Are We Preparing for War??

The gun sales in Ferguson, MO and surrounding areas have increased tremendously since the shooting of Michael Brown and even more while we await the decision of Darren Wilson’s indictment. One gun store owner reported that he’s sold more guns in the past month than all of last year. Another reported an increase in sales up to 2 or 3 times more than usual and stated, “We’re selling everything that’s not nailed down.” 60% of his recent sales have been to first-time gun owners. If this isn’t alarming then I don’t know what is. America, don’t you think it’s time you rethink your gun laws? An unarmed teenager was unjustly killed by gunfire–shot six times. The police have responded by buying more weaponry and military equipment. Residents, in fear for their lives, are reacting to the times by buying more guns. It is counterintuitive to think that we can stop gun violence with gun violence. Instead of ignoring everything that is happening in this country, I am on a mission trying to shift the culture. I am having these conversations to inspire people to ask questions and seek knowledge, and more so to make plans to help dismantle the systems that oppresses us all. I’m standing with young people all over the world who are no longer going for the bullshit.

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DC-Ferguson Movement: Rally/March After Decision of Indictment

For Immediate Release

November 21, 2014

Press Contact

Eugene Puryear: 202-556-1651

“#DCFerguson Movement Announces Plans in Event Darren Wilson Not Indicted—Responds to MPD ‘Preparations’”

Day-After Verdict

7:00 p.m. Mt. Vernon Square Park

In the event Ofc. Darren Wilson is not indicted in the killing of Michael Brown the #DCFerguson Movement will be holding a march and rally in response beginning at 7pm at Mt. Vernon Square Park. In our view this case needs to be decided in front of a jury. There is more than enough evidence to indict Ofc. Wilson. Grand Juries indict people for far less on an everyday basis all around this country. There has been a remarkable double standard when police officers kill. They are allowed to take long paid vacations while the “facts” are determined and more often than not face no charges or at best low level charges that don’t reflect their actual actions. These double standards must end as must the impunity with which the police kill and brutalize people, in particular young Black males.

It has also come to our attention that police chief Cathy Lanier has ordered “Civil Distrubance Units” a nice phrase for “riot squads” to be on alert for disturbances Sunday and Monday. We view this as entirely unacceptable. #DCFerguson has coordinated a large scale response for a number of months without any incident. In fact protests surrounding the murder of Trayvon Martin, Troy Davis, the Jena Six and Sean Bell all took place for a number of weeks over the past few years without any incident. The Metropolitan Police Department has no reason to expect anything different in this case.

It is clear that the only real goal of this announcement is to place a chilling effect on the exercise by citizens of their First Amendment rights. It creates the perception that there is some danger in going into the streets to express opposition to a potential non-indictment. This is a pattern taking place around the country. Ferguson revealed significant police violence, yet somehow the police have turned the narrative into some expectation of massive violent acts coming from those outraged at the killing of Michael Brown, something that bears zero resemblance to the reality of the movement so far nationally or locally.

Chief Lanier has shown through her own actions (jump-outs, unconstituonal checkpoints) and words (support for the 1033 program) that she is a supporter of militarized policing. Her announcement regarding potential “disturbances” is a thinly veiled attempt to deflect rising anger in the District around militarized policing.

Recent Council hearings clearly established the fact that MPD employs racially-biased and militarized methods of policing in communities across the District. By attempting to put a damper on protests following a potential non-indictment that will also highlight MPD practices Chief Lanier is attempting to hide from District residents the reality of policing in D.C. particularly, again, for young Black males.

#DCFerguson demands that the MPD rescind the Civil Disturbance Unit activation and apologize for creating any implication that protestors are planning to do anything more than what they have for years—assert their rights in the street, and demand an end to dehumanizing, racist practices by police departments around the country. Further we demand that the D.C. Council, Mayor Gray, and Mayor-elect Bowser disavow this order and affirm that they support the right of #DCFerguson and anyone else to express their outrage free of police intimidation.

We reiterate to residents of the D.C. Metro Area that our protest is welcome to all outraged by the killing of Michael Brown and police abuses here in D.C. and other area municipalities. We will not be silenced.

The original Call to Action for #DCFerguson explains: “Residents of the District of Columbia, just like millions around the country recognize that at the root of Ferguson are the social, racial and economic injustices that exist nationwide. They know that Ferguson could really be anywhere and Michael Brown could be any young Black male. According to a report by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, every 28 hours a Black person is killed by a police officer, security, or vigilante in the United States. There is almost complete impunity for the perpetrators of most of these crimes. The political marginalization and racialized poverty that exist in Ferguson are replicated in communities across the country.

“The murder of Michael Brown and the situation in Ferguson can and should be a turning point. Where we finally come to terms with the root causes of these issues and address social deprivation and oppression and the police brutality that comes with it.”

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The Ballot or the Bullet: My Post-Election State

I’ve been uneasy.  This election season, I found myself in a state of such confusion I had never experienced before mostly due to the fact that I did not know where I should vote, for whom to vote, or whether to vote at all.  In spite of all the justifiable beliefs that I may currently hold about whether or not voting actually counts, I have always believed in the importance of voting solely based on the historical significance that voting rights and voter equality has had on me as an African American and as a woman in this country.  The image of a Black man hanged with a sign reading “this nigger voted” flashes freshly through my mind every time I considered not voting, as clear and as daunting as if I had seen this man in person and not just in a photograph. I think about the Women’s Suffrage March of 1913, and how black women weren’t welcomed to march with other white feminist women who were seeking the right to vote before black people were even afforded the privilege.  Black women weren’t expected to be included in anything like that.  I think about the founders of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and the only black women to march in the women’s suffrage march.  I thought about those things and I found it hard not to go to the polls even though I had no desire or interest in voting.  I thought about Freedom Summer in Mississippi.   The Literacy Tests.  Black people would lose their jobs if their white employers found out that they had voted.  We would literally be killed.  I voted because of this.

Today, we can see that the right to vote is being suppressed all across America–especially for Black, poor, and elderly voters.  I had to think about the time I spent as a deputy registrar, registering college students to vote, and the time I dedicated to training to be an election judge, I thought about the reenactments and commemorations of the women’s suffrage march that I participated in just last year, and one that I had so eagerly coordinated and all the effort it took to get black college students interested in the political agendas of a predominantly white college town.  I just had to vote.  Growing up, I’d watch as my parents would take off work to be election judges for nearly every election and they’d come home late and watch the results of that election be broadcasted on tv.  I just had to vote.

So I had decided to vote in The District, instead of my hometown Chicago or even my college town where I was still registered and eligible to to do a long distance voting ballot. I still mostly follow the political happenings of Chicago and Illinois, so voting in DC was a tough decision for me.   I feel no connectedness here and I can almost say that I don’t care.  DC is such a corrupt place,  having been here for nine months, I had no desire to vote for any candidate I had seen plastered on billboards, posters, or on the metro.  After speaking to so many residents and natives, the political and cultural shift that is currently taking place here–I want no part of.  I see poor black people and homeless veterans on the streets everyday.  Black kids out here suffering from such a horrible education system.  Black people in DC are struggling and to me, The District is only a mirror reflected on every urban area in this country.

By Election Day I had done a very brief study of the candidates on the ballot and went to polls.  It was really a disaster, now that I am able to reflect on it. Most of the voters that I observed in line at my polling place were elders and families, black people, and people with disabilities.  Understand that I went to vote after work around 6pm so it was a long, ridiculous line.  Long enough to deter voters, especially elderly voters, those with small children, and even white voters who were uncomfortable with being surrounded by too many black people (which was felt).  They only had two electronic machines and the rest were paper ballots. So if you have trouble with your vision or hearing then the line for you is limited to the use of those two machines.  By the time I had reached the front of the line and gave my name, they told me that I was not registered, though I know for a fact that I had registered before the cut off date that would make me ineligible to vote in this election.  Having experience and training as a deputy registrar, and knowing about ways in which voters are often suppressed, I had brought several forms of identification with me including a few bills.  I knew that I was going to have trouble.  I had to do a special ballot, which they told me may not be counted anyway.  It probably wasn’t.  My vote probably wasn’t counted like many other Americans who showed up at the polls last week only to find that somehow they were not registered.  Everything that I had observed and experienced on Election Day were modern day forms of voter suppression.  That experience made me lose further trust in this democratic system that we think we are a part of.

Following the election results, so many people began to express their discontent about the turnout of black voters and blamed the outcome of the election on the fact that black people don’t vote.  Of which I completely disagree.  Freedom is not having to decide on a candidate of lesser evil.  Freedom is not suppressed by chance.  You can’t open the polls late in black neighborhoods (or any neighborhood) and expect voters to stick around and miss or be late for work!  You can’t have two electronic machines in a precinct that has a high number of elderly voters and voters with disabilities! That’s voter suppression and that is what we don’t realize.  Of course we must educate each other on how to be politically involved all year round, and all day.  But we cannot chastise and condemn nonvoters for that which they have little known power.  Understand how stressful and confusing it can be as an adult to be improperly educated or purposely miseducated in politics, as most Black people are.  Politicians use fear tactics to win over uneducated voters.  It’s a game, like everything else to them, for money and power.  Our lives and our future.

I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around the agenda that might be in play here, how dirty white politicians sought to “get the black vote” by making false promises and parading around with black leaders and black pastors to sway the black community to vote a certain way.  I know that within the next few years the welfare of poor and middle class black people will continue to disintegrate under the political rule of politicians who largely have the interest of corporations and white upperclassmen in the forefront of their affairs.

So like I said, I’ve been very uneasy.  Last week and the week prior, I was damn near incapable of speaking or sharing any truth.  My mind was in a state of confusion, hazy with distrust, disgust, anger, and illusion.  This morning I was able to break away from that, and because I know that I am not alone, I know that others have felt this in the universe as well.  The energy that fills our spaces after an election like this one can be felt.  It has effects on our well-being and the energy that we expel to others.

As I was mediating and chanting this morning, after not having been able to do so for these two weeks or so, “The Ballot or the Bullet” popped into my head.  A speech by Malcolm X, in April of 64, that I had heard a few times in college and as a kid when my dad would play it.  I listened to the words of Malcolm X this morning and my spirit as completely rejuvenated.  Hope was restored.  I swear, I will never question the strength and power of my ancestors after the feeling of freedom and love I felt from Malcolm X this morning.  I implore you to listen to The Ballot or the Bullet.    I know Malcolm and I can’t be the only ones.  The Ballot or the Bullet explains itself.

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Dear White People…

I can think of a few other titles that could be more fitting for what i expected of a movie with such a title as Dear White People. The title is the catch but i wouldn’t necessarily say that this movie is a message for white people alone. This movie is for everyone. Dear People, Dear American Citizens, Welcome to Reality.

Immediately after the movie ended, i sat there a bit confused because i expected to see more of an address to racist white people but Dear White People is a movie that will make anyone question the stereotypes that we hold of Black culture; it did make me think. What exactly was Justin Simien trying to say? We are all perpetrators of this system of racism. Even while black people are the victims of racism and oppression we often play a major role in our own demise and humiliation. As the movie journeys through the lives of black students on an ivy league campus, we get to see the vastness of the black experience. We see how black men struggle for power and acceptance from their white male counterparts, the social dynamics between black men and their white female lovers, as well as black women and their relations with white males, we can see what it is like growing up with both black and white parents, the experiences of gay black males, sexuality, race, and black college culture in general.

Importantly, we see the experiences of Black students on the campus of predominantly white institution; the struggles and the discrimination that they face from other students and from faculty and staff. What does it mean to be Black in today’s society? Is it the black girl trying to impress her all white peers with make up and long weave or is it the pro-blackness radiating from natural hair and African attire? Is it simply white people in blackface? Who’s Black in America? That is the question that i had to think about after viewing Dear White People last weekend. What makes black culture? With all of our differences in experience and environment, what commonalities do we really share?

If you play close enough attention, Dear White People may leave you with a sour taste in your mouth as you realize our society’s–and white people’s–perversion and obsession for Black culture, Black people, and the profit that can be attained by their exploitation. This societal lust for blackness leaves mostly all Black people in a constant state of defense of our culture and our rights as people all the while trying to find our unique places within such a distorted culture, subculture, or pop-culture; that is being Black in America.

Make sure to support the film by going out to see Dear White People, as it opens in “select” theaters everywhere this weekend and continue to with the discussion. If you could make an address, “Dear White People…” what could you really say?

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Black Jesus, Black-ish, & Shonda Rhimes

I don’t watch t.v. but okay…if we must consider watching my favorite shows online watching t.v. then I indulge quite a bit!  With that, I have noticed the recent shift in the t.v. shows that are currently popular and to me all seek to send a message about black life and culture;  a message that is a lot different from the “ratchet t.v.” that society has become accustomed to seeing from television programs with predominantly Black casts.  The shows that I am referring to especially are Black Jesus which comes on Adult Swim, Black-ish which airs on ABC, and of course the three treats on Thursdays, all written and produced by Shonda Rhimes (yup, the “angry black woman” according to the New York Times): Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, and How to Get Away With Murder.  Now I know a few of these shows receive a lot of criticism from black people in their depictions of black culture but I want to encourage the viewing of these shows and I will tell you why—if not in support of the black writers and producers alone but because these shows can teach us a few things…

All of these shows display black culture and the diversity within us as people of the African diaspora and the characters expose everyday experiences of black people living in America.  These shows act as a magnifying glass into Black homes and Black thoughts to reveal an image that can be disturbing and a message that can be missed if we don’t pay attention. Continue reading

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Who Are You Praying To?

I am finding it increasingly important to have some sort of spiritual grounding and connectedness to the universe in the midst of all of this confusion and corruption currently taking place throughout the world. Often times when some sort of injustice occurs, a senseless murder of a black child for instance, I hear a lot of black people say things like: there is nothing we can do but pray. Especially at the start of the riots in Ferguson, MO, I read a lot of arguments stating that we shouldn’t be fighting, protesting, or boycotting but all that we should do and can do is pray. And continue to pray, and pray, and pray some more. Though I don’t underestimate the “power of prayer,” I do believe that prayer without works is dead completely. I often wonder two things when I hear comments like this.
Who are you praying to?
If you are praying to a savior of a religion that was altered by man in the favor of white supremacy and against women and people of color, will your prayers for equality, justice, and change ever manifest? I found it quite contradictory to practice a religion that is now infested with so much hate and inequality. I am particularly referring to Christianity in this case.
Has western religion crippled our ability to fight for what is just?
I think that this is an important question to ask ourselves, especially as black people. During the civil rights movement we followed Dr. King, a Baptist minister who taught us to be peaceful to our enemies. One of my favorite quotes of his comes from a conversation that he was having with Harry Belafonte where King states that he was worried that he may have integrated his people into a burning house. Looking at today, a lot of black preachers are still leading our people into fire by not giving them the tools for proper spirituality, but merely reiterating white supremacy, self-doubt and hate through the false image and ideals of Jesus and the holy bible. I was reading a speech of Dr. Cornel West from last weekend’s resistance in Ferguson where he says talks about the divide between old civil rights leaders and the black youth of today, saying that these preachers and leaders have gotten too churchy and forgot the real meaning and our purpose in fighting for justice. We have gotten too comfortable and too fearful. Continue reading


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