By the Francis L. Holland Blog.
This essay, inspired by Exodos Mentality and Field Negro and Shaquanda Cotton, proposes that one fundamental endeavor of the new Afrosphere should be supporting the initiation of a national union of independent Black Accused Support Group blogs (BASG's) that are members of an international Afrosphere Black Accused Support Coalition (BASC).
The successful recent Afrosphere advocacy for Shaquanda Cotton brought to our attention the fact that at least 550 other Texas teenagers should immediately be released from Texas correctional facilities, because they were being held beyond the end of the minimum sentences imposed by the sentencing judges, with the effect of protecting the jobs of the same functionaries who extended the children’s sentences. The international advocacy for Shaquanda Cotton forcefully reminded us of the literally hundreds of thousands of other Black accuseds in need of immediate advocacy.
No one group can give the individualized attention to all of these cases that the Shaquanda Cotton case received. But, any Black person who knows (or is herself/himself) a Black person who has been wrongly accused or unjustly sentenced can start a blog relating the facts of the case, for the purpose of building support for justice for the accused(s). This is what brought the freedom of Shaquanda Cotton, as the result of the immensely successful Shaquanda Cotton blog did.
The newly-won freedom Shaquanda Cotton is a victory that can and should be replicated nationally and internationally, through the initiation of hundreds or thousands more Black Accused Support Group blogs (BASG’s), united within the Afrosphere’s Black Accused Support Coalition (BASC).
Shaquanda is Free, With 550 More Texas Teenagers to Be Released http://francislholland.blogspot.com/2007/04/550-more-texas-teenagers-to-be-released.html
Precisely because there are so many Black people in America who are accused of crimes, in prison or at risk of being sent back to prison in (on parole or on probation), or culpable but experiencing cruel and unusual prison conditions, there exists an enormous opportunity for organizing Black communities to work for liberty and justice for our jeopardized community members.
It costs about $50,000 dollars per year (?) to keep a Black man or woman in prison – an amount that could easily support a whole family if used to offer a job instead of imprisonment.
The way to start a local Black Accused Support Group (BASG) within the Afrosphere is to start a Black blog that tells the history of one or more accused Black people. Include within that blog a “Welcome to the Afrosphere” list of Afrosphere blogs, using the AfroSpear icon in the Blog layout to identify this blog as part of the Afrosphere and part of the International Black Accused Support Group Coalition. Advocates who do not know how to start a blog can request help from any member of the Afrosphere and receive immediate assistance and directions for starting a BASG blog.
The issues raised and advocacy raised in these independent BASC blogs will likely receive spontaneous or organized support in the Afrosphere consistent with the compelling nature of the case and the effectiveness of the presentation made in the BASC blog.
Because Afrosphere blogs are independent and spontaneously organized, all Black people have an opportunity to present their case to the nation that there is a Black person wrongly accused or unjustly sentenced.
The BASG’s can be another way to help stop urban violence, uniting the families of warring factions behind the common goal of freeing those community members who have been imprisoned and preventing others who are currently defendants from receiving unjust and excessive convictions and sentences. BASG can advocate for increased funding for alternative sentencing modalities, like drug and alcohol treatment and accused participation in BASG support groups.Can the Afrosphere Help Reduce Urban Violence?
About these above ideas, Eddie Griffin, ex-Black Panther now working in Texas on the correctional issue, says,
Dear Francis, In all of my years in the struggle, there are few people with as much creativity as you for insight. You have created a very powerful voice in the black community across the United States and growing around the world. My individual network has a little more than 700 people and an upload of at least 10,000 worldwide.
I was pleased to see the Internet take up the case of Shaquanda Cotton because it opened the way for the other 550 kids trapped in the system. With the light on Cotton, the other TYC scandal story, which the mass media was trying to suppress, came out in the open.
This will be a major story for some time to come. I am in a position to ride the helm on this. I am directly involved with Texas legislators working on the TYC problem. I'm glad you guys picked up on the fact that Shaquanda was not the only black youth to suffer injustice and abuse.
As proposed, BASG blogs will all be independent but interlinked and will build the movement for justice for Black people within American legal system.
If there's anything Black people have in common in America, it's that we are all concerned about someone who is accused, incarcerated, on probation or parole, and who has, in many case, lost the right to vote to change the system.
When Black blogs united to successfully achieve the release of Shaquanda Cotton, we discovered that there were at least 550 other mostly minority youths in the Texas correctional system whose sentences had already expired and who were being unjustly detained.
We need to encourage the mothers, sisters, brothers, wives, husbands and friends of accused Blacks to (1) start blogs on behalf of the accused, and (2) link those blogs with others to develop the power to release those who are being unjustly held, and to prevent the imprisonment of those who are, or may in the future be, unjustly accused.
I have been thinking about this idea for a while as a way of organizing and radicalizing Black people in the United States to come out of our slumber and defend ourselves. Any one of us could be Shaquanda Cotton tomorrow, and the organization we build today may save our lives next week.