Stand Your Ground Only If You’re White?

So, Marissa Alexander still faces 60 years in prison for shooting a warning shot into the air to ward off her abusive husband.

Meanwhile, while she is awaiting a new trial, George Zimmerman is walking free. Alexander faces three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Prosecutor Angela Corey, who failed to gain convictions in the Zimmerman case and, for all intents and purposes, in the case of Jordan Davis, is going for blood.

Both Alexander and Zimmerman  “stood their ground.” Zimmerman is free. Alexander may wind up in prison for a long, long time.

Where is the justice? Put another way, “where is justice, period, for black, brown and poor people?”

The historical narrative for black people being incarcerated, or, even worse, just being denied justice, is sad. One in three black males, reports say, can expect to be incarcerated in their lifetime. http://http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/04/racial-disparities-criminal-justice_n_4045144.html.

Black people are still objects, deserving of the bad things that come their way, seems to be the prevailing attitude. Marissa Alexander is not a frightened woman, a mother tired of being beaten by a crazed man. She is an object who shouldn’t have fired a gun. Prosecutor Corey doesn’t see her as a woman in distress, but, rather, an object which she can use to bolster her conviction record. Prosecutors are famous for going not for justice …but for convictions….because they are elected and need to be seen as “tough on crime.”

Their lack of willingness to seek justice for black, brown and poor people …and for women …is a crime in and of itself.

Hopefully, there will be a ground-swell of support for Marissa, although the justice system doesn’t often listen to or respect ground-swell when it comes to people accused of crimes. Nor does the justice system move quickly to admit mistakes it makes in order to free people who have been wrongly accused, convicted and incarcerated. People sit in prisons for years while the justice system lulls over new evidence that it very often disregards and deems insufficient.

Marissa Alexander’s attorneys sought to get her a new “stand your ground” hearing, based on revision of the controversial law which is used in at least 26 states. The judge ruled it didn’t prevail in her case. She, a black woman, who shot nobody, is facing up to 60 years in prison for firing a warning shot in the air to scare off her abusive husband. George Zimmerman, a white man (though some say he is not) is walking free, and Michael Dunn, who murdered Jordan Davis, would have been free had he not tried to kill three other black youths.

The man who shot Renisha McBride, Theodore Wafer, is on trial now. I am holding my breath, hoping to God he is convicted, but not all that optimistic about that hope becoming a reality.

It’s the dehumanization of black people, which began at the dawn of the creation of this country, which has aided prejudice, bigotry and been the basis and justification for the type of injustice black, brown and poor people have gotten in the courts.

Justice, it seems, is evasive if you don’t have the right skin color.

A candid observation …

 

 

Palestinians Deserve Help from the World

It was last week that my blood began to boil at what is going on in Gaza.

The news report said that Israelis had dropped leaflets into Gaza, warning them that they were going to attack and telling them that they should leave their homes.

Leave their homes? Where are they supposed to go?

I went to a place of recollection on how, in this country, minorities, most often blacks, have been displaced over the years because some project is going to be developed in their neighborhood. The message has been, “move.” The question has always been, “move to where?”

According to reports, the mortality rate of Palestinians is rising at a horribly rapid rate on a daily basis. Israel says the deaths are regrettable but that it is necessary because Hamas will not stop firing missiles into Israel…and that Israel has a right to defend itself. Israel further says that while Israel values human life, Hamas doesn’t, as evidenced by its non-regard for Palestinians. If they cared about their people, Israel says, they would stop firing missiles into Israel.

Both Palestinians and Jews say that Hamas is NOT good for Palestinian, but that being said, there is still no justification for this mass killing of innocent Palestinians.  A report issued by the United Nations in 2012 said that the population in Palestine is “increasingly desperate.” Housing is horrid; the unemployment rate is about 40 percent; that rate amongst young people rises to 60 percent; there is a rising suicide rate. The population is booming, but the infrastructure is crumbling …and though Israel is in control of much of what happens in Palestine, Israel reportedly offers little help. Israel stops most exports from Palestine to the Israel and the West Bank …and by extension, to the world, and Israel controls what can be imported.

From what is described, the people in Palestine live much like blacks in South Africa live, in shantytowns, with little regard for their lives or livelihood. As is the case with most cases of oppression, the Palestinians have been dehumanized by the Empire. When Secretary of State John Kerry said that what is going on in Gaza could turn Israel into an apartheid state,, he was quickly criticized and pulled back his comment …but it seems true. http://http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/04/27/exclusive-kerry-warns-israel-could-become-an-apartheid-state.html The only way an oppressor can carry out cruel, unfair and unjust policies is to see people not as people but as objects. Surely that is what seems to be the case in Gaza. http://http://www.nationmultimedia.com/opinion/Gaza-carnage–the-living-cartoon-of-the-war-in-the-30239275.html

If anyone dares say that what Israel is doing, he/she/it is labeled anti-Semitic. It’s the same old game oppressors have used for decades. Back in the Civil Rights struggle days, if a white person helped a black, spoke up and spoke out about racism and white supremacy, or challenged laws that were clearly unjust for black people, he or she was called a “nigger lover,” and was threatened by the Empire (white power structure) with being fired or worse. Empires are bullies by nature and rule by and with fear.

The world, it seems, has been afraid to speak up and out about what Israel is doing to innocent Palestinians. I daresay that few people know what is going on in Gaza, and what life is like for Palestinians. Nobody wants to be labeled anti-Semitic…and to speak up about what is going on is not anti-Semitic. That’s what we don’t understand. To speak up is NOT to speak against Jews but to speak up for justice for “the least of these.”

I am still stuck on the pictures of the Palestinian families leaving their homes…going to…where? I see, in my mind’s eye, people of New Orleans being forced out of their homes by Hurricane Katrina…going ..where?

What is equally as troubling about all of this is that we the public don’t really know what’s going on. News reporting is not objective, especially on controversial issues. The object of the Empire, whatever that Empire is (United States, Israel, Japan…) is to maintain power.  The media, unfortunately, too often seems to want to please the Empire and not report the truth. To do so means that journalists risk losing their jobs…and we all have to eat. It’s the same fear that runs rampant amongst the populace. Those in power will do whatever they need to do to maintain power. Truth, then, suffers. It is ignored and not reported, and “the least of these” suffer.

Racism and injustice don’t go away by ignoring them.  We have to face them…so we can fix them. Just as we need to face racism and white supremacy in America and what those issues are still doing to our country, we need to find out and face what is going on in Israel. Ella Baker, an icon in the Civil Rights movement, said it best: “We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.”

Clearly, there is no freedom or dignity for the Palestinian people, which means that we “who believe in freedom” need to speak up and out on their behalf. No oppressed group attains freedom without help from others. A friend of mine said that a person cannot call him or herself an advocate for justice and be concerned only for his or her own situation. Until all of us are free, none of us are free …

A candid observation …

Why Doesn’t Donald Trump Take Out Another Full Page Ad?

By now, the news of the $40 million settlement from the city of New York being given to the Central Park 5 is old news.  The five men, all black and Latino, who were teens at the time of the rape of the jogger,  were accused, convicted and thrown into prison despite their claims of innocence. They were completely exonerated after the real rapist confessed and his DNA was the only DNA found on the victim and are out of prison, but one can only wonder what their lives have been like since being released…and what their lives will be like as they move forward. Some will never accept the fact that these men were/are innocent,  in spite of the confession of the real rapist.

Which brings me to the issue I’ve been struggling with for a while. When the boys, who were accused of “wilding”  were arrested, the city of New York and indeed, the entire nation was outraged. That these black and Latino men would be so primitive, so savage, was insulting to the conscience of the nation, it seemed. Donald Trump took out a full-page ad in a New York newspaper and wondered out loud, in print, where the death penalty was.

That the rape was troubling is understandable; that it was so brutal is disturbing…but what is troubling is that the nation is not as incensed at the wrong done to these young men as it was at the thought that they had raped that unfortunate woman.  The Ken Burns documentary, “The Central Park 5,” showed a rape of a different sort: the rape of innocent young black and Latino men, forced into making confessions, and then being railroaded through a trial and thrown into prison with little effort to hear them, believe them…and look for the real rapist. (http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/centralparkfive/)

Black, brown and poor people have been “raped” by the justice system in this nation since the beginning of our existence. In spite of touting the fact that the United States has the greatest justice system in the world, the fact is that when it has come to black, brown and poor people, justice has seldom worked. In the case of black people, the race card has been played as a matter of course. A black person accused of any crime has been presumed to be guilty even going into a trial; a black person accused of talking to, accosting or threatening a white woman has been decided to be guilty and the courts have refused to exonerate them even when it is clear white women have lied about their supposed experiences too many times.  In many cases, the justice system and white community have colluded and brought not justice, but horrific injustice to innocent black people. I just finished Fire in the Canebrake by Laura Wexler, the story of the “worst mass lynching” in the history of our nation. Four people, two black men and two black women, were lynched…and their families never got justice. In Gilbert King’s book, Devil in the Grove,  justice for four black men, falsely accused of raping a 17-year-old white girl, was elusive; they were all headed for the electric chair in spite of evidence that they had not raped the girl and in spite of heroic efforts of then-attorney Thurgood Marshall and his team to free them. The “justice system” was bound and determined that “outsiders,” in both these cases, would not bully them into doing things differently than they had always done. The “nigras” were deemed to be unworthy of justice, and so they got little.

I couldn’t help but think of those stories, and the story of what happened with Trayvon Martin and Kendrick Johnson and so many other young black people who have gotten in trouble with the law and are either still in prison for crimes they have not done or have been executed already. This nation has not owned up to its troubled record of dishing out injustice to black people, especially, but to brown and poor people as well.  Rather than admitting that America still has a problem seeing black people as human beings and not objects, America continues to insist that nothing is wrong. But something very definitely is.

If we go back to the Central Park 5, it would have been nice to see Donald Trump take out another full-page ad, this one apologizing for what he had pronounced when the boys were arrested and for proclaiming their guilt. Instead, he sought to justify his stance and said something to the effect that they were “not innocents.” He said that the settlement was a disgrace and that it was the “heist of the century.”  (http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/central-park-dad-40m-settlement-article-1.1837710)

There was no grace from him, only his typical rich-boy white arrogance.

There are black, brown and poor families throughout this nation that are looking for, needing, justice and will never get it. The nation is not committed to giving justice to all people; prosecutors are, for the most part, more interested in obtaining victories than in obtaining justice.

America’s disease of white supremacy and its attendant racism is terminal. A nation cannot thrive if it ultimately denies justice so regularly and systemically to a group of people – people who, by the way, work for this nation, have helped defend this nation, and pay taxes in this nation.

What happens to a dream deferred, asked poet Langston Hughes?

Why does the caged bird sing, asked the late Maya Angelou?

And what happens if America continues to ignore those questions, and more?

A whole group of people is crying, but the nation seems not to care.

A candid observation …

Lynching as a Biblical Practice

Sometimes, things hit like a ton of bricks.

I have been reading about lynching in these United States. I just finished a magnificent book, Devil in the Grove, by Gilbert King and am currently reading Fire in a Canebrake: The Last Mass Lynching in America by Laura Wexler. The fact that such brutal murders occurred, with the consent, basically, of the government, is at once troubling and insulting. The government which was created to protect the rights of the people turns out to have been disingenuous in its founding creeds; this government only wanted to protect the rights of some of the people, and in fact either contributed, turned a blind eye or both, to the plight of those who were not white, male landowners. In the case of lynching, those most affected by the crime and ignored by the government were black people.

By the way, the definition of lynching is: to  kill someone, especially by hanging, for an alleged offense with or without a legal trial.

Lynching was a form of domestic terrorism. After what can only be called “mock trials,”  black people were lynched and often left hanging for a while (if they were hung; not all lynching involves being hung) to let other people see what happened to those who “got out of their lanes,” so to speak. Black people were supposed to know their place and if they crossed a line – which was forever changing, it seems – they could get legally killed and those who killed them could and would walk free.

George Zimmerman walked free. Michael Dunn was not convicted of lynching Jordan Davis …

Well, imagine how it hit me when, as I am reading Radical Reconciliation: Beyond Political Pietism and Christian Quietism I recognized what can only be said to be lynching. Crucifixion …was lynching. Jesus the Christ …was lynched. He was perhaps the most famous person ever lynched…and he was lynched by political and religious institutions which felt threatened by his presence and his work.

Lynching – modern-day or the lynching that took place in Jesus’ time – is a tool of control used by governments and organizations to maintain control. According to Allan Boesak and Curtiss Paul DeYoung, ancient lynching – which for purposes of this essay includes  crucifixion –  was used by the Roman Empire to “enforce and maintain domination of subject peoples. In the everyday working of an empire, the effort to maintain control was done by economic oppression, military might and ideological belief systems. DeYoung and Boesak say that “crucifixion was used to terrorize subject peoples; it was a “constant symbol of Roman rule, as thousands of Judeans were executed on crosses.” (loc. 275 of 3581, Kindle edition).

They were not only crucified but according to Biblical scholar Richard Horsley: “Many of the victims were never buried  but simply left on the crosses as carrion for wild beasts and beasts of prey. As with other forms of terrorism, crucifixions were displayed in prominent places for their ‘demonstration effect’ on the rest of the population…Seeing their relatives, friends and other fellow villagers suffering such agonizing death would presumably intimidate the surviving populace into acquiescence in the re-established Roman imperial order.” (loc. 288 of 3581, Kindle edition)

Jesus was not part of the “in crowd.” In fact, he was raised by a single mother. He was a Jew, and he, as a Jew, was treated much like blacks and browns are treated in the United States, and if what I have read is true, how Palestinians are treated in Israel. Colonized people back then were treated as second-class citizens, as, clearly, blacks have been treated in the United States. Jesus had no intrinsic value to the Empire; he, as a colonized Jew had no standing, but his message was threatening to the Roman power base, as threatening as it was to the religious power base. Thus, church and state banded together and crucified him. Lynched him. And they all got away with it.

As I am reading the accounts of lynching in our American history, I am seeing the same tendency to use these legal murders as a “warning” to black people (and anyone who would help them) to stay in line. Often, lynched bodies would be left hanging as people came by and cut off appendages and genitals, and the bones of lynched people would line the banks of rivers where their bodies had lain after being murdered – to leave a message to anyone in the vicinity.  In Fire in a Canebrake, the author describes the lynching of four black people in an attack which was fully sanctioned by the local government. They were killed at Moore’s Ford Bridge in Georgia, and one of the four people killed had stabbed a white man. He lived, but to stab a white man was an attack against the white supremacist system. The stabber had to be taught a lesson; the people with him happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and had to be sacrificed as well. The state participated in and often initiated lynching; the church often ignored and supported lynching. As in Jesus’ time, church and state united for the common goal: to protect the empire.

What is painfully clear is that the lynching model was described and carried out in the Bible – hence, my calling lynching a Biblical practice. While I have not heard anyone say that, the parallels are clear. I don’t guess anyone would dare say out loud that Jesus was lynched, or dare justify lynching because it was done in the Bible, but I would bet someone HAS said it.

Jesus, our beloved savior, was a colonized Jew, raised by a single mother, was a convicted felon who was arrested on trumped up charges and was sentenced to death via crucifixion. He was lynched.

Oh, my goodness.

That IS a candid observation…

 

 

 

Maya, Vincent …Gone too Soon

Sometimes, when someone dies, you want to wake them up.

I have felt that when loved ones have died, or when certain public figures have passed on.

I felt it this week with the death of Maya Angelou and last week when I learned Vincent Harding had died.

Wake up, please?

I met Maya Angelou years ago, when I was in college. She had come to Occidental College for some special event, (I don’t remember which) and I sat, spellbound. I think it was her voice; it reminded me of what brown velvet looks like, or like molasses being spread over a piece of bread. The words she had written were powerful, true enough, but it was her voice that caught me. After the event, I talked with her and showed her some of my poetry. I remember she told me, “My dear child, you are a writer …and you must always  write. Every day…you must write…”

Her spirit was cemented in mine from that moment on,

Her life story, her poetry fascinated me, but her spirit captivated me.

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may tread me in the very dirt,

But still, like dust, I’ll rise …

She had risen, surely. I carried that poem in my heart, as sure as I carried the spirit of my own mother in my heart.

And so when she died, something jostled loose within me…and I wanted to ask her, whisper to her, “Wake up. Please, wake up!”

Vincent Harding I only met recently. I had read only one of his books, There is a River, and had only recently learned that he had written Rev. Martin Luther King’s famous sermon, “A Time to Break Silence.” He wrote that most piercing observation in that speech: “There is a time when to be silent is betrayal…”  What struck me upon meeting Vincent was his gentleness. He had a quiet voice; it didn’t remind me one bit of velvet or molasses, but his spirit was palpably gentle. He said that he had been loved into living; his spirit supported that claim.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast…it is not proud. It does not dishonor others. It is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs….

I want to ask him, politely, to please wake up. People were not ready for him or Maya  to leave, not yet.

These two veteran Civil Rights icons have contributed breath to the lives of so many people. They lived through some of the ugliest episodes of racial cruelty this country has ever experienced, and came through it not only standing, but helping others to get through it and understand it by the words they wrote. They believed in the “beloved community” and worked to spread that good news. As Ruby Sales said, who knew Harding intimately and whom he called “daughter,” Harding and those who worked in the movement brought down an entire (racist system) without ever having fired a single weapon.

They did it with love and with their faithfulness to the gift they both had, that of writing.

It is sad that, now, two of our Civil Rights heroes have “gone home to be with the Lord.” It seems like we who are alive need to talk to those who are yet alive, cherish them, tell their stories, give them homage for what they did for all of us. It seems like we need to at least gather the children, and get those who faced dogs and fire hoses …to come talk…to the children…and tell them the stories before they, too, lay down to rest, their voices never to be heard again.

Do you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops

Weakened by my soulful cries?

You may shoot me with your words

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness

But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Maya, Vincent …may you please wake up?

You left us far too soon…

A candid observation …

What is a Racist?

Donald Sterling swears in interviews that he is not a racist.

His estranged wife says the same, as does the young woman who was heard talking with him in those now infamous tapes where Sterling said he didn’t want her to bring blacks to “his” basketball games, among other things.

He said in an interview with Anderson Cooper that he made a mistake, that it was the first time in 35 years he’d said such things.

Why does that sound like a crock?

Everyone knows by now that Sterling refused to rent property to black and brown Americans, saying disparaging things about them. He said that Hispanics “smoke, drink and just hang around the property,” and that blacks “smell and attract vermin.” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/05/12/donald-sterling-apologizes-for-racist-comments-blames-woman-for-baiting-him/?tid=hp_mm)

What is amazing is that Sterling and others say Sterling is not a racist. If that is the case, what is a racist? Is everyone who says racist things racist, or are they just ignorant, insensitive and bigoted?

A definition of  bigotry is ” intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself.”  Another definition of a bigot is one who is stubbornly intolerant against any belief that is different from his (her) own.

Racism, though, goes a little deeper. A definition of racism says that racism is the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. That definition also says that racism is prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior. (https://www.google.com/search?q=definition+of+racism&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=sb)

In other words, racism includes the belief that one race is superior to another …and a racist has the power to discriminate against a group or individual in a way that exercises power over that group or person. Racism includes the belief that one race is supreme…and that it has the right to oppress another group or individual based on the belief in that supremacy.

Can we say that we are all bigots on some level? Probably. But racism implies systemically provided and sanctioned power to oppress another group of people. From the beginning of this nation, even in the writing of our Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution, racism has been a bedfellow.

If Sterling isn’t a racist, I don’t know what a racist is. Kareem Abdul Jabbar said last week that more people believe in ghosts than believe in racism. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/04/kareem-abdul-jabbar_n_5263235.html) White people don’t want to “own up” to the fact that racist exists, that it is an American problem which goes largely unchecked and ignored. Americans seem to want to wish racism away. It is too ugly to face…

And yet it exists.

Donald Sterling is a racist. He believes in the supremacy of the white race, and he has the economic means and power to keep other races “in their place.”

He’s not the only one. He’s just one who got caught.

A candid observation …

 

 

Looking for Justice…Still

I grieve over what has happened to the nearly 300 Nigerian girls who have been kidnapped and possibly sold. That such a heinous act could happen today is sickening.

But so is the fact that a 93-year-old woman was allegedly shot and killed by a young, white police officer in Hearne, Texas. http://nydn.us/1npJbvX

Nobody is talking about it.

It is as though the Nigerian girls’ plight is almost an excuse NOT to talk about the heinous things that go on in this nation …still.

Pearlie Golden is dead. She had a gun and she was wielding it, relatives said. She was apparently mad because she wanted the keys to the car and nobody would give them to her.

So, they called police on her, and the police, of course, came. They told her to put her gun down, three times. When she didn’t, they shot her. She died a short time later at the hospital. (http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/07/us/texas-police-shoot-elderly-woman-93/index.html?iref=allsearch)

Neighbors and family called her “Ms. Sully,” and they said she was nice…

Nice or maybe not-so-nice, she is dead, allegedly shot by a young, white cop, who is now on paid administrative leave while the police department “investigates.”

Over and over, we hear these stories, and so few of them get the attention they deserve. Yes, it’s horrendous that the elderly man in Georgia was murdered and decapitated and nobody can find his wife. That is horrible.

And yes, it’s horrible that those Nigerian girls are gone and it took what seems forever for the American press to cover it.

It is horrible that the brand of rabid racism of Donald Sterling still exists.

But it is equally as horrible that police can still kill people,  some unarmed, some not, but too often in questionable circumstances, and the media ignores it or denigrates its significance in this nation.

As the Gordon G. Cosby Fellow for the SpiritHouse Project in Atlanta, GA, I have listened to and studied stories about people shot and killed by police. The families are left to grapple with their pain at the loss of their loved one and their anger that so often, there is no justice to be had.

In the case of Jack Lamar Roberson, shot and killed in Georgia, relatives called EMS for help because he was apparently out of control. He reportedly had a knife in his hand, a table or case knife, they said. He supposedly had taken an overdose of diabetic medicine. His mother didn’t want police; she said that specifically on the 911 call, and neither did his girlfriend. They wanted help. They wanted someone to take him to the hospital …or something.

EMS didn’t come. Police did. They rolled right on up to his house and entered. Within second (literally; I heard the tape), police opened fire on Roberson. A number of shots were fired; in the crime scene photos, I counted five shots in his back. There were also shots in his wrists; it looked like, from the way his wrists were injured, that he had his hands up in a defensive position. And oh yes …there was a shot in his head.

The news reports indicated that he was so out of control that a refrigerator had been knocked over …but again, I saw the photos of the crime scene. The refrigerator was upright, contents intact.

So, what? Why aren’t these stories getting media attention, and why can’t the families of these victims get help in order to get justice?

The family of “Ms. Sully” joins the group of families who have been assaulted by police officers…If history bears out, they will not get justice …meaning the officer who is accused of shooting her will probably be cleared. It’ll be said that the shooting, the killing, was “justifiable.”

That just blows me away…

It happens way too often, and we just won’t deal with it…

A candid observation …

 

 

Ms. Sully Didn’t Have to Die

So, let me understand this.

Police in Hearne, Texas, were called to a residence where a 93-year-old woman was supposedly wielding a gun.

Her name was Pearlie Golden…and she had lived in Hearne for mpst of her life.

And oh yes…she was a black woman, shot by a white police officer.

Police got to her residence and told her “at least three times” to put down her firearm. Apparently, she didn’t, and so police opened fire on her, hitting her multiple times. (http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/07/us/texas-police-shoot-elderly-woman-93/index.html?hpt=hp_t2).

She was transported to a local hospital, where she later died.

I am trying to understand, to make sense out of this, but for the life of me, I cannot.

Why in the world…would a police officer shoot to kill a 93-year-old woman?

“Miss Sully,” as her community and relatives called her, was angry supposedly because one of her relatives had taken car keys from her. She wanted to drive; her relative didn’t think it was wise, and so took the keys.

That happens a lot, I hear, as people age; they get angry as those who love them take away their independence bit by bit, for their own good. Ms. Sully wasn’t a criminal. She was an old woman who wanted to drive her car.

The officer who allegedly fired the fatal shots has been put on “administrative leave.” That’s normal police procedure …and far too often, “the facts” found out by police investigators rule that the homicide was “justifiable” and the officer is given back his/her gun and goes right back out to the streets.

Just this week, the country, no, the world, was outraged as the words of L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling were played over and over. His racist remarks were “shocking,” people said, but I doubt it.

What was shocking is that he was exposed publicly. He was an embarrassment. People all over the world are racist; they like their racism kept under wraps, though.

Would that police officers in this nation, who shoot first and ask questions later would be so exposed as was Mr. Sterling and be embarrassed or that police departments would get uncomfortable or embarrassed enough to do something. Would that the community called America would stand up and say, out loud, to police, that they have to stop these modern-day lynchings.

“Ms. Sully’s” death is an outrage, and the fact that police all over the country are allowed to keep murdering people at will is an outrage as well.

The bigger outrage, though, is the silence of the people, the refusal to do something to get someone to look at these murders and force change, some kind of way, in the way police in America do business.

Officer Stephen Stem, who hasn’t been on the police force all that long, is still getting paid, though he’s on administrative leave. He’s waiting for that investigation…which, if trends are followed, will probably find that what he did was okay, was correct policy and procedure.

I don’t believe in police investigations anymore. I stopped a long time ago. Police protect their own.

Ms. Sully didn’t have to die. I would bet someone could have talked that weapon out of her hand.

Yep, I’m mad.

This happens way too often …and nobody really seems to care.

A candid observation …

 

270 Girls Disappear and Hardly a Stir

I am appalled.

We hear and see all the time in this country the double standard applied to black and white people. When a white child disappears, especially if he or she is really cute, the media jumps on it; when little black children disappear, we hardly know it. When white children are gunned down, or when there is violence in a white school, news reports share that “counselors” have been sent to help the survivors; when black children are gunned down, or when there is violence in a black school, no counselors are sent to “help the survivors.”

In Africa, a staggering 276 young Nigerian girls were kidnapped, stolen “in the dead of night”  by two men, according to a CNN story. (http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/02/world/africa/nigeria-abducted-girls/index.html?iref=allsearch) Where is the outrage? Where is the compassion or an involvement of the media that might help find these girls? Where are they? How come so few people seem to care? Are they all right? (of course, they are not). Are they even alive? For weeks, we have heard the heart-rending story of the disappearance of Malaysian Flight 370, witnessing the agony of the survivors, and for the past couple of weeks, we have likewise seen, heard and shared in the agony of parents in South Korea whose children were lost when the ferry on which they were passengers sank.

But with these Nigerian girls …there has been hardly a stir.

The story is no less troubling than was the story of the disappearance of Jon Benet Ramsey or Elizabeth Smart. The airwaves were flooded with pictures of those young girls when Benet was murdered and Smart was kidnapped. Even the story of young Madeline McCann, who disappeared while on vacation with her family in Portugal seven years ago. A story on the sadness of her mother, who is still aching for the return of her daughter, appeared on television just yesterday.

I don’t bemoan or resent any story coming out on any child who is kidnapped …What I am complaining about is the lack of apparent concern – and subsequent heavy media coverage – when little black children go missing …and specifically, today, the lack of concern and media coverage over the kidnapping of nearly 300 African girls.

Would there be this silence if the girls were from Norway, or France or … a wealthy neighborhood in this nation?

I doubt it.

These Nigerian girls were students. According to some extremists in that nation, their getting an education is a sin.  Authorities think that an Islamist extremist group, Boko Haram ( a name which means, “Western Education is a Sin) is responsible for the girls’ abductions; women, this group believes, should stay home, have babies, cook, take care of the men …

Perhaps some of the reticence around their disappearance is because the media doesn’t like the politics of the extremist group?

I doubt that, too. And if that is part of the reason, then all such biased journalists should be fired – like yesterday.

No, I don’t think it’s the politics that’s keeping the media quiet. I think the silence is because the world just does not value black life, black bodies, black people. Donald Sterling got whipped this week – but only because he embarrassed the NBA. Money was involved; nobody wants to be labeled a racist, and so to preserve their bottom line, I think companies and corporations backed away from Sterling and the Clippers. Sterling has done racist things forever, and has said things that has indicated that he does not value black life.

Not even the black lives that are making him millions of dollars.

That the media isn’t swarming over this incredible story – that two men kidnapped nearly 300 girls and nobody knows where they are now …is disgusting, troubling and revealing. These girls just do not matter in this world which values whiteness no matter what.

These girls have disappeared and there’s been hardly a stir.

Is that sad to anyone but me? Isn’t this a pretty telling example of America’s spirit when it comes to race?

A candid observation …

 

 

Athletes Modern-Day Slaves?

In his book, Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall and Redemption of the Black Athlete, New York Times columnist William Rhoden shares how he came up with the title: “The title of this book comes from a remark made by a white spectator during a professional basketball game in Los Angeles. The comment was aimed at Larry Johnson, then a player with the New York Knicks. The previous season, Johnson had referred to some of his Knicks teammates as “rebellious slaves,” unleashing a storm of controversy. That night in Los Angeles, as his team headed toward the bench during a time-out, a heckler yelled out: “Johnson, you’re nothing but a $40 million slave.””

Rhoden was affected by that statement, and began writing the seminal book in 1997;  it was copyrighted in 2006. And now here, in 2014, we Americans who want to believe so badly that racism is gone are hearing the disparaging and disturbing statements allegedly made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, telling his then-girlfriend that he didn’t want her to bring “blacks” to his games.

His comments were not surprising; anyone and everyone knows that people in all ethnic groups have conversations where they say what they really feel about issues and people when they are in “safe” spaces.

What was particularly angering, however, was the fact that it i predominantly black players who are making Sterling wealthy. A new plantation system, professional sports, yields big earnings for the players, yes, but also huge profits for their owners. That Sterling would not want his mixed-race girlfriend (Mexican and African – American) to bring blacks to his games, or to pose publicly with black people, smacks of historical racism, historical paternalism, the system of slavery, which exploited black labor to make the rich richer and make the slavocracy thrive.

Athletics was and has been for many black people a way out of poverty and the hopelessness that poverty necessarily breeds and inspires. How wonderful it has been for a very few to make it out of hopelessness and have a shot at the American dream, doing something they love. But the parallels between the old system of slavery and this new slavery are daunting; as in history, white people “own” the workers. White people are the biggest beneficiaries.  All or most of the owners of the professional teams are white. Former NBA great Michael Jordan is majority owner of  the Charlotte Bobcats, acquiring the team in 2010 from Robert Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET) , who was the first black majority owner of a major U.S. pro sports team.

The driving force for any owner, black or white, is not the need to make the world better for democracy, or to set up an example of “how we can all get along.” No, the motivation is profit; those who are after profit don’t care who makes the money for them as long as someone does. In the area of sports, unfortunately or fortunately, depending on where one’s mind is, the workers have been, for the most part, black, and the owners and managers have been white.

New plantations. Sports teams and the sports organizations seem to be nothing more and nothing less than new plantations, where owners and managers “take care” of  “their” boys until the usefulness of those boys wears off, and then they are discarded. Sterling, it seems, is just a good old plantation boss who “takes care of his boys” and doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about.

Sterling also placates the community of people he apparently despises by giving away free basketball tickets every year. The Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP has thought that that gesture was “nice” and was going to give an award next month.

Many sports players would undoubtedly tell me to shut up. They’re making good money; what Sterling said was not all that big a deal, as long as they get paid. But they fail to see how they are being used – for the sake of, or in the name of – making a profit. Rhoden writes, “History suggests that African-Americans should ever be on the lookout. Their predecessors were excluded, blocked, persecuted and eased out when white owners decided they weren’t needed or wanted.”

Plantation thinking, it seems.

Sterling may suffer some for his faux pas; wealthy white men, like Donald Trump, will come to his defense, at a time when there is no defense. The good old boys, however, protect and support each other. Sterling hasn’t said anything that many of them most likely say…

But black people, black athletes, should pay special attention to the new plantations called pro-sports. We are being used again to bolster the economy and support the life style of those who “own” us, and while the players make good money, the fact of the matter is that too many of those who love pro sports and who dream of making it out of despair will never achieve that dream…even as they continue to make the white owners more and more wealthy.

A candid observation …

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