Now what?

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There’s been a lot of prayer lately.
Prayer for officers. Prayer for the victims that were killed by officers. Prayer for the families that have lost loved ones, both officers and black and brown men.
We’ve marched. We’ve had community forums. We’ve blocked highways, called for blackouts and held town halls that have held the ears and eyes of thousands.
People black, white and blue have begged for some type of reform but yet nothing has been done.
So do we give up?
Do we decide that our opinion doesn’t matter?
Do we say that we can’t change the perceptions and narratives that beget fear on both sides of the fence?
Do we go home and give up or do we continue the mission even after we’ve picked up and bagged all of the bullets?
Throughout all of this did we come up with solutions? That’s what we need. Let’s look past the police interactions gone wrong. Let’s not ambush police in retaliation killings. Let’s use our power.
Let’s do what’s necessary to make sure that things like this no longer happens. That starts at the root of the problem, whether it’s systematic and institutionalized racism or sheer lack of knowledge. Call your senators and representatives and let them know what you want. Call your local leaders and ask them what they plan to do to combat the inequalities and injustices that are carried out on a daily basis on in education, employment, housing and government politics.

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I had a conversation about a march that was held in High Point on Sunday. Someone observed the lack of city council members in the crowd. As in zero. Don’t like it? Call members of High Point City Council and ask them why they felt that it was unnecessary to stand in solidarity with the African-American community.

Editors Note:  I’m told that Chris Williams walked with the marchers. Jeff Golden came through on his way to work.

The bottom line is that there are people who can change some of the more legal issues we face on a daily basis. There are laws that can examined, policies that should be reformed and initiatives that could be taken seriously. Our paid representatives are supposed to act on our behalf. If they’re not doing what you feel should be done let them know. They work for you. Not businesses, corporations or the wealthy only. Especially when they accept a stipend from ALL of our tax-payer dollars.

If they can’t do that then perhaps you should look at voting them out so they can focus on doing what that small percent wants them to do. Without taxpayer’s dollars.

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Source: Facebook

Let’s be 100 percent transparent – There will still be people who will hate you because of the color of your skin. There will still be people who fear you because of the color of your skin. You can’t change that. You can make it so that if they act on that hate they will have to face the consequences.  You can show them that no matter how much they hate, it doesn’t run your life and decisions. You can show them that their hate doesn’t drown out your voice.

So again I ask, what will you lend your power to?

It’s easy to call the plays when you’re not in the game.

It’s easy to explain what you would’ve done if you weren’t in the situation?

It’s just as easy to place the responsibility on someone else when you don’t feel like it’s your job.

Want to see change? Be the agent of change. Because standing around twiddling your thumbs does nothing to make sure things these shootings don’t continue to become the norm.

So again I ask you, what will you lend your power to?

I’m Just Saying.

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Jesse Williams: A loud voice among whispers

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Did you catch the BET awards?

I’m sure if you missed it you’ve seen plenty of clips from the episode or heard about it by this point.

It was a great show, fulfilling its promise of a great tribute to the legendary Prince. (Billboard have a seat and take plenty of notes) Of course there were moments that made us question the state of Hip Hop but there were other moments that allowed us to poke our chest out, glad to be a part of a culture that stays woke.

One of those moments was a speech that snatched eyebrows back and demanded the attention of all those listening as Jesse Williams boldly spoke to his people, cameras be damned, when he accepted the 2016 BET Humanitarian award.

Missed it? Get you some of this right here:

http://www.bet.com/video/betawards/2016/acceptance-speeches/jesse-williams-receives-humanitarian-award.html

Did you hear that greatness? The knowledge that threw itself out into the atmosphere? Not for shine or recognition but simply because someone has to voice what the majority is thinking. Not the majority that want to loot and burn down buildings but the majority that wants to do credible work in an effort to move its culture, society and communities towards the future and a better life. It was freaking awesome but unfortunately it’s not new.

People of Color (POCs) have been woke for quite some time in this country, attempting to make sure their voices are heard in the wake of increasing injustices, police brutality, racist rhetoric in political speeches, systematic and institutionalized racism that has become as common to us as breathing. So in reality, Williams basically got on television and spoke to the brothers and sisters as if we were at the crib enjoying dinner and a game of spades.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. Some of us needed another wake up call (because there’s been plenty before) to show us that even though the road is hard we can’t give up now. Some of those who are content to carry on with the way things are needed to know that they need to get out of the way and stop blocking those who actually want to crate change. Did you hear that Stacy Dash? And yes that includes those who are innocent bystanders that watch the abuse and injustices go down and do nothing to stop it. You have to pick a side. Saying you’re not racist but being a proponent of white privilege is just as bad as attending a Klan meeting without the sheet.

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Of course you can’t really say anything without some getting in their feelings. Of course, I don’t think there would’ve been as many in their feelings if the show had not been aired on Viacom’s sister channels. Don’t believe me? Check the receipts:

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You see boys and girls this is exactly what Williams was talking about. The pure unadulterated hate that lives online. Of course they wouldn’t have said anything if their own children hadn’t seen it. I have receipts for that too. Ignorant phrases like this popped up across the web:

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And this:

https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video;_ylt=A0LEV1zyp3ZXEiQA6QxXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTB0N2Noc21lBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNwaXZz?p=jesse+williams+tomi+lahren&fr=hp-ddc-bd-tab&fr2=piv-web#id=6&vid=28d828c26f0ec4c2fa19a42fee35f7e3&action=view

#Staymadabby! #SitdownBeckywiththegoodhair. Next time make sure the ENTIRE video plays because as a journalist you should know that context is everything.

So you want me to believe that you’re not racist after saying things like this? Not only do I think you’re racist I also think your ignorant. Anyone that has Twitter fingers could also use them to do a Google search and see that Viacom is owned by an old white man, not black owned. Also that BET has no control over which sister stations air it’s programming. That also happens at the top. The question you should be asking is why the top executives at Viacom felt that you sweet, innocent little children would gladly tune in to that program.

That just brings us a whole different beast that the View touched on:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FTheView%2Fvideos%2F10153600358446524%2F&show_text=0&width=560

See what I mean?

I think Williams was another loud voice in the crowd that hit home for both POCs and non-POCs. He inspired you to think about the actions and decisions made on a daily basis that lead to brown and black bodies in the street, whether they’re dead or homeless. He invited you to search your consciousness and decide whether you would be part of the problem or the solution. He reminded you that the struggle is far from over and that there needs to be people courageous and selfless enough to lead others toward solutions.

Most importantly he reminded you that humanity should come before money and I’m okay with that.

I’m Just Saying.

 

Sipping Lemonade in the Purple Rain

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Okay, I know I’m late but I’m just now coming out of the Purple Rock’n’Roll Haze of mourning.
Barely.
However, I did notice that Bey dropped her visual album the Saturday following Prince’s ascension and sometime within the following two weeks I was able to watch it despite my tears.
While “Formation” had me on the fence, the visual video pushed me over the edge and I can confidently say that I am here for the new Bey.
Whatever her reason for dropping knowledge to her fans, I applaud her for using her social status and celebrity to make a definite stand against the injustices in America that most celebrities are afraid to openly speak on.
Now I’m not saying that I’m going out to buy the album but I respect the hard work and creativity she infused into her work to bring social consciousness to topics that are often ignored or overlooked from African-Americans in the industry.

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I could care less about her and Jay-Z’s marital problems. My mama taught me to stay out of married folks’ business. I do care about her finding herself and putting it into an artful arrangement that encourages others to step their grown woman up, celebrate the wins of life and mourn the losses without staying down too long.
I care about her using her work to portray that while African-American’s, both men and women, get the dirty end of the stick from significant others, employees and employers, police, the government, and the world they still rise to the top.
With this work, she’s shown us that it’s okay to work out and let go of our Daddy issues, we don’t have to conform to what’s deemed trendy to be beautiful, and that sometimes we have to break down in order to rebuild ourselves. She’s showed us that there’s a lesson in the pain that we as African-American women have endured as an undervalued, under-appreciated sub-category of human beings.
She doesn’t stop there.
Bey then turns around and shows us that there’s strength and rejuvenation in numbers. Her video shows our need as a people to become slave to the money and the conventional working environment, and why we should make investments into ourselves and our community while calling for a change.

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She reminds us that no matter what happens we can turn the sourest lemons into lemonade. Honey, I’m always up for a tall pitcher of iced cold lemonade, with a shot of something strong on the side.
She’s showing us something that we’ve hadn’t seen in a while and that’s evident from the responses that those from other races have had in regards to her Super Bowl performance all the way down to her Lemonade album and tour.
She’s highlighted that our potential as woke African-American’s scares and intimidates many even in 2016. That the change that could be made invokes fear, bigotry and is downright terrifying to some.

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Yeah, I here for the new Bey.
In the front row, with popcorn, a Mountain Dew and a plan so that when the time comes I’m already in formation.
Who knows?
I just might be a black Bill Gates in the making so I have to keep running cause a winner doesn’t quit on themselves.
I’m Just Saying.

A Tale of the Cowardly Zimmerman

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Photo Credit: The New York Daily News
Let me tell you why I’m over George Zimmerman and his gun.
It’s not because he has one. Technically, it’s his second amendment right as a citizen of the United States of America.
I don’t even have a problem with the U.S. Department of Justice sending it back to him. Again, it’s his right as an American citizen even if it is similar to giving a klans man his rope back.
My problem is with Zimmerman’s audacity to think that someone would want the gun he used to kill 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Really dude?
I also have beef with the guy who co-signed on this horrible idea. At this point the gun has been removed from the auction site Gunbroker.com and the bidding halted but that doesn’t matter.
Since when has selling death been so acceptable that no one bats an eye at an online auction that garnered an opening bid of $5,000 and over 50,000 views?
I’d say it’s been 400 plus years but I don’t think the price of slaves (you know human beings who worked their owner’s land so that then owner could become rich) was set that high on the auction block those days.
Even more disgusting is the “description” listed for the item that was up for sale. Zimmerman wrote:
“The firearm for sale is the firearm that was used to defend my life and end the brutal attack from Trayvon Martin. Many have expressed interest in owning and displaying the firearm including The Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. This is a piece of American History.”
American History, huh?
Well, it would seem that America got the dirty end of the stick on that one. A place where a man can kill a teenager because they’re beating them up. Which wouldn’t have happened if the man had listen to law enforcement and not approached him. A place where after killing said teenager and getting acquitted you decide to sale the weapon used to kill him.
Mr. Zimmerman, you didn’t think about just turning it into one of the gun buyback programs? Or did they not offer enough money for you?
Thank God history has followed a trend of being rewritten. The four years following Martin’s death has brought about unification to a culture that was divided on many issues. It’s allowed the voiceless to be heard, the young to take charge, and justice, even if in only small doses, to be handed out to people who feel that a certain race is substandard to another.
American History. Ha!

America – home of the free, home of the brave,
Where they sell sex, where they sell slaves,
Where little brown and black boys and girls
Are gunned down for being outside and carrying toys.
An America that says they value me
But allow men like Zimmerman to walk around free.
America.

Mr. Zimmerman, you’re not American History. You’re a man that is trying to find purpose and opportunity in the one thing that made him famous: initiating unnecessary contact with and then getting beat up by a young black man so badly he needed a gun to defend himself.
You’re a coward.
A broke one at that.

I’m Just Saying.

Paying for Forgiveness

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It seems the government is in now in the business of paying for forgiveness. It was something that we’ve been told for years couldn’t be done, yet municipalities across the nation are showing us different.

They’re paying black mothers for the actions of poorly-trained and trigger-happy law enforcement officers that resulted in deaths of their loved ones.

Before anyone starts ranting and raving about how I’m bashing police, please understand I’m not. I also know that there are three sides to every story and we may never really know exactly what happened. What we do know is that someone feels like the mothers involved can dry their tears with green tissue paper.

Look at the evidence:

  • Freddie Gray’s family received a $6.4 million civil settlement from the City of Baltimore. Under the settlement, the city accepts all civil liability in the April 2015 arrest and death of Freddie Gray. The 25-year-old Gray suffered a spinal injury while in police custody. The settlement says that the city doesn’t acknowledge any wrongdoing by police. Six officers involved in Gray’s arrest and transport in a police van have been charged with crimes ranging from murder to assault. All of them have pleaded not guilty. Under the claim, the city would pay $2.8 million during the current fiscal year and $3.6 million next year. The settlement helps to avoid a lawsuit.
  • Eric Garner’s family received $5.9 million from New York City after he died in police custody in July 2014.
  • In June, Baltimore officials agreed to pay $56,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging that a police chase led to the death in 2012 of 22-year-old Jordasha Rollins. The money was awarded to the family of the young woman, who was a passenger in a vehicle struck by a car fleeing from police.

And the money doesn’t just roll out in Baltimore and NYC. The Queen City of Charlotte wrote a check of its own this year.

The family of Jonathan Ferrell reached an agreement in a civil suit after Ferrell was killed in an officer involved shooting. The officer, who was later found not guilty, was accused of firing 12 shots hitting Ferrell 10 times after the former FAMU football player had gotten into a wreck and ran to a home for help. The homeowner called the police and may have mistaken the young man as a burglar.

The $2.25 million settlement contains no admission of fault or liability on behalf of the city.

A dangerous trend is developing.

You don’t have to really claim liability but I question whether any municipality would freely give up funds as hard as they are to come by these days.

I also feel like if training is indeed a problem, isn’t it much cheaper to provide law enforcement with more than the state-offered training?

Better yet, how about you provide the training for both the police and the communities that they protect and serve? Stranger danger wouldn’t be so widespread when it came to those in uniform if both parties knew each other better without negative interaction. Quite frankly, the last few years have done nothing to help an already-strained relationship between several different groups of people.

Perhaps instead of preparing to buy forgiveness, governments should put themselves in a position to challenge negative stereotypes on both sides of the fence, bring a community together while making it safer and make sure that police/citizen interaction includes going on home at night.

For both parties.

I’m just saying.

Apathy: The number one killer of African Americans

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In the past two years, the United States has become aware of its flaws. We have slowly pulled at the band-aid that has covered the problem of –isms that we have. I am always hesitant to say that the past few years since the moral up rise in Ferguson was due to racism. I don’t deny that it may have been a contributing factor but I don’t think that was all that was exposed that night. I think the creation of the #Blacklivesmatter and #Justiceforall organizations became billboards for many people of color to say that enough is enough. Not just against racism, but classism, socialism, academicism, collectivism, capitalism, etc. with the help and voices of all colors.

Now let’s take it up a notch. You see, African Americans are killing themselves every day without an officer raising his gun or an argument with a rival gang gone wrong. We’ve been doing it for centuries and haven’t even cared.

You see the biggest killer of African Americans isn’t guns, gangs or guilty cops — it’s apathy.

That’s right folks. I said it. It is our own apathy that has caused so many to fall by the wayside. Before you tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about understand that the definition of apathy is to have a lack of interest, enthusiasm and concern.

So in essence we don’t care enough anymore about what happens to our brothers and sisters.

We don’t care enough to speak up, to vote, to show up at governmental meetings or to set the standard for our communities and those in them. We have become a culture hell bent on being content and not rocking the boat as long as we are taken care of.  When did this shift happen?

We went from work from sun up to sundown to help build this country and now we can’t even get up until the suns down. There were entire cities and neighborhoods built and sustained by African Americans. There were African American officials and business owners who catered to African American consumers and their needs. You see we built cities out of necessity because we couldn’t live and play where we worked, like Clearview and Hobson City. We literally went from creating our own cities to meet our needs to depending on any-city-of to meet our needs.

Legacies were created to be passed down and not to be sold to the highest bidder. Now we are taught that individualism is the way to go and that a select few will rise to the top and for those who don’t, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Men have gone from having the last word to not being able to speak. We have sat around and watched as they have gone from being sold as cattle to slave away on a farm to being sold as inmates to slave away in a prison cell. The irony of it all. Our men of today slaving away in a prison that was built by our men of the past who were slaves. We watch as they send our babies from public schools to prison on the pipeline. Instead of crying out we are content to sit through the state-funded preschool graduation and later join the prison ministry and sit through a GED graduation. Our men want to pop bottles and ball instead of saving and owning.

Recently, two African American brothers were pardoned by the North Carolina governor of the rape and killing of a girl in 1983. Henry McCollum, 51, and Leon Brown, 47, spent 30 years in jail on death row and sentenced to life, respectively, before being allowed to go free. The state awarded them each with $750,000 for time that they’ll never get back. So what does a year of your life cost? Roughly $25,000 according to the state. And while the money does make ends meet it is still considered just above the state’s poverty line of $23,283 for a family of four and $11,945 for individuals. Sadly, some African Americans don’t even make that much but are content to do nothing about it. Our children are in some of the poorest schools in the poorest neighborhoods but all we can think about is when the latest shoes come out, not when report cards are due to come home.

Ladies have gone from being ready snap on someone who calls them a bitch to being a self-proclaimed boss bitch. But if you aren’t really a boss that just leaves a bitch. They have become content to deal with being baby mama number 5 or the side chick instead of being the one and only. Our ladies have decided that it’s okay for our men to have side chicks that know their place as long as he stays at ours instead of demanding he get with it or get going. Today’s young ladies want to grow up to be trap queens instead of chasing corporate dreams. The want to carry bags with someone else’s name on it instead of signing their own names for their own property.

Yes, we are slowly but surely making ourselves, our culture and our worth obsolete. We have gone back to the minstrel dances that entertain the masses in hopes that we may be able to procure some fine items for making the people laugh. We are back to not having the talents and skills to provide for our families, to make a name for ourselves or to show that we are contributing citizens. We are back to being the nonthreatening Negro who obeys orders without a second thought, void of hopes, dreams and opportunity.

We are damn near close to killing ourselves because we are so indifferent to the measures that are being put in place to create a glass ceiling that, this time, we might not be able to breakthrough.

It’s time to wake up, pay attention and act. Your silence and inactivity just might kill you.

I’m just saying.