was fought and won by the North and Lincoln freed the slaves. Free to do what? Free to prosper and live a fair equal life as all other Americans? Or, free to choose your own poison? Stay in the South, work on a plantation and be treated as a slave, but only making a penny for your back breaking effort; or move to the North to only find out that they don’t like you too much there as well and although you’re bailing hay or picking cotton you’re still a third class citizen gathered in the worst areas and treated like animals. It’s an all new hell for us to adapt to.

1863 President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring “that all persons held as slaves” within the Confederate states “are, and henceforward, shall be free.”

1865 Congress establishes the Freedmen’s Bureau to protect the rights of newly emancipated blacks (March)

•The Civil War ends (April 9)

•Lincoln is assassinated (April 14)

The Ku Klux Klan is formed in Tennessee by ex-Confederates (May)

•Slavery in the United States is effectively ended when 250,000 slaves in Texas finally receive the news that the Civil War had ended two months earlier (June 19)

Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, prohibiting slavery (Dec. 6)

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My vote should count; if only I could read, write, know where to vote, and had candidates that actually represented my interests!

Ok, darky don’t get so high and mighty, yeah so your kind are doing well and moving on up to the big leagues, but the man, still controls it all and don’t forget that, so shut up and get back in your place. This here table is for White folks only! Same as this bus, this school, this neighborhood, this everything, casting your little nigger vote ain’t gone change a damn thing!!

1870 Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, giving blacks the right to vote

Hiram Revels, of Mississippi, is elected the country’s first African-American senator

・During Reconstruction, sixteen blacks served in Congress and about 600 served in states legislatures

1955 Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat at the front of the “colored section” of a bus to a white passenger (Dec.1).

・In response to her arrest, Montgomery’s black community launch a successful year-long bus boycott. Montgomery’s buses are desegregated on Dec. 21, 1956.

It’s time for us to unite and stand up for what we know is right. We see now that to win the battle it has to be a team effort and there has to be a negative economical effect on the white community before the white man will listen to our demands. Power in numbers! If we don’t work together nothing moves. We can do this if we follow our strong and wise leaders into battle. We can and we shall overcome, if not peacefully, then by any means necessary!

Tune in for Part II tomorrow! Thank you for reading! –Heather–

SNCC and BYP 100

Today’s topic will be about two organizations that are nearly 50 years apart in their inception, but have some similarities in their movements and structure.

SNCC (often pronounced “snick”) or the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was a group that emerged from a student meeting at Shaw University led by Ella Baker. The first chairman of the organization was the late Marion Barry who went on to be the Mayor of Washington DC and passed away this past November. Other notable people from Black History served as the chairman of SNCC throughout it’s existence. Those included were John Lewis, Stokely Carmichael, and H. Rap Brown.

The organization was started from an $800 grant from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), but was it’s own organization. James Forman explains in the video below what SNCC wanted to be and achieve.

SNCC was one of the driving forces behind campaigns such as Freedom Summer, the March on Washington, and Voting Rights. During the march from Selma to Montgomery, SNCC was there being led by the current chairman at the time, John Lewis. SNCC members were some of the people jailed, hosed down, trampled, and beaten.

SNCC carried on after the Voting Rights Act was passed, but so many of the members were becoming more disillusioned with the idea that the government would protect their rights to protest and some members started to believe that non-violence was not the answer so the group eventually disbanded in the early 1970s. The last leader of SNCC, Stokely Carmichael, was one of the people that championed the call for Black Power and spoke at a conference at Berkeley in 1966 which helped lead into the Black Panther Party movement.

Jumping forward 45 years I bring you the Black Youth Project, and more specifically BYP100. BYP100 is a grassroots movement being led by incredibly inspirational people like Charlene A. Carruthers. Carruthers, who was born and bred in Chicago, came to be the National Director of BYP100 after she led multiple campaigns with organizations like the Center for Community Change, the Women’s Media Center, ColorOfChange.org and National People’s Action. Basically, she is one of the coolest women ever.

BYP100 itself has stepped out to be one of the organizations that has been leading this movement. It formed in July of 2013 after the Trayvon Martin verdict.

BYP100 is focused on the broad goal of ending the criminalization of Black youth in America. This includes all Black youth whether they are gay, lesbian, straight, trans-gender, cis-gender, bi-sexual, or queer. All. Their mission is as follows:

“We train young Black activists in direct action grassroots organizing skills, so they can build the power we need to transform our communities. We mobilize young Black leaders on issues including ending criminalization and dismantling the prison industrial complex, expanding and securing LGBT and women’s rights. We run campaigns using on the ground and digital tactics towards the goal of ending the criminalization of Black youth, racial profiling and police brutality.”

Their campaigns are being run out of chapters in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Milwaukee, and the Bay Area. They are empowering youth to use their voice, their skills, and their power to protest. They are teaching youth to be the change. And it is incredible to watch.

These two organizations are different, of course, but what strikes me the most is that they are organized and ran by youth and young professionals. Each organization did and is using it’s voice to speak up and show it’s solidarity to the movement and what’s right. Amazing stuff here. Please take a look at the links throughout this post for more information.

Here are a few other links for your reference regarding SNCC:

http://www.crmvet.org/docs/orgsdocs.htm#docssncc
http://www.ibiblio.org/sncc/index.html
http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/sncc
http://zinnedproject.org/materials/sncc/

It’s February! Black History Month 2015 Begins

Hello Everybody!

I wanted to start off this year by telling you thank you, again, for always reading and supporting me. I always genuinely appreciate all your comments, thoughts, and kind words. For those of you that follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Tumblr you have probably seen quite a bit from me during the last half of 2014. I have been reading a lot of different media outlets and struggling with a lot of what is happening back home. It has been an incredibly tough 8 months for me in regards to social justice. That being said, I have never been prouder to an American. Seeing so many people take to the streets to protest injustice and using their social media saavy to engage others in digital townhalls and/or discussions has been an incredible thing to watch. I am lucky to have an incredible support system here in Japan and back home. I couldn’t make it through these struggles without all of you. I would also not be able to stay motivated to work harder and smarter without you all.

I want to take a moment, okay a long moment, to thank some of these people individually before we jump into this year’s focus. In Japan I have had constant support from Jeff Horton and Roberte Foster. I am thankful that you two are with me every step of the way and that we understand each other, truly. These two are always willing to hear me vent and are always willing to vent back. They are also willing to brainstorm and that is crucial. We went to the Tokyo Solidarity March together back in December and it was an incredible experience that I will never forget. It was a great way to feel like we were able to DO something.

I’ve also had some amazing support from my faithful friend Ai. She listens and offers new perspectives. Plus, she’s a fierce friend. Ann Tonpakdeethum, Paul Richards, Jamie Duck, and Brett Hamilton have been amazing. It’s not always easy when we grew up in different countries to see where we are all coming from, but there has never been a time where we make each other feel invalid and that is invaluable. Marvin Dangerfield has become my big brother in every aspect of the word. His life experience gives me a new perspective whenever we speak and sometimes when I get too loud he puts me in my place. Thank you. Katie Martin, through teaching me about feminism, has also given me new tools to discuss systemic racism. I am grateful for always receiving articles from you and lunches where we get to shake our fists at the world. Jarrett Gonzalez, I am thankful for you because we get to laugh at the hypocrisy together and you introduced me to the GREAT Ta-Nehisi Coates. Eternally grateful.

Back home, I would like to thank my parents and my brother for always letting me discuss these things with you. Seriously, it is such a lucky thing that I can discuss stuff that is so important to me with you. It gives me a chance for you to know me more and for me to know you. These discussions aren’t always easy, but I thank you for always listening and telling me what you think. This goes for you too Elaine and Jeff. You too, Uncle P and Aunt Cheech.

Asheley Brown, who is constantly volunteering her incredible skills to make me banners every year and helping me make my blog look more snazzy, thank you. From the bottom of my heart.

Patricia Fitzwater, Staci Robinson, Adam Ragan, Stephanie Thorson, Shaleese Beasley, Asheley Brown (again), Matthew Ferguson, Jeff Williams, and Michael Weeks. You guys are always down to listen. You are always down to talk. I am forever grateful for that and for your constant and INCREDIBLE friendship. Staci and Adam have read over my thoughts before posting countless times and I can’t thank you enough for feedback. Tyler Olson, Frank Ugochukwu, Chris Carr, Lilia Toson, Kimberly Swanner, NaKenya Shumate, Kim Morris, Paul Washington, Lemmie Nelson, and Amber Richards are constantly giving me articles on Facebook (ie I stalk your pages) and inspiring me to do more. Thank you.

Rick Fearnley and Shona Lawley. I have been so appreciative of your listening ears and hearing your thoughts. I have also appreciated your support immensely.

Ben Murray. We have vehemently disagreed about almost everything. Not everything, but close. However, I am thankful for your constant discussion and respect. I think we have been able to facilitate some discussions online that may not have brought some people in before. I thank you for this and look forward to continuing our discussions as time goes by.

I am also thankful for the resources I have accumulated over the last couple years. Whether it is Eunique Jones-Gibson and her amazing Because of Them, We Can campaign or Luuvie Ajayi and her humor blog that is also insightful or the BYP 100 and their incredible non-stop organizing or Urban Cusp and their amazing online campaigns like #NotOneDime or #BlackOutBlackFriday. Thank you for constantly feeding me with new information and thoughts.

Okay, so that’s enough thanking. 🙂 It’s getting too mushy over here. Lol.

Here is what we are doing this year! Since this year is the 50th Anniversary of the Selma march, the Malcolm X assassination, and the Voting Rights Act I thought it may be a good idea to reflect on 1965. I would also like to reflect on how what happened 50 years ago is effecting today, but also how they are similar. I will have some guest writers this year so please be on the lookout for them.

Thank you again, and Happy February 1st!

Hugs and Love,

Heather

Misunderstanding and Feelings

There is a lot of misunderstanding going around right now. People that feel that Darren Wilson was in his right to shoot Mike Brown don’t understand why people aren’t trusting the system. People that feel that Mike Brown was murdered by Darren Wilson don’t understand why people can’t understand that Black America is still living under a system of oppression that is constantly to its disadvantage.

Then we got feelings. People are outraged, angry, sad, frustrated, distraught, depressed, and scared. These feelings are being felt on both sides of the issue. Police officers are in fear because they either haven’t had proper training or they are in fear of what the civilian they are encountering is going to do. Black Americans are in fear because they are in fear of dying. Literally. Outrage is being felt due to some looting and rioting going on; people who are outraged about this aren’t seeing the bigger picture. Yes, it isn’t good. Yes, it is not exactly helpful. Yes, it damages property. Outrage is also being felt because Black Americans are dying. Literally.

Luvvie Ayaji (if you don’t know her, I recommend you get on this bandwagon) broke it down best when she said “Those people who are rioting in Ferguson? Well, I can’t say I blame them. Because anger can be so palpable that it gurgles up your throat and makes your flesh break out in hives. We rage because feeling powerless makes you want to burn something to the ground.” It may not be the most productive way to deal with anger, but it makes sense. It doesn’t mean that anyone is condoning it. But, Black Americans are dying. Literally.

I have spoken with a lot of folks over the last 10 days and I can say that I haven’t always agreed with people. Some folks feel me so much that we sit together in frustration. I have weeped, my friends have cried. This shit has just got real for mainstream America. But this shit has been real for Black Americans since they came over shackled head to toe on a slave ship. Because we’ve been killing Black Americans since they stepped foot onto this country we call the USA. Before we even became the USA.

I have enjoyed talking with others and I hope they have enjoyed talking with me. I know that these conversations can be difficult, but know that they are beneficial to all of us. The most important thing to remember is to discuss the issues with people, ask questions, and be kind. We may get angry, but we can’t get personal. We can tell stories and we can give anecdotes, but if we attack each other individually we are never going to get anywhere. Remembering our common humanity when having these discussions is imperative.

This all being said, I will continue to rage and I hope you will rage with me. If you are looking for some resources to understand people’s perspective please see below.

Websites:
Colorlines: http://colorlines.com/
BYP100: http://byp100.org/
The Root: http://www.theroot.com/
The Nation: http://www.thenation.com/
Urban Cusp: http://www.urbancusp.com/
Salon: http://www.salon.com/
The Grio: http://thegrio.com/
TakePart: http://www.takepart.com/
Slate: http://www.slate.com/

Essays:
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh
Letter from a Birmingham Jail by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Books:
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America by Tanner Colby

People:
W.E.B. Du Bois: http://www.webdubois.org/
James Baldwin: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Baldwin
Tim Wise: http://www.timwise.org/
Ta-Nehisi Coates: http://www.theatlantic.com/ta-nehisi-coates/
Melissa Harris-Perry: http://www.msnbc.com/melissa-harris-perry
AwesomelyLuvvie: http://www.awesomelyluvvie.com/
MochaMomma: http://www.kellywickham.com/mochamomma
W.Kamau Bell: http://www.wkamaubell.com/

Reflections on Ferguson, Michael Brown, and the Larger Problem

Outrage. Fear. Anger. Can I be surprised it happened again? Can I be surprised that it will continue to happen? Probably not. Can I still be enraged when these things happen? Yes. And I always will.

Michael Brown, from what I’ve been reading, has been gunned down by a police officer. And he was an unarmed teenager. Plus, he had his hands up in surrender. People are angry and it is all rightfully so.

This is something that is not new. From what I have read there is a black person killed by police, security guards, or vigilantes every 28 hours in America. Every. 28. Hours. Let that sink in.

Sometimes I struggle with what to say and how to feel. I float between heartache and anger regularly. It makes me physically ill when I think about it and then I get angry at myself because I live so far away from home. I feel helpless.

The most I can physically do is sit at my computer and read through horror story after horror story of what is escalating to a fever pitch in the heart of America. And this isn’t even the only person who has been killed by police in the last 2 months. Three other folks whose names should be on our tongues are Eric Garner, Ezell Ford, and John Crawford III. Dead. Unarmed. Life snuffed out by an officer of the law.

I am not blaming cops for everything. I feel that this is systemic and it is something that is poked and prodded by the top. By history. By fear. By expectation. Police officers are given weapons to control others. This instills fear. This instills distrust. It is said that we are to feel safer because of this. So, do I think that cops are 100% at fault? No. Do I think that cops are poked and prodded to believe this image of the system that was created? Absolutely. Do some individual cops suck at life? Yes. Are cops probably scared as well when they get in these situations? I would bet highly on it. So, I think we need to step back our weapons because by making them available in the first place they become an option.

Japanese police officers carry night sticks and I feel safer in Japan than I have ever felt at home. I am not afraid to walk alone at night. I am not afraid that I could possibly be shot in the street. But I know that at home I always make sure I am aware of everything around me and I don’t walk far at night alone. And I am white. So, my problems are at the bottom end of the spectrum. I can’t even begin to comprehend what real fear must be like.

When I was young I never thought about race. My parents never discussed it and even in school I didn’t understand what this concept was. I definitely didn’t think about what advantages I had because I was white. I went to college as a naïve 18 year old. I had no idea. So, I started listening and observing. Systemic racism is real. Racial profiling is real. White privilege is real. I’ve seen it in action and I’ve heard stories from friends about it. I’ve even experienced a few (although tiny) things myself. And yet, white America is blind to it. Due to white privilege we can act like it doesn’t exist and for the most part it really doesn’t exist for white folks. Our lives will continue to go on. We won’t need to feel fear that our children may not return home at the end of a day. We won’t have to worry about the possibility that we didn’t get a job due to our race, but solely due to our qualifications. We won’t need to question the motives behind being pulled over by a police officer. Hell, we don’t even need to worry about tear gas attacks happening in our neighborhood because the police won’t be gunning down children in our neighborhood. Why do I use we? Because no matter how much I read, discuss, or act I am still white and I am still part of the collective privilege recipients.

I truly believed in the “Yes We Can” mentality back in 2008 and truly believed we were moving towards a new beginning. Who knew this new beginning would start ripping the band aid off of the so-called forwardness of our nation? We are at a crossroads. Are we going to finally sit down and discuss what the real issues are or are we going to continue brushing things under the rug by calling them “isolated incidents”? We have never atoned for our past and by doing so have created this environment where folks feel that things are bright and shiny and beautiful. It could also be that we’ve created suburbs to re-segregate the nation so we don’t have to interact with black folks which in turn makes us believe these problems are not real. We consciously segregate ourselves to make it look like a black on black problem. How wrong we are. As Americans this falls into collective responsibility. We need to man up and deal with it.

Michael Brown, I hope that your unjustified and untimely death can become a beacon of light for our future. For your sake and your family’s. Rest in Peace. #DontShoot #HandsUp

Black History Month 2014 – Quinci Moody : Leaning In & Spreading The Gospel

Quinci Moody. I was lucky enough to meet her through her equally amazing younger brother, James, who has been one of my closest friends since he took the East High Jazz Band by storm in the fall of 1999. Quinci is one of the nicest, strongest people I’ve ever met and she’s always supported my blog initiative. So, you can imagine that I am more than excited to be featuring Quinci and the amazing work she is doing.

Quinci is a senior director at a nonprofit, an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, and most proudly, a Woman of God. Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and raised in Washington, D.C., she is a graduate of Florida A&M University with a degree in English and minors in Business Management and Secondary Education. She then went on to graduate with a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from American University in 2005. She is currently in the process of completing yet another degree from the Spirit of Faith Bible Institute. All that right there is enough to make one go “WOW”, but we’re just getting started.

Quinci’s passion for doing good came early on in her career. While pursuing her graduate studies, Quinci performed research and analysis for the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Women’s Rights Department with a specific focus on how public policy regarding the federal budget, social security, and Medicaid affects working women. Simultaneously, she served as Management Specialist for Center for Minority Studies, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing the health literacy of underserved populations. While at Center for Minority Studies, Quinci launched her career in organizational development and capacity building by creating and implementing successful fundraising, human resources, and board development infrastructures for the upstart organization.

After graduate school, Quinci continued to strengthen organizations through her role as Program Associate at Fair Chance, an organization that provides nonprofit leaders with tools and knowledge they need to thrive. Her desire to provide more direct service to her community led Quinci to accept a position as Director of Programs and Evaluation at FLY (Facilitating Leadership in Youth), which helps Washington, DC youth achieve their educational goals while promoting leadership development and arts enrichment.

Today, Quinci is Director of Operations at The Fishing School, a nonprofit that provides year-round out-of-school-time academic and enrichment programs for Washington, DC youth and the families.

I know that by now you are probably thinking that Quinci is one of the most motivated individuals you’ve ever heard about, and you’re right. On top of all of this amazing work that she does to build people up and provide them with tools for success she is also the co-founder of virtuositee™, a clothing company and ministry hybrid that spreads the gospel of Christ through apparel that lets people know that being saved in Christ Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. The company’s mission is to ignite dialogue about Christianity with products that marry faith and fashion – what they like to call “wearing your faith.” Quinci is clear about why she and her partners founded virtuositee. She says, “Christianity isn’t a religion. It’s a lifestyle. Being Christian means, LIVING the Word, not just claiming it. And that’s what the virtuositee brand is all about.”

If you are interested in learning more about virtuositee™ and the ladies that founded it please check out this radio program below or log onto www.myvtee.com.

Discover Youth Internet Radio with Teen Talk Radio Show on BlogTalkRadio

Thank you, Quinci, for inspiring others and continuing to do amazing things.

Black History Month 2014 – Yasmine Arrington

“The tassle is worth the hassle!” – Yasmine Arrington, founder of ScholarCHIPS

I found out about this lovely woman when I was researching the organization Black Girls Rock, Inc. She was featured as one of the M.A.D. Girls during the 2012 awards show. (See the video link here.) M.A.D. stands for `Making a Difference` and this phrase could not be more true for this wonderful individual. She and I have emailed back and forth less than 10 times and her spirit, joy, and overall awesomeness have blown me away. I can’t wait to actually get to know her so I can be transformed for the better. This is her story.

Yasmine Alexandra Arrington was born and raised in Washington, DC. She is currently a junior Strategic Communications and History double-major at Elon University in North Carolina. At Elon, Arrington sings and serves in the Elon University Gospel Choir, as president of Potter’s Poets, a radio personality on WSOE 89.3, and is an Elon Arts & Sciences College Fellow conducting independent research on “The Effects of Parental Incarceration on the Educational Outcomes of their Offspring in Washington, DC from 1970 to 1990.” She is also a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Their principles are Scholarship, Service, Sisterly Love, and Finer Womanhood.

Having been the child of a previously incarcerated parent, in 2010, Arrington founded the non-profit ScholarCHIPS to provide college scholarships and mentoring for graduating high school seniors of parents in prison, pursuing a higher education. To date, ScholarCHIPS has awarded over $19,000 in college scholarships.

If Yasmine’s personal story doesn’t resonate with you for the inspiration of this budding non-profit organization please take a look at this quote from Johnston, D. * “The Care and Placement of Prisoners’ Children”.

“An estimated 200,000 children in this country have an imprisoned mother and more than 1.6 million have an imprisoned father. With the nation’s incarcerated population growing by an average of 6.5% each year, the number of children with parents in prison will likely continue to increase. Parental incarceration — and the crimes and arrests that precede it — causes chaos in the lives of these children, including traumatic separations and erratic shifts from one caregiver to another. Most children with incarcerated parents live in poverty before, during, and after their parents’ incarceration.”

These facts coupled with Yasmine’s personal experiences as a child of an incarcerated parent are the reasons why ScholarCHIPS exists and the reason why we all have a stake in the success of the children of incarcerated parents. Yasmine is just finding her way to give back and help other young people achieve the dreams they have set for themselves.

Arrington’s latest projects are her blog entitled, “Young, Black, and Beautiful…In College,” and her YouTube channel “YazzieSpeaks the Truth,” both in which she examines the realities of being a black female attending a predominantly White institution, aims to excite Black youth about the vast possibilities of a collegiate experience, and gives her clean, humorous commentary on real life events. In addition, Arrington is a poet, motivational speaker, and plus size model. She aspires to be a Broadcast Journalist and TV show host; two occupations that will allow and empower her to inform the community about social injustices, recognize entrepreneurial businesses, and highlight positive changes taking place.

Check out Yasmine being featured in Essence Magazine, Empower Magazine, Teen Vogue, and the Washington Post.

This is just the beginning of Yasmine’s story and I CANNOT wait to see how bright her star shines.