Ferguson, MO???

fuerguson

Black folks have been a target of white hate since the end of the civil war and slavery. I guess its hard giving up free labor and the ideology that makes Black folks lesser human beings and not entitled to the same rights as whites. Even though we have been free about 150 years we are still being plotted against.

We Black folks are good at sitting back and taking injustice and prejudice quietly. Like the great migration north and west. It was a quiet movement against the caste system established in the Jim Crow south to keep Black folks down and suffering. We did what any other people would do who wants freedom. We left the south. Over the years, we have had to endure various injustices and political plans against us. But now in Ferguson, Mo., Black folks have taken to the streets to protest and riot because of the murder of Mike Brown who was unarmed and shot while his hands were in the air.

Ferguson-Missouri-riots

Ferguson is a suburb of St Louis, Mo., and St Louis is the headquarters of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC). This organization is like the so-called respectable “citizens’ councils” formed in the 1950’s and 1960s to fight integration and maintain the southern way of life. This organization boasts as one of its founders the segregationist Lester Maddox, ex-governor of Georgia. In 1998, the media exposed prominent congressional republicans for their affiliation with this organization. For example, Mississippi Senator Trent Lott, who was Majority Leader, was forced to resign over his affiliation with the CCC. Over the years, the CCC had friends in high places like former senator John Ashcroft of Missouri who fought desegregation of St Louis schools. The CCC openly celebrated when President George W. Bush appointed Ashcroft as U.S. Attorney General with the newsletter headlines “Our Ship Has Come In.” So, can you imagine the decades of the influence of this organization in the state of Missouri. Is this why Ferguson police force of 52 officers and only 3 are Black when the population is two-thirds Black.

Thank God, the Black citizens of Ferguson are not being quiet!!

 

 

The Portrayal of Young Black Men And Boys

Young Black Men and Boys Behaving Badly

I remember when my nephew was in second grade at a public elementary school he got into trouble with his teacher for balling his hands at his side after she took something off him.  They, the principal and teacher took this as a threat.  Why??   I didn’t get it then and I don’t get it now.  Can you believe that a school system would have a hearing into the actions of a second grader?  For little white 7 year old Johnny it would’ve been a call home stating that Johnny is having a bad day but for my young Black 7 year old skinny nephew it was a suspension followed by a hearing at the board of education where he will probably be moved to another school because it would be more cost effective to move the child than the teacher.  When this Black man, who was the principal said those words concerning “cost effective” I knew the system was rigged against my nephew being successful.

accdent-scene

Unfortunately, young Black boys are not treated like the Johnnys in the world.  Young Black boys and men are portrayed in the main media as criminals, victims and predators. Even Black folks become afraid of our young men and boys because of how they are perceived negatively in the media.  When you hear the police chief refer to someone as a menace to society, you become fearful of such folks because then anyone can could get hurt including yourself.  Below is a picture of young Black man who has done a bad, bad thing.  The sentencing is what horrified me.   I can’t see a young Black man receiving a sentence like his without one of the charges being homicide.

Pittsburgh PA
Pittsburgh PA

PITTSBURGH (KDKA)

Pittsburgh Post Gazette — The Homewood man accused of leading police on a high-speed chase that seriously injured two Pittsburgh police officers was in court today for his sentencing.

In June, a jury returned a mixed verdict in the trial of Sean Wright. The 22-year-old was found guilty of attempted homicide and assault charges for running over two detectives during the 15 mile pursuit. However, he faced the same charges for injuries to five other officers, but was acquitted on the attempted criminal homicide charges. But he was found guilty of aggravated assault.

Today in court, Wright was sentenced to 50 to 100 years in prison.  I haven’t heard those type of sentences since the era of the south using imprisonment of Blacks as a way to gain a slavery hold on the prisoners.

Worth Repeating …

This is worth repeating because I suspect some folks don’t believe it until they have heard the same message from other sources over and over again.  So, let me be that other source who feels this is very important to Black folks and we need to quit ignoring the writing on the wall.  Houston, there’s a problem.  There are too many sons, nephews, grandsons and fathers who are being incarcerated in astounding numbers.  The new term is mass incarceration of African American males.  Slowly, Black men are legislatively being removed the Black community.  The following excerpt from a blog that features Michelle Alexander who has an important message about mass incarceration and that’s worth repeating.

Excerpt from TomDispatch.com

Michelle Alexander is the author of the bestselling book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness  (The New Press, 2010). The former director of the Racial Justice Project of the ACLU in Northern California, she also served as a law clerk to Justice Harry Blackmun on the U.S. Supreme Court.  Currently, she holds a joint appointment with the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University.  To listen to a TomCast audio interview in which Alexander explains how she came to realize that this country was bringing Jim Crow into the Age of Obama, click here.

 Michelle_Alexander_2011_02

The New Jim Crow
How the War on Drugs Gave Birth to a Permanent American Undercaste
By Michelle Alexander

Ever since Barack Obama lifted his right hand and took his oath of office, pledging to serve the United States as its 44th president, ordinary people and their leaders around the globe have been celebrating our nation’s “triumph over race.”  Obama’s election has been touted as the final nail in the coffin of Jim Crow, the bookend placed on the history of racial caste in America.

Obama’s mere presence in the Oval Office is offered as proof that “the land of the free” has finally made good on its promise of equality.  There’s an implicit yet undeniable message embedded in his appearance on the world stage: this is what freedom looks like; this is what democracy can do for you.  If you are poor, marginalized, or relegated to an inferior caste, there is hope for you.  Trust us.  Trust our rules, laws, customs, and wars.  You, too, can get to the promised land.

Perhaps greater lies have been told in the past century, but they can be counted on one hand.  Racial caste is alive and well in America.

Most people don’t like it when I say this.  It makes them angry.  In the “era of colorblindness” there’s a nearly fanatical desire to cling to the myth that we as a nation have “moved beyond” race.  Here are a few facts that run counter to that triumphant racial narrative:

*There are more African American adults under correctional control today — in prison or jail, on probation or parole — than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.

*As of 2004, more African American men were disenfranchised (due to felon disenfranchisement laws) than in 1870, the year the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified, prohibiting laws that explicitly deny the right to vote on the basis of race.

* A black child born today is less likely to be raised by both parents than a black child born during slavery.  The recent disintegration of the African American family is due in large part to the mass imprisonment of black fathers.

*If you take into account prisoners, a large majority of African American men in some urban areas have been labeled felons for life.  (In the Chicago area, the figure is nearly 80%.) These men are part of a growing undercaste — not class, caste — permanently relegated, by law, to a second-class status.  They can be denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from juries, and legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education, and public benefits, much as their grandparents and great-grandparents were during the Jim Crow era.

Excuses for the Lockdown

There is, of course, a colorblind explanation for all this: crime rates.  Our prison population has exploded from about 300,000 to more than 2 million in a few short decades, it is said, because of rampant crime.  We’re told that the reason so many black and brown men find themselves behind bars and ushered into a permanent, second-class status is because they happen to be the bad guys.

The uncomfortable truth, however, is that crime rates do not explain the sudden and dramatic mass incarceration of African Americans during the past 30 years.  Crime rates have fluctuated over the last few decades — they are currently at historical lows — but imprisonment rates have consistently soared.  Quintupled, in fact.  The main driver has been the War on Drugs. Drug offenses alone accounted for about two-thirds of the increase in the federal inmate population, and more than half of the increase in the state prison population between 1985 and 2000, the period of our prison system’s most dramatic expansion.

The drug war has been brutal — complete with SWAT teams, tanks, bazookas, grenade launchers, and sweeps of entire neighborhoods — but those who live in white communities have little clue to the devastation wrought.  This war has been waged almost exclusively in poor communities of color, even though studies consistently show that people of all colors use and sell illegal drugs at remarkably similar rates.  In fact, some studies indicate that white youth are significantly more likely to engage in illegal drug dealing than black youth.  Any notion that drug use among African Americans is more severe or dangerous is belied by the data.  White youth, for example, have about three times the number of drug-related visits to the emergency room as their African American counterparts.

That is not what you would guess, though, when entering our nation’s prisons and jails, overflowing as they are with black and brown drug offenders.  In some states, African Americans comprise 80%-90% of all drug offenders sent to prison.

This is the point at which I am typically interrupted and reminded that black men have higher rates of violent crime.  That’s why the drug war is waged in poor communities of color and not middle-class suburbs.  Drug warriors are trying to get rid of those drug kingpins and violent offenders who make ghetto communities a living hell.  It has nothing to do with race; it’s all about violent crime.

Again, not so. President Ronald Reagan officially declared the current drug war in 1982, when drug crime was declining, not rising. President Richard Nixon was the first to coin the term “a war on drugs,” but it was President Reagan who turned the rhetorical war into a literal one. From the outset, the war had relatively little to do with drug crime and much to do with racial politics. The drug war was part of a grand and highly successful Republican Party strategy of using racially coded political appeals on issues of crime and welfare to attract poor and working class white voters who were resentful of, and threatened by, desegregation, busing, and affirmative action. In the words of H.R. Haldeman, President Richard Nixon’s White House Chief of Staff: “[T]he whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.”

A few years after the drug war was announced, crack cocaine hit the streets of inner-city communities.  The Reagan administration seized on this development with glee, hiring staff who were to be responsible for publicizing inner-city crack babies, crack mothers, crack whores, and drug-related violence.  The goal was to make inner-city crack abuse and violence a media sensation, bolstering public support for the drug war which, it was hoped, would lead Congress to devote millions of dollars in additional funding to it.

The plan worked like a charm.  For more than a decade, black drug dealers and users would be regulars in newspaper stories and would saturate the evening TV news.  Congress and state legislatures nationwide would devote billions of dollars to the drug war and pass harsh mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes — sentences longer than murderers receive in many countries.

Democrats began competing with Republicans to prove that they could be even tougher on the dark-skinned pariahs.  In President Bill Clinton’s boastful words, “I can be nicked a lot, but no one can say I’m soft on crime.”  The facts bear him out.  Clinton’s “tough on crime” policies resulted in the largest increase in federal and state prison inmates of any president in American history.  But Clinton was not satisfied with exploding prison populations.  He and the “New Democrats” championed legislation banning drug felons from public housing (no matter how minor the offense) and denying them basic public benefits, including food stamps, for life.  Discrimination in virtually every aspect of political, economic, and social life is now perfectly legal, if you’ve been labeled a felon.

Facing Facts

But what about all those violent criminals and drug kingpins? Isn’t the drug war waged in ghetto communities because that’s where the violent offenders can be found?  The answer is yes… in made-for-TV movies.  In real life, the answer is no.

The drug war has never been focused on rooting out drug kingpins or violent offenders.  Federal funding flows to those agencies that increase dramatically the volume of drug arrests, not the agencies most successful in bringing down the bosses.  What gets rewarded in this war is sheer numbers of drug arrests.  To make matters worse, federal drug forfeiture laws allow state and local law enforcement agencies to keep for their own use 80% of the cash, cars, and homes seized from drug suspects, thus granting law enforcement a direct monetary interest in the profitability of the drug market.

The results have been predictable: people of color rounded up en masse for relatively minor, non-violent drug offenses.  In 2005, four out of five drug arrests were for possession, only one out of five for sales.  Most people in state prison have no history of violence or even of significant selling activity.  In fact, during the 1990s — the period of the most dramatic expansion of the drug war — nearly 80% of the increase in drug arrests was for marijuana possession, a drug generally considered less harmful than alcohol or tobacco and at least as prevalent in middle-class white communities as in the inner city.

In this way, a new racial undercaste has been created in an astonishingly short period of time — a new Jim Crow system.  Millions of people of color are now saddled with criminal records and legally denied the very rights that their parents and grandparents fought for and, in some cases, died for.

Affirmative action, though, has put a happy face on this racial reality.  Seeing black people graduate from Harvard and Yale and become CEOs or corporate lawyers — not to mention president of the United States — causes us all to marvel at what a long way we’ve come.

Recent data shows, though, that much of black progress is a myth. In many respects, African Americans are doing no better than they were when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated and uprisings swept inner cities across America. The black child poverty rate is actually higher now than it was then. Unemployment rates in black communities rival those in Third World countries. And that’s with affirmative action!

When we pull back the curtain and take a look at what our “colorblind” society creates without affirmative action, we see a familiar social, political, and economic structure: the structure of racial caste.  The entrance into this new caste system can be found at the prison gate.

This is not Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream.  This is not the promised land.  The cyclical rebirth of caste in America is a recurring racial nightmare.

Central Park 5

In 1989 we were all held captive by the news of the brutality of New York 5, 4 Black and 1 Hispanic who were accused of gang raping and beating a young white woman who went for a jog in New York’s Central Park shortly before 9 p.m. Hours later she was found near death. In a coma, with 75 percent blood loss, a fierce blow to the head and severe exposure, doctors at Metropolitan Hospital worried that this young woman might not survive. The story seized the headlines, not only in New York, but around the world.


Well it wasn’t long before we heard of the roaming gangs of teenagers whose only goal is to wreak havoc on those they randomly chose, called wilding.  A gang/group of Black teenage boys were quickly picked up and questioned without parents or guardians present.  Unfortunately, these boys were treated like most of our young black males are treated today.  They were held for hours, no water, no food and no calls home.  They were questioned until they gave the police what they wanted, a confession.  These boys were tried and convicted.  Sounds familiar, yes, just like the Scottsboro boys!!  History repeating it’s self.  At this point, I would elaborate on the Scottsboro boys in caseyou didn’t know but I’m sure you do know the story and probably seen the movie.  There are not many racial incidents America is willing to record as part of African American history but the Scottsboro boys was. Now, Ken Burns created the film “The Central Park Five”  in partnership with his daughter Sarah and her husband.
The five teenagers from Harlem, ranging in age 14 years old to 16 years old, who happened to be running around Central Park with a couple dozen troublemakers that night: Antron McCray (15), Kevin Richardson(14), Raymond Santana, Korey Wise(16) and Yusef Salaam(15).  They easily became scapegoats for this crime.  These Black teenage boys didn’t have a chance.  Those of us who watched as these boys were railroaded into a prison cell with confessions spilling from their own mouths now feel guilty that such an injustice could have happened.  But here again we have scenario of a white woman being raped and beaten unconscious and unable to remember anything.  The heart of this white nation ached for her and it sent fear into the hearts of every Black mother, don’t let them chose my son for this crime. 

Unfortunately for these teenagers the contradictory confessions and timeline disparities didn’t matter; neither did the fact that none of their DNA was found at the scene. The teenagers didn’t even know where in Central Park the attack took place. Serial rapist Matias Reyers confessed 13 years after the Central Park rape and was a DNA match. His confession set the boys now men free in 2002.

Ken Burns, known for such television documentaries and mini-series as National Parks: America’s Best Idea, The Civil War, Jazz, Baseball, The War and Prohibition.  I’m sure the partnership with daughter Sarah Burns who wrote the book (The Central Park Five) and her husband filmmaker David McMahon have produced a fantastic film.  In 2003, the men filed a civil suit in the Southern District seeking $50 million each for malicious prosecution and civil rights violations that the city has fought ever since. So, the city of New York may want to subpoena parts of the film because of the law suit. Burns has already said he will fight it!

I employ you to support this film by being a witness to the injustice that is part of our African American experience and vow to protest New York City lack of compassion toward those they have treated miserably and inhumanly.  These were children, black children, they put in prison.

America’s Cradle to Prison Pipeline – 5

Why there is there a large prison population of Black males?

This blog is dedicated to making aware the Children’s Defense Fund  campaign Cradle to Prison Pipeline and providing excerpts from the report in spoon size pieces in an effort to understand what’s happening in the Black community and provide an answer to the large population of Black males in prison. 

 A Call to End Adult Hypocrisy, Neglect and Abandonment of Children and America’s Cradle to Prison Pipeline

This very painful report onAmerica’s Cradle to Prison Pipeline® crisis is a loud siren of

alarm and wake up call to action to every parent, faith, community, public policy,

political and cultural leader, child and family serving agency and citizen.

I am often asked “What’s wrong with our children?” Children having children.

Children killing children. Children killing others. Children killing themselves. Children

roaming streets alone or in gangs all day and night. Children floating through life like

driftwood on a beach. Children addicted to tobacco and alcohol and heroin and

cocaine and pot, drinking and drugging themselves to death to escape reality.

Children running away from home and being thrown away or abused and neglected

by parents. Children being locked up in jails with adult criminal mentors or all alone.

Children bubbling with rage and crushed by depression.

Well adults are what’s wrong with our children. Parents letting children raise

themselves or be raised by television or the Internet. Children being shaped by peers

and gangs and foul mouth rappers instead of parents, grandparents and kin. Children

roaming the streets because there’s nobody at home or paying enough attention.

Children going to drug houses that are always open instead of to school houses and

church houses, mosques and temples that are too often closed. Children seeing

adults take and sell drugs and be violent to each other and to them. Adults telling children

one thing and doing another. Adults making promises we don’t keep and preaching

what we don’t practice. Adults telling children to control themselves while slapping

and spanking. Adults telling children to be honest while lying and cheating in our

homes, offices and public life. Adults telling children not to be violent while marketing

and glorifying violence and tolerating gun saturated war zones in communities all

across our land. Adults telling children to be healthy while selling them junk food and

addicting them to smoke and drink and careless sex.

Our “child and youth problem” is not a child and youth problem;

it is a profound adult problem as our children do what they see

us adults doing in our personal, professional and public lives.


What’s wrong with our children? We are what’s wrong with our children. And I

hope God will help us to repent, to open our eyes and ears and see and hear our children’s

cries for help and guidance, and act to save them allnow!

What must children feel when parents, kin, neighbors and cultural icons abuse

drugs and engage in or condone violent behavior? What must children feel when

those entrusted with caring for them in their homes, neighborhoods, schools and

other institutions abuse and neglect them? How great must be their fear and anger

when parents and relatives are snatched away from them by drugs and gun violence

and incarceration. How scary it must be for a child to sleep in an unsafe shelter full

of strangers with no place to call home. How angry and rejected a child or teen must

feel when there is no loving, reliable person s/he can trust and who is being shunted

from one family foster home or group home to another and from one school that suspends

and expels him to another. How isolated and alone it must feel when no one sees or

cares whether you’re truant or home before dark or struggling to see the blackboard

or have a learning disorder. What can children believe when important adults in their

lives tell them in word and deed that they are not worth much and treat them as a burden

rather than a gift, don’t expect and help them to achieve, or abandon them altogether to

raise themselves? What do children learn about right and wrong when they see corporate

leaders being arrested for pillaging their corporations and the life blood of

workers, seniors and stockholders? How can children trust political leaders who

repeatedly promise to alleviate their poverty, to rebuild their flooded homes and

schools, to ease their suffering and then leave them like debris still waiting over two

years later, in a purgatory of hopelessness and uncertainty, for their nation to help

them heal their monstrous losses and to prepare them for productive lives? Who can

children believe when religious leaders, charged by their faith to protect and nurture

them, abuse them instead? And who can rudderless children and youth look up to as

s/heroes in a culture that permits violence and guns and prison and underachievement

to be promoted as cool, almost as rites of passage, and bling as worth living,

killing and dying for?

It is time for adults of every race and income group to break our silence about

the pervasive breakdown of moral, family, community and national values, to place our

children first in our lives, and to struggle to model the behavior we want our children

to learn. Our “child and youth problem” is not a child and youth problem, it is a profound

adult problem as our children do what they see us adults doing in our personal, professional

and public lives. They seek our attention in negative ways when we provide

them too few positive ways to communicate and to get the attention and love they

need. And we choose to punish and lock them up rather than take the necessary,

more cost-effective steps to prevent and intervene early to ensure them the healthy,

head, safe, fair and moral start in life they need to reach successful adulthood.

CRADLE TO PRISON PIPELINE – 4

A Need for a Comprehensive Continuum of
Support from Birth to Adulthood

Children and families do not come in pieces or neat packages that fit one or
another “program” or “strategy.” They are a complex amalgam of biological potential
and environmental realities, of culture and family and community role models, of
assets and risks. Analyzing causes and effects, and understanding the links among
all these factors, requires separating them into subject areas, systems or knowledge
areas. That is how data are gathered and kept, professionals are trained, programs
are funded, budgets are made and services administered. But we must not lose sight
of the whole child.

Like an insurance company’s actuarial chart, it is possible to predict from “risk
factors” the likelihood of a child ending up stuck in the Cradle to Prison Pipeline.
Much research and Cass’s and Curry’s case studies show major risk factors to be:

  •  poverty, especially extreme poverty;
  •  family composition where single parents, teenage parents, alcohol- or substance-abusing parents, a parent in prison, a parent abandoning the home—all predict increased delinquency;
  •  lack of health care, from prenatal care for pregnant women to preventive screening for children and youth of all ages to detect illnesses that block learning,hearing, seeing or concentrating;
  •  babies born at low birthweight, which is a risk factor for later physical, developmental and learning problems;
  •  abuse or neglect during childhood that goes unnoticed or untreated and fueled by poverty;
  •  foster care placements when families break down (especially in families not related to the children) risk abuse, neglect, sexual exploitation, low self-esteem, anger and poor social relationships;
  •  poor school quality where not reading at grade level, failing or acting out are met with police intervention, and suspensions or expulsions leading to dropping out altogether;
  •  few timely and quality mental health program interventions in communities to provide care in a timely manner to prevent or interrupt negative behavior or remediate problems causing children to get into trouble;
  •  the juvenile justice system which cements many children’s sense of hopelessness and offers too few positive programs, too late, to change the Pipeline’s trajectory;
  • and  throughout all these major risk factors is the disparate treatment of children of color.

Research also shows that if a child has one or a few of these risk factors, while
potentially harmful, there’s a good chance that the child’s resiliency and some intervention
by a teacher, a counselor, a mentor, a relative, a pastor or some other adult
offering encouragement, assistance and guidance can save that child from falling into or
staying in the Pipeline. CDF’s Beat the Odds celebrations of and scholarships for
children overcoming unbelievable obstacles attest to the power of one caring adult in
a child’s life. But a young child exposed to six or more of these risk factors is ten times
as likely to commit a violent act by age 18 as one who experiences only one or a few
risk factors. In a hospital nursery, behind the glass of newborns in 2001, that one in
three Black boy babies and one in six Latino boy babies will end up in the Pipeline
and in prison is a national tragedy. Unless it is addressed head on, it will disempower the
Black and Latino communities and undermine family stability and child socialization.
The challenge for each of us and for the nation is to prevent it—for preventable it is.

Cradle to Prison Pipeline -3 Black Leaders address the mass incarceration of youth.

 During a meeting in December 2010, Black leaders gathered at CDF Haley Farm to discuss the problems Black youth face and promising approaches. Watch new videos from the convening where author Michelle Alexander addresses the devastating impact that the mass incarceration of Black men is having on communities and Judith Browne-Dianis of the Advancement Project discusses zero tolerance policies in schools.

This video is lengthy but worth it for the content value.