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Texas woman sentenced to five years in prison for voting while on probation

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Crystal Mason, a 43-year-old, Black mother, was sentenced to five years in prison for illegally voting in the 2016 presidential election. At time time of the election, Mason had served three years in prison for income tax fraud. Her mother insisted she vote. Mason had to complete a provisional ballot since her name was not on the voter roll. Her ballot was not counted after it was discovered she was on probation.

It’s difficult to understand why questions from poll workers at the voting precinct did not lead to advisement to Mason that she is ineligible to vote. Mason said she was never told that voting while on probation is a felony.

Let’s say all that is true. Some might take the position that ignorance of the law is not a viable defense. Sentencing someone to five years in prison is cruel. Ethan Couch, the teen who killed four people while driving under the influence only served two years in jail. Four people dead and he serves two years. In jail. Voting while on probation and Mason receives five years. In prison. Where is the justice?

Both Mason and Couch were tried in the Tarrant County, Texas courts system. Now, Mason says she will never vote again. That is how voter intimidation and voter suppression work.

 

 


To Survive and Thrive, Blacks Need to Live Kwanzaa All-Year-Long

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Today is the first day of the week long celebration of Kwanzaa. It is a Pan-African holiday based on seven principles with seven main symbols that is celebrated for seven days starting December 26. A candle representing each principle is lit daily starting with the black candle in the center which represents umoja [OO-MO-JAH], unity.

Nguzo Saba [IN-GOO-ZO SAH-BAH] - The Seven Principles

Kwanzaa was created to introduce and reinforce seven basic values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing family, community and culture among African American people as well as Africans throughout the world African community. These values are called the Nguzo Saba which in Swahili means the Seven Principles. Developed in 1966, by Dr. Maulana Karenga, the Nguzo Saba stand at the heart of the origin and meaning of Kwanzaa, for it is these values which are not only the building blocks for community but also serve to reinforce and enhance them.

Umoja [OO-MO-JAH] (Unity) - To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, race.
 
Kujichagulia [KOO-JEE-CHA-GOO-LEE-YAH] (Self-Determination) - To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves instead of being defined, named, created for and spoken for by others.
 
Ujima [OO-JEE-MAH] (Collective Work & Responsibility) - To build and maintain our community together and make our sisters' and brothers' problems our problems and solve them together.
 
Ujamaa [OO-JAH-MAH] (Cooperative Economics) - To build and maintain our own stores and other businesses and to profit from them together.
 
Nia [NEE-YAH] (Purpose) - To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
 
Kuumba [KOO-OOM-BAH] (Creativity) - To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
 
Imani [EE-MAH-NEE] (Faith) - To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

The Seven Symbols of Kwanzaa
 
Kwanzaa has seven basic symbols and two supplemental ones. Each represents values and concepts reflective of African culture and contributive to community building and reinforcement. The basic symbols in Swahili and then in English are:

Mazao [MAH-ZAH-O](The Crops)
These are symbolic of African harvest celebrations and of the rewards of productive and collective labor.

Mkeka [EM-KAY-KAH](The Mat)
This is symbolic of our tradition and history and therefore, the foundation on which we build.

Kinara [KEE-NAH-RAH] (The Candle Holder)
This is symbolic of our roots, our parent people -- continental Africans.

Muhindi [MOO-HEEN-DEE] (The Corn)
This is symbolic of our children and our future which they embody.



Mishumaa Saba [MEE-SHOO-MAH-AH SAH-BAH] (The Seven Candles)
These are symbolic of the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles, the matrix and minimum set of values which African people are urged to live by in order to rescue and reconstruct their lives in their own image and according to their own needs.



Kikombe cha Umoja [KEE-KOHM-BAY CHAH OO-MO-JAH] (The Unity Cup)
This is symbolic of the foundational principle and practice of unity which makes all else possible.



Zawadi [ZAH-WAH-DEE] (The Gifts)
These are symbolic of the labor and love of parents and the commitments made and kept by the children. 



The two supplemental symbols are:



Bendera (The Flag)
The colors of the Kwanzaa flag are the colors of the Organization Us, black, red and green; black for the people, red for their struggle, and green for the future and hope that comes from their struggle. It is based on the colors given by the Hon. Marcus Garvey as national colors for African people throughout the world.


Nguzo Saba Poster (Poster of The Seven Principles)

Kwanzaa is not anti-Christmas neither is it the black Christmas or the black Hanukkah. Kwanzaa is a non-religious and non-political holiday. It can be celebrated with family and friends of different religious practices and beliefs. Kwanzaa is celebrated for one week of the year but practiced all year-long.

The current sociological and political atmosphere in the United States makes adopting a Kwanzaa lifestyle a matter of survival for black people. Advocating for black communities, supporting black businesses and supporting black schools is imperative as more and more safety net programs are cut as well as quality public education opportunities. 

 


The Legacy of Donald Trump: Distract, Divide and Destroy

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Stoking the flames of racial hatred and fear. Donald Trump continues to distract and divide Americans while pandering to his base of white voters by verbally attacking well-known blacks. President Barack Obama, Jemele Hill, Colin Kaepernick, Marshawn Lynch, Steph Curry, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and Merck VP Kenneth Frazier. Still no clapback when Eminem skewered him in a vicious rap or when Tom Brady didn’t visit the White House with his teammates. It is what it is and Trump is who he is.

Trump’s latest black target, LaVar Ball. Why? Because Ball won’t bow down and kiss the ring (and posterior) of The Donald. Trump claims responsibility for the release of Ball’s son and two other college basketball players caught shoplifting in China. Ball claims to have folks on the ground in China that worked on the release of the players.

Instead of Trump showing class, he again showed himself to be crass. Really? Behind lack of what he perceived as proper deference to the president? Wow, that’s pathetic.

Donald is going to “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” by putting Negroes in their place. Unbeknownst to his base, Trump needs to keep his base angry with blacks so he can continue to get rich while his base remains poor or must deal with an economically fragile position.

Keep the blacks and whites separate so they don’t realize their power together. Distract, divide and destroy America. That’s the Trump way.

Rest assured, Special Counsel Robert Müeller’s Team is still investigating Russian interference in the U.S. elections in 2016. From various news reports Team Müeller also appears to be getting closer and closer to Donald Trump Sr. Stop the madness. Pay attention. Stay woke.

 


Call (202) 224-3121, Ask your senator to vote NO on Graham-Cassidy

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It’s sinful, shameful and un-American how our Republican-controlled government is trying to force the Graham-Cassidy health care repeal bill on the American people. Without proper vetting and analysis, the Senate will soon vote on this bill. Do they know what they are voting on or are they just toeing the Party line?

Graham-Cassidy is described as more egregious than any of the other previous attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) also known as Obamacare. Graham-Cassidy removes protections for people with pre-existing health conditions; ends protections against lifetime and annual limits on insurance coverage; eliminates tax credits that help working people afford health coverage; and takes away health insurance for 32 million Americans.

Congress could just tweak ACA but no they are hell-bent on destroying the legacy of President Barack Obama because he is black. Donald Trump campaigned on repealing Obamacare on the first day he was in Office. The first day. Obviously that didn’t happen. Reasonable voters knew that was a lie. Republicans continue to lie, this time, about the Graham-Cassidy Bill. 

Call (202) 224-3121. Ask the operator to connect you with your senator. Ask your senator to VOTE NO on Graham-Cassidy. Time is of the essence. This is important. Our lives depend on it.

 


In my Hurricane feelings…

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It had been almost twelve years since I'd waited in line for gasoline. I don't remember if it was late night or early morning but I do recall a man knocking on my car window because I'd fallen asleep and I was holding up the line. Hurricane Wilma had my family without electricity for 14 days. What a horrible time.

Many people in the Miami area remember the devastation of Hurricane Andrew but Wilma was the worst to me. Andrew impacted more people that lived and had businesses on the southern end of Miami-Dade County. I did have family on the southern end that had to escape their home because of Andrew but my immediate family lived in the north so we were not inconvenienced as much. After a few days businesses on the north end came back online so we could get a hot meal and purchase necessities.

Fast forward to 2017. Mother Nature has been showing out. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have been quite deadly, disruptive and destructive closely followed by Maria who is battering Puerto Rico as I write this.

After about nine days of no electricity, still no landline for the phone, it's hard to explain how not in control one feels. Our lives will not be completely back to normal for quite some time.

I most grateful that Irma was a Category 1 by the time her winds came howling through South Florida. She stayed far too long but the death, damage and devastation could have been much worse. Infrastructure. Climate change. We must do better.

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Donald Trump and White Shame

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Every American-born and reared Black person over the age of 55 was very likely admonished, as a child, to not embarrass the race. The admonition was usually delivered prior to participating in an activity in which white people would be present. It could have been something as simple as going shopping in a store or going to the bank or going for a doctor's visit.

First of all, it was a requirement that we were appropriately dressed. No casual attire or "play clothes" permitted. We were usually told to behave. Don't talk. Don't touch anything. Don't even sit until you were told. The admonishment usually concluded with "don't embarrass the family and don't embarrass our race." Yes, such was the indoctrination, socialization and "training" of black children. 

So, what, do tell, does that have to do with Donald Trump? Well, quite frankly, I wonder how white people really feel about Donald Trump in his role as POTUS. More specifically, are white people embarrassed by Trump's crude behavior, penchant for tweeting when he should be governing and rambling, nonsensical responses to questions? Trump claims to have attended the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania. Are their alumni embarrassed he's one of them? Inquiring minds want to know. 

When questioned recently about the rise in Anti-Semitism, this was Trump's answer:

 

Here is the transcript of that question and answer:

Reporter: Mr. President, since your election campaign and even after your victory, we’ve seen a sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents across the United States. And I wonder what you say to those among the Jewish community in the States and in Israel and maybe around the world, who believe and feel that your administration is playing with xenophobia and maybe racist tones?

Trump: Well, I just want to say that we are, you know, very honored by the victory that we had. Three hundred and six Electoral College votes. We were not supposed to crack 220. You know that, right? There was no way to 221 but then they said there’s no way to 270. And there’s tremendous enthusiasm out there. I will say that we are going to have peace in this country. We are going to stop crime in this country. We are going to do everything within our power to stop long simmering racism and every other thing that’s going on. Because a lot of bad things have been taking place over a long period of time. I think one of the reasons I won the election is because we have a very, very divided nation. Very divided and hopefully, I’ll be able to do something about that. And I — you know, something that was very important to me.

As far as people, Jewish people — so many friends, a daughter who happens to be here right now. A son-in-law, and three beautiful grandchildren. I think that you’re going to see a lot of different United States of America over the next three, four, or eight years. I think a lot of good things are happening and you’re going to see a lot of love. You’re going to see a lot of love. Okay? Thank you.

Yes, that was the actual response from the man who has access to the nuclear codes. God help America. 

 

 

 


Thank You, President Obama!

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So, here we are. It’s Saturday, January 21, 2017. The day after Barack Obama’s last day as President of the United States. As much hatred as that man endured. The disrespect from American elected leaders. The persistent obstruction by Republican members of Congress. It was not a good look for our nation, but it was our reality. We will miss the tremendous dignity, grace, and intelligence of President Barack Hussein Obama. We will miss the Obama family. Eight years of “No Drama”. Thank you, Mr. President. 

 


Trump's First Press Conference Since Election Win [VIDEO]

 

So this was yestersay's news conference with Donald Trump. The first conference since he won the presidential election. It was all that Americans expected. It's troubling to fathom four years of this sideshow. This guy seems like a snake oil salesman. The United States of America is transitioning from an intelligent, classy leader such as President Barack Obama to this. Narcissistic. Not trustworthy. Untruthful. Unpresidented. God help us.  

 


Thank you, Gwen Ifill!

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Reading the headline announcing the death of iconic, trailblazing journalist Gwen Ifill made me nauseous. Although I’ve never met her, I felt as though I’d lost another family member. I loved watching her on television. Whether she was delivering the news, on moderating a debate or commenting as a panelist, Gwen Ifill was the consummate professional. Ifill was the journalist I wish other journalists modeled nowadays. I would be less than honest if I didn’t share that I was proud when I saw her on television. She was a rarity as black and female in nationally televised news dominated by white males. Cool. Calm. Collected. Prepared. Thank you, Gwen Ifill. Job well done.

 

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American Political Leadership: Jesus, Take the Wheel

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It’s still very disturbing and shameful that it is reported that election polls predict the presidential race is too close to call and in some battleground states, including my home state Florida, Donald Trump is winning. Jesus, take the wheel.

Donald Trump is dangerous for America. He lies way more than what he has accused Hillary Clinton of doing and, if elected, he will continue the Republican Party’s practice of obstructionism and anarchy.

Regardless the presidential election result on the evening of Tuesday, November 8, 2016, the racism, sexism and class warfare will not go away. Jesus, take the wheel. 

 

 

Even after such a disdainful, hyperbolically nasty election season, I want to think America is better than the actions we have witnessed but is it? Jesus, take the wheel.