Salt, grease and fried meat filled the air with just a hint of burnt sugar thrown in. My mind wandered to breakfasts past sizzling in a greasy diner. This time, however, I was on my bike, riding past an empty lot in East Oakland at 6:30 a.m. No houses or restaurants were remotely close. And then I saw the smoke and heard the sizzle. It was coming from one of a long line of late model Subarus, Hondas, BMWs, Acura sedans and even a Mercedes.
With heartbreak, yet hope, we reach out to you in the Name of our Lord and Liberator, Jesus, the Christ. It was unsettling and upsetting to witness the meeting with you, our moral leaders, and one of the most amoral persons to ever occupy the White House in the name of discussing prison reform. We are sure it must have been intoxicating to walk the corridors of power and sit at the table of governing authority. Unfortunately, those precincts of power have been infected by White supremacy and moral bankruptcy.
“Three African-American construction workers said this week that they were targeted by racial slurs and death threats, including black dolls hanging from nooses in the bathroom, while working on the site of a San Francisco high-rise,” reported the New York Times after renowned civil rights attorney John Burris, who’s representing the workers, held a June 21 press conference. That the issue is important enough for a major story in the New York Times will, we hope, catch the attention of the powers that be in San Francisco.
Dr. King’s assassination was the key marker in the transition of a great era of social change, from one where “inclusion” in the broader capitalist system was the general thrust to one where the general focus of the Black fight for equality became a broadly defined “self-determination,” rooted in a recognition of the entrenched nature of racism, not simply as a function of attitudes, but as a method of social control.
There is a branding within our communities that is honored, praised and promoted – a branding that has been adopted out of ignorance and is more dehumanizing than the word nigger. Yet, this branding has been promoted and ingrained into the psyche of many within our communities to the point that it has been accepted and even worn as a badge of honor, not unlike the derogatory “nigger” terminology. The branding I’m referring to is the mark of a beast, a killer, a robber, a drug dealer or, simply, a criminal.
UC Berkeley’s New Media might be new, but the racism is old. “Our-Race Bias” (ORB) happens thousands of times a day in America, but it is not podcast or uploaded to digital media. The Starbucks coffee house racism incident is the tip of the iceberg in universities across the country. But as one passes through the classrooms in UC Berkeley’s New Media and Media Studies, he rarely sees any African American students in the classrooms, to say nothing of Black faculty.
At 11:00 a.m. Monday, April 16, 2018, community organizer Steve Zeltzer introduced former Treasure Island residents Andre Patterson and Felita Sample, who had been invited to speak at this press conference where whistle-blowers exposed the malfeasance of remediation contractor Tetra Tech on Hunters Point and Treasure Island. “I want to introduce two people today who’ve been personally affected by the corruption and the coverup at Treasure Island."
As both the political left and right decry the heartless immigration policy that is separating children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border, the white evangelical community is proving once again to be the taillight instead of the headline on issues of basic morality and justice. This is not the first time in U.S. history when those among us who most loudly cite from the Bible outright ignore or deny humanitarian crises.
On Jan. 21, 2018, our loved elder, revolutionary leader and teacher Hon. Richard “Mafundi” Lake joined the Ancestors. For the many of us who had the privilege of being in the classroom of life with Ancestor Mafundi, let his transition serve as yet another lesson to us of the immediacy of our situation behind these walls and serve as a reminder of why we can’t wait to commit our all to the struggle to end slavery in America. We are, without any doubt, still slaves and chattel here in America for no reason other than the color of our skin.
According to Theodore W. Allen’s book, “The Invention of the White Race,” in 1619 there were no “white” people in America listed in colonial records. Europeans first became “White by law” in 1691. Mr. Allen goes on to say that the White Race was invented as a socio-political construct, designed to create a ruling class and bring the eternally warring factions of Europe together against a common enemy: people of color in general, Black people more specifically, and Black men in particular.
I have always said that if you want to understand the nature of a thing, you must research its origin. I would venture to say that the iconic freedom fighter and servant of the people Malcolm X was the first “Prison Panther,” although he was not known officially as such. However, when Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther Party for Self Defense in 1966 at Merritt College in Oakland, California, the legacy of their hero, OUR HERO, Malcolm X was on their mind.
In 1968, Joe Debro was reporting on an Oakland we would recognize today, where white arrests were down and Black arrests up, where in the first four months of 1968, police murdered about a dozen Black and Brown youth allegedly fleeing the scene of a crime, where “almost every ghetto Negro has a police record.” This is Part 18 of the report titled “A Study of the Manpower Implications of Small Business Financing: A Survey of 149 Minority and 202 Anglo-Owned Small Businesses in Oakland, California.”
The Eureka chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has sent out a press release regarding Humboldt State University’s recruitment efforts in minority-majority neighborhoods –telling HSU to forgo the revenue these prospective students offer until they implement substantial support for students of color. Following is the press release, dated April 25, 2018.
For both armed and unarmed combat, the United States military is unparalleled in the world. So, when the U.S. Navy points the finger for its bungled Hunters Point cleanup at Tetra Tech to deflect from its own liability, it’s a carefully thought-out advance strategy that has worked for decades on contaminated Naval bases around the globe.
Asked what she wanted her legacy to be, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm once said, “I’d like them to say that Shirley Chisholm had guts. That’s how I’d like to be remembered.” Like Shirley, I believe that to restore confidence and trust in our institutions and leaders, we need to speak truth. And that means electing more leaders who aren’t afraid to speak up and speak out. And every one of us privileged to serve has to mentor and lift up others.
The 13th Amendment reads in Section One: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, nor any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Understanding this contradictory character of the 13th Amendment sheds light on the utilization of the criminal justice system in the perpetuation of bondage for the purpose of institutional racism and class exploitation.
The problems with Alan Dershowitz’s position regarding Obama’s taking a picture with Farrakhan are two-fold. First, by associating Obama with Farrakhan’s views, he is painting with too broad a brush. The second problem with Alan Dershowitz’s complaint is the static nature of his worldview. We can love our allies, and still have a concern that they do not speak against our interest when our interests diverge from theirs. Alan Dershowitz and others of our allies must come to understand this.
With words that come from my heart, I’d like to tell you of myself, in hopes people may see and know that there are folks with soul and with heart all over. I am 46 years old. My mom was Cherokee and German, my Dad was Irish American and we lived in Dalton, Georgia. I am the youngest of nine kids. We lived in what is called Newtown. My mom and Dad were seen the same as a Black person with a fair-skinned person. I grew up as the only non-black American on my street till mom passed on Sept. 21, 1981.
Tuesday night, Jan. 23, 2018, supporters of San Francisco acting Mayor London Breed walked around in a daze in City Hall’s opulent Board of Supervisors chambers, shocked to realize Breed had just been ousted as mayor. One supporter asked, “What is a caretaker mayor anyway?” Answer: The term “caretaker mayor” was invented by self-serving members of the Board of Supervisors vying to be the next mayor of San Francisco in the November 2011 election.
After randomly being awakened in the early morning, boarded onto the TDCJ transportation bus, then shipped to the Ramsey Unit, a prisoner told me that the experience was like “being snatched from a dungeon and sent to a new wave slave plantation.” The statement he made is a reality that many prisoners housed in close custody units and solitary confinement cells throughout the state of Texas are experiencing, on a whim.