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Monday, June 30, 2008

The Most Dangerous Man in America: The Boogey Man

By Eddie Griffin

This series is written for at-risk children and not necessarily for popular human consumption

Monday, June 30, 2008

The road to hell is not paved with gold. It’s paved with eggshells. Crack one eggshell. Crack another. Then you’ll find yourself in the belly of the beast.

Like never before, a man’s eyes are suddenly pried open to his own mortality. The curtains goes up on life in super-maximum security with the unceremonious introduction the “shank”, the makeshift knife every man must sees when entering prison at the super-max level.

Life here begins at life, and usually ends with death. Lifers, doing a life sentence, will die of old age or a knife in the gut. But the Old Bull is one tough son of a bitch. Each day he is fighting to live, fight to survive, if no more than just see another day. For the privilege, he will kill. Being forewarned, do not get in his path.

A sense of smell and a keen sense of danger

This is an animal kingdom where a man’s body odor is his territory. A bloodhound sense of smell and a extra sense of danger is gift for the soul of a man who wants to survive in prison. The smell the toughest guys in prison announced their presence before they arrived. The walls vibrate. Tension cries out of the brick wall like heat waves on a hot summer day. A man could sense his coming before he made his presences known.

Every man had a sacred zone. No man encroached into another man’s space, unless he wanted to intimidate and dominated the man who space was invaded. It was the invisible territory that separated the men from the boys.

Step inside my perimeter, says the spider to the fly, and I would put a person in a coma for a day, a week, a month, or have him on life support for a year. With the heel of my hand, I can strike like a cobra and deliver a forceful, if not fatal, blow to the face of anyone who steps inside my space.

They call it the “bum rush”, because there is no back down… and no time to say, “Oops! I didn’t mean it. It was an accident.” A man was DOA on the spot against a champion lifer. There is no concept of fairness in hand-to-hand combat in a battle to the death.

I bum rushed death, head-on, in an encounter with a young man welding a pipe. Just when I had become overconfident and cocky in my abilities to defend myself in hand-to-hand combat, the pipe cracked my skull and restored my sense of humility. I saw stars. Blood gushed from my head and oozed down into my eyes.

Damn! I did everything right in my defenses. I gave the assailant my arm for a target. Then I stepped to him and embraced him, face to face. But the pipe broached my perimeters, and I was terribly wounded, clinging to the assassin’s arm.

The will to live is powerful adrenalin. I had seen the futile fail. I saw the tears in their eyes when they fell. He heard them scream for Jesus to save them. But, in the silent realm of my mind, I without prayed: “Lord save me”. That was my blood dripping on the prison floor. I was only two shakes from being clubbed to death.

De ja vu

There was a butcher and a baker that King Pharaoh in the bible put in prison with Joseph. One night, they both had a dream. And, the meaning of the dream was this: One would come out of prison alive, and the other would die.

I would be the survivor who came out of prison alive. But my counterpart died. We had been training partners. And, we each were given a premonition of our moment of truth.

It began in the gladiator cage they built inside the segregation control unit, where inmates were allowed to recreate for one hour a day, a privilege and a curse awarded to us by the courts. On any given shift, three men would go into recreation cage per turn. But the drama came in when the assigned recreation partner would be an assassin.

It was a cat-and-mouse game where some prison guards tried to even the score, by putting a black inmate into the cage, followed by two white inmates. The guards would sometimes slip the white inmates knives. This was how the notorious white supremacist group known as the Aryan Brotherhood was born, by assassinating targeted black inmates.

I found myself in the cage with two recreation partners: One, the toughest guy in prison; the other a sojourner prisoner just passing through, being transferred from on prison to another, a marshal arts trainer. We did mock combat training for given situations that we might find ourselves against prison guards.

With a newspaper roll, our trainer taught us how to take a baton club from a guard. The objective was to give him the arm for a target, then bum rush him, and lock his elbows. It was this same scenario that I found my self against a youngster welding a pipe, my payback for defending his manhood. He was unappreciative and, given a choice, he chose to defend the very penitentiary pimp that was exploiting him.

The pipe came at me, as the rolled up newspaper baton. Go down into a crouch and set the forearm as bait for the baton. “I guarantee you they will try to break your arm”, our trainer said. As the club comes down, step into the man, straighten out your arms, and wrap his arm at the elbow.” That was the planned defense that I botched in a life and death situation.

I saw stars that took me back to that night in the gladiator cage, when we danced with the devil. I always stepped outside of my perimeter and got clonked by the rolled newspaper. In real life, the pipe grazed my skull.

And, that’s the way it happened that my blood dripped on the prison floor, and I was locked arm and arm, in a life and death struggle, against my would-be assassin. As I struggled, I prayed, “Lord, save me.” Then I heard the pipe hit the floor. I was free.

Counterpart of the de ja vu

My counter-part was Raymond Smith-el, a Moorish Science of America gladiator, known as the Sword of Justice, street named “Cadillac”. He was a bull. His muscle-clad block build was buffalo hide thick. It was rumored that once a would-be assassin stabbed him in the chest. They say the knife was crushed flat.

No wonder he had a reputation as a man who be killed. Raymond had a saying: “While everybody else is a Chevy, I am a Cadillac.” Damned if he wasn’t.

In the gladiator cage the night we danced with the devil, we practiced defending ourselves while in handcuffs. My trainer partner, Cadillac, was in handcuffs when he was delivered to his death. On his way to the shower in the notorious Nazi-style control unit. Thomas Silverstein and another Aryan inmate broke out of the gladiator cage with knives. The prison guards fled. The other inmates on the tier were helpless, because they were locked in.

How does a man in handcuffs defend himself against two men with knives? He cannot.

They tell me that Cadillac put up a pretty good fight at first, then raised his arms in the air and gave his assassins a clear shot at his heart. There, he died, my training partner.

Aryan Brotherhood leader and assassin, Thomas Silverstein, then took the body of Cadillac by the legs and drug him from cell to cell, making a stop at each black inmate’s cell.

A year later, Silverstein stabs a prison guard to death.

The BBC calls Silverstein the “most dangerous man in America”. Silverstein counters with the claim that the prison system made him that way, that the conditions in a super-maximum security were so harsh and cruel, that he could not help himself but to kill, kill, kill, in order to survive.

The Boogey Man

Today, Silverstein is the Boogey Man of the prison system, the man who will never see the light of day again. He is locked away in a special prison cell with “no human contact” status inside USP Florence.

A Boogey Man is an official title given to select men, who are locked into a dungeon, never to see the day. The first Boogey Man that I had heard rumor of, while in federal prison, was Robert Stroud, otherwise known as the “Birdman of Alcatraz”.

I learned of the boogey man legacy from the lips of “Red” Haynes, the successive boogey man after Stroud died in Springfield. Each man had killed a prison guard. Since there was no death penalty, prison officials take vengeance by forcing them to live out their lives in a living hell… some bitter medicine I tasted for myself.

The story of Red Hayes, as I told it years ago, was here was a man, one of the first prisoner subject placed on the experimental drug know as Valium. After being released from prison without the medication, Hayes suffered a “white out”. From there on, he could not remember what heinous crimes he might have committed.

The men who never saw the light of day again

Hiller “Red” Hayes sat in front of my cell in the Control Unit and told me what he remembered of his life. He had been in solitary confinement for thirteen straight years. He remembered no family life. He had no family or friends, and everybody in the world had forgotten that he existed.

His back was full of red, raw circular bedsores, festering with the stench of death. When he raked his sandpaper-rough hands over the stubs of reddish gray hair, it would crackle. He was electro-static. His body was so full of electricity. He could probably electrocute a person with a handshake. I was amazed to see sparks fly from my fingertips. And, a handshake could become a static electric shocking experience.

As for Red Hayes, they say he killed a prison guard, so they put him away for his natural life. As he talked to me and told his story, he stared out into a distant dimension. Here, I was looking at a man who would die in solitary confinement within the year, a man with no family or friends, a man nobody in the world knew about.

The Most Desperate Man Who have ever lived

After Red Hayes died, the Boogey Man passed on to Gary Trapnell. His adventurous autobiography outlives the Fox himself, author of the “Fox is Crazy, Too”. He was the guy who hijacking an airliner, demanded $300,000 ransom, and the release of Angela Davis, the Black Panther Amazon Queen of the Revolution. But the exit of his life was more adventurous than all the former crimes combined in his autobiography.

I was there to see his last chapters in real life… actually on the prison yard when a hijacked helicopter came into the prison to snatch Trapnell away. I witnessed one of the most daring escape attempts in history, a crime that would condemn Trapnell to “no human contact”, never to see the light of day again.

As we sat on the prison yard, a comrade nudged me and pointed out a helicopter coming into compound, flying erratic like something amiss. It was an attempted escaped by hijacked helicopter. Gary Trapnell and his buddy were making a desperate bid for freedom.

I found the unfolding scene amusing and entertaining. But my partner thought not, so he suggested that we get off the prison yard before the shooting started. This was one drama that was a must see for me, even if bullets flew everywhere. I enjoyed deadly excitement. They don’t make movies like this in the free world.

This is the most excitement I have had all day. Why not watch?

I watched the hijacked helicopter come toward the back tower like a dive-bomber, with the cockpit rocking from side to side. The tower guard never saw it headed his way. In the meantime, there was a drama unfolding inside the cockpit, between the female hijacker and the pilot.

Here was a woman flattered with words of love from a legend adventurer. She literally worshipped Trapnell. He instructed her to charter a helicopter and then hijack the pilot, fly the chopper into the prison compound, and pluck him and his buddy up off the yard.

As the helicopter reeled and rocked in the air, the two escapees made a mad dash across the compound, their yellow windbreakers flapping in the wind. Inside the cockpit, the pilot seized the woman’s gun after a long tussle. As he steered with one hand and held the gun on the woman in the rear seat with the other.

The female hijack makes this retarded statement: “Oh, that’s okay. I got another one in my purse.” When she reached for the second handgun, the pilot blew her brains out of the back window and safely landed the chopper.

From that day on, Gary Trapnell would never see the light of day again. But his desperate attempts at escape did not end there. A year after the hijacked helicopter escape attempt, the daughter of the woman turns around and hijacks an airliner herself and demanded Gary Trapnell’s release. She had the hijack airliner fly to the city near the prison. This buried Trapnell.

The Most Dangerous Man in America

The current Boogey Man is Thomas Silverstein, hence the legacy lives on.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Gun Law Ruling: New Wild West & Criminal Thinking

By Eddie Griffin

Friday, June 27, 2008

Now I am the one disappointed with a Supreme Court decision. While John McCain hey and haw over the Court’s decision to give the accused terrorist the right to defend themselves, I bemoan the lifting of gun bans, giving everybody the right to shoot it out. If you are a black, male, ex-offender, you are just at the mercy of handgun owners, who have the instant power to make a life-and-death decision of the spot.

Eddie Griffin could care less. Who has guns? How many guns they have? I could care less as long as they keep them pointed the other way. I don’t take to kindly to being shot at. And, Texas has been notorious for its gun-tooting shootouts and drive by shootings. It is the birthplace of the Wild West. The Supreme Court’s decision simply re-opened the days of men carrying six-shooters on their sides… that is, all except black men.

A black man with a gun is going to go to jail, permit or no permit. GO TO JAIL: DO NOT PASS GO. Jail first, ask questions later. Wherein, everybody else is given the benefit of the law.

So, the public shooting gallery is opened to everyone, except black men. As a black ex-con, I do not even have the right to a gun to defend my home. I am at the mercy of the armed burglar.

But I do have a right to defend my life, which is why I learned how to kick a gun out of anybody’s hand, except a “trained officer”.

Now let’s look at the need to “bear arms”.

No middle-American family wants their child to find the family’s handgun. But Columbine taught us something. Virginia Tech taught us something. And, we are still learning the terrible truth about gun violence. We can go on and on about these unexpected and unintended consequences of gun possession.

But there is this fretful public argument about “protecting ourselves against criminals”. Are you kidding me? You have need of being protected from yourselves. America doesn’t even understand the workings of “the criminal mind”.

The criminal is not a criminal if he does not commit a crime. This is the way the criminal mind thinks. To him, a gun is nothing more than a trophy, with no criminal intent behind it, until the trigger itch his finger. And, every gun owner seems to have that same itch, that desire to use it, and that secret desire to kill somebody with it.

I never saw a gun that I did not like and did not use in the commission of a crime. Just having it begged for its use, otherwise, no gun, no crime… not even the thought.

Now comes the “criminal intent” part, where people reason: He knew within his own heart, before he did it, that he was going to commit a crime … premeditated and deliberate.

But gun crimes follow the Law of Spontaneity. Opportunity opens the door to crime.

A gun gives a man an advantage over his surroundings and the people in it. Any or everybody can become a target. (Some criminal minds look at targets as a shoot gallery) It just depends on the circumstances as to when a criminal will strike.

As long as a potential “criminal” don’t jump at the opportunity, no crime will occur. So, a potential criminal goes about his business as a law-abiding citizen, until “that” opportunity comes along.

I agree: Hand guns for protection of home and family is a protected Second Amendment right that should be afforded to all citizens, barring ex-offenders and mentally unstable. Gun safety is a head-of-household responsibility. (In other words, big brother doesn’t shoot little brother).

The gun must remain in the possession of the family as an heirloom and never be re-sold. All guns should be traceable to its purchasing source, and the owner held responsible.

The only way a black ex-con is going to get a gun to use in the commission of another crime is by stealing it from a burglarized house, or from gun dealers moonlighting from the trunk of their cars. (Been there, done that, and got the t-shirt).

Criminal Mind Thinking

If you shoot me, I refuse to bleed, because I am too mean to die. I feel no pain, because I grew up in an abused family, half-hungry, crack-head mama, and an alcoholic daddy. You can’t kill me, because died already, a hundred times. I am my own worse nightmare that grew up to almost adulthood. I stop hurting inside a long time ago, when the tears dried up. You can’t kill me.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

To Prison & Back

By Eddie Griffin

Thursday, June 26, 2008

How did you survive in prison? And, how were you able to transition back into society?

These questions are asked of me often. And, I always give this one-word response: Faith. But I realize the answer is too shallow and simplistic to satisfy to the inquirer what has only a superficial understanding of the meaning of Faith.

What does Faith look like in action? I guess that is the question.

Recently, Commissioner Roy Brooks asked that I speak to a group of at-risk youth in a special program. We agreed that this was part of a front-end strategy to prevent students from falling into the prison system.

My attitude to at-risk youngsters with great potential is this: If you are going to go to prison, then you must go through me first, because I’ve been there. In fact, I’ve been to the “end of the line of the end of the line” in a super-maximum security prison.

It was good to see the youngsters on the front side of prison bars, than having to counsel them on how to survive behind bars. It is an opportunity to work the preventative side of the criminal justice equation.

Teach, without mercy, is my motto. So, I gave the kids a full dose of my adventures and misadventures, realizing shock value is a better teacher for at-risk kids.

When a man goes to prison, he is socialized into a culture completely different than free world society. His transition leads to a form of institutionalization. Returning to society means going through a re-socialization process. An ex-offender must become re-socialized to a society sometimes in the distant future. So, he suffers “future shock” in the temporal sense, and become “humanized” again.

A man is what he feeds his mind on while in prison. Those who fed on anger, hate, revenge murder, and materialistic aspirations, were recycled as DEFECTIVE, a menace to society.

Those who used their time to educate themselves and keep abreast of world events were more apt to readjust to society.

We had an educational program in prison that worked. But it was a program disapproved by government “educators”. Liberation education always runs against the grain.

To the At-Risk Youth, I shared what life was really like living in a violent maximum security. From a high school honor student, I went to the “end of the line” of the end of the line, where society puts a man away and never expect or intend for him to come back.

“Eddie Griffin did twelve calendars,” I told the students. What does that mean? That means that I did 12 years of “hard time”.

What is hard time?

When a man steps into a prison cage, he is walking on eggshells. It feels like walking on “holy ground”. Here, men kill men, at the drop of sweat bead, on an average of one-per-month.

Make them see the Blood on the Floor

The sight of blood-splattering is sickening. But it is something a man must comes to terms with, if he is to mentally survive maximum security.

What does that mean relative to society? It simply means that a man is de-sensitized and de-conditioned to violence. A man learns to snort violence like a lion sniffing the grounds of the jungle. A man's nose can snort out fear like a shark senses blood in the water. These are extra-senses I never had use for in society. Neither had I need for a sixth sense of danger. (Where did that come from?)

How does a man forget Murder, in the First Degree?

A man sits down in the mess hall to eat and gets his throat cut from behind, from ear-to-ear. [Students gasp!]

If they gasp at this then surely they cannot handle the rest of a myriad of untold stories, like this: A man being stabbed in the shower by three men. He slips and slides in his own blood as he tries to fight off his assassins. As he slinks down into his own blood, he is crying bitter tears.

Only one man I know of who was stabbed to death in prison without shedding a tear or crying out for help. His name was Cadillac.

And, the screaming of Bro. Herman who was repeatedly stabbed in the chest, screaming to the top of his lungs: “Pleeease! Somebody help me. Somebody, Pleeease, Lord, pleeeeze. Wait a minute, wait a minute, please don’t kill me Pig”. His best friend was named Pig, what would you expect? Dumbfounding! Over a cup of coffee, Pig killed Bro. Herman who was only three days from going home.

It hurt in a personal way. But there were the survivors, like the guy nicknamed Money being cut open “like a can of beans”, folding the separated layers of his torso together and walking to the prison infirmary without losing a drop of blood.

How about the inmate sitting in the prison barber’s chair, getting stabbed in the jugular vein with a pair of scissors? I had never heard of such a vein, and knew nothing of it, except that after the stabbing blood could skeet up to the ceiling.

Then, there were the two gladiators who charged into each like jousting knights, both with knives, like locomotors with full steam ahead, two rams on a collision course. Pete Man dropped to the prison floor like a sack of flour, stabbed in the temple. It was a fair fight with both men going at each other. (Society doesn’t see it that way).

Instead of telling any one of these stories, I decided to tell these at-risk youth about “Gus”. I wanted to point out some important lesson.

Now here was a guy named Gus whom I was tutored in prison. During one tutoring session, Gus took the occasion to call two other inmates the B-word… loud and nasty. Gus put me in such a predicament and had no regard for his own good.

Lesson Number One: Choose your friends carefully. My best friend in prison was “Hondo”. His name meant “War” in Swahili, and he was a man with a Napoleon complex. He loved to fight and I was a man of peace. Nevertheless, he was my best friend in prison. And, his fight was my fight by default (my fault for my own choice of association).

At any rate, the authorities considered all of us in super-maximum security as “dangerous”. Every man respected the next man, if he earned the right of respect. And, this code is punishable by the death of a thousand cuts for a man who disrespects another man. A man is required to defend his own honor by himself. Gus violated the rule by calling other men in prison the B-word. This is tantamount to what we call: “asking for it”.

But in a maximum security prison, before one man can kill another man, he must get permission. A man just does not up and kill his advisory out of the blood like a psycho. He is subject to the Eye-for-Eye Rule: Live by the sword, Die by the sword. This was Pig’s fate.

The two men verbally assailed by my friend and comrade Gus came by my cell to ask permission to kill him. They told me their plan. I had nothing to say. Therefore, I kept my mouth closed.

Lesson Number Two: When you are in a predicament and don’t know what to say, don’t say anything.

On the night of the planned assassination, as all the inmates gather around the television on the cellblock tier, I assumed a position directly behind Gus’ chair. And behind me, was my backup, who later turned coward and fled.

I was taken by surprise when a hand with a knife in it reached over my shoulder. The blade smacked Gus in the chest, just above the heart. Wounded, Gus leaped from his chair right into the waiting arms of the other assailant. The second man plugged him in the gut, and Gas stumbled backwards.

There, I found myself standing between two would-be assassins and poor Gus slumped against the wall. "What would you do?" I demanded an answer of the students.

One girl replied, "Run."

In real life, however, the thought never entered my mind. For me, it was all about a silent prayer, “Lord save me”, and being frozen stiff in one spot.

Lesson Number Three and Lesson Number Four: Always pray in the time of distress, and wait on the Lord. He will direct your steps.

Sure, I knew how to kick a knife or a gun out of a person’s hand in the blink of an eye. But as long as we were locked eyeball to eyeball, I was compelled not even to flinch a muscle. Let them make the first move. Nothing happened. The would-be assassins back off and allowed me to carry Gus to the infirmary on my shoulder.

Fear of something that has not yet happened is what causes people to react to the fears of their minds, before the basis of the fear is realized. I waited and waited for the would-be assassins to make their next move. They never did. Instead, they backed down.

The Correct Answer

Therefore, the correct answer to the question about what to do, my advice to the youth: Do nothing because of fear. Deal only with what you see, not what you suppose. Stand your ground until the danger is certain. Otherwise, stand on Faith.

Socialization / Re-socialization

What I was describing to these at-risk youth was the initial socialization process into prison society. The second part would be re-socialization after coming out.

DE-HUMANIZATION: Making less than human. INSTITUTIONALIZATION: Becoming a brick in the wall.

Another part of the socialization process into prison is that of becoming more and more institutionalized and the de-humanizing effects "sensory and social deprivation”, where the natural five sensory organs misfire impulses to the brain, and the human organism sprouts an animalistic "sixth sense" which we call the sense of danger.

Sensory deprivation is fully achieved when a man is completely cut off from the electro-magnetic field of the earth. This comes about through prolonged solitary confinement inside in steel-concrete cubical... "The Mausoleum Effect".

In this the realm of psycho-physiological reality, men hallucinate and have “white flashes”. (WHITE FLASHES: Akin to electrical impulses to the brain that causes the eyes to perceive rapid blinking white-outs)

Then there is the ionization effect upon the brain that causes the whole body to become electro-static.

An Experience: I once reached for a plastic chair in prison and bright orange sparks leaped from my fingertips like lighting. It shocked the hell out of me, like 50,000 volts. Sometimes when I touch metal, I get the same shocking sensation, even 25 years later. It all depends on the weather and the ions in the air. As for the "white flashes", they still come, but for shorter durations.

Re-Integration into Society

The physiological reintegration is one thing. But what happens inside a man’s mind while in prison will determine his capability of coming back into society. And, every man’s mind is different. While in prison, some men feed on their anger, hate, and rage... which once was also my daily mental diet. But reading the Bible changed my mindset.

The transformation of Eddie Griffin was more a spiritual experience and not necessarily broken by harsh treatment and torture. My eyes glazed over with frost, in a refrigerated strip cell… frozen tears… staring out into a distant dimension at a ship frozen on the open sea. I died, I thought, and everything else was just a dream.

Lesson Number Five: The government doesn’t care if you live or die when you go to prison.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pavlovian Response to Imus

Eddie Griffin

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

So, he did it again. Is anybody really surprised at radio shock jock Imus? I mean, just when we thought his goose was cooked with calling the Rutgers basketball girls “nappy-headed ‘hoes”, here he goes again, with a takeoff on Dallas Cowboy cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones.

When discussing the football player’s arrest record, Imus asked: “What color is he?” After sports announcer Warner Wolf answered that Jones was “African-American,” Imus responded: “There you go. Now we know.”

Now we know what? What does this abstract statement suppose to insinuate? In any case, it doesn’t mean what we all think it means, let Imus tell it. It’s all just a misunderstanding.

Is Imus so clueless to think that many African-Americans were not going to be outraged at the suggestion that blacks are naturally more criminal-oriented than anybody else?

On the other hand, an Imus supporter defends him by saying stuff like, “Statistics don’t lie.”

How in the world did we get so far out in left field? And, do we really need this dialogue at this time? We wouldn’t even be having this conversation had Imus used more discretion with his words. But then, there are some who claim that he can’t help it, that this color obsession thing is embedded in his heart.

Who let the dogs out?

Remember how pitiful Imus looked and acted when he was called onto the carpet about his “nappy-headed ‘hoes” comment? Remember all the millions of his fans rallying to his support to get him back on the air. Somewhere in the forgive-and-forget crowd was Al Sharpton.

So, who let the dogs out? I guess you can say that Sharpton had a large part to do with it. Now, in reaction to Imus latest flap, Sharpton was the first outraged. Why? Like the frozen snake a man picked up and tried to warm under his shirt, Sharpton knew Imus was a snake when he picked him up. So, it should have been no surprise to see him turn around and bite somebody else.

But Imus II is not like Imus I. Imus II is more seasoned for racial controversy, more wily and coy. He insinuates without actually saying. This gives him a defensible cover to hide behind the claim of a “misunderstanding”. Where Imus I was naïve and susceptible to public criticism, Imus II has his own cadre of friends, listeners, supporters, sponsors, and a radio station that allows him leeway to say what he wishes. (Damn the rest of the world!)

After a mass lobbying campaign was successful in putting the shock jock back on the air, advertisers flocked backed to him. And in the background, a brewing counter-demonstration from listeners showed that a boycott threat against advertiser could be waged on both sides. Alas, by popular demand, Imus came back, not as Imus I but as Imus II.

It would be futile and redundant to campaign to get him off the air again. The more Imus pushes our button, the more we react like Pavlov’s dogs, barking back at insults and slurs. Sooner or later, with all our complaining, we will ultimately look like the crazy ones.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hat Tip to Gina McCauley

MEDIA WATCH: Report from Eddie G. Griffin
Monday, June 23, 2008

As part of the Afrospear Media Watch team, this is what I have found, as related to Gina McCauley of Michelle Obama Watch and Media Matters.

BACKGROUND: There have been numerous complaints about mass media manipulation, the latest being attacks on Michelle Obama. The work of Gina McCauley put the networks on notice.

According to reports, “television news organizations have issued at least 10 apologies in total over on-air expressions.”

This is a significant victory for our friends and allied associated bloggers.

The Afrospear has been in the forefront of media criticism of how they portray African-American women.

We Do Not Accept FOX Channel’s apology, but rather demand the release of certain news commentators.

PLEASE COMPILE LIST of FOX news personalities that MUST GO.

Excerpts From: Wall Street Journal

News Outlets Face Increasing Scrutiny in CampaignBy SAM SCHECHNER and REBECCA DANA
June 13, 2008

For the second time this week, Fox News Channel was driven to respond to criticism over on-air statements about Barack Obama, in this case for screen text that described the Democratic presidential candidate's wife as "Obama's baby mama." The term is often applied pejoratively to unwed mothers.

Television news organizations, facing unprecedented scrutiny, have often expressed contrition for poorly chosen words during this election season.

In a campaign that includes the first viable African-American presidential candidate, the lines of appropriate speech have become fuzzy. News organizations are under pressure from a broad network of self-appointed watchdogs, including organized groups like Media Matters and individuals. These watchdogs are likely to remain vigilant about gaffes, misstatements and potentially biased language through the November vote. Just this week, Gina McCauley, a well-known blogger in Austin, Texas, started to track the portrayal of Mrs. Obama in the news media.

In this campaign cycle, television news organizations have issued at least 10 apologies in total over on-air expressions. On Tuesday, a Fox News anchor, E.D. Hill, said she regretted suggesting that a celebratory hand gesture between Barack and Michelle Obama might be a "terrorist fist jab." On Monday, NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell apologized for calling southwest Virginia "redneck country."

Quote “It had to happen: the Michelle Obama Watch”, Washington Post, Sam Schechner at and Rebecca Dana at

Friday, June 20, 2008

HAT TIP to Marty Blogs

Excerpts from "Juneteenth/Jubilee Celebration" by Marty Blogs

It was specifically two years later by the time the news got to the state of Texas. When it did it became the genesis of the Juneteenth celebration, a tradition started by black Texans, but shared by many in various parts of the country. You’ll see some of my fellow AfroSpear bloggers writing about that particular commemoration. I’m going to let you know a little more about it’s celebratory cousin, Jubilee.
That’s how the holiday is known in the state of Kentucky. My old church began to help revive the idea and bring it back to memory in the Louisville area a few years ago. What began as a heritage and history celebration in the neighborhood of the church has grown to be a major festival downtown not far from the banks of the Ohio River.

As it turns out other states refer to the occasion in the same way. Virginia Governor Tim Kaine released this proclamation to the citizens of his state recognizing the 145th anniversary of President Lincoln’s historic federal legislation.

The origin of the word Jubilee is Biblical. It comes from the Old Testament scripture Leviticus 25: 40-54. The entire chapter covers the concept of redeeming goods and property of all sorts to families or individuals and dealing justly with one another in assorted ways every 49th year. Be sure to read the entire chapter for context. But, these particular verses deal with the redemption of slaves to their personal freedoms.

(Read more)

Eddie Griffin Commentary

This is historically accurate, insofar as people in Texas also call Juneteenth the Jubilee, based upon Old Testament redemption of land and slave.

Hat Tip to the Juneteenth Afrospear bloggers:


Eddie Griffin's Blog: Why I Remember Juneteenth
Dallas South: Why I Celebrate Juneteenth
Ultraviolet Underground: Remember Juneteenth
Black Perspectives: Today is Independence Day
Electronic Village: What is Juneteenth?
Slant Truth: Happy Juneteenth!
There Already: 163 Years Ago Today...
The Fort Wayne Blog: Juneteenth Celebration
All About Race: Juneteenth 2008
Whattamisaid My Black History: What was William Staples thinking on June 19, 1865?
Purple Zoe: Remember Juneteenth
Exodus Mentality: What You Know About Juneteenth?
Marty Blogs: Juneteenth/Jubilee Celebration
Punkin Patch Emancipation Day
XicanoPwr HAPPY JUNETEENTH 2008!!!
Problem Chylde Juneteenth
Transgriot Happy Juneteenth Y'all!
Jack & Jill Smells Like Teenth Spirit -- Juneteenth Roundup
Jose Vilson Juneteenth: From Curt Flood to A-Rod

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Why I Remember Juneteenth

By Eddie Griffin

If the truth be told, then we would all have a greater appreciation of Black Culture Holidays. But if all else is lost in the revision of history, we must never forget Juneteenth. June 19, 1865 signified the day in history when the last slaves of Texas were set free. It officially ended of the Civil War.

Excerpts from the Handbook of Texas Online:

On June 19 ("Juneteenth"), 1865, Union general Gordon Granger read the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston, thus belatedly bringing about the freeing of 250,000 slaves in Texas. The tidings of freedom reached slaves gradually as individual plantation owners read the proclamation to their bondsmen over the months following the end of the war.

It is important to note that only the war ended on Juneteenth. Slavery continued until December.

Let’s look at this history

The proclamation did not free any slaves in Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, Delaware, and West Virginia, or any southern state (or part of a state) already under Union control. Instead, the Proclamation applied only to Confederate States that did not return to the Union by January 1, 1863.

Watch Night, New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1862 became a prelude to Emancipation Day and a black holiday tradition in its own right, as slaves and former slaves gathered in churches around the country for an all night prayer session.

In Boston on the night that the proclamation was announced, Douglass wrote of the spirit of those who had gathered with him at the telegraph office to witness slavery's death: “We were waiting and listening as for a bolt from the sky...we were the dim light of the stars for the dawn of a new day...we were longing for the answer to the agonizing prayers of centuries.”

The crowds cheered. The end of slavery was in sight. Douglass next turned his attention to the struggle of blacks to be allowed to fight for their freedom. In 1863, Congress authorized black enlistment in the Union army. The Massachusetts 54th Regiment was the first black unit to be formed. (A biography of the life of Frederick Douglass by Sandra Thomas)

In the meantime:

Watch Night, Galveston, Texas, Confederate General J.B. Magruder was preparing an attack on the port city, then under Union control. As dawn broke, on Freedom Day, Magruder's 1,000 man land force moved across the 2.5 mile railroad bridge to Galveston Island and took up a position in the town. At first light, the Confederate rebels opened fire with cannons on the 260 barricaded Union soldiers on Kuhn's Wharf and on the Union warships in Galveston Harbor.

The Union navy was not prepared for two cottonclad Confederate gunboats, the Bayou City and the Neptune, that came at them full steam down the narrow channel. The USS Harriet Lane was the first of the seven Union warships to receive rebel fire. About 1,000 sharpshooters on the cottonclads took a devastating toll on the Union gunners. The Neptune rammed the Harriet Lane.

On this January 1, 1863, the very day that slaves were to be set free, the Confederate Army of Texas recaptured Galveston, the last Union toehold in the state. The war raged on for another two-and-a-half year. But the Emancipation officially allowed colored troops to enter into the fight.

An uprising against Lincoln’s draft sparked a riot in New York on July 13, 1863. Harper’s Weekly reported:

But in a short time the aim of the leaders in the riot movement appeared to be an indiscriminate attack upon the colored people, and upon those who were supposed to be in any way connected with the draft or with the Republican party. Several buildings were sacked and burned. The Tribune was attacked, and only saved by the vigorous efforts of the police; negroes were hunted down, several were murdered under the most revolting circumstances. The house of the Mayor was sacked, that of the Postmaster burned to the ground; railroad tracks were torn up, and for a while it seemed that the city was under control of the mob. Their most dastardly performance was the destruction of the Colored Orphan Asylum, in which some hundreds of children were provided for. This was sacked, and finally burnt to the ground.

The Union was losing the war by 1863, much maligned and demoralized by being conscripted to fight in an increasingly unpopular war. The New York riots against the coloreds was symptomatic of mass discontent that the purpose of the war had changed, that it was no longer a war to preserve the Union, but a war to free the slaves. With this realization, many whites outright deserted the Union Army.

To fill the void came some 200,000 colored troops. The following chronicle highlights the role of Colored troops in the Petersburg Campaign that eventually led to the surrender of General Robert E. Lee on April 9, 1865.

Petersburg-Richmond Campaign

U.S. Colored troops were used extensively in several 1864 campaigns. Of particular note in the West was the Battle of Nashville, fought on December 15-16, in which eight black regiments played a key role in the Federal defeat of the Confederate Army of Tennessee by the Army of the Cumberland. The greatest number of U.S.C.T., however, served in the Virginia theatre as part of Gen. Grant's operations against Petersburg and Richmond in the last two years of the war.

Black units were especially active in the fighting around Petersburg during the summer of 1864. Referring to several combat missions that occurred near this city, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton asserted, “The hardest fighting was done by the black troops. The forts they stormed were the worst of all.”

The Colored Troops displayed their worth at the Battle of New Market Heights (Chaffin's Farm) near Richmond on September 29, 1864. Fourteen men, including Christian Fleetwood, who later became an active community leader in Washington, D.C., were presented the Medal of Honor for valor at New Market Heights.

The final participation by blacks in the Union war effort amounted to 120 infantry regiments, 12 heavy regiments, 10 light artillery batteries, and seven cavalry units. Several regiments, not placed under direct Federal authority, retained their state designations in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Louisiana. Black troops were present at the surrender of General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox and the entrance to Richmond. They also participated in the pursuit of Lincoln's assassin and in some of the funeral activities for the slain president.

On April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House in Virginia, and the war was effectively over. The other rebel armies surrendered soon after. Lincoln went to Richmond to make a public gesture of sitting at Jefferson Davis's own desk, symbolically saying to the nation that the President of the United States held authority over the entire land. He was greeted at the city as a conquering hero by freed slaves.

On April 11, Lincoln made a speech promoting voting rights for blacks. On April 14, he was shot by John Wilkes Booth and died the next day at age 56.

Although June 19 was three months away, the war raged on in Texas.

It is significant, however, to recognize the increasing role of Colored troops toward the end of the war. They were used for the most dangerous missions and suffered a disproportionate number of casualties during the closing months. The 25th Corp of Colored Troops was on the scene at Appomattox when Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant. Five days later, they would pursue Lincoln’s assassins.

After Appomattox, some Colored brigades of the 25th Corp were dismantled and redeployed to Texas. They would later become the backbone of General Philip Sheridan’s Fifth Military District and an integral part of the state’s police force under Governor Elisha M. Pease.

It is a popular notion that slavery ended on Juneteenth. However, some slavery continued to exist until the entire institution was finally wiped out by the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment on December 18, 1865.

In the state capital, Juneteenth was first celebrated in 1867 under the direction of the Freedmen's Bureau. The event has been historically celebrated with festivities, picnics, barbecue, watermelon, and “red soda water”. A hundred years later, during the 1960s, the holiday began to decline, probably as a result of the gains of the Civil Rights Movement.

Eddie Griffin Footnote:

I learned of Juneteenth in my childhood during the 1940s, when the holiday celebration was still at its height. I remember Juneteenth as a day of gentle defiance, when all black people took the day off from work. No permission was asked and no advance notice was given. It was just something everybody knew and accepted.

Domestic maids and servants like my mother simply stopped work and took time to celebrate the day similar to the way whites celebrated the Fourth of July. But there were one thing black maids and cooks did for their employers. They would fix their white employers and their families a special Juneteenth barbecue dinner and leave it in the oven for the next day. Otherwise, the whites were left to fend for themselves on that one day.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Supreme Court Decision Bushwhacks King George II

Dear Mr. President:

It is reported by the Associated Press that you “strongly disagreed with a Supreme Court ruling that clears foreign terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts.” The article goes on to suggest that you may seek new legislation. For what reason- to keep the American people safe?

Not, this time, Mr. President. Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on… not so fast. This is a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that you are trying to sidestep, not the Court of The Hague. And, this is the United States Congress that you are trying to manipulate.

Remember, there are three separate but co-equal branches of government, and one should not be intimidated by the other.

Senator Barack Obama issued a statement praising the Supreme Court 5-4 decision as a clear repudiation of this administration’s POW policies. Even most American people will agree on the due process rights of the accused. It is wholly unconstitutional to suspend habeas corpus, and even more demeaning to circumvent these protections by off-shore international camouflage.

The Court's decision is a rejection of the Bush Administration's attempt to create a legal black hole at Guantanamo,” says Obama. “This is an important step toward reestablishing our credibility as a nation committed to the rule of law… I voted against the Military Commissions Act because its sloppiness would inevitably lead to the Court, once again, rejecting the Administration's extreme legal position.

Your administration has been operating in a legal no-man’s land throughout the prosecution of this war. And, you continue to go back to the well and ask Congress to write another “blank check” for more and more authority, when clearly you have abused the powers you already have.

For years, these so-called terrorist suspects have been held, without definitive charges, in secret locations, held incommunicado, restricted from the U.S. legal system, protections, and rights. And, as their cases come to trial before a military tribunal of your own concoction, we discover that some of these so-called terrorists were as young as 12 or 13 years old when they were captured and, even worse, some of these children have been subjected to harsh interrogation and torture.

According to Lt Commander Jeffrey Gordon, Senior Pentagon spokesman... "There is no international standard concerning the age of an individual who engages in combat operations... Age is not a determining factor in detention. [of those] engaged in armed conflict against our forces or in support to those fighting against us."

This administration has shown no mercy on the innocence of The Child, nor properly considered their innocence or guilt, such as in the case of child soldier Omar Ahmed Khadr, the 15-year old taken captive after Special Forces stormed his village, blew up his house, and kill his father.

I ask you, Mr. President: What would you, as a teenager, do? This was the circumstances surrounding the capture of Khadr and many children like him. This is the group of so-called terrorists now on hunger strike to demonstrate their plight to the world.

And, you say that you strongly disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision- you have no intent of complying with the Court’s mandates, anyway.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Texas, My, My, My, Texas:

Why in the world did they burn the Governor’s Mansion?

By Eddie Griffin

SUNDAY morning- 1:45 a.m., a fire alarm went off in Austin, Texas. The Governor’s mansion is ablaze.

The day before, SATURDAY afternoon, fire alarms went off inside the Austin Convention Center… send 7,000 delegates scurrying for the exits.

With record heat and a heated caucus, something was bound to burn. Thankfully, Governor Rick Perry was not home at the time.

Who in the world would burn the Governor’s mansion, this ignoble emblem of southern pride from bygone days? Maybe it was one of the thousands of Texas prison system inmates who returned to the plantation manor like Nat Turner.

Not I, Eddie Griffin. I was just passing through the neighborhood when the alarms sounded. Actually, Anthony, my young understudy, and I left Austin on Saturday around 5:00 p.m., while the convention was still in full swing. As we headed by to Fort Worth, we got a call from another delegate back at the convention center. Everyone inside the building had been evacuated. Fire alarms had just gone off.

At the time, the cable broadcast of Hillary Clinton's concession speech was having some technical difficulties being transmitted into the convention center. However, it was clear by the report, that Senator Clinton was now backing Barack Obama.

Whether it was before, during, or after Hillary’s concession speech that the fire alarms went off, neither one of us thought to ask. We were just amazed at the mass evacuation of 7,000 people. But sometimes the sequel and timing of coincidental random events, like the convention fire alarm and the Governor’s mansion arson, an odd bit of unrelated circumstances seems to come alive with intriguing meaning.

This is an irony in politics, in Texas, with Juneteenth on the horizon, and an African-American on step closer to becoming President of the United States, the same office once occupied by the emancipator, Abe Lincoln.

Barack Obama came back and retook the state Hillary Clinton had once boasted a victory. Strange that it reminds me of the Battle of Galveston on January 1, 1863 and the Battle of Galveston on June 19, 1865. The Confederates won the first battle, and prevented the Emancipation Proclamation from taking effect. But on the rebound some two-and-a-half years later, the Union retook the city, on a day forever known in Texas as "Juneteenth".

2008 - That there was a divided and heated Democratic State Convention was all but apparent. Everything was fine one minute. The next minute comes the vote. And, after the vote, came the ugly faces.

All 43% of the Hillary Clinton sat on one side, and all 57% Barack Obama delegates sat on the other side. This was the way they wanted all delegates seated.
But who can tell the difference in numerical strength of a 57-43 split? It's like when a cookie is broken in half, it’s always your half looks bigger than my half. Your piece of cookie looks bigger than my piece of cookie... chocolate on one side and vanilla on the other. Being a majority-minority, we looked like the minority-majority. Or, was it the powerless color of our skin?

We were segregated: predominately black Obama delegates on one side; predominately white Clinton delegates on the other side... 57-43... too damn close to call on any vote. It took teams of counters to do the counting, one counter from Hillary’s team and one counter from Barack’s team, two pair counters to work each side of the room.

Thus, we found ourselves voting as a bloc, a hardened bloc, blacks on one side and whites on the other. This was not my paradigm of an ideal society.

But there it is. I rest my case. Eddie Griffin started no fires, nor put in any false alarm, nor started any heated discussion or controversy.

So, who really did burned down the Governor’s mansion? And who, by the way, rang the fire alarm in the convention center? Are the two incidents related? Did all of this happen because Barack Obama won the state of Texas? (Conspiracy or an Overactive Suspicious Imagination?)

Never underestimate the fight of a Texan, black or white. And, don’t be surprised that Eddie Griffin is as much Confederate as Union.

Monday, June 9, 2008

My National Convention Quest Ends

Monday, June 09, 2008

Long before Senate District 10 ended its 4:00 a.m. all-night marathon, Eddie Griffin was as good as dead as delegate destined for Denver. SD 10 was a tenacious group of cat-fighters, still clawing for votes, even amid rumors that Hillary Clinton was ending her presidential bid.

Altogether, some 7,300 delegates from around the state of Texas converged on the capitol to caucus and elect state party leadership and vote on issues. They had each had fought an uphill battle just to get to the Austin State Democratic Convention, and every vote from the start, was an eye-scratch.

Day 1 lasted all day and all night, and Day 2 started at 8:00 a.m.

Regular politicians must have been accustomed to this type of grueling test of endurance. But it takes the rest of us unawares. We did not anticipate all-night sessions and all-night vote tallying.

My first weakness was exposed on Friday morning when caught in the downpour on my way to register. From that point on, between coughing and sneezing, I could not fathom the strength to fight for a national delegate spot.

But somewhere in the twilight of my memories, Chelsea Clinton appeared on the convention floor with word from her mother Hillary. On Saturday morning, Hillary Clinton would hold a news conference and suspend her candidacy and endorse Barack Obama.

The announcement from Chelsea created a stir and some consternation among Clinton placard holders. The rest of us sat and watched silently as the Hillary Clinton delegates bewailed their last hoorays. For all intents and purposes, this longest and most bitterly fought Democratic presidential campaign was over. But the Hillary people were not ready to hear it. However, I was relieved. This was why I came.

No longer was I compelled to go all the way to the National Convention. We held our precinct delegation numbers. My job, for the most part, was done.

Coming into the Democratic State Convention, Hillary Clinton lead Barack Obama in primary delegates by a margin of 65-61. Now 67 more delegates were being apportioned from precinct and district caucus results. The finally tally came in on Saturday, just prior to Senator Clinton’s announcement: Texas final delegate count was Obama 99 and Clinton 94.

Hillary Clinton did not won Texas, as she had once boasted. And, Eddie Griffin was among the body count of Obama delegates that helped reverse Clinton’s fortune in the state. Vindicated, I was now free.

Sometime before 3 a.m. on Saturday morning, long after I crawled into my sick bed, the delegates of SD 10 elected their national representatives. My candidacy was done. My presence no longer needed.

I did, however, have a brief say in my defeat in a bid for a seat on the platform committee.

Keep the party platform simple. Use the KISS principal (i.e., Keep it Simple, Stupid). A party platform with too many planks paints a candidate into a corner. Resist adopting personal ideological agendas that stir needless controversies.

... And so, ended the quest of Eddie Griffin to become a national delegate for Senator Barack Obama.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Congratulations Senator Barack Obama

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Dear Senator Barack Obama:

I applaud your victory as heir apparent to the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. As they say in Texas: “It's all over but the shouting.” But shouting for joy is not on the immediate menu. Our joyous celebration is forestalled until the Party confirms your nomination in Denver at the Convention in August.

If there is a time for the Audacity of Hope, now would be the time. As a disabled veteran, I regret the loss of peace in the world more than anything else. I am ashamed that I put on the uniform of a country that has become the bully of the world.

Rest assured, that I will advise my children and grandchildren not to buy into this current war. We would spend our time and energies better by praying for peace. (Make sure that reads: Peace with Honor, another treasure in the American value system that has gone down the drain with the Bush administration).

I endorse your candidacy because it is the only visible means of returning to the days of Our Honor. Some, however, would have us to fight on indefinitely, even if we started this war by mistake. However, we cannot reclaim our honor unless we first admit to our mistakes and shortcomings.

The War in Iraq was a mistake and the American public was deceived.

I am dismayed also by the national economy. Our war spending has outstripped our domestic spending. We no longer invest in ourselves and our future. But we invest in another country at the expense of our own, and mortgage the future of our children.

As I said, I am a disabled vet, aged 62, and on fixed income. I realize that my days are numbered. Therefore, whether the earth returns to green or turns toxic brown that is a problem for you and your generation to solve. Whether you and your generation restore our country’s dignity in the world, as once again the leader of democracy in the world, it is your problem for your generation, and most certainly not helped by old foggy war hawks my age. I do not believe in gaining international respect at the point of a gun. This methodology I have always opposed.

I was part of the 1960s Peace Movement then, not because I feared the dangers of the Vietnam War, as some accused us “peaceniks”. I simply got tired of fighting to defend a lie. I will study war no more in the name of deception. But I fight for truth, honesty, and the American way (the “old ways” as it was once known).

I am not naïve as some would make me out to be, simply because I desire peace. It is naïve to not desire peace. It is naïve, arrogant, and self-serving not to try to reestablish friendship with the rest of the world. I am ashamed and in utter pain to see the level to which we, as a nation, has decline. The majority of the world hates us. And, yet we are too self-absorbed and self-righteous to see ourselves as others see us. We cannot heal ourselves without recognizing the beam in our own eye.

Those who choose the war path will never heal, not as a nation and not as a people. We cannot heal ourselves if the house is divided against itself. How can we if we are divided one against the other? Yet there are some who would rather have division, rather than healing.

But peace is sown in the hearts who those who make peace, so says the bible. The Son of God said: “Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God.” The true children of God will work for peace.

As a man of war most of my life, I wish to be counted in the number of the peacemakers. Therefore, I offer you my support. And, may God bless you.

As you proclaimed in your victory speech on yesterday, “God bless the United States of America.” And, I might add, may God have mercy on the “Disunited” States of America.

From Eddie Griffin