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We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation by Jeff Chang

 

Picador
Picador

“Race makes itself known in crisis, in the singular event that captures a larger pattern of abuse and pain,” writes author Jeff Chang (Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, Who We Be)  in the introduction to a series of essays on the significance of ongoing police shootings, social inequities, housing discrimination and campus diversity.

As an historian, Chang helps us focus on the broader picture (and effects) of the long-term system of racism and how it has played out and continues to develop in our country.  Chang touches on Trump’s speech in Mesa, Arizona (December, 2015),  demonstrations in Ferguson, MO (where he was arrested for participating) on the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death,  and the effects of gentrification to produce a powerful punch through the veil of denial that shrouds and nurtures systemic racism.

We all need to read “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander - A must read for the parents of every young black man.
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander – A must read for the parents of every young black man.

Michele Alexander is a lawyer, legal scholar, advocate and  author who has written a comprehensive, well-researched examination of what is happening to our young men and women, to our families, to our future generations at the hands of the criminal justice system.

It seems that nearly every black family has a child, cousin, nephew or uncle who has been incarcerated. It’s happening to our college students, business professionals,  working dads & mothers, drug involved and not.  At every level, all over the country, black men, in particular, have been stopped and questioned multiple times. Now, that level of intrusion into black life is resulting in more than overwhelming legal costs and delayed goals for families. The fact that our men are constantly being sought out for examination of their being, is resulting in staggering numbers of deaths. We can no longer blame it on the boys, the neighborhood, our color. It is way bigger than that. We need to understand exactly what is happening and why. You cannot negotiate with an enemy that you cannot identify. This book identifies the problem AND the solutions.

Excerpt from the Introduction

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© Robert Gumpert 1996

Jarvious Cotton cannot vote. Like his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather, he has been denied the right to participate in our electoral democracy. Cotton’s family tree tells the story of several generations of black men who were born in the United States but who were denied the most basic freedom that democracy promises—the freedom to vote for those who will make the rules and laws that govern one’s life. Cotton’s great-great-grandfather could not vote as a slave. His great-grandfather was beaten to death by the Ku Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation. His father was barred from voting by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Jarvious Cotton cannot vote because he, like many black men in the United States, has been labeled a felon and is currently on parole.

Cotton’s story illustrates, in many respects, the old adage “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” In each generation, new tactics have been used for achieving the same goals—goals shared by the Founding Fathers. Denying African Americans citizenship was deemed essential to the formation of the original union. Hundreds of years later, America is still not an egalitarian….(read more….)

We are reading…..”Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond”

nobodycasualtiesofamericaswaronthe-vulnerable

There is an almost palpable level of fear rising in the minds of many Americans over the steady stream of
unarmed young black men and boys, women and girls killed by police. How do we protect our children? How do
black people conduct themselves to be sure that they are not seen as dangerous. Not shot down, because by
their physical appearance alone, their movements are intuitively misperceived as imminently threatening.
While the majority of killings have been white officers against black citizens, there is that small number
of black officers on black victims that indicates that it’s not only about white on black racism.

Whether it’s this American drama on our urban streets or any of the international wars that bring death
to everyday life, it is clear, killing is not a solution to anything. Guns do not speak more articulately
than human reasoning. Mental health, is the essence of prevention. Racism is a mental health issue. Diminishing
the value of “others” is a mental health problem. In this book, Marc Lamont Hill joins Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michelle Alexander
in bringing clarity to the ongoing war against black men.

Between the world and Ta-Nehisi Coates – Every black mother should read…..

Between-the-World-and-Me-Random-House“Crazy”….is what people feel when their reality doesn’t match that of the masses. “Crazy” is what many black folks have been made to feel upon entering the wider American culture. In many parts of the US, whites make blacks look and feel crazy because of their denial of racism.

“Between the World & Me” is a new, non-toxic, natural antidepressant. A balm of words, concocted by a master pharmacist of the black experience, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Senior Editor at The Atlantic Monthly. Ta-Nehesi puts racism on a glass slide and puts the slide under a microscope that not only magnifies for dissection, the pathogen thereon,  but allows one to verify the feeling caused by that pathogen.

This is a book that every mother, actually every black person, should read. It helps gel those streams of hurt, embarrassment, anger, disgust, frustration, sadness, reactive paranoia and as he points out, fear, that roll constantly off black people’s backs. In more solid form, one can more closely examine them and then toss them away. Or one can examine them, identify them and set up preventive barriers.

A message for incarcerated brothers

While the movie Mandela was very moving and informative, its depiction of prison life and its impact on Mandela seemed painted with a broad brush. One knew that Mandela must have had a special weapon to protect himself and maintain his focus on his mission. That special weapon was very likely his mind. The coincidental help that accelerated him to the highest position in South African government may have been born of the prayers of many but his concentration on his intentions may have prepared him for ascending to his destiny.

Hill Harper, of CSI: NYC and Covert Affairs, has written a book to aid in the continuing development of mind power even in confinement. Hopefully, what is missed in everyday interaction with family and life on the outside, can be compensated by strengthening inner life and inner power. The tools created from that can allow for catching up much lost time.