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.
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.
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.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department finally released video of the CMPD confrontation with Keith Lamont Scott. The gut-wrenching video of a portion of the incident filmed by Scott’s wife, Rakeyia, was released by the family two days ago. Rakeyia Scott warned police her husband had a TBI (traumatic brain injury).
In the police dash cam video, Keith Lamont Scott can be seen exiting his vehicle and walking backwards following police commands. A few seconds later, as Scott is walking backwards, he is shot multiple times. Why? He was not threatening anyone. He was not reaching for anything. Keith Lamont Scott was compliant. That was cold-blooded murder by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police.
The officer(s) who fired shots at Scott need to be fired and arrested. Whoever fires them needs to fire the Police Chief Kerr Putney also. There needs to be an investigation of how a weapon Scott was supposed to have, was introduced into this situation. It’s now crystal clear why Chief Putney didn’t want to release that damning video earlier.
May peaceful protests continue in Charlotte-Mecklenburg and grow throughout the United States until the family of Keith Lamont Sott gets justice for his death.
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.
“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? —
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.
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
Celebrity chef Paula Deen has been in hot water lately and can't seem to get herself out of it. Her latest troubles stem from an employment discrimination, racial discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit brought by former employee, Lisa T. Jackson.
Media coverage of the lawsuit took off when Ms. Deen admitted to using the word "nigger". Other allegations in the deposition seemed to take a back seat to that. I was surprised Ms. Deen was honest in her answer because many people lie and take the pious, holier-than-thou route.
Of course Ms. Deen mentioned that she'd heard blacks use that word. Now, being black myself, I don't like when anyone uses it. I chalk it up to ignorance, lack class and lack of vocabulary. I can't join the club of blacks that basically says "we can use that word but they can't". It's also not a label of affection if it ends in "a" or "-ah" rather than "-er".
That being said, way more offensive was her talk of a "southern style plantation wedding" replete with servers that reminded Ms. Deen of The Civil War period. Ms. Deen did try to clean up her explanation but it seemed the more she did, the worse it got.
There was also mention of testimony of another former employer that Bubba Hiers, Paula Deen's brother, told Lisa Jackson to keep the front 'light' when hiring. Wow. That means blacks and other dark-skinned people were welcome to work in the kitchen but not as servers, managers, etc. in the front of the restaurant.
Ms. Deen was a no-show for an interview with Matt Lauer on Friday's Today Show. She did release a couple of videos apologizing for her how her words hurt other people.
The Food Network chose to not to renew the contract for Ms. Deen's show which expires this month. If you also agree with that decision, before you jump up for joy, remember that memory of such racial episodes tend to be short lived, especially with most black people. As with similar instances involving Dog the Bounty Hunter and Don Imus, so Paula Deen could return to television soon.
Joe Rickey Hundley of Hayden, Idaho is accused of saying "Shut that nigger baby up!" as 19 month-old Jonah Bennett cried aboard a Delta flight to Atlanta. Hundley slapped the boy across the face.
Aerosapce executive Joe Rickey Hundley, 60, was accused of slapping a crying 19 month-old boy and referring to the child as a 'nigger' aboard a Delta flight headed to Atlanta from Minneapolis on February 8, 2013. Hundley admits to requesting the baby be quieted down not slapping the child and using the racial slur. Jessica Bennett, the baby's mother, said he uttered the racial slur twice. The toddler is the adopted child of Bennett and her husband who are both white.
Since the incident, Hundley was suspended and later terminated from his position as president of AGC Aerospace and Defense. The company offered an apology without actually mentioning Hundley's name.
Without rehashing every detail reported regarding the incident, it's important to note that Hundley was described as being intoxicated. Bennett said he "reeked of alcohol" and consumed more on the flight. It was also reported that Hundley complained the child was too big to ride in the mother's lap. Bennett said she stood during the flight. The incident occurred as she took her seat to prepare for the plane's descent.
Hundley was later charged with simple assault on a minor. If convicted, he faces up to a year in jail. Hundley's attorney, Marcia Schein, said her client will plead not guilty. Really? I'm sure you're equally as a curious as I as to why Joe Rickey Hundley wasn't charged with a hate crime in addition to simple assault? I'm not an attorney or law enforcement but surely Joe Rickey should also be charged with child abuse and a litany of other charges that this "alleged" crime warrants.
Here's something else to think on. While mainstream media makes a big deal out of Joe Rickey being fired. Don't get excited. Considering his age, Hundley could have been allowed to retire and been given a nice severance package. As expected, AGC declined to release details of personnel issues.
While the Bennett family has been traumatized by this incident and prayerfully little Jonah will not suffer from this psychologically in the future, surely Joe Rickey Hundley has family and/or friends who are horrified and/or embarrassed by this incident also. It's one thing to be racist towards an adult, but to be racist and verbally and physically assault a 19 month-old child? Come on, Joe Rickey, really?
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is under fire big time for saying that Barack Obama could be president because he is light-skinned and doesn't speak with a Negro dialect unless he has to. Those comments were made in either 2006 or 2007; the timeline is in dispute and that's not really important in this situation. What is clear is that Reid unwisely voiced points that were thought by many. Except for that antiquated 'Negro' terminology, Senator Reid made the same assessment a lot of whites probably made and some blacks also; let's not kid ourselves.
To be politically attractive, candidates are advised to look and speak a certain way. Candidate Barack Obama fit that mold and his Ivy League education sealed the deal. Am I a Harry Reid fan? No but I'm not hating on him either. I also don't think his comments were nearly as racially-charged as Trent Lott's 'Dixiecrat' comment, that 'Barack the Magic Negro' song and controversial comments by others.
The GOP is attempting to keep this topic in the media by claiming 'double standard' in the treatment of Republicans who have made racial comments compared to Democrats who do the same. Should Harry Reid resign? No. Is Harry Reid a racist? I don't know. Is he out-of-touch? Absolutely --- as are the folks over at the Census Bureau.
Harry Alford, head of the National Black Chamber of Commerce dresses down Senator Barbara Boxer during a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, of which Boxer is the chair.
Alford addressed climate change and Boxer proceeded to read a NAACP resolution which referenced including black colleges and universities in the research and development of alternative energy sources. She also mentioned the 100 Black men increasing the ire of Alford.