Marion Brothers

Marion Brothers

Monday, April 30, 2007

Why Vote and Nothing Changes?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

I never vote- unless I know the cat’s in the bag and that my vote is going to make a real difference and not just a symbolic exercise in freedom. That, to me, means voting in blocs. I am not about the business of a show vote for partisan support or for a moral victory in We Shall Overcome. I am still a Black Panther at heart, and I believing in overthrowing somebody- not just anybody- but those incumbents that cannot get the job done.

With the May 12 local elections upon us, and a national presidential election around the corner, you can take it to the bank!

I like to hold out my vote until the last minute, until somebody gives me something to hang my hat on. It makes me no difference which party. I just like to be in a negotiating position against any political candidate for the best deal. I do not campaign unless I am assured that our demands will be met from that candidate. Our base provides the clout for them to deliver. Otherwise, we vote out of office those who double-cross us.

To insure that no political party member mistake my motive, I announce- whenever I am in a room with Republicans, I call myself a Democrat- and whenever I am in a room with Democrats, I announce that I am a Republican- which is my way of saying to each, that in the past both parties have left me with a bad taste in my mouth. It also makes for an interesting conversation whenever you are the oddball in the midst of a partisan get-together. If I were a Democrat in a room full of other Democrats, I would get nothing but a glad hand and a slap on the back for my support- and vice versa if I were a Republican.

The good thing about being an oddball in a partisan congregation of like believers is the fact that I get a chance to raise issues about certain platform stances that otherwise would not be called into question by the uncritical that follow the herd. I would hate to endorse a candidate and come back, in hindsight, and advocate their removal from office. If I make a mistake in character judgment, make sure that I will be the last to see it, because I trust every man at his word.

I never dice the carrot against my favor. I always ask, which candidate has the odds and why. Recently, I noticed a great apathy in the African-American community at the polls. This made me realize that I would look foolish jumping out in public talking about some mystical great “black vote”. My community is full of black Democrats and black Republicans and both taken together will not amount to a hill of beans at the polls. If I vote for the losing side, I take it personal and not as a product of my so-called black vote.

Instead of preaching to the apathetic and voting for losers, I spend my energy grooming the kids. I want them to know that, because of voter apathy, they have the power to overthrow somebody. In the last election, my precinct reported less than 1,000 votes or less than 2% of the voting population in the black community. Even eighteen-year old high school students in just one high school can do better. Why not rally them to overthrow somebody?

I will be speaking to UTA students on Tuesday night (05/01/07) about voting. Guess what my message is going to be? You got it. Overthrow somebody.

Town Hall Meeting
University of Texas at Arlington
701 S. Nedderman, Drive
Arlington, Texas 76019

Time: 7:00 PM

Contact for Additional Information
Junichi Lockett, UTA Political Action Chair

Friday, April 27, 2007

HAT TIP to Bud Kennedy

From Eddie Griffin (BASG)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Mark those that sow seeds of discord among neighbors. A Hat Tip goes to Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy for marking such a man. His “In Farmers Branch, if it’s not bigotry, it’s snobbery” (04/26/07) was one of the best READS of the week.

What we have is a man traveling around the state instigating Texas townships to enact local ordinances prejudicial to the Hispanic and Latino community. His name is Tim O’Hare from the City of Farmers Branch, which recently made national news for its anti-immigration ordinances, sparking a grassroots fire in the Immigration Debate.

Tim O’Hare led the charge to enact city ordinances that would: 1) Prevent undocumented immigrants from renting apartments; 2) Provide federal training to local law enforcement to round up all the illegal immigrants; and 3) Bar any business transition to be done in any other language than English. The anti-Spanish law was meant to ‘send a message’, O’Hare said to a group of Republican woman, who invited him to speak in Fort Worth on Wednesday.

O’Hare, who is a member of the church of Christ, claims that he is no racist. His concern is about preserving and protecting the community’s property value and spurring economic development. He sees illegal immigrants as cause of economic deterioration in Farmers Branch. Many people see it the same way across the country. The problem, as he sees it, should have been fixed 20 years ago.

I assume the Hispanics and Latinos moved in after properties were either abandoned or hard to sell. It would be hard to imagine that they invaded the Texas town like the Alamo. And, I assume they were accepted into the community, around the state, and around the country at a time when the law winked at illegal immigration. Now Tim O’Hare wants to right the ship and lead Texas into another non-shooting war with our neighbors south of the border. Though he does not say it, many people advocate mass deportation, notwithstanding some Hispanic families have lived in the state longer that Texas has been in the Union.

All of this seems insidious, except there is a wave of sentiment sweeping the nation on the Immigration Question and pending legislation before the US Congress and state legislature. In order to protect their economic investment in property, O’Hare and others would uproot all 12 million immigrants and send them back to Mexico.

The issue of race is the headliner for this debate. Though O’Hare claims not to be a racist, his elitist protection of property and wealth is the class basis of racism. When city governments began writing laws that negatively impacts upon a select race of people- forbidding them to speak their native language, forcing them to live outside the city limits, and subjecting them to apprehension and detention based on their ethnicity- that is institutional racism. This is a fact by definition and cannot be altered simply because someone feels that racism is something else.

I have dealt with this issue extensively in previous essays in relationship to the Immigration Debate. Recounted below are excerpts and links to references to Eddie Griffin's previous articles related to the Farmers Branch anti-immigration controversy and its hidden connections with racism.


Un-neighborly Neighbors in Farmers Branch
By Eddie Griffin

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself.

Oops! There goes the neighborhood in Farmers Branch. The City Council wrote an ordinance aimed at their Hispanic neighbors that would thrash out the illegals among them and deny them basic rights. They deny them the right to speak their own language, declaring English to be the “town’s official language”, according to the Star-Telegram editorial, “The wrong road” (11/15/2006 edition). They would also deny them the right to shelter.

One arrogant blogger extolled the City Council by declaring that council members took “guts” to stand up for the rule of law. Does that make the law sacred, simply because it is an ordinance enacted by man? There is a greater law.

Post Reflections on the article above

This article highlights the frailty of manmade laws. It is a religious argument about how to treat strangers and neighbors. But it sets up the next article that shows how laws crafted by racist intent- that is, to protect and preserve “white rule”.

Race Card Trumps Issue
By Eddie Griffin

November 25, 2006

I saw the term “race card” mentioned repeatedly some letters to the editor purportedly as a backlash to an article written by Bob Ray Sanders, entitled “Small-minded laws for a small Texas city”. [See, “The law in Farmers Branch”, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 11/25/2006].

The legislation of Jim Crow ordinances was classic racism. The enforcement of Jim Crow laws was also racist, though it was the law of the land in the South, enacted by people who vehemently opposed to being characterized as prejudice. No, they were not bigots, but honest citizens creating laws to preserve the order of nature as God ordained. So also are the misguided sentiments of honest citizens in Farmers Branch with their anti-immigration sanctions. But these new ordinances do not pass the taste, feel, and touch test to be racist, according to small town standards in Texas.

Post Reflections on the article above

The key point here is that racism is unrecognizable to itself. People assume that all laws are good laws, especially if it favors them and disfavors the other guy. We call it “equality under the law”, but the law itself is unequal. This is how the playing field got to be so un-level and how it was kept that way for so long. During the rule of bad laws, prejudicial laws, customs, and practice, everybody else accumulated their wealth and carved out their little piece of the rock. By the time the minority races became eligible to own a piece of the rock, all properties were already taken by colonialists and their descendants.

To own, you must buy. But you can only buy what the colonialists are willing to sell, and always they keep the best for themselves and their posterity. This is where Tim O’Hare finds himself- protecting a piece of the rock in Texas handed down by the colonialists to their descendants by way of silver spoon and laws crafted to keep it that way.

There was an era in Fort Worth history when white homeowners put signs in their front yard saying, “This property is not for sell to Colored”.

Farmers Branch Immigrant Laws: Is it Racism?
By Eddie Griffin

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A story written by columnist Bob Ray Sanders in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, entitled “Small-minded laws for a small Texas city”, generated an onslaught of angry reader responses because it implied that the new Farmers Branch anti-immigration ordinances were racist.

One reader writes: “Farmers Branch residents have every right to pass these ordinances, and if Sanders doesn’t like them, who cares… Sanders should be ashamed of what he wrote, and he owes an apology to the council”.

Another writes of Sander’s critique: “ He plays the race card every time he gets a chance… He labels those who disagree with him as bigots. It makes me wonder who the bigot is”.

Still another writes: “Sanders has to be the ultimate racist. Any criticism leveled at someone with darker skin prompts him to toss out the race card.”

Post Reflections on the article above

For a long time in Texas, there was a racist practice that used to irk me and still irk black people- and, that is, when white folks make you apologize for something you never did. Not until the new millennium, have I ever saw a white man apologize to a black man for anything, for any wrong done to him- not in Texas. Never! But instead of angering me, it angers others because I say I have never seen it- as if I am supposed to see something that I have not seen or keep quiet about.

The writer who called Sanders “the ultimate racist” reminded me of how CBS Mike Wallace turned to table on Malcolm X by accusing him of the same. The above essay looks at that 1965 encounter and Malcolm’s response, and why it is relevant in today’s discussion on race.

We started out with our focus on Farmers Branch and its anti-immigration ordinances. But it degenerated by shifting the critique off the issue at hand and onto a reporter who called it as he saw it. This revealed a pattern of denial and shifting the blame, dating back to the time when blacks were forced to apologize for the slave master errors.

Why didn’t you tell me that I left the barn door open? It’s all your fault.

To some degree or another, this is the black man’s burden.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Student Charged with Disorderly Conduct for Writing Class Essay

How can they criminalize a Straight-A student?

The Chicago Tribune reports “High school senior charged after writing 'disturbing' essay”. Since the shooting at Virginia Tech, pseudo-psychoanalyses have gone into overdrive trying to figure out what make people like Seung-Hui Cho go off the deep end. Now we get this report:

CHICAGO- A student, described as an excellent student, wrote a class assignment essay so disturbing to the teacher, school administrators, and police, that he was arrested and charged with “disorderly conduct”. Officials concede the essay suggested no imminent threat to anyone. But in light of the Virginia Tech shooting, officials have been on high anxiety alert for students showing disturbing signs in their writings after Cho’s pre-mortem revelations.

Allen Lee, a senior at Cary-Grove High School, was arrested near his northern Illinois home after penning the in-class writing assignment Monday. The assignment had been to use poetic conventions to express ideas and emotions.

"At the very last sentence, I said that this teacher's method of teaching could lead to a school shooting," Lee said Wednesday. He said he'd intended the entire essay as a joke.

After reading the essay, his teacher alerted the school's principal, and district officials reported it to the police.

Lee, who was arrested Tuesday, posted $75 bond. He is scheduled to appear in court June 18.

Albert Lee said his son was not suspended or expelled but is attending classes somewhere else for the time being.

"I understand what happened recently at Virginia Tech," said Albert Lee, referencing last week's shooting of 32 students by gunman Seung-Hui Cho. "I understand the situation."

But he also defended his son as a straight-A student who was following instructions for the assignment.

Ed Yohnka, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, said an essay done for homework would ordinarily be "protected speech."

How can they criminalize a Straight-A student?
Commentary by Eddie Griffin

The students were encouraged to write essays expressing their feelings and emotions. But school officials contend that there were guidelines and limitations as to how far a student could go in their expressions. The actual content of Allen Lee’s essay was not released to the public, but civil rights attorneys are looking into the matter, according to the report, for possible violations of the first amendment right to freedom of speech.

I am sensitive to the issue of censorship in aborting freedom of speech. Many people find my writings “disturbing”. And, as a prison writer, I spent many years in solitary confinement for my political writings. Therefore, I know the meaning of being punished for writing. In the immediate case of Allen Lee, he is charged with “disorderly conduct”- a straight-A student.

Something is wrong with this picture. The student was asked to do an assignment. It appears that he was so effective in his written essay that it impacted the mind of the teacher. It frightened her. But I am not sure if it is the psychological state of mind of the student or the post- traumatized mind of a teacher whose fears had recently been heightened by the Virginia Tech shooting.

What is more disturbing to me is the factor that the student’s written essay is being kept under wraps and no one else can see and judge for themselves. Was the essay a confession of a crime? Was it a terrorist plot? Was it overtly profane with obscene language? Was it racially offensive? There are very few other instances that might be classified as “disorderly conduct” as it relates to writing. But the student Lee called it “a joke”.

Where are we headed with this censorship- punishment for those who offend our consciousness? Pseudo-psychologists have a measurable history in accessing human intelligence. In fact, it is a field for the least intelligent college student. So, how in the world is a knucklehead going to figure out the psychology behind a straight-A student’s thinking. Masterful writers like Mario Puzzo specialized in playing mind games with words, without ever crossing the line. And, who would not institutionalize Stephen King?

The next thing you know they will be accusing hip-hop rap artist of making terrorist threats in their violent videos. Where do we draw the line between freedom of speech and that which offends public sensibilities?

Students Go On Hunger Strike for Low-Wage Workers

Eddie Griffin (BASG)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Report: “Student hunger strike supports workers” (Star-Telegram, Thursday, April 26, 2007)

A dozen University of Vermont students entered their third day of a hunger strike Wednesday in support of salary increases for clerks, janitors and other service workers on campus.

The strike is aimed at gaining low-wage employees a livable wage. What an act of consciousness! It should put us all to shame that we have not done more to secure a livable wage for under-paid employees and minimum wage earners.

[To Be Updated throughout Today]

Bubba24 wrote:
Isn't it finals week on most campuses? If I were on campus I'd stand in front of them eating a Snickers bar and telling them how good it tasted. Then throw the wrapper in the trash can so the janitors would have something to do and wouldn't get laid off.

A Few of the Hundreds of Words of Support and Solidarity

Subject: California Hunger Striker sends support...

Sister Maneshkona,
My name is Angel R. Cervantes... I recently went on a Hunger Strike for 16 days at the Univ. of Calif., Irvine. We risked our lives to fight for social justice. I was touched and moved by your words and your courage...
Sister, I hold you in my prayers and I offer you my spirit and my love... If we are to give our lives so that others may truly live, then so be it... I offer the full support of the Four Winds Student Movement and if we can help your struggle in any way please notify me as soon as possible...
Stay strong... Nourish yourself with the love around you.. and good luck

From: Chula Vista
Subject: UCI student supports Shontae

As soon as I got this news, I felt the need to voice my support for hunger striker Shontae Praileau in your university. I'm a PhD student in Univ. of Calif. Irvine in engineering, and I don´t really have anything to do with UVM or Vermont... the common thread may be our status as students and as humans.

From: L'mani S.Viney
Subject: Student Protest and Activism

As you can see from the most recent posts, whether it be mine, the sister at University of Vermont, or the brother at the University of Hartford, there seems to be a coming of a new wave of student activism and protest on college campuses across the country.

What is disturbing is that many of the students who are figting these battles are becoming worn down at a frightening rate. The reason for this is because of the dynamics of being an activist in college in this time period.

While the 1950´s and 60´s is known for student activism, I believe that it is important to note that the racist policies which these corporations lived under were blatant and a clear obstacle for Blacks and others to identify as the enemy For this reason, many Blacks(not all) came together to fight against these atrocities. Unfortunately, in today´s times, there is no common enemy.

What I mean by this statement is that the racist policies that have and still exist in our institutions have seeped so far into the lifelines of the institutions that the enemy or obstacle is no longer clear. This, for many Black students can be frustrating because they are not able to put their finger on the problem. They know that one exists, but they cannot see it.

That is why now, the activists today, must take up many different and difficult tasks. Tasks such as understanding and pinpointing the policies which are the problem, defining them as being racist, and showing why they are racist. When you get into issues such as financial aid, advisement, faculty hiring, and student life, the process can become highly difficult and complex. After this then the student activists must deal with a few forms of Blackfolk. The first is the "non-confrontational Blackfolk" that is those students who know that a problem exists but is afraid or apprehensive for their own reasons to confront the problem.
The next form of Blackfolk is the "apathetic Blackfolk" that is those students who know there is a problem but do not care about it and refuse to do anything but to criticize the students.

Then there is the "Happynigger Blackfolk" that is, those student who either think that there is no problem at all or that acknowledge that there is a problem, but lessens the magnitude of it to a point where the problem really isn’t a problem at all.

Finally, you have the type of student who is the most dangerous one to an activists cause, the "Armchair Revolutionary Blackfolk" That is, students who acknowledge a problem in vocal and hostile manners, and give the perception or facade of being militant and working to make change. While, in reality, they do not truly understand the complexity of the problem, and their participation for real change is limited to the sounds coming out of their mouth from a lunch table’s distance. Basically, when the sh*t goes down, they cannot be found.

I understand that all of this was existent back in the 50´s and 60´s, but I will take the risk and say not to the magnitude of today. I say this only because the common enemy has hidden itself in the shadows, and if any of you remember the story of the Alegory and the Cave, you will remember that the people chained perceived the shadows as being reality, but then when they became free and looked into the light, they found out that what they saw was not what was real. This realization, forced all those chained to make a decision, either to accept it and move on or to not accept it and voluntarily chain themselves again and look into the shadows because the truth hurt too much.

This is what we deal with today. That is why many of us who have heard the stories of us students must help us and advise us and find ways in which we can unite and make a way to make these institutions more acceptable towards the academic and social growth of students who come after us.

We cannot change every university, but we can make a difference to the ones who send out the Universal Black S.O.S signal for help.
The new wave of student activist will be a group of students who shall be smaller in number, yet unbreakable in spirit until the spirit ascends to a higher destination. The question is, with all the obstacles that we face in our development, where will our elders be?

Black student activism is not an event, it is the inherited responsibility born from the mutation of oppression some 400 years back.

L'mani S. Viney

MountainBoy wrote:

Well, if I were a student on that campus, I doubt that I would march out and swell the ranks of the starving student contrivance. They can do whatever they want, I suppose, but I believe their show is pointless. Everyone's lot in life is a combo of talent, opportunity and choices. I sympathize with the misfortunes of others, but these janitors are not slaves. Some may try to change their situation, some won't; no one can effectively fight their battle for them.

MSStudent - I am an engineer in California, and my brother is a pipefitter in Tennessee. We are both very happy. Life is good. Very hard sometimes, but good.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

UPDATE: Shaquanda Cotton: Youngest Political Prisoner & Civil Rights Hero

Monday, April 23, 2007

Excuse me, if I offend you with this Declaration that Shaquanda Cotton is the youngest political prisoner recently released from the corrupt Texas Youth Commission (TYC). People have called into question the entire Texas Juvenile Justice System, accusing it of racist disparity in the administration of punishment. The story of Shaquanda Cotton is a case example.

She wrote a letter from the Brownwood Juvenile facility where she was incarcerated. She broke through very heavy censorship, in a corrupt system where children are held incommunicado, who are abused and violated behind the walls of incarceration, at the end of the line of the justice system. If they even so much as complain about their condition, the letter will not make it outside the walls.

How do I know? My name is Eddie Griffin, a former U. S. political prison, recognized worldwide in 1977. The government purposely held me incommunicado to silence my writings from a prison cell. Shaquanda Cotton, for a 15-year old, wrote the letter of her life, and it broke open the gates of hell, known as TYC.

I was compelled to see Sequanda Cotton in person, the Paris teenager locked up in a Texas Youth Commission (TYC) detention facility for shoving a hall monitor at school. I had to see for myself if the child was all right after the trauma of being incarcerated for a year. I was determined to be there on Sunday, April 22 at the New Salem Missionary Baptist Church where a rally was held in her honor.

When I started out for the small northeastern Texas town, I had absolutely no idea where I was going. I crept around winding back roads, through rural wooded farmland and sparsely populated communities, and no map for guidance. Of the thousand reasons to turn back toward Fort Worth, I was driven all the more by faith that I would get a chance to see this young lady that I had written so many stories about. Shaquanda Cotton had become a folk hero of sorts and crowned the youngest civil rights hero for a letter that squeezed through the crack of censorship and made it to the outside world and provoked outrage around the world. I felt that this was my child, who had finally been set free by public protests, radio talk show publicity, and a massive online campaign.

Getting lost going to Paris, Texas was only a calculated risk for me. Still there was something I wanted to see in her eyes. Was she like other young girls her age, who, a year before, popped bubble gum, jumped rope, and painted her toenails like grownups? Or, was she the wayward child the prosecutor and judge described before they sent her up the river for possibly seven years? I agonized over what I might find and the sacrifice I was willing to make in order to find it.

How was Shaquanda Cotton doing since being released? How had incarceration affected her life? Were she and her mother planning to stay in Paris, after the controversy of racial injustice had brought notoriety and shame upon the city? People around the country and around the world wanted to hear her voice, her own words, not mine.

At last, I arrived in Paris. Making it back, however, would be another question. For the moment, I could have cared less. A kind local resident went out of his way to escort me the last mile of the way to the church on Hickory Street where the rally was already in high session. There was standing room only for the overflow crowd.

Ron Muhammad, a member of the Million More Movement who recognized me, brought me to a seat on the front row, beside some of the dignitaries and preachers. But I had not come to stand before the podium and make a speech and heap fiery coals of condemnation up the city. There were enough ministers to preach about black people’s indignities. Neither was I there to have my voice heard from the audience. I had come, only in hopes of spending some private quality time with Shaquanda and her mother, which was arranged by Bryan Muhammad, one of the leaders of the coalition on the ground. To savor the moment, I took a picture with mother and daughter.

On the program were young hip-hop artists rapping about God and giving praise to Jesus. One teen brought the audience to its feet with her rendition of “Lean on Me”. “We all need somebody to lean on”, the singer sang, paying individual tribute to all the supporters, whom Shaquanda called upon in her legal distresses. And, there was civil rights lawyer Bobbie Edmonds there to give legal guidance and advice to Paris residents who had no one else to lean on.

During much of the four-hour rally, young Shaquanda stared blankly out into the audience. One minute she was there, the next she was out in space, peering into another dimension with a glazed look in her eyes. She was still in a dream state like the child that wished upon a star- the North Star that led slaves to freedom. Her dream had come true. Her prayers had been answered. And yet, it seemed, that it had not completely registered in her mind, that she was actually free.

Such a moment should have had her beaming from ear to ear with joy and happiness. But the glazed stare I had seen before, in the mirror, some 23 years ago. We call it the “penitentiary stare”. It only comes from being institutionalized over a period of time. I called this to the attention of her mother Creola.

“She’s not the same child, is she?” I casually asked.

Her mother shook her head. “She’s changed a lot.”

Poor child, I thought, forced to grow up before her time. I knew that incarceration caused men to go into “a fog” upon being released. But I was surprised to see it in the eyes of a child- that far away look where deep pensive thoughts take shape and etches a hard look upon the face of the institutionalized. This is the look of a person who has faced dangers and hostilities every day while in custody- a kind of unperturbed façade that masked a person’s fears and anxieties. I could not help but wonder: What have they done to my child? They robbed her of her childhood.

Everybody else probably saw it, but ignored it. The rally was designed to make Baby Cotton feel uplifted and happy to be free. In their fixation, they may have painted an imaginary smile upon her face. But I knew what Shaquanda knew. She was still not free because she was living too close to her immediate past memories- the hostilities, arguments, and fights in prison. Leaving that environment did not automatically leave the images behind. The ghost of TYC was still alive in her mind. It was a secret. Together, the three of us laughed it off- at least, for the time being. The hard days are yet to come. Nevertheless, when it was her time to speak, she took heartening courage.

“It was traumatic,” Cotton said of her 12-month stay in the Brownwood facility, where she said she witnessed kids fighting and listened to threats. “I didn’t go through stuff like that because I stayed in my room.”

Relationships there were pitiful, Shaquanda said.

“I missed my family,” she said. “My father died two weeks before I was released, and I was unable go to his funeral.”

The teenager appealed to other youth and said being locked up is not a way to spend life.

“We need to stop fighting against each other and take a look at the things that are going on around us and stand up for ourselves,” Shaquanda said. “Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t be anything, because I have been told that many times.” (“Cotton speaks on TYC stay”, Mary Madewell, The Paris News, 04/23/07)

When she said that she had lost her father, it reminded me that lost both my grandparents during the time of my incarceration between 1972 and 1984. After my return home, my mother told me how each grandparent had waited and waited, just to see my face again before they died. But they never did. It is still the lost chapter in the book of my life. It will forever be a lost chapter in Shaquanda’s life.

But life goes on. The assault case against the juvenile did not go away. It is now on appeal, and no one is talking, because of the age of the child. Such information must be kept confidential. And yet, under the cloak of confidentiality, there is another side of the story being kept suppressed. She alluded to her treatment inside TYC. Instead of bemoaning how she was written up for an extra pair of socks in lockup, she seemed to have suddenly realized that such petty disciplinary was no longer important. She waved it off by the wave of a hand as if to wipe the slate clean and then added, “That’s a whole ‘nother story.”

Of course, there is another story for another day. But there is also another story for today, and that is the story of Paris, Texas and allegations of racism. Before the Chicago Tribune story was published and the case of Shaquanda Cotton brought to national attention, few African-Americans in this community of 25,000 people had ever heard of the youth. And, the only source of information Paris residents had after the story went public was through The Paris News, which other blacks concede never publish the whole story. Most of the published letters to the newspaper’s editor condemns the youth and tries to hold her responsible for actions she still disputes. There were letters defending the Paris Independent School Districts for its action to criminalize the child. There were letters supporting the decision of the judge to throw the book at her.

Secretly, blacks in Paris speak in hush tones about racism. They suspect it. But they are not given enough information to actually see the disparity in justice. On this one thing, however, they all agree. Shaquanda Cotton should have never been sent to prison. The judge and prosecutor fault the mother for not accepting a probation offer, but they, themselves, will never admit the fact that they pursued the wrong course of action in this case.

On the way out of the city, I caught a black man and a black woman alone at a service station. I asked them privately about the Cotton case. They admitted that they did not know what to think. This is when I realized that the rest of the world knew more about the Shaquanda Cotton case, from outside news sources, than the people who actually live inside of Paris.

QUESTION: Are there Political Prisoners in the United States?

UPDATE: Shaquanda Cotton Story makes international PanAfrican News

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ron Pettaway Funeral to be Preceded by Protest March

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Ron Pettaway (born 04/21/1980 and executed by Fulton County police on 04/15/2007), and Roy Pettaway, shot while attempting to defend his brother. See Atlanta Journal Constitution

Jennifer & Scott Morgan have left a new comment on your post "The Afrosphere and Police "Excess Force":

This is such a tragic situation. The family just wants justice and answers. A web site,, has been set up for the family. The community is outraged by this crime. Ron Pettaway was NOT a violent man. He was quite the contrary. He was a respectable business man, neighbor and loving fiancé'. His smile entered the room before he did.

"Before he was executed, Ron and his wife Lisa ran a Floor Doctor carpet cleaning franchise in Marietta/Powder Springs Georgia, business listed as a member of the Powder Springs (GA) Business Association."

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Driving Directions to the March, Saturday April 21, 2007.

The Powder Springs Business Association, Cobb County Chamber of Commerce, and SSMorgan Enterprises, Inc have set up a Memorial Fund at RBC Centura Bank for his family and fiancé' Lisa Sayer. Ron and Lisa own a carpet cleaning company in Marietta/Powder Springs called the Floor Doctor, Inc. He will be greatly missed.

The Pettaway family has called on Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue to intervene.

The family of two unarmed brothers shot by Fulton County police after a bar fight called on Gov. Sonny Perdue on Wednesday to declare a state of emergency for the numerous police-involved shootings that have happened recently in metro Atlanta.

"It is your governor of this state, to intervene," read the letter signed by the Rev. Markel Hutchins, spokesman for the Petteway family.

"We call on you to form a blue-ribbon panel to proffer substantive changes in public policy relative to how we train and regulate Georgia peace officers," Hutchins said. Examiner.Com

This Afrosphere blog expresses its profound sympathies to the Pettways and invites the Pettways to join the Afrosphere's Black Accused Support Groups (BASG), which is a national union of the blogs set up for Black people seeking justice from the American criminal (in)justice system. Black Accused Support Groups blogs are interlinked across America to provide support, lay advice and information to Black accuseds, victims of criminal system injustice, their families, friends and communities. When Blacks demand justice, we speak not as isolated individuals; we speak as "One Nation Under and AfroSpear."

We can only hope and pray that justice will be served and additional innocent lives are not lost due to the Police and "loose" firing.

Roy Pettaway, Ron's brother that was also shot, was released from Grady Memorial Hospital on Tuesday, April 17. He is recovering at home with his family.

"There is no justification for police to wound and shoot two unarmed men," the Rev. Markel Hutchins, a Pettaway family spokesman, said at a news conference while flanked by members of Pettaway's immediate family. "It's nothing short of murder. These young people were shot for no reason."

Dennis said the dispute began when Ron Pettaway told her another bar patron looked like dreadlocked rap star Lil Wayne. The patron took offense to the description, and the two men fought inside the club, Dennis said.

Bar security ushered the men outside, Dennis said, and when they returned, both were calm. Fulton police arrived a short time later and took Ron Pettaway outside, Dennis said. Neither Dennis nor other witnesses know what sparked the shooting.

Fulton County police and Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents spent several hours at the bar Monday afternoon talking to witnesses and looking for evidence. Pettaway's father, Roy Pettaway Jr., watched from a parking lot across the street.

Hutchins, the family spokesman, promised additional action, including public protests, to deal with a climate in metro Atlanta and elsewhere in which, he said, "police officers are now shooting first and asking questions later."

Hutchins said the Pettaway shootings are another example of excessive police force by metro Atlanta police. Twelve people were shot by police in DeKalb County last year alone. Fulton County police last shot a person to death in June 2006. Atlanta Journal Constitution

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports:

Roy Pettaway, brother of the man executed, who was released from Grady Tuesday, has already hired a lawyer as his family completes funeral arrangements for his brother. A 10 a.m. service is scheduled for Saturday at Liveoak Baptist Church, 2601 Flat Shoals Road, in College Park on what would have been Ron Pettaway's 27th birthday.

The Rev. Markel Hutchins, a civil rights activist and Pettaway family spokesman, said there will be a march from the Frozen Palace to a church on Old National where the funeral will be held.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Map to College Park, Georgia

A special section in the church's sanctuary, Hutchins added, will be set aside for the families of other metro Atlantans allegedly victimized by police.

Afrosphere members now call upon Afrosphere members and readers who live in the Atlanta area, or anywhere in Georgia, to attend the march from the Frozen Palace in College Park, GA to the Live Oak Baptist Church where the funeral will be held. The funeral itself will be held on Saturday, April 21, 2007 at 10:00 a.m., on what would have been Ron's 27th birthday.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Map of March Route, Saturday, April 12, 2007.

Here are printable directions to the march and funeral:

The service will be held at:

Live Oak Baptist Church
2601 Flat Shoals Road
Atlanta, GA 30349

Clearly, the family and community are already organizing victims of police abuse. If you live in the Atlanta area or anywhere in Georgia, please go to the march and funeral and show that Blacks all over America are concerned with the needless execution of Blacks, no matter who does the shooting.

Psychoanalysis of a Mass Murderer

What makes people tick and what makes them ticked off

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Let’s address the psychology behind mass murders like that of Cho Seung Hui in a diagnostic way. The question is this: What made this young man go berserk and kill 33 people? Maybe we can find a clue in the video tapes he mailed to NBC during his day of rage.

I agree with everyone who takes the position that Guns Kill People in contradiction to the NRA rationalization that People Kill People. I believe that Dr. Robert Justin Lipkin, Profess of Law at Widener University School of Law, debunks the NRA argument against Gun Control and the whole irrational platform behind the Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms (“Massacre at Virginia Tech- The NRA: Defending the Constitution or Enabling Gun Violence”, Essentially Contested America, April 17, 2007).

In a follow-up article, Lipkin lays out another, beautifully written and powerful essay, “The Aftermath of the Massacre at Virginia Tech” (Essentially Contested America, April 19, 2007). In it are some notable themes to be considered in a psycho-evaluation of Cho Seung Hui. Lipkin writes:

What distinguishes the good guys from the bad guys in these disasters? We self-righteously congratulate ourselves by objectifying Cho Seung-Hui as a madman; he's not like us. We could never commit such crimes, could we? … In the final analysis, are we really so different from him?

Lipkin makes much ado about good guys with guns and bad guys with gun, and the inability to distinguish between the two, in terms of predictability in an imperfect society. This seems to suggest, though not said, that every man is one snap from going off the deep end. But who would believe that we are nation full of spoiled, temper tantrum brats like social time-bombs full of suppressed rage?

Now, on top of this, everybody wishes to carry a concealed handgun for their own protection, even college students. Professor Lipkin feels the same as I about this issue.

“Many of us would not want to rely on the good judgment of our fellows to use their guns in the appropriate circumstances,” he says. “As a law professor, I would be disconcerted if students brought guns to class.”

This reminds me of the woman who survived the 1991 Luby’s Cafeteria shooting in Killeen, Texas which took the lives of 23 people. The woman had a concealed handgun permit, but she could not take her gun into the restaurant. Had she, she claims, she could have prevented the mass murderer George Hennard from slaying her mother.

Whenever tragedies like this happen, there is a rush for more guns, instead of a stop to think of the consequences. Do we really want to go back to the Wild West days, where every man is his own law?

The argument used that “Guns don’t kill people- People kill people” suggests that only good people should own and possess guns. We only need to keep guns out of the hands of bad guys, not to mention a psychotic like Hui from being able to purchase a gun. (Right now, gun permits screeners doe not deny people with mental health problems from buying a gun). But nobody knows beforehand, with certainty, who is good and who is bad. Lipkin states:

The reason the argument for arming students founders is because it rests on splitting the world into two classes of gun owners: good guys and bad guys. The good guys only use their guns for acceptable purposes such as self-defense and the defense of others.

Across the population, it is inevitable that armed students will kill in class, in the cafeteria, walking across campus, at sporting events, and so forth. Unless there was overwhelming reasons to suppose that students are mostly super-good guys, it is irrational, not in just one case, but across a population, to permit students to carry guns.

The same argument applies to those who rush to arms. It makes me wonder who can feel safe with a person sitting in a restaurant with a handgun concealed in her purse. Law-abiding or not, concealed handgun permit or not, good guy or not, I would still feel uncomfortable.

The imperative is not more guns for more protection but a better understanding of human behavior and what makes men tick and what ticks them off.

There is no absolute clear-cut dichotomy between psychotic thinking and normal thinking- no black dark-side versus pure light side. All thinking comes in shades of gray. It just so happened the thoughts inside the mind of Hui was more “cloudy” than the thoughts of the rest of us mortals who suppress our rage.

But then Dr. Lipkin drops this footnote:

If Cho was psyhcotic, the media's lust for an ordinary explanation of his conduct is totally misplaced. People suffering from schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, or psychotic depression might give reasons for their conduct, but it's a pretty safe bet that these reasons did not motivate the behavior, the psychotic disorder did. If Cho was schizophrenic his disdain of hedonism or the rich was just a subterfuge. Paranoid schizophrenia is all about secret conspiracies and concerted efforts to injure the person suffering from the malady. If Cho live in a monastery, the focus of his rant might be against religious devotion. So don't try to explain his behavior as you would someone who killed for money. In Cho's case, it's the delusional ideation that matters not the content of the delusions.

Delusional Ideation is a new psychological concept that basically says that a person’s mind is playing tricks on them. But Lipkin has nothing but theory and no understanding of what makes men like Hui tick. In fact, it is a popular notion that black people suffer “delusion ideation” about “racism”. It is the latest theory used to explain away empirical influences upon subjective decision-making and reactionary behavior. In the case of perceived racism, it is not the objective manifestation of inequality and injustice (abstracts that cannot be measured) but the formulation of injury as a result of the thought.

In essence, no one wronged or injured Cho Seung-Hui. His ranting and raging about rich "brats" and their "hedonistic needs" were merely the products of his delusion, according to the thinking of Dr. Lipkin.

"Your Mercedes wasn't enough, you brats," says Cho, a South Korean immigrant whose parents work at a dry cleaners in suburban Washington. "Your golden necklaces weren't enough, you snobs. Your trust funds wasn't enough. Your vodka and cognac wasn't enough. All your debaucheries weren't enough. Those weren't enough to fulfill your hedonistic needs. You had everything."

We can discount Cho’s rationale for going on a rampage, but we cannot deny these “images” were inside his head. That he acted upon these perceptions is a fact of life, regardless of whether the perceptions were real or myth. Delusions, if they are, must be treated as real.

"You had a hundred billion chances and ways to have avoided today… But you decided to spill my blood. You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. The decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that will never wash off."

Everybody tells me to pay no attention to the words of a psychotic, that he is out of his mind and makes no logical sense. But if Cho’s had survived and wound up in prison, his fellow inmates would be very skittish about living with him and his state of mind. They would be uneasy also about his crime of mass murder.

For 12 years I studied these characters, not as a psychologist, but as a prisoner who studied the psychology of human behavior, both from textbook to real life situations in cohabitation with felons. In this regards, I have a bit more understanding of the “criminal mind”, especially of men who have killed other people. Always, in the mind of the killer, (hit-men especially) there is a rationale that justifies the murderous act. Always, the killer proclaims that the victim deserved it.

What triggered Cho? “A hundred billion chances” explains who the psychological problem inside his head festered for a long before exploding. He had been holding back, holding back… a hundred billion times. Then too “a hundred billion” could be symbolic of wealth, as in “a hundred billion” dollars- the class of people that he denigrates as “rich brats”- not an uncommon sentiment among the poor.

But what could he have possibly meant by “you decided to spill my blood. You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option”.

What did they do to him? Some will say that they tried to help me. But how could that be?

On Dec. 13, 2005, a magistrate ordered Cho to undergo an evaluation at Carilion St. Albans, a private psychiatric hospital. The magistrate signed the order after an initial evaluation found probable cause that Cho was a danger to himself or others as a result of mental illness (“Va. Tech awarding degrees to victims”, Star-Telegram, 4/19/2007).

Being forced into a behavior modification psychiatric hospital can be a traumatic enough experience that may warrant revenge in the mind of the patient. (Note that I did not say justify revenge). Knowing what I know about institutionalization and behavior modification therapy, I can make a case for a man’s resistance and plotting revenge. This is the X-factor ignored by behavioral scientist like my friend and colleague Dr. Edgar Schein, who is the forefather of organizational behavior psychology.

Dr. Schein opened the door to behavior modification as a psychological science derived from his experience with interviewing the Korean War POWs. What he and his team discovered they collectively termed “brainwashing”, though Schein has consistently maintained it as “coercive persuasion”. Where the theory fails, and consequently the failure of behavior modification as a therapy, is the unilateral approach to changing human behavior through manipulative (persuasive) techniques. The X-factor is human resistance.

In essence, no one can open up a man’s head and pore in new indoctrination. There is a natural resistance to thought control by external means. This is why Schein’s research has proven faulty. Though he had the answers in his hand about the strength and character of human resistance, insofar as there were POWs that resisted the Korean brainwashing techniques, Schein and his colleagues never isolated and identified the traits and practices that enabled some captured soldiers and airmen to resist while other servicemen collapsed. All we have is the diagnostics of those who gave in.

The pseudo-science of behavior modification depends on the external manipulation of the environment to produce marked change in behavior. The theory never takes into account diehard resistance, which includes counterplots of revenge.

Cho Seung-Hui was embittered. Whatever series of events that led him to snap occurred over a period of time (a hundred billion times- waiting time). In that series of events was his forced (court-ordered) hospitalization. No one can imagine how a man feels being locked up in a crazy house, believing that he is not crazy. Delusional Ideation could very well mean, being made to feel like you are crazy, and treated like you are crazy, when, in fact, you think that you are sane. If Cho had gone along with the program, he would have taken his medicine (psychotropic drugs) and amble his way through college in a drug-induced stupor.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

More Gun Violence in America

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

On yesterday we reflected on the great and tragic loss of 34 people at Virginia Tech University. But the night before the tragedy, actually Sunday morning, two young black men were gunned down by Atlanta police- both unarmed- one shot in the head, the other in the back.

AFROSPHERE ACTION ALERT - Two Blacks, Ron and Roy Pettaway, Shot from Behind by Fulton County GA Police! One Killed. Please call relevant officials and ask for statement for publication at your Afrosphere blog. Names and phone numbers provided.

Police shooting sparks outrage:
Family says men were not armed

By Eric Stirgus
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 04/16/07

… A 26-year-old man shot and killed outside a bar Sunday by Fulton County police accused officers of excessive force… "They murdered my son," Roy Pettaway Jr. said Sunday regarding the death of his son, Ron.

Fulton County police Cpl. Gary Syblis declined to address the allegations, but said Ron Pettaway and his brother, Roy Pettaway III, 27, also wounded in the shootout, got into an altercation with officers when they arrived to break up a fight at the Frozen Palace at 2395 Flat Shoals Road near College Park.

Family members and supporters said the brothers were unarmed. Police declined to say whether the men were unarmed, adding that they are in the early stages of an investigation into the shooting.

"[Roy] saw his brother with his hands behind his back before any shooting happened," the Rev. Markel Hutchins, a family spokesman, said late Sunday outside the bar at a news conference.

Hutchins, a spokesman for the family of Kathryn Johnston, the elderly Atlanta woman gunned down by Atlanta police last November in a controversial police raid, compared the shootings of the Pettaway brothers to other recent cases of alleged excessive force by police.

"Across this country, young black and brown men are losing their lives at the hands of police officers and we are drawing a line in the sand," he said.
The Pettaway brothers are African-American.

Syblis said the officers involved were placed on administrative leave until the department completed its investigation into the shooting.

Sunday's incident began at 1:32 a.m., Syblis said. The shootings took place on the sidewalk outside the bar with one officer shooting one of the brothers and another officer wounding the other brother, the police spokesman said.

A woman who was at the club said the brothers had gotten into a fight with a group of men. The officers arrived and took Ron Pettaway outside, while the other brother was paying the bartender, said Stephanie Richardson, 32, of Atlanta.

Richardson said she and other club-goers could see through the open doors what was going on outside. "They were just talking," Richardson said. "I didn't see any altercation and nothing like that."

Then, Richardson said, "not even 10 seconds later, we heard gunshots. Six or seven." Ron was shot in the head, the Fulton County medical examiner's office said. Roy Pettaway III was wounded in the back, family members said.

Outside, they found one of the officers standing over Ron Pettaway, who had been shot in the head… Roy Pettaway was on the ground a little ways off, she said.
"Everybody who was there didn't agree with what the police were saying, that they resisted arrest," Richardson said. "So they didn't take any statements."

Gerald Rose, founder of the New Order National Human Rights Organization, said his group also is planning to go to Fulton County police headquarters today to get more details about the shooting. The organization has protested the 12 shootings last year by DeKalb County police. The U.S. Justice Department and a special DeKalb County grand jury are investigating those shootings.

"We just need some answers," Rose said.

Roy Pettaway Jr., a sergeant in the U.S. Army, said he has many questions.
"How do you shoot two people with no weapons?" the dead man's father asked. "It speaks for itself. I want the officer that killed my son charged with a crime."

Letter to:
Hank Klibanoff -- Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Title: Managing Editor - News
Department: Headquarters
Phone: (404) 526-5151
Fax: (404) 526-5610
Address: 72 Marietta St NW, Atlanta, GA 30303-


“They murdered my son”, the old black man said. They murdered my son in Georgia. In November, Atlanta police shot an elderly black woman to death. She thought that someone was breaking into her house, so she retrieved a gun for protection, and got shot dead for her effort. This was a drug bust gone astray.

Yet, we have not heard much editorial condemnation over the Sunday morning shooting of two unarmed young black men by Fulton County police.

I know, as a black father, I would have warned my son not to go into the hell’s den, especially after midnight. Like my father taught me in the 1950s: There’s nothing on the streets past midnight except dogs and fools.

So, what did the police do, shoot a fool down like a dog?

Wake up Georgia newspapers! Is the State of Georgia going forward or going back into denial? The African-American Online Network, known as the Afrosphere, must ask the major newspapers and mass media, why they have not come out with editorials condemning this shooting. What justification can there be in not speaking out?

Eddie G. Griffin (BASG)

Fort Wayne African-American Independent Woman: No I.D. required before a sista is called a Ho

Fort Wayne African-American Independent Woman: No I.D. required before a sista is called a Ho

Thank you Credo for Oprah - Simmons observation. I have provided some additional observations at Eddie Griffin (BASG), entitled "Sisters Speak Out".

Sisters Speak Out

Black men don’t call black women “nappy-headed ‘hoes” unless they a looking for a fight from the sisters. Black women, who voices have been stifled in all this, have been rapping also about the same insults and about not taking anymore. Black women have a way of setting men straight, Imus included. But when rap music sells, be it a black woman or man, the artist gets his or her due base on the merit of its artistic expression, not its insult. And, besides sometimes there is a social message in the rap lyrics that need to be heard.

Source: “Race-Baiting Recrimination” by Eddie Griffin

Pauline writes:

As a black woman, I have never respected the rappers or anybody else who call black women all sorts of names and I don't listen to them. My parents taught me better… My take on Imus is he does feel that he can and say things that other people do and say. Joking or no-joking, this language is unacceptable for all people. I never felt the need to belittle and disrespect myself because other people did. In other words, I have never been one to go with the crowd. I have my own identity (of course I have been criticized)… The bottom line is money. Someone said on TV that this type of talk is what sells. I was encouraged to see the sponsors pull out. I would be happy to see those companies who pay to promote the rappers and their disrespectful language pull out their support. On the other hand, they could be put out of business if nobody bought the trash they sell. The world needs a lot of cleansing and purging. We are constantly sinking (spiritually and physically; loss of lives) and those who are looked on as spokespersons does not shout loud enough to be heard. Those who attempt to speak out are not heard.

What Other Sisters are Saying

Fort Wayne African-American Independent Woman: No I.D. required before a sista is called a Ho

Gabcast! Fort Wayne African-American Independent Woman #18 - No I.D. required before being called a HO

Oprah Winfrey Blasted By 50 Cent

Fifty Cent, rapper extraordinaire, has claimed that Oprah Winfrey has lost her way with the black community and has gone “white.” Oprah: Gone White?

AFROSPHERE ACTION ALERT - Two Blacks, Ron and Roy Pettaway, Shot from Behind by Fulton County GA Police!

AFROSPHERE ACTION ALERT - Two Blacks, Ron and Roy Pettaway, Shot from Behind by Fulton County GA Police! One Killed. Please call relevant officials and ask for statement for Afrosphere publication. Names and phone numbers provided.

Francis L. Holland Blog

Exodus Mentality blog.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Ominous N-Word

A National Debate is in Process

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Whatever I say ain’t gonna ‘mount to hill of beans anyways when it comes to the N-word. Some people gonna use and some abuse it. But is it a nice thing to say? That is the question.

For certain, it ain’t politically correct, whether it is socially acceptable. That’s the reason why they call it the N-word instead of nigger, and that’s the reason hip hop kids spell out “nigga” instead of nigger- to avoid using the derogatory. Unless we get into book burning, that N-word will forever be blazed into early century old literature.

But now we got the A-word for ass, the B-word for bitch, the D-word for dong, the F-word for sex, and, of course, the S-word. Shit! I said it anyway. Excuse me, Imus.

My grandkids shock me when one tells me the other said the B-word. We have become an alphabet soup culture of profanity. It is not the word that means a hill of beans, but the thought behind the word- the profane thought. GEEZ!

As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. A man doesn’t have to call me a nigger to think that I am a nigger. To stop himself from calling me a nigger, he, instead, calls me the N-word. It’s easier on the eyes to see the N-word in print, rather than the word nigger. HOWEVER, it makes me no difference whether he thinks it or says it. I could care less.

[Editor Note: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday that radio host Don Imus ' comments about the Rutgers University women's basketball team were "disgusting" and she was pleased he was fired… Asked how she handled racist, sexist comments directed her way, Rice laughed and replied: "I'm a big girl. I can take care of myself. And I really don't care because, you know, I'm a mature woman."]

Who controls whom? Why would I be offended by any word in the English language? A Word is only a word. We grew up being called niggers to our face by whites. I don’t know if white people ever completely grew out of the language usage. We thought that some racist would become more cultured or that they would just all died off. Nevertheless, in any case, our parent built us a psychological fence against it.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. We sang it more in Texas than “We Shall Overcome”.

Many years later, while in prison, I studied a course called Neuro-Linguistics, taught by Dr. Danny Sengel, a fellow inmate. He taught that we are conditioned by words. The logic behind a man’s thinking is encoded in words, even if the thought is not expressly stated. You can read a man’s thoughts by his words or the lack thereof. This is why silence is so golden. You must guess what I’m thinking.

The class was very interesting because we learned how to communicate without the use of words (called a “silent fast”), by using signs, signals, body language, eye contact, and grunts. We see it everyday. We hear it everywhere. For example, “’Sup” means, “What is up?” It is a form of greeting now heard in street talk. But in prison, we never uttered the word ‘sup, it was always a hiss like a snake (zup).

Neuro-Linguistics was a new school of logics that gave recognition to the fact that we are so conditioned by words, that words affect our nervous system. As an example, Dr. Sengel would ask the class: “How do you feel when I say, ‘Good morning’? Now compare that feeling with how you would feel if I said, ‘Go to hell’.” Of course, you would feel differently. But the difference in feeling is internal- objectively speaking, these are only words, and should not affect you at all.

As training, cons practiced it in prison. Some inmates would come up to you with the meanest expression on their face and some ugly provocative words railing in your face, dirty words flying out of the mouths, simply to see how you would react. It’s a science in communication and interpretation, a cute way of saying “intimidation”. There is an intimidation factor in language, depending on who you say what to whom, and consequences to follow.

Some people can’t handle raw communications. It makes them feel uneasy. But Mario Puzzo, author of “The Godfather”, recognized the power of words and how they affect people’s nervous system in the opening passage of “Fools Die”. People read horror stories and internalize fear. In fact, we are conditioned by fears and are vulnerable to those who manipulate our fears. And, some people manipulate our fear by words.

But it’s all like water on a duck’s back to me. Quack!

Don’t Miss Out On the Great Black Debates of the Day:

EARL OFARI HUTCHINSON: Imus Is Snoop's Frankenstein Monster

The Hutchinson led Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable has scheduled a press conference this morning at 10am in front of Geffen Records.
The groups aim is to call on David Geffen endorsed Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama to urge the label to denounce gangster rap lyrics, even though Geffen is now owned by Universal Music Group.
The group is also demanding a meeting with meeting with David Geffen and Snoop Dogg on "offensive rap lyrics."

Where: Interscope Geffen AM Records, 2200 Colorado Ave. , Santa Monica

When: Tuesday, April 17, 10:00 AM

A coalition of civil rights and women’s group leaders will call for an urgency meeting with David Geffen and rapper Snoop Dogg and for them to make a public endorsement of “A Gangster Rappers Pledge for Clean Rap Lyrics.” Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable President Earl Ofari Hutchinson will also call on Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama who has been endorsed by and received major campaign funding from Geffen to issue a statement denouncing gangster rap lyrics and urging Geffen records to sign the pledge for clean rap lyrics.

[Contributed by Eddie Griffin]

Russell Simmons spoke to ABC News from Chicago, where he was preparing for an Oprah Winfrey town hall meeting on the subject of rap lyrics, which will also feature hip-hop artist Common, who raps about love and spirituality, Kansas City Star sports writer Jason Whitlock, former NAACP president Bruce Gordon and the Rev. Al Sharpton.

A press release from the Winfrey show said, "The group will address whether or not there is a double standard in this country, what behavior different races are willing and not willing to tolerate, and why women and minorities often are targets for derogatory and degrading comments. Winfrey asks the panel to consider if this incident could be a 'tipping point' for American society."


Media Contact:
Angela Bankhead, Publicist

Founded in February 2007, Songhai News is an informative, proactive Black Collegiate Newspaper and is housed in the African-American Studies Program Honors Society at The University of Houston Main Campus. The publication features an array of articles primarily geared towards the political, social, economic and artistic issues of people of African descent and other racial minority groups.

The second issue of Songhai News will be printed on April 23, 2007. Printed issues of the paper can be picked up on campus in the African American Studies Program, English Department, Communications Department, Blaffer Gallery, Honors College, Social Work, Women's Studies, The Career Center, The Urban Experience Program, Moody Towers and Cougar Place. The newspaper is also available online at

The publication features on a regular basis an array of articles that primarily focus on political, social, economic and artistic issues of people of African descent and other racial minorities. The theme of this issue is Women and verbs: a look at the N word. This April issue will take a look at black women in the fields of arts, social, politics, etc. The word portion of this issue will focus on an inside look into N word.

Existing staff members are students currently attending The University of Houston and are members of the Ankh Maat Wedjau Honor Society: Songhai Chapter, a division of the National Council of Black Studies. Staff members include k Ymberly Keeton, the Editor in Chief, who shall remain mysteriously hidden for reasons unknown to staff, LaShic Mondrell, the Managing Editor, and Angela Bankhead, the Publicist.

The newspaper also presents a monthly film screening in relation to editorial content entitled: PopCorn N Lemonade. The last film screening for this semester will be , "The N Word." The event will take place Thursday, April 26, 2007 @ 6pm in the Honors College-Commons (Located in the M.D. Anderson Library) Room 212. Free popcorn and lemonade will be served.

Free tickets can be picked up in the African American Studies Program, the Honors College, the English Department Office, Urban Experience Program, The Social Work Building, The Women's Studies Department and you can email Songhai News to get tickets.

If you would like a print copy of the newspaper email us or pick up a copy at The University of Houston. Interested in writing, submitting or reporting for Songhai News, you may also email us at:

Monday, April 16, 2007

The End of the Line

Black Youth like Shaquanda Cotton:
Clueless of the hell that awaits them inside prison

4/16/2007 9:31 AM

[Don’t even go there]

The last place on earth anyone would want to be is in prison. It’s not what you think even in your wildest imagination. But not all prisons are alike. When they send a man down the river from one tough penitentiary to one tougher than the others before it, you began to realize it's all downhill when you meet a different class of characters- lifers with nothing to lose. The toughest of the tough pens is where the government cares less if a person lives or dies. They would rather not put them back on the streets alive. For them, there is a special prison. It’s the End of the Line.

As I write, there are hundreds of young people being released from juvenile detention in the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) system. Among them was a 15-year old named Shaquanda Cotton from Paris, Texas. Straight from high school, in her freshman year, she was sent to prison, for up to her 21st birthday. For good behavior and cooperation, she could have been released in a year. But it took a scandal and a series of protests to free her, after her prison time was extended by a minor disciplinary infraction- possession of contraband, to wit an extra pair of socks.

I’ve seen it before, so many times. I remember being written up for a prison disciplinary infraction, to wit possession of a knife. The report did not say it was a peanut butter knife. They set off my parole date by two years. And, every time I went before review the knife would come up as an issue to deny me freedom. In the privacy of my cell, I cried. They did me wrong.

So, I can empathize with Shaquanda Cotton, sent to prison for shoving a school hall monitor. Nobody believed her side of the story- that she was pushed first- except her mother. If it were not one thing, it was another. Her daughter was constantly being written up for infractions in school.

The funny thing about infractions is their capriciousness. I was written up once for an “insolent stare”, because I was looking a prison guard funny (like a man with murder in his eyes). They took some of my good time and lengthened my stay in prison.

In an enclosed system, like the prison system, cases on the inside usually never see the light of day. There is a curtain of brick and steel, where out of sight means out of mind. So it seems normal for people on the outside world to ignore petty complaints from those confined. After all, who would even give second thought to a prisoner being clubbed over the head by a prison guard? The thinking usually goes: Because he is in prison, he probably deserves clubbing over the head. Prison officials usually feed off this silent consent and take it as a blank check to straighten out convicts by any means necessary. Framing a prisoner up to get more time is not unethical when they don’t want you to go home again.

I was so ashamed that prison officials charged me with making a sexual gesture toward a female guard. My locker had been burglarized by another inmate. When I reported to the guard, she asked for the two pieces of my lock as evidence, so she could write a report. When I put the male end of the lock into the female end, she called it a “sexual gesture”. I was sent to solitary confinement and, again, good time was taken, and my sentence lengthened. In the privacy of my solitary cell, I cried because they had framed me. But whom could I tell?

I didn’t consider myself a crybaby in prison, and no one else did. But some injustice hurts so bad, a person just cannot stop the tears from coming. Next comes rage.

The problem with rage is that the person enraged often suppresses it. I took my rage out on paper. That’s how I became a writer, a jailhouse lawyer, and an advocate of the oppressed.

There are children in school who are suppressing their rage, mostly due from some perceived or real injustice. The approach to these angry youth has usually been zero tolerance, as oppose to channeling all that energy into constructive avenues. It beats me how a schoolteacher can send a child straight to prison. Hopefully, the Texas legislature will put a stop to this direct railroad line to prison for school age youth.

The object is to save as many children as possible. The recent release of some 400 youth from TYC is a good start. But for many releasees, it may be the start of a downward spiral, becoming frustrated at new obstacles, scaling down their own life expectation, overcoming a time gap, and trying to live in a non-combat zone with a combat mentality. (All prisons are combat zones. Fighting and killing is part of prison life.)

In a piece entitled “anger management” for ex-offenders, I took a different approach to the self-guilt trip of accepting some perceived "responsibility" to a more objectivist approach. The rationale to this approach deals with the realization that anger is justified in some cases, as in the cases of injustice. Accepting guilt for an injustice is an internal contradiction. A person cannot get me to accept guilt for “insolent stares”, although it was a penitentiary infraction, its interpretation was purely in the mind of the observer. It requires reading intent behind my eyes, something no man can do.

Angry people look angry, and some people care less about pacifying their anger. Hard-nose convicts in the toughest prison love to play mind games to see who can play whom “out of pocket”. If they can provoke another man to anger or fear, they can set the stage for a showdown. And, nobody gets through prison without a showdown. Everything is geared for the face-to-face showdowns that will surely come. It is the only way a person can earn a place in prison society. And, climbing the hierarchy ladder to earn the reputation of being the toughest guy in prison means going down the line, until a man reaches the end of the line. And,no man cheats death.
But sometimes in my post-release days, I fell that I actually did- cheat death.

I am thankful, therefore, that Shaquanda Cotton has promised to make a new start and be “a better person”. I would hope that the rest of the youth do likewise. But being a better person means more than wishing to be a better person. It takes faith. In Shaquanda’s case, it will take faith and healing.

Here, again, healing is a stumbling block, especially in a society that prefers to aggravate the wound. An ex-offender has to endure prejudices. Even with a sanitized prison record, Shaquanda will face prejudices and discrimination. First, there were those who were opposed to her being released. Second, after the City of Paris became scandalized with allegations of racism, some do not want her to return to her home community. There was no grand “Welcome Home” for the youngest civil rights hero. And, third, wherever she goes, whether to college or into the employment world, somebody is always going to say, “Aren’t you that girl?”

Whether Shaquanda Cotton is broken or healed, she will still have to deal with it. In the lonely hours, where there are no witnesses, and no one to blame, she will have to suck it up and move on. She has not been to the end of the line, as I have. Juvenile detention is just a start of a long downward fall. There are worse places, and worse places than those. Some people call prison “hell on earth”, but if you haven’t been there, you have absolutely no idea how true this is until you sink to the bottom of society, where no one cares if you live or die.

One of the biggest secrets in the prison system is the statistics on how many prisoners die from being beaten and stabbed to death. The public would be horrified. Where I’ve been less than 10% made it home alive, and those who yet survive are still there- 20, 30, 40, and 50 years later.

REMEMBER LENARD PELTIER, organizer of the American Indian Movement (AIM) among the Sioux tribes, imprisoned since 1975. I was there when they brought him into prison at USP Marion. Peltier led the last American Indian revolute against the United States government, from the same tribe as Crazy Horse, and an offspring of the Wound Knee Massacre. They keep him imprisoned in order that there will be no more Indian uprisings, like the shootout at Pine Ridge Reservation.

REMEMBER HERMAN BELL, leader of the Black Liberation Army (BLA). During the J. Edgar Hoover COINTELPRO counterinsurgency raids and shootouts with the Black Panther Party, some members went underground and took up arms against the United States. The BLA was the armed wing of the Black Panther Party, which grew out of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee of the 1960s. They were defamed as cop killers and later romanticized as heroes, because the illegal shootings went both ways. As they shoot up Black Panthers, the Panthers struck back

As a nation, there can be no healing until the country recognizes that there have been injustices committed against oppressed people, and people sometimes reacted to those injustices in very angry and passionate ways. When punishment is used to suppress anger, it merely inflames the situation, whether it is a child like Shaquanda Cotton or a violent put down of an angry Indian uprising, punishment cannot suppress anger, and neither the threat of punishment will quench righteous indignation.

Eddie Griffin, BASG
Fort Worth, Texas
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4/16/2007 2:44:50 PM

Two Unarmed Black Men Shot From Behind by Atlanta Police

"I'm Trying to Withhold Judgement Until All The Facts Are In," says Exodus Mentality, "but It's Damn Hard, When Unarmed Black Men Keep Ending Up on the Business End of Police Pistols."

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Ron Pettaway (above) and Roy Pettaway III (below) were shot outside a bar early Sunday. Ron died; Roy is hospitalized in stable condition.
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Activist calls for state, federal investigation of shootings. Family says men were not armed.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 04/16/07

A local civil rights activist and the family of a 26-year-old man fatally shot by Fulton police are calling for a state and federal investigation into the death.

The Rev. Markel Hutchins, a spokeman for Ron Pettaway's family, said Monday the case deserves the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Fulton District Attorney's Office.

Ron Pettaway (above) and Roy Pettaway III (below) were shot outside a bar early Sunday. Ron died; Roy is hospitalized in stable condition.

"Those responsible must be held accountable," Hutchins said at a press conference while flanked by members of Pettaway's immediate family.

Pettaway was killed and his brother, Roy, was shot and wounded about 1:30 a.m. by police who responded to a call about a fight at the Frozen Palace, a bar at 2395 Flat Shoals Road near College Park.

Hutchins repeated claims that the brothers were unarmed and cited the Pettaway shooting as another example of excessive police force by metro Atlanta police.

Ron Pettaway was shot in the back of the head, according to family members and the Fulton Medical Examiner's Office. His brother, relatives said, was wounded in the back.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Race-Baiting Recrimination: Imus and the Black Apologists

[A rebut to the white thinking behind Dr. Earl Ofari Hutchinson’s “So who enabled Mr. Imus”?]

Out of my great respect for Dr. Earl Ofari Hutchinson’s life works, I will not lambaste him as I should for his “white thinking” on the Imus controversy. Here, “white thinking” means the thinking of a black apologist for racism- at least, that the way we of the Old School Black Panther Party defined it. White thinking has nothing to do with color of skin. It is an ideology.

At the base of racism is the ideology of “white supremacy”. Here “white” means color of skin. As Dr. Earl Ofari should know, it is a very old doctrine. Bigotry is just an overt expression of white racism. This topic of white racism versus black racism was heavily debated during the 1960s. According to Malcolm X, there is no such thing as black racism. Mike Wallace of CBS, in an interview, accused Malcolm X of being a “black racist”. Malcolm, on the other hand, explained that racism was a uniquely white culture phenomenon, based on the ideology of white supremacy.

Where was Dr. Earl Ofari when this famous interview occurred? I am 60 and I remember clearly, because we, black college students, took up the same position as Malcolm. But we have had to live with the “black racist” myth since Mike Wallace put it out over the airways.

Malcolm’s thinking on the issue was too complex, politically, for most black people to understand. In a scenario he used of racist exchange between a white man and a black man was this: “You call me a nigger and I call you a cracker, what am I doing except reacting to your racism by stoop as low as you. But that does not make me a black racist? No, I am a reactionary to racism.”

Where was Dr. Earl Ofari’s brilliance when Mr. Wallace coined the phrase “black racist” and stuck us with it? It has now become a popular reactionary phrase. This is why we certified the definition of Racism in the international community through the United Nation to mean the ideology of white supremacy. As Malcolm concluded, “It is impossible for a black person to be a white supremacist.” But there are “house niggers” who apologize for the sins of the master.

Back to “white thinking” blacks, we all know that it is racist to think all black people look alike. Racists used to say, “It makes no difference who’s guilty. They all look alike anyway.” That was racism in the practice of southern lynch mob justice. We all recognize that kind of racism. Bigots don’t hide their sentiments.

But we, African-Americans, don’t all look alike- neither do we all think alike, share the same ideological concepts, culture, values, or music. Some black people are intellectually “white”, and some white people culturally “black”. That’s why they call this the melting pot. In a color blind society, we all begin to look and sound more a more alike.

If Imus had imitated the rhetoric of black rap artists, the hip-hop crowd would have accepted him. But this was a mimic on his part, a blackface of sorts with the white man using the black man’s slurs and slanders- a downgrading mimic at that, overtly racist, in the context of the radio dialogue. It wasn’t “nappy-headed ‘hoes” that tripped Imus up. It was the humiliating insinuation that the white girls on the Tennessee basketball team were cuter than the “nappy-headed” black “’hoes” of Rutgers. Then he said the Rutgers girls were some “rough ‘hoes”, which historically has devalued black women’s femininity, suggesting that the black girls were less sexy.

In that context, whom would your heart have favored to win the basketball contest- the cute white girls of Tennessee or the black nappy-headed ‘hoes of Rutgers? Racism affects the hearts and minds of people in very subtle ways. I cannot watch the ball game without cheering for the underdog Rutgers girls because they have so much against them, including a race-bait beauty contest.

Back to racism in Imus comments about the basketball game- in essence, it was a game, in the mind of the racist, to prove “white supremacy”, that the cure white girls could whip the tough and ugly, nappy-headed, black girls, just as Hitler used sport to prove “Aryan supremacy”. Maybe Dr. Earl can remember that in the debate on racism during the 1960s- the comparison of white supremacy to Aryan nationalism.

Now, how does all this compare to hip hop? That’s the point: It doesn’t. How did the Imus flap get refocused on the sins of rap artists? Here is where the apologists, like Earl Ofari, come in. Instead of letting Imus stew in his own juices, for things said out of his own mouth, and take his own medicine like a man, we get some people, blacks included, in shifting the blame onto hip hop. Earl Ofari is so terribly out of the loop with black thinkers around the country that it can be said he has his head in the sand.

The Hip Hop Summit has been trying for years to clean up rap artists’ language. The problem is complicated by a market demand fed by record producers. Also, there is the issue of constitutional censorship. This is why we have worked to get artists to voluntarily clean up their language, instead of fight the constitutional question of what constitutes obscenity. Know for sure, there is a pimp subculture embedded in the hip-hop community, just as it was in the black community during the 1960s.

Where was Earl Ofari then?

Back to the fact that all black people are not the same, we are not all “pimps and players” (something we made perfectly clear to white America back in the day). But they suppressed the black (militant) voice and allowed the pimps and players to become role models in the African-American community. This is why some rap artist boast of being “a pimp all of my life”. On the other hand, part of the hip-hop generation grew up under the guidance and tutelage of Black Panthers.

But, America chose pimps and players over revolutionaries. This was evident in the production and promotion of sex laden blaxploitation films, which promoted pimps, sex, drugs, prostitution, and vices of all sorts as being endemic to black culture. This, itself, led to a series of black protests. We thought it not necessary for a black woman, like Pam Greer, to be forced into nude scenes just to sell a movie. White and black filmmakers alike thought otherwise. Nevertheless, we had some positive effect in cleaning up Hollywood and the silver screen.

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On the other hand, there were blacks that remained intellectually aloof and detached from the battle for the hearts and minds of the ghetto.

We, African-Americans, have always insisted in straightening our own house. We don’t need ABC Charles Gibson to throw up Snoop Dogg in our face to cover for Imus. Snoop Dogg is a pimp, and pimps have whores, and some pimps are quite successful at their craft. But pimps and players are not the whole of black culture and nor an expression of black values. And all rap artists do not use vulgarity. Media empires like MTV and VH-1 prefer nudity and vulgarity, and even the Hip Hop Summit condemns them for this type of exploitation.

But how do we balance the need for morality and virtue in our culture with the constitutional protection of free speech? This dilemma is not our doing. And, saying that black people condone the use of profanity because we cannot stop it on constitutional grounds, is a false impression. White letter-writers are clamoring over a “double standard” used against Imus, as if there is an equal opportunity to use offensive language. If there is a double standard, it is this: bad is universally bad and good is universally good. You cannot use one bad to cover for another, as Earl Ofari attempts to do.

With a broad brush and a scattergun condemnation of the hip-hop culture, the younger generation is being held responsible for more than their share of social woes. Imus is not hip-hop, though he used pimp language.

Dr. Earl Ofari removes the mote out of the eye of hip-hop and leaves the beam in the eye of America. Notice he takes “a light sampling” of some “gangster” rap songs that uses offensive sexist slurs. Congratulations, to him. He hit the nail right on the head- isolated, individual recordings that need to be censored- just like Imus is an isolated, individual case of racism that needs to be censored.

But by coving for the sins of Imus by diverting the public’s attention to Earl Ofari puts the horse before the cart. If he were “blacker”, he would not even have suggested, “that violence, mistreatment and verbal abuse of black women is socially acceptable”, not even to Snoop Dogg, who had a few [expletive deleted] things to say about being associated with Imus’ flap.

Come on, Earl! Open your black eyes. Black men don’t call black women “nappy-headed ‘hoes” unless they a looking for a fight from the sisters. Black women, who voices have been stifled in all this, have been rapping also about the same insults and about not taking anymore. Black women have a way of setting men straight, Imus included. But when rap music sells, be it a black woman or man, the artist gets his or her due base on the merit of its artistic expression, not its insult. And, besides sometimes there is a social message in the rap lyrics that need to be heard.

So, I am not all for banning rap, if no more that for the furious exchange of dialogue between the black male and black female rap artists. Sometimes behind-closed-doors conversations between black men and black women get poetic license in the entertainment world. Remember, black men also take a lot of verbal abuse from black women. It would be a “double standard” to let Imus escape the black woman’s scorn. [The Rutgers women were nicer than the ghetto sister would have been. Why can’t he take his own medicine, without the rest of America getting sick?]. Don’t you know: Every culture has its sexism problem.

It is sexism to denigrate women as whores in speech or treat them as whores and slaves. But ghetto women sometimes allow themselves to be exploited, to be treated as sex slaves and called ‘hoes, just to bask in the shadow of a successful pimp. And, some rap artists are successful pimps. The women around them are gold diggers. Again, not all black men are pimps and not all black women are whorish gold diggers. But this is not the way the large part of the white community see it. They turn on their TV and what black role model do they see? They see “pimps and players”, for the most part, while they chide, reject, and condemn the articulate and civil speaking Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons.

Where do white people get off in trying to pick and choose black leaders for black people? Even if I, as a black man, totally hated Sharpton’s guts, I would not deny that he is a genuine voice for a mass constituency of black people. [I wish that I could tell how many times they tried to dethrone Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by hate-mongering, slandering, and discrediting his civil rights efforts. And, who, by the way, would deny people their “legitimate” representative voice except a racist and those who apologize for racism. [It must be remembered that the first to take up the argument of whites in the 1950s that MLK was moving too fast were black preachers who distanced themselves from the movement. Then after the assassination, everybody pretended to be on the civil rights bandwagon.]

Earl Ofari writes, “[Imus] is the softest of soft targets.” Great observation! I believe in eliminating the “soft targets” first. But then he says, “The same can’t be said of the black rap shock jocks.” In this view, I presume, that we have dispensed with the soft target, and it is now high time to take on the hard target (black rap shock jocks). Again, I ask, where has Ofari been during all the Hip Hop summits? He gives America the false impression that this vulgarity in rap music and culture has been going on without black opposition and protest (as if black protest is a mass media event nowadays). Therefore, we, civil rights revolutionaries, have been working quietly behind the scene and within the ranks of hip-hop to convert youth to a cleaner, more moral value system. And, it has had some positive effects.

It is patently false to say, “Some blacks cite a litany of excuses, such as poverty, broken homes and abuse, to excuse the sexual abuse and violence (both physical and rhetorical) by top male artists. These explanations for the misdeeds of rappers and singers are phony and self-serving.”

Poverty, broken homes, and abuse are realities of this society, not excuses. What factors into a person’s behavior and language, we can only speculate. But this example is no different than a white congressman trying to seduce young underage pages by claiming that he, too, had been sexually molested as a child. This rationalization is psychotic, and psychosis is no excuse for criminal behavior, unless you are legally insane or mentally impaired.

Herein is the problem. I have seen television executives putting the psychotics and mentally impaired in front of the camera as representatives of a mass culture. Some are so high on drug or drunk on alcohol that they hardly know what they are saying themselves, and how stupid they sound. But this is the image the media wishes to portray to the American public. And, in the end, it only perpetuates racial stereotyping. If you put black people on Jerry Springer, what racial impression will people get?

Imus off-the-cuff remark literally passes the torch of racism to the next generation. As a result of his insensitive remark, some black women might have to look into the mirror again and remind themselves that they are not ugly, that black is beautiful, and kinky hair is not a shame. This is Imus’ potential damaging impact upon black women. White women, on the other hand, can reassert themselves as being the standard of beauty by which all women should be measured, simply because Imus said that they were “cuter”.

Imus hit all women by referring, so much as one woman, as a ‘hoe. Even white women feel sexually discriminated against, because of a male-dominated, chauvinist culture that treat all women as inferiors. Male locker room jocks, black and white, demean women in general, behind their backs. Man law? Man law. It is not just rap artists, but a culture of sexism.

Should a black man be offended by Imus comments? Insinuating black women as ugly reinforces the white concept of beauty to which many black men have been drawn, and also in rejecting black women as mates. It feeds self-hatred by holding a white beauty standard. Was Imus characterization of black women a subliminal suggestion, accepted as fact and internalized as value?

Racism should not affect black men, not if they are grown up. Black Panthers were taught to stand, toe-to-toe, face-to-face, with people who called African-American “niggers” to their face. Big boys do not cry. They learn how to deal with it in a non-violently, non-confrontational way, but with dignity. So what if Imus were to call me “nappy-headed”? If he wants to talk like a nigger, then he is subject to black judgment.

You just don’t say anything you want, white boy. Black men don’t just say anything they want also, not without consequences. The line in the sand is not a “double standard”, but a standard based on integrity and the better part of discretion. There is no equal opportunity to insult.

Hip-hop kids do not call me a “nigga”, though I understand the street camaraderie in its connotation. They do not call me nigga because they know from when I came, and this is unacceptable to Old School revolutionaries. They give us a bit more respect. But to the rest of the Earl Ofaris of the world, it’s an intentional in-your-face verbal assault, because their thinking is “too white”. Nigga is not nigger, neither in meaning nor in spelling. It’s Ebonics, a language some Negroes never studied and understood.

I speak three languages- black (Ebonics), white (intelligentsia), and ghetto (excuse my “French”). I could have gone ghetto in lambasting Earl Ofari on his white ideological apology for Imus. But for the sake of working on a common problem about moral language in the black cultural expressions, I forego, in hopes that he will let the Imus matter rest as a “tub on it own bottom”, and not drag hip-hop into the discussion. Hip-hop, I believe, is an issue for another day in the Afrosphere community.

[For the rest of this discussion, see “What they are saying about Imus”, Parts 1 and 2]

Editor’s Note: Racism plays a prominent role in criminal justice. Yet most southern Anglos don’t get it. Without recognizing the essence of racism, it would be hard to understand racial injustice in the criminal justice system. The story of Shaquanda Cotton of Paris, Texas, the 15-year old high school student sent to prison for up to seven years for pushing a teacher’s aide is a classic example of racism leads to black children being criminalized by schools and sent to prison. Zero tolerance is applied to black children while white children, like the white teenager who burned her family’s house down receiving probation around the same time and same city, Paris, Texas.

Without understanding racism, it would be hard to stop the railroad of disparity in punishment and incarceration of blacks. The revelations of all the innocent black men sent to prison from Dallas County shows the difference between individual bigotry and institutional racism. [UN Definition of Racism]

Eddie Griffin, BASG
Fort Worth, Texas