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Solving America’s Race Crisis According to James Baldwin

I believe the solution to America’s problem of race is somewhere in between Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and James Baldwin—Suns of [the] movements—and what white people must finally acknowledge and ultimately accept.

Today in 2015, America is at a racial crossroads. As I type this entry, Black churches are up in flames in different places throughout South Carolina, less than one week before this post, President Barack Obama eulogized the pastor of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Pastor Clementa Pinckney, as he and 8 other parishioners lost their lives as a result of a racist, 21-year old gunman who opened fire during a Wednesday night prayer circle in Charleston, South Carolina.  In a little less than two weeks from the time of this post, members of the Ku Klux Klan will march in solidarity against the removal of the Confederate Flag from South Carolina’s State Capitol Building.

It’s 2015.

On June 24th, 1963, City College Psychology Professor Dr. Kenneth Clark, in separate interviews, brought three of the most brilliant contempory minds the world has ever seen to discuss the race crisis in America. This one-hour special program was called, “The Negro and the American Promise.”

When opening the program, Dr. Clark offered the following to stimulate the viewers’ minds for the intellectual treats of Malcolm X, King, and Baldwin:

“By all meaningful indices, the Negro is still, and unquestionably, the downtrodden, disparaged group, and for a long time was systematically deprived of his dignity as a human being. The major indictment of our democracy is that this is being done with the knowledge and at times with the connivance of responsible, moderate people who are not overtly bigots or segregationists.

We have now come to the point where there are only two ways that America can avoid the continued racial explosions. One would be total oppression. The other, total equality. There is no compromise.”

Both Dr. Clark and Baldwin believed the future of Blacks and the future of America were linked–Baldwin said they were, “indissoluble.” When asked whether he was pessimistic or optimistic about this future, this is in part how James Baldwin responded.

“But the future of the Negro in this country is precisely as bright or as dark as the future of the country. It is entirely up to the American people and our representatives — it is entirely up to the American people whether or not they are going to face, and deal with, and embrace this stranger whom they maligned so long.
What white people have to do, is try and find out in their own hearts why it was necessary to have a nigger in the first place, because I’m not a nigger, I’m a man, but if you think I’m a nigger, it means you need it.
The question you have got to ask yourself–the white population of this country has got to ask itself — North and South, because it’s one country, and for a Negro, there’s no difference between the North and South. There’s just a difference in the way they castrate you. But the fact of the castration is the American fact. If I’m not a nigger here and you invented him, you, the white people, invented him, then you’ve got to find out why. And the future of the country depends on that. Whether or not it’s able to ask that question.”

For the full text and footage of James Baldwin’s interview with Dr. Kenneth Clark, click here

Silence is Betrayal

In a time where so much is captured on modern technology, especially in the midst of wrongdoing, there is always a reason to speak up and to speak out against it.

ThePoliDay Report

“The human spirit does not move without great difficulty.”

Dr. King at RiversideDr. King was pure genius and completely insightful.  It is almost inconceivable to me that a person like Dr. King could walk this Earth, in his times, and believe, say and preach the truths that he rendered.  Exactly one year before his untimely assassination death, April 4th, 1968, Dr. King delivered the above quote in his speech, “Beyond Vietnam”  on April 4th, 1967 at the famed Riverside Church in Harlem, New York. Having been moved by a particular statement of the executive committee of the Riverside Church: “A time comes when silence is betrayal,” Dr. King persisted in betraying silence by speaking against the Vietnam War.

Since moving to New York City some 13 years ago, I have visited the Riverside

Billy Taylor--VSU Alumni Billy Taylor–VSU Alumni

Church many times, mostly in honor of powerful, accomplished Black men who were once little Black boys…

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#StudentsforSelma…P-TECH Goes to SEE SELMA!

Due to the enormous generosity of husband and wife team Bruce Gordon and Tawana Tibbs, GOOGLE, Info, Viacom, and Paramount Pictures, my entire school, Pathways in Technology Early Collge High School (P-TECH) will have a private screening of SELMA on Friday January 23rd, 2015 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Rose Cinemas–the first-of-its kind!

On behalf of my Principal, Mr. Rashid Davis and the entire P-TECH faculty, staff and student body, we cannot begin to THANK our sponsors enough!  From a simple inquiry came a gift of epic proportions and a chance to learn the steps pioneering Civil Rights activists took to gain equal rights and justice. This movie is a true American story about how African Americans have reponded to adversity even when it did not appear to be possible.

I am proud of them–on Friday, P-TECH will honor them by watching their story.  Please read the Paramount Pictures Press Release included in this post!

Directed by Ava DuVernay and produced by Oprah Winfrey, this movie chronicles the historic marches of Selma, Alabama that ultimately led to the crucial legislation that protected the voting rights of American citizens, The Voting Rights Act of 1965.


Z is For Zora!

Happy 124th BIRTHDAY Zora Neale Hurston!! I celebrate Ms. Zora on every birthday! So should you! Check out this post from last year.

ThePoliDay Report

“Moon’s too pretty fuh anybody tuh be sleepin’ it away.” 

Nothing has ever brought me more joy than watching more shooting stars than I can count, seeing a moon that looks like a big, round, orange gumball waiting for me to grab it, and books!

“I did not just fall in love. I made a parachute jump.”

The first book I ever wrote was made of a cardboard front and back cover that had been covered in blue and white contact paper. I had punched three holes on the side of the book, and in addition to the contact the paper that my mother had purchased, she had also picked up some of the brass fasteners that would help me keep my book of a few pages together.  If you asked me to gone away lakerecall what the book was about in its entirety(nature was interwoven somewhere), I probably couldn’t tell you…

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Top Five

Over at The PoliDay Report we are still ringing in the New Year!

I was treated to a movie today by my Sorority Sister, Lateefah A. and her sister Tanisha A. (My Tanisha!)–Top Five.

It was one of those days to do some much-needed catching up. While we didn’t have an official “Top Five” our conversation just naturally went in that direction. We discussed the top five things most women talk about: men, food, fashion, the future (marriage, finances, and other fun things), and careers.

In this movie starring Chris Rock, he is a comedian and movie star about to be married, but has had his share of life’s struggles, is trying desperately to rebound and reshape his life, and to produce products with which he’s happy. While the trailers that have been shown regarding this movie would have one to believe this movie is simply about ranking musical, movie, etc. interests, those scenes are somewhat insignificant compared to the greatest part of the movie–in fact I was able to walk away from the movie with a definitive declaration that Chris Rock is indeed genius. The take-a-way in this movie for me was all about how we determine order and establish priorities for the lives we want to live and the product (s) we are willing to offer the world. Clearly I won’t reveal anymore about the movie and you will just have to go see it, I did find, however that it was a fitting choice of movie given the New-Year-Resolution-phase of life we’re all in right now.

As we move forward in the year 2015, each of our “Top Five” becomes more about defining what’s right in our individual journeys rather than what others believe is right for them. There will be many set backs and downfalls, but one thing is certain, the sun will rise again to create a new day and new opportunity. As we are fortunate enough to rise along with it, we will have the chance to create our “Top Five” in whatever genres of life we see fit and however we would like to see them appear.

What’s your Top Five?

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Today is January 1st and it is quickly winding down to make room for day two! Two thousand fourteen taught me many lessons, but I think the greatest lessons I have learned have been lessons of self. In quiet spaces, and often loud ones (I live in Brooklyn), I have learned to be purposeful in reflecting on my thoughts and my actions. In doing so, I have uncovered some uncomfortable truths, but I have also learned how much I really like many elements of who I am.

What I know for sure is that I am a passionate thinker and an avid reader. I am intrigued by the news of today and mostly by the news of yesterday and many, many days before. I know that history makes me happy and that I become an insatiable chatter box about certain periods. I have also learned that I have a deeper commitment to securing a better future for the people in this nation because my heart is wired that way.

Over the Holiday Season, I have looked back at pictures I have taken with pioneers like Congressman John Lewis, Comedian-Activist Dick Gregory, and Freedom Rider Hank Thomas, and it is clear to me that our paths have crossed because they have passed the torch. To me.

As we confront issues of persisting racial injustices and police brutality and community violence, I have a role to play in eradicating it. In 2015, I am ready for the handoff.

Go see Selma on January 9th, 2015!

Happy New Year!

Is America Being Black-Maled?

July 17th. August 5th. August 9th.

Eric Garner. John Crawford III. Michael Brown.

All Black. All dead by the hands of Police Officers.

None of their killers were indicted.

Since these killings occurred (and even before), more Black men and other non-white men (and women) have been killed by police officers. The institution of policing has decided it is just too risky to “apply the law” to the fate and futures of Black men and the others it reportedly fears. Instead, this institution has opted to rely on antiquated, non-transparent justice. In each of the aforementioned cases, there has been widespread departmental and institutional cover-up, the mishandling of evidence, discrepancies in witness testimony, and convenient, in-house remixing of policies and procedures. The institutional accomplice absolving killer cops of criminality is the Grand Jury–a clandestine and ubiquitous entity that has netted a zero and three return for justice.

Repeatedly, these secret jurors have decided that in the midst of the evidence collected by state’s prosecutors and District Attorneys, none of the evidence has even been strong enough to charge the officers involved with a crime. In each of the Grand Jury proceedings, none of the jurors have been able to hear all of the evidence because the defendants, now made to look like the perpetrators, are all defenseless and dead.

Why is America being Black-Maled?

Black men, no more perfect or flawed than any other men in the United States of America, are the nucleus of America’s fears and the targets of police officers’ guns. It’s as if Black men are to blame for everything wrong with America and white men are the reason for all of its rights…even when these white men, acting as police officers, are in the legal and moral wrong, indicted or not.

The latest police shootings have been committed by young, mostly white officers not fully vested in their careers, and who all seem to use the same two excuses for shooting Black men–“accidental” and “fear.” But, we know fear is not accidental; rather, it is a learned emotion under which to hide after being taught a particular racial and gender demographic is not valued and is prone to criminality. America is Black-Maled today for the same yesteryear and historical reason–systemic, institutional and structural racism.

It is rampant, metastasizing, and stifling.

And, America’s future will not survive unless we make urgent changes now.

Black men, killed every 28 hours, are being forced to pay a debt to society they owe no more than the rest of us; and, they are hunted down like “hogs…in an inglorious spot” by bullets they cannot outrun in order to settle this mounting tab.

They are also young, like 18-year old Michael Brown and 12-year old Tamir Rice, who never had opportunities to declare careers. But, regrettably they were both given the equal opportunity of death from a police officer’s bullet.

We can no longer continue Black Male-ing America because when we do, we fail terribly.

This nation, my nation, through the use of grand juries that will not indict killer cops, is attempting to manipulate the feelings of our society by presenting killing as the the only lawful solution for indifference when one is Black and male. Morbidly, the message also being communicated is that Black men are not suited to walk this Earth and breathe its air. America incites us to hate and fear them and justify why justice should elude them. The overall verdict forced upon us is that Black men are not even worthy of justice. Therefore, I appeal on the basis that, when regarding Black men, there is but one truth I hold to be self-evident, #BlackLivesMatter!