Archive for the ‘Race Relations’ Category

Is Wearing All Black the New Activism

April 28, 2008

i am sean bell

Photo courtesy of New York Times

Wear all black on Monday for the injustice verdict in the Sean Bell case Please pass this on to anyone who can receive a text.

I received this text message numerous times throughout the course of the weekend and again I ask “Is wearing all black the new activism”. Has wearing all black taken the place of such notable activism as the Montgomery Bus Boycott. I remember back when the Jena 6 movement was thriving and we were all wearing black as a means to show the masses our “black solidarity”. I participated and heard many say that they felt good walking into their corporate offices and seeing other people of color representing the injustice that was being served in Jena. But does our action stop there, does what we wear really signify that an injustice has been done?

So today I woke up and threw on my black shirt and my black Chuck Taylor sneakers in memory of the brother Sean Bell. I walked into my classroom and unlike that glorious Jena day, barely any people of color were wearing all black. What does wearing all black mean anyway; do the people who we want to see our solidarity even know that we are wearing this color to represent the fact that a brother was murdered by the NYPD. That yet again the NYPD walked out of a court of law not guilty of all charges. My own Constitutional Law professor had no idea who Sean Bell was and that this verdict had drastically affected the lives of many people. He was unaware that many young brothers and sisters had taken to the streets and were seeking Justice for the loss of yet another young talented black man. He definitely had no idea why one of his students had on black today; all he wanted to know was if I was familiar with the material that will be on his exam next week.

I checked through my usual news media outlets hoping that I would see something in the headlines about the injustice the Bell family was served this past Friday. Instead, I was inundated with news of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and the Democrat Primary’s, but there was no sign of any measures that would be taken towards the Bell family finding JUSTICE. And why should their be, a brother is dead and we all go back to our regularly scheduled lives. More concerned with celebrity gossip than the fact that black men can be killed in this country and their murderers receive absolutely no punishment.

The NY Times had a brief article about this issue however, and it largely dealt with the few people who were outraged by the verdict and were protesting in Harlem yesterday. One of the brothers on the bull horn asked “why aren’t more people out here”. The days of marching and blocking traffic for a day or two didn’t work then and they will continue not to work now. All the police do is re-direct the traffic and the protest becomes more of a nuisance than a movement that affects change. So what my generation has come up with as a means of fighting injustice is wearing all black; then we are really fighting institutionalized racism and brutality, we’ll show em!

Wrong, we need a strategic effort on a variety of fronts to fight the injustices that are facing our people. I refuse to believe that we are as lazy as the Civil Rights Guard of Leadership paints us. No we are not lazy at all, we are the internet generation; the text message generation. All of that to say we have the fastest and often most effective modes of communication to get messages across to our peers and move in a organized manner. We have to fight these different injustices on many different fronts. The Judge who rendered the verdict; we have to find out if he was elected or appointed; if elected we make sure that those who are eligible to vote in that district show up in record numbers to relieve him of his position.

Let’s take it back to the boycott days since the loss of revenue is the only thing that makes politicians and businessmen understand that we are angry about something and are seeking some type of remedy. This shouldn’t be hard to do because we are spawning into a recession anyway and people are already strapped for cash. We need to find out exactly what businesses that if we stopped patronizing would affect Michael Bloomberg the fastest. Once those major businesses are affected they will call up their high powered friends ad say “hey we have to do something about this’ its affecting my pocket”! You see when when we start to use our creativity and organize our efforts we begin to fall upon the ears who really create change in our cities. Maybe then the NYPD will stop believing that it is perfectly fine and legal to kill young black men. But if all we are doing is wearing black; trust me the courts, the politicians, the police and definitely the law are not hearing our voices.

We need to tap into the resources in our communities who have the know how and ability to propose legislation for stricter monitoring practices over the police departments who brutalize communities of color. All cops are not the scum who murder and harass people of color so we need to reach out to those who are fed up with their colleagues behavior and off the record find out what we can do to upset their internal situation that will help us make the changes we wish to see. I could write on for days about different measures that we could take however my one voice will not create this change. Our collective voice will not change these scenarios but our collective voices coupled with our strategic collective actions will create this change. In memory of Sean Bell and all of the other forgotten fallen soldiers; please let’s Make It Happen!

ps. I will be at the Black and Male In America Conference the weekend of June 15 – 17 in Brooklyn, NY. I think we all need to be there!

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Let’s talk about Race

March 25, 2008

pat_buchanan.jpg

Over the past few weeks we have been bombarded with media distortments of Pastor Jeremiah Wright and his statements made during his tenure as Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Illinois. Questions of race, which deeply divide this country though many of us would like to believe that it doesn’t have been wedged into our news coverage of this historical moment in our country. Of course I am speaking of the fact that the two front-runners for the Democrat Presidential nomination are a black man and white woman; two unequivocal minorities.

Why is it that a black Pastor who has no formal role in our Political process has received so much coverage based around his comments? Yet, Patrick J. Buchanan, a well know Republican, columnist, and at 3 different points in his career sought the nomination to be Commander in Chief of the United States of America can make divisive comments centered around race. Comments that are quite insulting and there is no uproar in the media, there is no condemnation of his language. Could this be the type of oppression that Jeremiah Wright was speaking about, the interesting way in which our media sets the agenda for what we think and how we think about it. Is it ok to think about racism when it negatively depicts a black minister, but when this privileged man; whom to many represents the views of our government invokes incendiary language about the history and culture of a people we turn a blind eye to it?

Barack Obama was right; we do need to have a serious conversation about race in this country if we ever plan to move forward. Slavery ended in the 1800’s, however the oppression black people face still exists today. This is not an issue against white people; white people are not the government, white people are not the institutions that impose on the civil liberties of minorities. I think that a genuine conversation about race and oppression in this country will show both sides this point. Until we open up this dialogue and speak about these topics responsibly we can expect eloquent comments like the one you will read below from privileged, white men, who run this country.

“America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.”

“[N]o people anywhere has done more to lift up blacks than white Americans. Untold trillions have been spent since the ’60s on welfare, food stamps, rent supplements, Section 8 housing, Pell grants, student loans, legal services, Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credits and poverty programs designed to bring the African-American community into the mainstream.” – Patrick J. Buchanan

To read more just click the link below.
http://www.buchanan.org/blog/