I am black and I am exhausted. This journey we embarked on, as a nation, to reckon with the myths we tell about America has left me drained. Before the world knew George Floyd’s name I devoured books that were the intersection of our complex shared history, race, law, and policy. I read all of the notable names. I watched their lectures. I scoured the internet for interviews. I consumed the knowledge with an insatiable appetite. I started with a question. Each book I read allowed me to refine the question. The authors forced me to rephrase the question so it was more precise. I realized at one point I was not even asking the right question. Where our history, race, law and policy intersect, I am confident to scrap with anyone. I am unafraid to wade, by myself, into unfriendly territory and spar with the opposition. Then, we learned George Floyd’s name. We all watched Darnella Fraizer’s cellphone video, of George’s life slowly being squeezed out of him. I witnessed streets I knew, from my childhood, teens, and early twenties ablaze at night and smoldering in the dawn. When I was 19 I ventured to Lake Street, to have a profound transformation of my own. I had spent my freshman year in college growing my hair, so that I could make the pilgrimage from the confines of the southern suburbs to Lake Street to have my hair locked. My conservative father drove me the first time, for my initial… Read More »I Am Exhausted…And So Are You.
A Story About My Bloodline A black man was lynched in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was the descendant of chattel slaves like me. My grandmother’s grandparents were chattel slaves. My mom’s grandparents were children of chattel slaves. My grandmother was the grandchild of chattel slaves. At one point in my bloodline all my ancestors saw behind them was generations of chattel slaves. When they peered into the future all they could imagine was generations of chattel slaves. My grandmother’s grandparents told her a story about when they were slaves. My grandmother told me, her grandson, the same story. Now I share that story with you. A chattel slave had escaped the plantation. The overseer organized a search party to find the chattel slave and bring the property back to the plantation. The overseer also had instructed the remaining chattel slaves to cut wood and pile it in a certain way so that when the property had been returned to the plantation it could be placed in the wood and be destroyed with fire. The overseer told each of the chattel slaves it would be their responsibility to keep the property from leaving the fire. They would be provided with hoes, rakes, shovels, and axes to keep the property in the middle of fire, while the overseer and other whites watched. My grandmother’s grandparents told her that it was that day that all of the chattel slaves were going to turn those tools on the overseer and anyone else who demanded they… Read More »A Black Man Was Lynched In Minnesota: A Retrospective
Ban The Box Harms Black People Who Have Never Been Convicted Of A Crime. “That’s why ‘Ban the Box’ (BTB) policies, often touted as reforms designed to help formerly incarcerated people, have had the perverse consequence of hurting black men.” ― Paul Butler, “Chokehold: Policing Black Men” Tweet I first learned that BTB harms black people in 2017. I was listening to a podcast (Pod Save the People) and they brought this up for discussion. There were nothing but good intentions surrounding Ban the Box. However, we remember what Coates says about “good intentions” from a past day in black history. Then the data started to flood out. Dr. Jennifer Doleac is the most knowledgeable person in the world on this research. Her peer-reviewed research clearly found that BTB harms black men and women. This policy eliminates the spartan opportunities that already exists for black folk. When BTB gets passed the employment chances for black people evaporate. BTB does not work, because too many employers assume that a young black male applicant has a criminal past, so they ding their application. Some civil rights attorneys who specialize in employment discrimination have sounded the alarm about this practice.Yet, the box actually protects black people who have never been part of our criminal justice systems. Absent this protection, systemic racism does what it does best and denies a black person a job that they are qualified for, on the basis of their skin. “Another study from New York and New Jersey found… Read More »Ban The Box Harms Black People Who Have Never Been Convicted Of A Crime
Five Ways Police Can Violate Your Civil Rights In 2021 Perhaps, for the first time in this nation’s complicated history are law enforcement officials under the microscope. The verdict in the Derek Chauvin case to police officer’s participating in the failed lynching at the Capitol. We saw the havoc our police forces allowed to happen during the #BLMSummer in 2020. With so much pressure and attention there is justified fear that police might be gearing up to violate the rights of fellow citizens. We are going to discus five ways police can violate your civil rights in 2021 in this article. Police Brutality Is One Way To Violate Your Civil Rights Anyone walking on a sidewalk cannot be detained by an officer unless they are suspected of a crime. In law enforcement, suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty and could be detained for over two hours. As a result, #BLMSummer protests were organized around the objective of peacefully standing up to police brutality. The movement used the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter to bring awareness to the fact that Black Lives Matter begins in the front steps of a cop. With this has come an outcry against the idea of that civilians, not police officers should be afforded the right to use deadly force. For black communities across the country the consequences of fearing for one’s life is no joke. Philando Castile killer was never convicted of the brutality he inflicted upon this man. Sometimes police will allow their police dogs to… Read More »Five Ways Police Can Violate Your Rights In 2021
“Over the past few decades, we have developed euphemisms to help us forget how we, as a nation, have segregated African American citizens. We have become embarrassed about saying ghetto, a word that accurately describes a neighborhood where government has not only concentrated a minority but established barriers to its exit. We don’t hesitate to acknowledge that Jews in Eastern Europe were forced to live in ghettos where opportunity was limited and leaving was difficult or impossible. Yet when we encounter similar neighborhoods in this country, we now delicately refer to them as the inner city, yet everyone knows what we mean. (When affluent whites gentrify the same geographic areas, we don’t characterize those whites as inner city families.) Before we became ashamed to admit that the country had circumscribed African Americans in ghettos, analysts of race relations, both African American and white, consistently and accurately used ghetto to describe low-income African American neighborhoods, created by public policy, with a shortage of opportunity, and with barriers to exit.” ― Richard Rothstein, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America Our government created policies that were designed and implemented with the specific intent to benefit white people and harm black people. Bruce Western tells us that poverty is violence. Bryan Stevenson informs us that the opposite of poverty is justice. Our government condemned black people to live in violent places that are free from justice. These ghettos are over-policed. In some cities, perhaps, even Tucson, they are… Read More »Some Examples Of Race Based Housing Discrimination
The Derek Chauvin trial, and the jury selected to hear the case, got me thinking about voting rights and the right to serve on a jury. The Chauvin jury is one of the most racially integrated juries in the history of Minnesota. It is because of this fact, that I started to let my mind believe that maybe the killers of George Floyd will be held to account. Even if Derek is acquitted I will at least have faith in the acquittal, because of who served on the jury. We have seen a torrent of voter suppression bills introduced in various state legislatures across the country. Yet, no one is talking about the connection between voter suppression and the ability to serve on a jury. Some of the grave injustices in this country were committed because defendants could not get a jury of their peers. Further, many people escaped justice due to the exclusion of everyone except white men on juries. Remember the trial of J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant? An all white and all male jury refused to hold them accountable for the lynching of Emmett Till. Blacks and women were not allowed to serve on juries during that period of time, because the right to vote had not been fully protected by law. This jury, despite the overwhelming evidence of their guilt, failed to convict these two after 67 minutes of deliberations. In fact, picking a foreman and getting the jury instructions back to the room probably took… Read More »Attacks On Voting Rights Are Attacks On The Right To Have A Fair And Impartial Jury.
Adkins v. Virginia the SCOTUS held that it was unconstitutional to execute someone with an intellectual disability.Many people are against the death penalty. As we learned from our discussion of A Just Mercy, the death penalty is a sanitized lynching. With the Adkins decision, we started to get some safeguards to rollback the number of executions in our country. Yet, I need to repeat this one more time: the death penalty is a state-sponsored lynching.I need you to center what I just said about the death penalty. Adkins was now the law of the land. However, this is America. Accordingly, white prosecutors embarked on a righteous crusade to prove to the world that IQ tests are racist. In fact, these white prosecutors would argue to the court that IQ test are so racially biased that the Judge must add between five and fifteen points to each black person’s IQ score.These white prosecutors were successful. In many states, judges now add between 5 and 15 points to the IQ test score of black people, so we can “justly” execute them. Let me repeat this: white prosecutors have spent millions of dollars to establish the racial bias of IQ tests, only so they can kill black people. They have not spent a dime to advocate that points need to be added to black LSAT, MCAT, GRE, SAT, ACT, etc. scores. These points only need to be added to IQ scores, so they can be raised to a level where we can execute these black… Read More »4 United States Supreme Court Cases
“Black poverty, particularly in urban areas, is different from white poverty. Black poverty is built into the structure of neighborhoods and labor markets. Sociologist have described how the neighborhood environments of low-income blacks are unusually disadvantaged compared to the neighborhood environments of other racial groups. Being black and poor relegates one to living with other poor people in a racially segregated neighborhood where the local unemployment rate is high, families are more likely to be led by single mothers and street crime is common. White poverty that touches the criminal justice system—concentrated among men who are loosely connected to families—is closer to skid row, rooted in mental illness, drug addiction and the scarcity of treatment services.” —Bruce Western, “Homeward: Life in the Year After Prison” —Bruce Western, “Homeward: Life in the Year After Prison” Tweet If we want to build safer communities we need to listen to Bruce. The number one predictor if someone is going to re-offend, in the first three months after release, is who picks them up from prison. If no friend or family member comes to provide a formerly-incarcerated person, with a ride home from prison they are almost guaranteed to immediately re-offend. Why? The person lacks the social-network to provide basic material and emotional needs they require to transition back into society. One thing that we can do is create programs that provide the supports these people would normally receive from family and friends. We can create programs that provide a place to stay, a… Read More »Black Poverty In America Was Designed To Subject Black People To Violence
“The people did not cross the turnstiles of customs at Ellis Island. They were already citizens. But where they came from, they were not treated as such.” ― Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. Candidates, politicians, media commentators, and people of good-intent like to profess “we are a nation of immigrants.” Yet, that is one of the most dehumanizing lines that can ever be uttered. It is a lie. It is an offensive mischaracterization of our history. It erases the fact that a race of people lived here, before you or your ancestors arrived. A race of people that had their own languages, customs, cultures, economies, and religions. Every-time this lie is allowed space to breath, it conceals the fact that people were dispossessed of their land. This lie allows us to ignore that a genocide was perpetuated against a race of people, for your benefit. If we say this lie, we don’t have to confront the injustice that was sustained by the people who lived here before us. After the indigenous population was nearly destroyed, black bodies were stolen, smuggled in the hulls of ships, and sold into perpetual bondage to work this misappropriated land. The lie of “we are a nation of immigrants” attempts to circumvent the fact that the value of all slaves was $75 billion dollars in todays dollars. That prior to the civil war, the wealth of this country was concentrated in the Mississippi River Valley. Black bodies… Read More »The Great Migration Was Caused By The Failure To Protect Black People’s Civil Rights
Why White America Is Now Black. Let Me Explain 40% of all white people do not have any black friends. 55% of white people only have one black friend. The average black person has eight white friends. This is my lived experience. I personally know two white people, with more than one black friend. I have a number of close white friends, so close I would call them my family. These people would clothe me, feed me, shelter me, protect me, and fund me if I asked. I love them and they love me. Yet, if I am being honest…I am their only black friend. This is not an indictment on these people, whom I truly love, but it is a truthful statement said out of love. Many of you reading this are not proximate to the pain and experience of being black in America, until now. I must confess that I have abdicated my duty to you, my newly black friends. See no one has told you, out of anger or in love, that all of you formally white people are now black. See whiteness is a fickle and fleeting concept. Any groups’ grasp on it is tenuous. It is something that can be bestowed upon a people and can be removed. Many of you have heard the concept of white privilege, but white privilege is too small and clumsy to express and define our existence. White privilege is not rooted in history. It is a term that fails… Read More »Why White America Is Now Black. Let Me Explain