Dr. Belay D. Reddick asked for a show of hands: How many of the Oakdale federal prison inmates had ever heard of spoken word? Close to two-thirds of the 150 prisoners gathered last month in the prison’s chapel raised their hands. He then asked how many of the men had ever attended a spoken word event, a question that alluded to the presentation of his latest re-entry project. Last month’s event featured nationally-acclaimed championship poet Sha’Condria “iCon” Sibley of Alexandria, Louisiana.
My column last month reported on the vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to support HR 2810, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018. The vote was 344 Yes and 81 No. Seventy-nine percent of our elected representatives in the House voted for “nearly $30 billion more for core Pentagon operations than President Trump requested,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle, July 15, 2017.
How much of our defense budget is actually spent on defense? How many U.S. military bases, estimated to be in 150 to 170 countries, do we need to defend ourselves? How much is to protect corporate trade routes or the war for oil? It is important to note that not one other country has a military base on our soil. Since the early 1960s, 50 to 60 percent of discretionary spending has been for the military. 2018 U.S. military spending: $696 billion
On May 16, inmates at Old Folsom State Prison made contact with the outside world to announce that they will begin a hunger strike on May 25 in response to ongoing mistreatment, dehumanization and unbearable living conditions at Old Folsom. When incarcerated people take action to fight for their dignity, their rights and their lives, those of us on the outside must answer with solidarity. Our support is crucial in getting their demands met and minimizing retaliation against them. We must let these brave individuals know that we have their backs, and that they will not be forgotten.
The men at Old Folsom State Prison in the ASU and Ad-Seg will begin a hunger strike on May 25 due to ongoing issues with the conditions of confinement that violate the Eighth Amendment. These prisoners are without food bowls, therefore having to eat out of ziplock bags. They have no cups, needing to drink water from an old milk carton. They have no TVs, no property at all. The mail is sometimes withheld for no reason – up to a month for some prisoners, for others even longer.
Dimensions Dance Theatre presents its annual youth showcase, “The Village Matters,” on Sunday, May 7. Participants include Rites of Passage, Dimensions Extensions, LIKHA School of Philippine Dance, On Demand, BAY-Peace, Oakland Technical High School, Oakland High School, Bret Harte Middle School and Kipp Bridge Academy. The program also features guest artists Destiny Muhammad, “Harpist from the Hood,” and Batalá San Francisco.
My 67-year-old friend is not violent, but California would beg to differ. At his sentencing, the judge told him, “You are a Vietnam trained killer,” and then sentenced him to 68 years to life. His crime? One day my friend broke into an unoccupied house. After he was caught and tried, he was convicted of burglary and sentenced under California’s Three-Strikes law. We call him Cadillac. He was really excited by the passage of Proposition 57 last November.
Maxine Waters stood before a crowd of young people Friday at Busboys and Poets, a Washington, D.C., restaurant that doubles as stomping ground for social movements. At the event, which she organized as a soulful open mic before the following day’s Tax March, the congresswoman doubled down on her call for the impeachment of President Donald Trump with a combined bluntness and realness one wouldn’t expect from a politician: “We’ve got to stop his ass!” After nearly 40 years in public service, Waters has become the Democratic face for the resistance against Trump.
With President Agent Orange sitting in the White House surrounded by his harem of small-handed Klansmen, we must understand that this homogenous group of fascists is intent on wreaking havoc on intellectual strength. We cannot sink into the depths of mental despair and spiritual neglect. This is exactly what they want. The tyranny of a totalitarian regime and the suffering and oppression that ensues is nothing new to the Black psyche.
On Feb. 1, scores of men in Delaware’s largest prison, the Vaughn Correctional Center, took over one of the buildings in their facility. The prison, built in 1971 and known for its serious overuse of solitary confinement, is one of the state’s most severely overcrowded and punitive facilities. Hoping to push the state to improve living conditions at Vaughn, the prisoners didn’t just take control of Building C – they also took guards hostage. And to make the public aware of why they were protesting, they called the media.
An African proverb says: “When spiders unite, they can tie down a lion.” In this very critical election year, we must unify to defeat the forces that conspire against us. It is for that reason that I invite you to join me this November in healing Richmond by supporting Melvin Willis and Ben Choi for the Richmond City Council. The 2016 election is right around the corner. Some may say there’s not much that they can do to create the change we need locally, let alone nationally. I beg to differ.
Of the millions of people imprisoned in the U.S., most will return home someday – but to what? Barriers to finding a place to live or earning a living – or merely surviving – surround formerly incarcerated people like prison walls. We’re organizing The Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People and Families Movement 1st National Conference in Oakland to come together and find ways to break down those walls.
BlockReportRadio.com interviews author Dr. Tyrene Wright about her book, "Booker T. Washington in Africa". We talk about his involvement in protesting and propagandizing against Leopold's genocide, enslavement, and colonization of the Congo. We also discuss Washington's role in the relationship between the U.S. and Liberia, and his dealings to try to quell the unrest between native Liberians and Amerigo-transplanted Liberians. We also discuss his role in fighting for the immigration rights of Africans who were working on the Panama Canal.
BlockReportRadio interviews the architect, businessman, and legendary MC from Souls of Mischief, Tajai Massey about Hiero Day '16, which will be held on Labor Day in Oakland. He releases the names of the performers for this year. We talk about the passing of Phife Dawg and Prince, his life as an architect, as well as raising a daughter who is an MC headlining at Hiero Day, the Hiero Golden Era shoes and the idea behind it, and much more. Tune into BlockReportRadio.com for more.
With police terrorism hitting the screens of televisions around the world on a weekly and sometimes daily basis due to cellphone cameras, it is obvious why a strong Black media is needed to counteract the nationwide police psychological operation, aka public relations campaign, now being employed to make the police likable and to justify police-imposed torture and genocide on the Black community.
Cheers and chants filled the room at the Green Party Convention at the University of Houston, where physician and activist Jill Stein was named as the Green Party’s presidential candidate with human rights activist Ajamu Baraka as her running mate. Stein said that too much is at stake this election for people to be voting out of fear. Stein said that if people had the courage to vote for the greater good rather than the lesser of two evils, it would be numerically possible for the Green Party to win.
The recent deaths of Alton Sterling, 37, and Philando Castile, 32, at the hands of state-sanctioned violence are additional tragedies in an endless list of Black victims, and a reminder that premature Black death continues to take center stage in the Black narrative. With our heads in our hands and our eyes swollen, we keep asking, when will Black lives matter? White silence about these atrocities is almost as dangerous as the hand that pulls the trigger.
Demanding an end to institutional anti-Black racism by the Israel government, hundreds of Jewish citizens of Ethiopian heritage marched through the streets of downtown Tel Aviv on July 3, renewing demonstrations that had galvanized the community a year earlier. The mostly young Ethiopian-Israeli protesters called for abusive police officers to be jailed and blocked a main street in front of the headquarters of the Ministry of Defense.
Senior White House officials, city leaders, educators, community residents and inmates gathered inside the All Faith Chapel at the Atlanta federal prison on May 9 to hear a debate team of three inmates with lengthy custodial sentences challenge a team of three Morehouse College undergraduates. The highly anticipated event was themed The Great Debate and Reentry Forum: Everyone Deserves a Fair and Second Chance.
The voice of Haiti’s popular movement at this critical period in the country’s history has never been clearer. For the past several months, since the discredited legislative and presidential elections of last August and October, mass, vibrant protests for the right to a free and fair vote and against foreign intervention have been a relentless force, in the face of heavily-armed and well-financed adversaries and mounting repression.