Category Archives: change

Gentrification: White where there was no White in Chocolate City.

Swirl or Twist.  That’s what most ice cream, frozen custard, or frozen yogurt places call it when your vanilla and chocolate frozen goodness is twirled together in harmony.  Yummy.

That isn’t Gentrification.  It displaces people and cultures.  Fault should not be laid on the persons staking their claim in areas previous devoid of Caucasian population.  Really, it’s just politics and finance.

I wrote about this a few years back and now TBD (ABC 7/Newschannel8) has quoted me.  I’m flattered.

“I rarely see an African American face enjoying the coffee culture,” Hello, Negro wrote shortly after the shop’s opening. “Maybe the long term residents aren’t into Rishi Tea. Maybe the crackheads hanging out in the LeDroit Park Playground across the street are too amazed at the sight of this former-corner store turned soho style coffee establishment to inquire about the fine pastries. The juxtapositioning is striking. The locals call it LeDroit, they call it ‘Bloomingdale.’”

Honestly, gentrification in Washington, DC as I’ve seen in the last 11 years has been very entertaining to watch.  From avid runners out at the crack of dawn avoiding crack heads (3 months ago, I saw this white guy jogging down Michigan Ave NE barefoot.  No lie.  Crazy.) to white women walking home from the metro late at night in neighborhoods I wouldn’t roller skate through, there is a lot to observe.  I think of it as my own little reality tv show featuring short pieces on gentrification.  We’ll at least there are grocery stores, improved metro stations, and improved housing (that most can’t afford) where there were none.

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Is it just me or does this “Do away with the 14th Amendment” jazz make you antsy?

On the news last night I noticed a lot of commentators and pundits were discussing the 14th amendment all willy nilly.  Um…was anyone else uncomfortable with the dialogue.  I don’t want to wake up tomorrow and hear that I’m not a citizen.  Don’t follow me…

Background: Anderson Cooper’s show offers the rundown of what’s being tossed about in the halls of Capitol Hill.

Republicans such as Sens. Lindsey Graham, John Kyl and John Cornyn are tripping over themselves to jump on the latest “Dumb Way to Solve the Illegal Immigration Problem” bus by suggesting Congress examine repealing the 14th Amendment, which deals with one way of becoming a U.S. citizen.

The far right has latched onto the idea that the provision in question – which grants citizenship to children born in the U.S. – is being abused by illegal immigrants who choose to come to America to have their children, thus worsening the illegal immigration problem.

Some are even trying to suggest that how it is being used today is counter to the original intent of the Founding Fathers.

Of course, the 14th Amendment was not in the first U.S. Constitution as drawn up by our framers. It was adopted on July 9, 1868, to prevent Southern states from denying citizenship to former slaves and their children, since they didn’t choose to come to America. They were brought here for the purpose of the vicious and dehumanizing free-labor plan that helped build the nation – slavery.

There were no immigration laws as we know them in 1868 so this is just crazy talk.

The problem is enforcement of the existing laws.  The 14th amendment can’t change anything that the government is not going to enforce.  The problem in my opinion is that we have neglected our own immigration laws and the enforcement of them for so long that now the elephant in the room is that there are millions of people who would have to be rounded up for the law to really be followed to the letter.  Many of these people have children who are by law American citizens.  Combine this with the fact that we’ve allowed whole industries to benefit from the labor of persons who are in this country illegally.  If all of the “illegal” aliens were forced to leave, the impact would be felt on various levels of our society.

In addition, NO ONE is going to take away the 14th.  One good reason?  All the Italian, German, Russian, and other european immigrants who came to these shores.  You see, no one is going to want to have to prove that their great, great grandma from England or Cicely became a citizen naturally.  Remember people, we are a nation of foreigners.  The only people who’ve “been” here are the Native Americans.

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Black Vegan: You have considered going Vegetarian or Vegan?

I’m currently exploring veganism as a way to lose weight and improve my health.  My path involves a lot of raw food and excludes a lot of processed food (white flour, white sugar, white rice, etc).  So I was wondering, how many of my fellow African-Americans have embraced or are considering embracing a veggie-centered lifestyle when it comes to what you put in your mouth?  What are your reasons for changing your diet?  How long have you embraced vegetarianism or veganism?  What is making you consider making a change if you haven’t already?

Let me know what you think.

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When Negroes Need to Feel “Special”: Tavis’s Black Agenda Event

Tavis Smiley is hosting a national forum today in Chicago titled, “We Count! The Black Agenda is the American Agenda.”  I don’t like the title at all.  The Black Agenda is PART of the American Agenda but it’s not THE Agenda any more than the Hispanic, White, Native American, or Asian “Agendas”.  Do I think that the US Government should show concern when any of its citizens are racially profiled, denied mortgages, or otherwise discriminated against?  Yes.  Do I think African-American face some special challenges due to institutionalized racism in this country?  Yes.  However, I think that the Black community has to galvanize and organize to create solutions internally and not depend on the Federal Government or Barack Obama for all the answers.  Where are the Black leaders who are challenging Black America to stand up and take responsiblity?  Where are the brothers and sisters who understand that WE not ONE can save the nation?

If this all you have to do be a Black leader?  Get a soap box on TV and take that influence to create a leadership persona.  Is it really that simple?  I really have to question the context of this meeting.  Is there corporate sponsorship?  Is it being done in a spirit of black unity?  I didn’t hear about it until Tavis had a bone to pick with other black leaders.

The issue came to a head recently when Tavis Smiley, appearing on the morning show of syndicated radio host Tom Joyner, openly questioned black leaders such as NAACP President Ben Jealous, the Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Council of Negro Women’s Dorothy Height about their unwillingness to hold President Obama accountable for these disparities and demanded that Obama develop an agenda targeted to address black inequalities. Impassioned by the debate, Smiley is hosting a national forum today in Chicago titled, “We Count! The Black Agenda is the American Agenda.” – Washington Post

You know, we need to be real.  There are a lot of black people who are wearing the leadership hat who frankly may just be working their gig for everylittle bit of fame we will give them because that is their full-time job.  If you are selling books, throwing events, or appearing as a TV news pundit more than twice a year, I think you may just be trying to drum up business for yourself.  Let’s be real people, we all know of  black activists who are not in it for the money.  We see people working who don’t have to invent issues or attach themselves to the latest tragedy of the day.  They are working hard as advocates on the behalf of the people and their rewards are progress and change…not air time and notoriety. Continue reading

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Black Olympic First: Ice skating duo to make history

During this year’s winter Olympics, French ice skating duo Yannick Bonheur and Vanessa James will be the first Black duo to compete in the event.

From AFP – “It’s destiny and I’m very happy about it,” said 27-year-old Bonheur.

“There’s the grace and beauty of Vanessa and then my athleticism. And the fact that we’re both black brings a pleasing visual harmony.”

James previously competed internationally for Britain as a single’s skater. She was the 2006 British national champion and 2007 silver medallist.

The pair moved to Indianapolis in the United States in August 2009 to train with Russian coach Sergei Zaitsev.

And last December they booked their ticket to Vancouver by winning the French nationals, a victory which enabled James to receive French citizenship.

Bonheur said they were determined that their Olympic experience will lay the groundwork for future successes, after they finished seventh at Europeans.

“This is just the beginning. We want to make a name for ourselves so that they’ll remember us for next season,” he said.

Being tagged the first black pairs skaters is not a disadvantage, they insist.

“It’s often been remarked that we look different on the ice. So we want to highlight that,” said Bonheur.

I remember watching Surya Bonaly doing that one foot backflip.  I don’t think she ever got a medal, and I also recall a great deal of controversy and jokes at her expense.  That was the 90s.  I’m not sure the sport has grown that much, however I’m encouraged by these talented athletes.

Perhaps more diversity in the ice skating world will prevent incidents like this.

Really?  Brown body suits, faux body paint and eucalyptus leaves = Aboriginal. Sad.  Racial and cultural insensitivity.

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My President Is Black

I’ve seen that phrase on a T-shirt and there’s even a song about it, but those words have been ringing in my head since even before I noticed these things. I was excited on election night when Obama officially won (did cartwheels in the street to prove it), but admittedly, it didn’t fully sink in that we had just elected the first Black President (unless you count Lincoln and we’re not discussing that in this particular post…lol). Those words are the reason that I was willing to make an almost three hour trip, that normally takes 20 minutes, to the mall to witness the swearing in of our 44th President. Yes, he is the President of the United States of America which includes people of all races, religions, and preferences. However, I need to have my moment as a black person to scream so loud that the ancestors hear and feel me, “My President is Black“!!!! (pause for a cartwheel in my office)  Leading up to the Inauguration, I could feel something in my soul rising. I look in the eyes of my black male relatives and friends and I now notice a real pride and ease that I’d never seen previously. I watch them mark his every move , scrutinize every word, and even admire his cool stroll and see themselves and know that they’re alright, more than that even. I listen at myself and female family and friends marvel at Michelle for being the bad woman that she is without apology . Us single girls joke that we’re just a Michelle waiting to meet our Barack. To quote 107 year old Mrs. Ann Nixon Cooper, I feel more like a real person. It’s a validation that I tried not to need, but obviously can’t deny. Before the eyes of the world is a story of struggle, ambitions, black love, family, and hope with a happy beginning and expectations for a great ending. I can tell my children (or at least my niece) of a real story of possibility where the characters look like them. That’s a hard concept to sell to people who don’t have that issue. All these feelings overflowed during yesterday’s ceremony. Rick Warren, Dianne Feinstein, and President Obama himself all spoke of the significance of his presidency in light of America’s racist past. I enjoyed Aretha taking My Country Tis of Thee to church, but in my heart I wanted to sing the black national anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing, at the top of my lungs and wouldn’t have even frowned on a praise break…lol. Rev. Joseph Lowery gave me a little of what I needed and while concluding his benediction let out a little ‘My President is Black’ pride of his own at the end of his speech. I understand Rev…  I think there may be quite a few similar expressions of irrepressible pride as time goes on.  All those that feel me scream, “My President is Black!!!!” (I hear you Jay-Z!)

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Oscar Grant is the third man murdered by BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) police in the past 17 years.

ColorofChange.org sent out this very informative information on the Murder of Oscar Grant that we thought was important to share.

On New Year’s Eve, Oscar Grant was shot execution-style by a transit police officer in Oakland, California. He was shot in the back while face-down on a subway platform, unarmed and posing no threat.

Twelve days later–despite several videos showing what happened–the officer who killed Grant hasn’t been arrested, charged, or even questioned. He quit the force and has refused to speak. The District Attorney has done nothing.

It’s time to demand that California Attorney General Jerry Brown take over the case and arrest Grant’s killer, and to ask that the US Department of Justice launch an independent investigation into the conduct of the local authorities. Please join us and ask your friends and family to do the same: http://www.colorofchange.org/oscar/?id=2347-520201

Oscar Grant is the third man murdered by BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) police in the past 17 years. All three victims were Black and none posed a serious threat. In each case, BART and county authorities have failed to hold the officers accountable.3

In the previous cases, BART’s internal investigations concluded that the officers felt threatened by the victims and were justified in pulling the trigger. It’s unbelievable given the circumstances of the killings:

  • In 1992, 19-year-old Jerrold Hall was shot in the back by a BART officer as he tried to leave the parking lot of a station. The officer was responding to reports of an armed robbery and said he suspected that Hall and a friend were involved. The officer tried to detain the two, Hall ran and then the officer shot him in the back and killed him. Hall was unarmed, but the officer said he thought Hall was on his way to get a gun and return for a showdown.4
  • In 2001, a mentally ill man named Bruce Seward was the next victim of the rogue force. Seward, 42, was naked and had been sleeping on a bench outside the BART station when an officer approached him. Seward did grab the officer’s nightstick at one point, but there were several options for subduing him. Instead, the officer shot and killed him.5

In addition to BART’s internal investigation, Alameda County’s District Attorney is also investigating Oscar Grant’s murder–but the office’s record on investigating police killings is horrible too. In both cases just described, the District Attorney bought BART’s argument that the officers felt threatened. As a result, the cops were cleared of any wrongdoing. Continue reading

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Talent Line-up Released for Lincoln Memorial Inauguration Event

I am so excited that I live in DC!  I will be at the Lincoln memorial front and center.  Oh my goodness, Stevie Wonder, Mary J Blige, John Legend, Beyonce, Herbie Hancock, Usher, Will.i.am, Jamie Foxx, and good Lord…Denzel Washington.  I will be there.  If it was just Stevie Wonder, it would be a treat, but with the line up they have planned it’s going to be a Celebration.  Here are the details.

Be there Sunday, January 18th!  The event will be free and open to the public.

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Obama: Dag, the brother can’t smoke, too??

I was reading this article this morning that basically tries to make the case that Obama should stop smoking.

Mercury News Editorial – “Quit smoking. Now. Really. For good.We know it’s hard. If it weren’t, nobody would smoke anymore. And we know quitting just as you’re taking on one of the most stressful jobs in the world — well, it’s not great timing in that sense.

But it is in another: Everybody’s watching. Especially kids.

Perhaps more than any of his predecessors, Barack Obama, the first African-American president, will be held up as a role model, his triumphs and failures magnified as a consequence. Obama clearly relishes this opportunity to defeat bigotry and reframe the expectations of young people, especially African-Americans. And yet, he smokes.”

Well, Damn! When have we begged any of the Presidents to stop their bad habits, let alone smoking. I mean…maybe the whore-mongering or womanizing, sure.  I know that the man is a role model and all, but there are a whole lot of existing influences out there that can lead kids to smoke.  Parents, maybe?  Um…ads in every local corner store?  Oh, and lets not talk about the overall glorification of drug culture in music and media.  Are you telling McDonalds and Coke to stop advertising on shows where people smoke, drink, snort, etc?

Given the current sad economic state that the country is in, I don’t want a stressed out President who’s trying to get by on Nicorette gum.  I’ll by you a pack of Newports, Mr President. I got you, man.

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LA Obama campaign worker Kaylon Johnson beaten, he says for wearing an Obama shirt

This is ridiculous. Please pass this story around and blog about it so this man can get justice (not Just Us, ya dig)!!! We send love out to this brother and hope for his speedy recovery.

This is Kaylon Johnson.

SBC360.blogspot.com has the full story on this man’s horrific beating this Saturday at a gas station.

“And the injuries showing in this picture are the result of an assault on Kaylon by three White men early Sunday morning … all because he was wearing an Obama shirt.

Kaylon was a key coordinator in the Shreveport [LA] for Obama campaign. His tireless efforts helped Caddo Parish go BLUE. He was probably wearing one of the t-shirts he was selling when he was attacked.”

Looks like a hate crime to me. Other reports note that his attackers were incensed by the Obama bumper stickers on Kaylon’s car and the Obama t-shirt Kaylon was wearing“.

Other Links
Man badly beaten in Shreveport, LA for wearing Obama t-shirt – Daily Kos

Brutal beating may be race related

Police Investigate Possible Hate Crime

Man says he was beaten for wearing Obama shirt

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