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One Year Ago Today: Remembering the Mother Emanuel Nine

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A year ago, today, America mourned the massacre of nine worshippers at the historic Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. Not much has changed regarding gun control laws since the day when Dylan Roof wanted to start a race war by murdering: Cynthia Hurd, 54; Susie Jackson, 87; Ethel Lance, 70; Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49; Hon. Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74; Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45; and Myra Thompson, 59. 

Even after The Honorable Clementa Pinkckney, South Carolina State Senator, was gunned down, Congress still has not passed a law requiring background checks, banning the sale of assault weapons and other common sense measures. Should we be surprised based on their actions or lack thereof after the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in January 2011 in which six people were killed?

To this day, congressmen shamelessly offer ridiculous rationale for holding fast to their position regarding gun control. Some even blame President Obama as if they have no role in the legislative process in the United States. 

After the most recent massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, again, we mourn the loss of 49 victims of senseless gun violence.  More than 50 people were also wounded in that incident. 

At what point do we, as Americans, care enough to elect representatives who will put American citizens first? Enough is enough. If we don't care enough after the Massacre at Mother Emanuel or Orlando or San Bernardino or Sandy Hook or Aurora or any weekend in some cities in America, then shame on us. 

Miss me with the hashtags, catchy slogans and creative graphics expressing unity, outrage and sympathy to yourself if you are not going to do anything more than lip service or be a keyboard commando. 

Sleep in Paradise, Emmanuel Nine, you are not forgotten. Disarm hate.

 

 

 

 

 


Donovan Livingston's Spoken Word Convocation Speech at Harvard is a Classic

Enjoy this speech, in video and text, by Donovan Livingston, Ed.M.'16, student speaker at Harvard Graduate School of Education’s 2016 Convocation exercises. Instead of a traditional speech, he chose to communicate via spoken word and he is awesome. 

Donovan Lingston

 

Lift Off

 

“Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin,

is a great equalizer of the conditions of men.” – Horace Mann, 1848.

At the time of his remarks I couldn’t read — I couldn’t write.

Any attempt to do so, punishable by death.

For generations we have known of knowledge’s infinite power.

Yet somehow, we have never questioned the keeper of the keys —

The guardians of information.

 

Unfortunately, I’ve seen more dividing and conquering

In this order of operations — a heinous miscalculation of reality.

For some, the only difference between a classroom and a plantation is time.

How many times must we be made to feel like quotas —

Like tokens in coined phrases? —

“Diversity. Inclusion.”

There are days I feel like one, like only —

A lonely blossom in a briar patch of broken promises.

But, hey, I’ve always been a thorn in the side of injustice.

 

Disruptive. Talkative. A distraction.

With a passion that transcends the confines of my own consciousness —

Beyond your curriculum, beyond your standards.

I stand here, a manifestation of love and pain,

With veins pumping revolution.

I am the strange fruit that grew too ripe for the poplar tree.

I am a DREAM Act, Dream Deferred incarnate.

And a movement – an amalgam of memories America would care to forget

My past, alone won’t allow me to sit still.

So my body, like my mind

Cannot be contained.

 

As educators, rather than raising your voices

Over the rustling of our chains,

Take them off. Un-cuff us.

Unencumbered by the lumbering weight

Of poverty and privilege,

Policy and ignorance.

 

I was in the 7th grade, when Ms. Parker told me,

“Donovan, we can put all of  your excess energy to good use!”

And she introduced me to the sound of my own voice.

She gave me a stage. A platform.

She told me that our stories are the ladders

That make it easier for us to touch the stars.

So climb and grab them.

Keep climbing. Grab them.

Spill your emotions in the big dipper and pour out your soul.

Light up the world with your luminous allure.

 

To educate requires Galileo-like patience.

Today, when I look my students in the eyes, all I see are constellations.

If you take the time to connect the dots,

You can plot the true shape of their genius —

Shining in their darkest hour.

 

I look each of my students in the eyes,

And see the same light that aligned Orion’s Belt

And the pyramids of Giza.

I see the same twinkle

That guided Harriet to freedom.

I see them. Beneath their masks and their mischief,

Exists an authentic frustration;

An enslavement to your standardized assessments.

 

At the core, none of us were meant to be common.

We were born to be comets,

Darting across space and time —

Leaving our mark as we crash into everything.

A crater is a reminder that something amazing happened right here —

An indelible impact that shook up the world.

Are we not astronomers — searching for the next shooting star?

I teach in hopes of turning content, into rocket ships —

Tribulations into telescopes,

So a child can see their true potential from right where they stand.

An injustice is telling them they are stars

Without acknowledging the night that surrounds them.

Injustice is telling them education is the key

While you continue to change the locks.

 

Education is no equalizer —

Rather, it is the sleep that precedes the American Dream.

So wake up — wake up! Lift your voices

Until you’ve patched every hole in a child’s broken sky.

Wake up every child so they know of their celestial potential.

I’ve been the Black hole in a classroom for far too long;

Absorbing everything, without allowing my light to escape.

But those days are done. I belong among the stars.

And so do you. And so do they.

Together, we can inspire galaxies of greatness

For generations to come.

So no — no, sky is not the limit. It is only the beginning.

Lift off.

 

~ Donovan Livingston

 

 

 

 


Flag on the Play: Premature Excessive Celebration about the New Harriet Tubman $20 Bill

 

Harriet Tubman 20
Newly redesigned $20 bill will feature Harriet Tubman on its face and Andrew Jackson on the reverse side.

 

Yesterday, Black folk in the US went absolutely crazy celebrating the announcement that abolitionist Harriet Tubman will replace President Andrew Jackson on the United States $20 bill. However, Andrew Jackson is not “off” the $20 as has been widely reported. Andrew Jackson will be on the reverse side of the new $20 bill along with a depiction of the White House. Any logical thinker and realist would know that the United States is not about to allow a woman, especially a black woman, to totally displace a white male on currency. Let’s just keep it real.

Also know that the $5 and $10 bills have also been redesigned. The concept for the newly redesigned bills will not be unveiled until 2020 and there is no firm date of when a decision on the final design for the bills will be made and the when the bills will be placed in circulation. Let that sink in. It will be four years before the “concept” will be unveiled. Also note that the U.S. Treasury website indicates that the $10 bill, honoring women’s suffrage leaders —Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, will be released first. 

Black folk, as a people group, have yet to rise to the level of actually earning the respect of the power brokers in this country because Black folk still don’t know, and therefore use, their actual power. So Black folk are frequently placated by superficial actions such as this redesign of United States currency. 

Don't get it twisted, Harriet Tubman on United States currency is a good thing. Sharing her depiction on currency with Andrew Jackson who was a slaveholder and lead in the genocide of Native Americans? Waiting at least four years for the bill to even be released into circulation? Not so much. Only in America are Blacks expected to be happy while they are being insulted. 

 

Related Links:

Introducing the New $20, $10 and $5!

Modern Money - Frequently Asked Questions

 


American Nightmare: The Trump Campaign for President of the United States

Trump
 

It’s apparent that Donald Trump will say, and likely, do anything in his quest to become president of the United States. He led the failed birther movement in questioning the citizenship of President Barack Obama, who is an American. He has referred to presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as a communist when Sanders is not. He said he’s going to make Mexico pay to build a wall along the southern border of the United States to keep illegal immigrants out. Mexico's president balked at the statement. Trump has encouraged his supporters to attack protesters at his campaign rallies and offered to pay the attackers' legal fees. I wouldn't be surprised if Trump's campaign isn't staging some of the protests at his rallies just to distract his supporters (and the media) so he won't have to expose his ignorance of domestic and international policy issues.

Trump's dog whistle politics deliberately lacks the typical subtlety GOP candidates, and their surrogates are known for. He has tapped into the anger and fear of "poorly-educated" white Americans. He used that term, and the number of his supporters seems to continue to increase. Go figure. 

Let me translate Trump's slogan Let's Make America Great Again. The message...Let's make America White Again. Let's make America segregated again and put those minorities (and women) in their place. Please see MSNBC's Rachel Maddow's segment as she beautifully and skillfully exposes Donald Trump's Race War. 

  

In spite of this madness, Donald Trump's Republican opponents have indicated they will support him if he is their party’s nominee. What does that say about them? There is an epic leadership fail in the Republican Party. They choose to destroy the United States of America. They choose politics over people even if the people are the "poorly educated" Republican voters or other men, women and children in the United States. Including you.

"Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country." - President Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

 


Rest In Peace, Nelson Mandela. Amandla!

 

Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela (july 18, 1918 - December 5, 2013)


Millions of people around the world are devastated by the transition of former South African President Nelson Mandela. At ninety-five years old and still fighting health challenges, we knew this day was inevitable.

Social media and mainstream media exploded with tributes to the man who spent 27 years in prison and fought for the civil rights of blacks in South Africa. Sadly but not unexpected, some people took the opportunity to use this great man’s death to make crude jokes and display other instances of disrespect.

No matter the detractors, Nelson Mandela’s legacy as a leader, an activist and a compassionate gentleman will live on in perpetuity. So much of South African history and the history of people of color around the world is intertwined. Mandela united ethnically diverse coalitions of people around the globe in their universal call for his release from prison or sanctions calling for divestment by corporate giants. That was truly a period of ‘Power to the People’. 

Upon his release from and throughout his election and tenure as South Africa's first black President, Mr. Mandela remained a statesman. Rather than get bogged down in sadness, let's use this moment in history, while reports on his life permeate the media, to teach or reintroduce others, especially children, to the legacy of Nelson Mandela. He was a true leader. He was imperfect. He will be missed.

Thank you, Mr. Mandela!

 

 

 


Saturday Morning Rant On Disrespecting The President [VIDEO]

Jake Tapper
Jake Tapper

President Obama is really a class act. He has been faced with incredible challenges as the leader of the United States. It was necessary for the President to carefully consider his actions and reactions during his first term in office. To some extent that holds true now but since the President is in his last term, I think he needs to go 'Chris Christie' on some folks when putting them in check. 

Case in point, Jake Tapper of ABC News (he has since moved to CNN). In referring to gun control during a recent press conference, Tapper had the audacity to ask President Obama 'where've you been?' Don't get me wrong, the President checked Tapper and he was still very respectful in his retort. As a matter of fact he was more respectful of Tapper than Tapper was of him. 

 

 

I'd like to have seen President Obama respond something like this, "Dude, where have I been? The real question is why did you ask such a lame-brained question? You know what's transpired in this nation and globally, or at least you should --- you're the media. The next time you have the opportunity to ask a question at a press conference, don't waste my time, nor that of the other folks present. Most important, show some respect, I am your President whether you like it our not."

Now, I know President Obama would not say that, at least not publicly, he's too cool. He's also as shrewd as he is cool so he's really not someone to be messed with. It is the responsibility of Tapper and other correspondents to ask tough questions when necessary but professionals are not expected to be disrespectful when doing so.

A couple of days after the press conference, it was announced that Jake Tapper is moving to CNN and he'll have his own show. It's also my understanding that the deal was cut before Jeff Zucker took over the reins at CNN. 

While President Obama is admired by many, he is also the most disrespected President of the United States by his own countrymen. Many people complained to ABC News about Tapper. More of that needs to be done in the future when our President is disrespected. 


President Obama Doesn't Understand the Economy?

Barack Obama at Harvard
President Barack Obama during his days at Harvard Law School.

President Obama is a Harvard educated lawyer and former senator but he doesn’t understand the economy? You’ve got to be kidding me. That's what some Republican business leaders want us to believe. The only people that espouse that are: (1) the American corporate elite who continue to make millions of dollars while millions of American jobs are sent oversees and (2) Americans who just don't want to see the truth.

Observe the presidential campaign ads and follow the campaign donations. Business moguls who started or currently own some of America’s largest businesses are lock step with the infamous Koch brothers in their intent to make Obama a one term President. They need to get President Obama out of that seat because he has not allowed big business leaders to dictate the direction of this nation during his administration and they are mad. Boiling mad. Plain and simple. Although they didn't initially support Mitt Romney, they will because he's one of them.

This presidential campaign is all about the benjamins. As a matter of fact, many of them have been about the benjamins but his time it’s different. In the words of Nino Brown in the movie New Jack City, “The rich get richer and the poor don’t get a @#$% thing.”

 

 

 

 


Presidential Debate 2012 Part 2: The President Barack Obama South Side Smack Down

 

Your Vote Counts
President Barack Obama was the clear winner of last night's debate.

The highly anticipated second Presidential Debate of this election cycle was the comeback of President Barack Obama in style and substance. Almost immediately he came out swinging with a demeanor that was cool, calm and in control. Gov. Mitt Romney’s demeanor was much the same as in the first debate but he wasn’t as cocky this time since the President would not be bullied. 

 

Unlike the first debate, President Obama put Gov. Romney in check a few times. Gov. Romney was vague, no, let me use a more appropriate word --- sketchy. Anyone that really follows politics and is objective could see through the desperate acts of Mitt Romney. I’m sure Romney expected a different Pres. Obama than from the first debate but he couldn’t control the President or Candy Crowley although it seemed he gave it his best shot.  

During the first debate, the big takeaway was not policy positions on any issues, it was Big Bird and Gov. Romney’s promise to defund PBS if he’s elected. This time, Gov. Romney’s gaffe was ‘binders full of women.’ That was an immediate Twitter trending topic; a domain name was purchased and several Facebook pages were established. Gov. Romney used the phrase while answering a question from an audience member in an attempt to endear himself to women voters. Can you say EPIC FAIL? 

At first the verbal jousting between the two men was exciting then kind of boring. President Obama was on such fire that the debate was basically over and there still about 30 minutes remaining.  

The Republican spin machine has already tried to make Romney the winner. Many mainstream media personalities and journalists have said that the President’s performance was not strong enough to overcome the Mitt Romney momentum. What? Are you kidding me?  

Then I thought about the fact that mainstream media is big business and the GOP is definitely pro-big business. Take whatever you read, see or hear in the mainstream media with a grain of salt. Heck, you should do that with media period. Whatever you do, think. 

I’m looking forward to the final debate on Monday, October 22 at Lynn University in Boca Raton, FL. 

Here’s my take on the debate record thus far. What say you? 

2012 Debate Record

Style:  Obama/Biden - 2   Romney/Ryan - 1

Substance:  Obama/Biden - 3  Romney/Ryan - 0

  

 

Graphic Design: Georges Etienne

 


Samuel L. Jackson says WAKE UP!!! [VIDEO]

I heard about the Samuel L. Jackson video in support of President Obama's re-election but I had not seen the full video until today when I surfed over to Wayne Hicks' blog, The Electronic Village

This video is hilarious and on point. I will send it to a few friends and some folks I don't know that well. Now, anyone who knows of Samuel L. Jackson, knows there will likely be some profanity involved in his work. In this video there is an attempt to censor the profanity but it is obvious what is being said. 

 

Folks shouldn't have to be cajoled, entertained, fed or cussed at to vote but if that's what's effective, so be it. Wake up, get up and vote or shut up!



I Believe Harry Reid

All this back and forth conversation in the media about Sen. Harry Reid saying he has a source that says presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney didn't pay taxes is maddening. Romney supporters and GOP strategists making the news talk circuit are just so incredibly unbelievable. Invoking the number of income tax returns John McCain provided and even Ronald Reagan is just such a stretch and obvious show of desperation.

Gov. Romney can put a stop to the discussion by just providing the requested tax returns and moving on with his campaign. If he doesn't, the public will continue think he has something to hide. It's really just that simple and no attempt at deflecting the issue will prove successful.

Until Romney provides his income tax returns to the American voters, I believe Harry Reid.