Friday, February 29, 2008

Boston View

What's your advice?

So I'd like your opinions. It's not a big thing but it has been bothering me. This past December a friend and I planned to do a little shopping. So the plan was that she would call me when she was leaving home and on her way to pick me up. But she forgot to call before she left and stopped at a payphone to call me. (she, like me, does not have a cell phone). She was in a different city so rather than dig up a bunch of change she called me collect. I of course accepted the call and we talked for just a few minutes.

Fast forward to January

In January I received my phone bill. I immediately noticed that it was more than usual. I checked the itemized list of charges and noticed a $20 charge from a company other than the phone company. It took me a minute but I finally realized that the charge was for the collect call my friend made to me.

This company was charging me 20 dollars for a 4 minute phone call!

So my problem is; do I fight this charge or just chalk it up to experience and pay it? I paid the phone bill balance minus the $20 in January. The reason I'm hesitant to fight the charge is I know it's going to be a big hassle. The phone company does not have any walk in offices here. I would have to either deal with this via e-mail or by phone. Either way I know that if I am able to resolve this it's going to take a bunch of time and effort.

If I don't fight the charge I'm going to feel like I've been taken for a fool. Although I'm sure I haven't been the only one to get a $20 charge for a 4 minute call.

One more thing; I worked in a customer service call center once. I know how it works and that's how I know it would be a hassle to dispute the charge.

Anyway my phone bill is due again and I need to either pay or fight.

What should I do?

Should I dispute the charge?

Should I just go ahead and pay it?


Black History Month: The Final Post

Please click on the photo for a large view. This is a testament to what African Americans had to survive so that we could be here and have the opportunities we have today. If you are African American, as you read this remember that the Black people mentioned in this document could be one of your or my ancestors.

Photo Attribution: HickTownPress

Jermaine Stewart - Word is Out

Vaughn Mason & Crew - Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll

Friday Rare Groove: Joyce Sims - All and All

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Düsseldorf by Night


I have been participating in a great post at Undercover Black Man about Black slang words. The post is basically asking readers to think of words that have been used in the Black community that have made their way into the larger culture.

Black slang originally was a way for African Americans to communicate without being understood by Whites. This was vital during the time that African Americans were enslaved and afterword during the Jim Crow era.

Now most Black slang eventually makes its way into the mainstream. Mostly this happens through music and film. Some examples of those words are; dissed, Micky D's in place of McDonald's restaurant, crib, holla, dog, cheese and 5-0.

Other slang black slang words are that haven't quite yet made it to the larger culture are fiftyleven, hyphy, hella or hecka.

Then there is Black British slang with words like criss, which means everything is cool or okay. It doesn't seem that Black British slang makes its way to the U.S. very often.

It also occurred to me that there are White slang words that have made there way into popular culture. Words like dude, which can refer to a man or woman. Then there is dork and nerd. Also words like totally, duh and what - ever, which are Valley Girl slang words.

The amazing thing about slang is that once most slang words work their way into the mainstream, such as being heard in advertisements for corporations, they usually die out in the communities that they originated in.

Can you think of slang words that have not made it to the mainstream?

How many mainstream slang words can you list?

What slang word(s) do you use?

Free College!

Here is some amazing information from my blog sister Symphony at Essential Presence.

"If you know a kid entering high school or who has done pretty good in their first couple of years then let them know how they can attend great institutions of higher learning free of cost. Remember, the kids must be accepted to the school based on admissions standards." - Symphony

Read more about this and find out what colleges are offering free tuition at Essential Presence.

Black History Month: Revolutionary Women!

This post is part two of two profiling abolitionist Frances Harper
(Part one was posted yesterday)

In 1859 Watkins's tale "The Two Offers" appeared in the Anglo-African, the first short story to be published by an African-American. Although cast in fictional form, the piece is actually a sermon on the important life choices made by young people, women in particular.

The tale relates the tragedy of a woman who mistakenly thinks romance and married love to be the only goal and center of her life. "Talk as you will of woman's deep capacity for loving," Watkins preached, "of the strength of her affectional nature. I do not deny it; but will the mere possession of any human love, fully satisfy all the demands of her whole being? . . . But woman—the true woman—if you would render her happy, it needs more than the mere development of her affectional nature.

Her conscience should be enlightened, her faith in the true and right established, and scope given to her Heaven-endowed and God-given faculties."

In 1860, Frances Watkins married Fenton Harper, a widower with three children, and moved to Ohio. Their daughter, Mary, was born in 1862. Fenton died in 1864. After the war was over, Frances Harper toured the South, speaking to large audiences, encouraging education for freed slaves, and aiding in reconstruction.

With slavery a thing of the past, Harper turned her energy to women's rights. She spoke up for the empowerment of women and worked with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to secure votes for women.

Unlike Anthony and Stanton, Harper supported the Fourteenth Amendment, which, together with the Fifteenth, granted the vote to black men but not to women. Recognizing the ever-present danger of lynching,

she reasoned that the African-American community needed an immediate political voice. With that would come the possibility of securing further legal and civil rights.

During the next few decades, Harper wrote a great deal and had her works published frequently. Because of her many magazine articles, she was called the mother of African-American journalism. At the same time she also wrote for periodicals with a mainly white circulation.

The poems in Harper's Sketches of Southern Life, 1872, present the story of Reconstruction, as told by a wise and engaging elderly former slave, Aunt Chloe. Harper's serialized novel, "Sowing and Reaping," in the Christian Recorder, 1876-77, expanded on the theme of "The Two Offers." In "Trial and Triumph," 1888-89, the most autobiographical of her novels, Harper presented her program for progress through personal development, altruism, non-discrimination, and racial pride.

In 1873 Harper became Superintendent of the Colored Section of the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Women's Christian Temperance Union. In 1894 she helped found the National Association of Colored Women and served as its vice president, 1895-1911. Along with Ida B. Wells, Harper wrote and lectured against lynching. She was also a member of the Universal Peace Union.

Although busy as a writer and active in public life, Harper continued to engage personally in social concerns at the local level. She worked with a number of churches in the black community of north Philadelphia near her home, feeding the poor, preventing juvenile delinquency, and teaching Sunday School at the Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church.

Harper died on 22 February 1911, nine years before women gained the right to vote. Her funeral service was held at the Unitarian Church on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. She was buried in Eden Cemetery, next to her daughter, who had died two years before.

Although an extremely popular writer during her lifetime, Harper was not acclaimed by literary critics. Following her death W.E.B. Du Bois, whose ideal of high style was Henry James, eulogized her with faint praise: "She was not a great singer, but she had some sense of song; she was not a great writer, but she wrote much worth reading."

Shortly after, Harper's communicative and intentionally popular style was dismissed as sentimental hackwork by African-American male critics and her message held in suspicion because her mixed-race protagonists were not sufficiently black.

Text Attribution: Unitarian Universalist Historical Society


DJ Kool - Let Me Clear My Throat

Michael Jackson - Ben

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Maui Sunset

Snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory

Ruby Dee and Sidney Poitier in the original film version of A Raisin in the Sun

There is a lot that can be said is negative about the African American experience in America. Many of us face racism, whether blatant or subtle, on a daily basis. The media is constantly showing every negative image of us that it can find or manufacture.

So it's very easy as a blogger to focus on the bad and sometimes not recognize the good even when it's right in front of our faces. I have seen a really good example of people in the blogisphere focusing on the negative when it would have been just as easy and more productive to focus on the positive.

Monday night ABC aired a version of Lorraine Hansberry's classic American drama A Raisin in the Sun. Even before it aired I read many posts decrying it as a travesty. I repeat; that was before the broadcast even aired. Mainly it seemed that people were upset with the choice of Shawn Combs aka P. Diddy to play the role of Walter Lee.

Lorraine Hansberry

While I too believe that Shawn Combs acting ability is suspect at best, I was pleased to look forward to seeing African American faces on network television that would not be the usual stereotypes that we all complain about.

After the TV version aired many people compared ABC's version of A Raisin in the Sun to the original film starring Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee and others. Sure it's tempting to compare the two but ultimately it's setting the TV version up for failure.

ABC's A Raisin in the Sun

It's not reasonable to compare a film made for theatrical release to one made for TV. There is less money involved in television productions, the talent on and off camera will likely be less experienced and sometimes less talented.

I watched Monday night's airing of A Raisin In The Sun and I was happy to see African Americans portrayed as complicated and thoughtful people. To see such portrayals is rare indeed on the small screen or even on the big screen.

We are fed a constant diet of comedy and buffoonery on TV. We see African Americans portrayed as criminals, and usually stupid criminals, whores, rappers and miscreants.

So I celebrate ABC's version of A Raisin In The Sun. Will it win any Emmy Awards? Likely not but it was an island of realness in a sea of stereotypes.

And for that I say bravo!

Hopefully all the negative chatter about the movie will not prevent other networks, either cable or broadcast, from stepping outside the norm and producing more films that tell unique slices of African American life.

ABC's A Raisin in the Sun was a victory, it was a victory for those of us who are tired of what's on BET and VH1 and rap videos and Tyler Perry films (that mock Black women). It's just too bad that many people were so busy looking for a defeat that they missed the victory.

Did you watch A Raisin in the Sun on ABC Monday Night?

What did you think of it?

Black History Month: Revolutionary Women!

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (September 24, 1825-February 22, 1911), was an African-American writer, lecturer, and political activist, who promoted abolition, civil rights, women's rights, and temperance. She helped found or held high office in several national progressive organizations. She is best remembered today for her poetry and fiction, which preached moral uplift and counseled the oppressed how to free themselves from their demoralized condition.

Frances was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to free parents whose names are unknown. After her mother died in 1828, Frances was raised by her aunt and uncle. Her uncle was the abolitionist William Watkins, father of William J. Watkins, who would become an associate of Frederick Douglass. She received her education at her uncle's Academy for Negro Youth and absorbed many of his views on civil rights. The family attended the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church.

At the age of fourteen, Frances found a job as a domestic in a Quaker household, where she was given access to their library and encouraged in her literary aspirations. Her poems appeared in newspapers, and in 1845 a collection of them was printed as Autumn Leaves (also published as Forest Leaves).

Following the passage in 1850 of the Fugitive Slave Law, conditions for free blacks in the slave state of Maryland deteriorated and the Watkins family fled Baltimore.

Frances Watkins moved on her own to Ohio, where she taught sewing at Union Seminary. She moved on to Pennsylvania in 1851. There, alongside William Still, Chairman of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, she helped escaped slaves along the Underground Railroad on their way to Canada.

Watkins continued to write, and in 1854 her Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects attracted critical notice and became her biggest commercial success. In these poems she attacked not only racism but also the oppression of women. Most of the earnings from this and her other books went to help free the slaves. In 1854 she also began her lecturing career. She was much in demand on the anti-slavery circuit and she traveled extensively in the years before the Civil War.

Part two of the profile of Frances Watkins tomorrow.

Text Attribution: Unitarian Universalist Historical Society

Brandy - I Wanna Be Down

Al B. Sure! - Nite and Day

Barbara Mason - Another Man

In a post a few days ago I talked about my not paying attention to lyrics when I was younger. Well this song is a perfect example of that. I really listened to this song last night and I am so surprised. I had no idea what this song was really about. I really doubt that a song like this would be made today. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Things that remind me of home...

Remember Ralph Nader and the "N" Word?

This past weekend Ralph Nader announced the he will run (again) for President this year. I read quite a few posts about his return yesterday but I didn't see any about Mr. Nader's unfortunate use of the "N" word back in 2005.

Here is what he said;

From - Speaking Wednesday night at a Washington fund-raiser to retire the debt from his 2004 presidential campaign, Nader complained that Democratic Party powerbrokers had kept him off the ballot in such Southern states as Georgia and Virginia - which reminded him of the oppressive Jim Crow laws that denied African-Americans equal rights.

"I felt like a [n-word]," said Nader. (paragraph attribution: Blogcritics/ June 17, 2005)

How is it that a so-called politician, Nader, can use the "N" word and then think he can run for President? I have no interest in anything Ralph Nader has to say and I find it offensive that he has the audacity to run for President after his "N" word incident.

Does it bother you that Ralph Nader used the "N" word?

Are you willing to take him seriously knowing of his past use of the "N" word?


Here are a few words I found. Enjoy!

kakistocracy (kak-i-STOK-rah-see) - government by the worst or least qualified citizens

merkin (MUR-kin) - a pubic wig for women

phobophobia (fo-bah-FO-bee-ah) - a morbid dread or fear of developing a phobia

quatopygia (kwah-tah-PIJ-ee-ah) — the shaking of the buttocks while walking

What do you think of these words?

Toni Braxton - Unbreak My Heart

La Flavour - Mandolay

Classic dance!

Twofer Tuesday: Lauryn Hill vs. Roberta Flack - Killing Me Softly

The Cover: Lauryn Hill - Killing Me Softly

The Original: Roberta Flack - Killing Me Softly

Which version do you prefer?

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Winter Night's Dream...

My Sources

I am a news junkie and I've been one for a long time. Unfortunately most of the news outlets in the U.S. are pretty bad. Corporate media has made a mockery of good journalism. When big stories come around I find that the coverage from big media is lacking on many, many levels.

The terrible journalism of corporate media has forced me to seek out new and better sources of news.

I have come to depend on NPR (National Public Radio) for good unbiased news coverage. I listen to NPR on a daily basis and am rarely disappointed.

I have also found several good online news resources, such as the BBC. There are also many independent media outlets online. It's nice to know that even though corporate media dominates there are great alternatives.

Finally the place that I look for great commentary and opinion is not The New York Times but blogs. I have found great and insightful commentary on current events on blogs. In fact I would go so far as to say the commentary on many of my favorite blogs is much better than that of commercial media.

When I hear of a big news story and I want insight I go directly to blogs. The CNN's of the world are now just a distant bad memory.

Go Blogs!

Where do you get most of your news and opinion?

Do you rely on corporate media for news and information?

Black History Month: More firsts!

Freedom's Journal was the first African American owned and operated newspaper published in the United States. Published weekly in New York City from 1827 to 1829, the journal was edited by John Russwurm from March 16, 1827 to March 28, 1829 and later, Samuel Cornish served as co-editor (March 16, 1827 to September 14, 1827). Freedom's Journal was superseded by The Rights of All, published between 1829 and 1830 by S. E. Cornish.

Freedom's Journal provided international, national, and regional information on current - events and contained editorials declaiming slavery, lynching, and other injustices.

The Journal also published biographies of prominent African Americans and listings of births, deaths, and marriages in the African American community in New York. Freedom's Journal circulated in 11 states, the District of Columbia, Haiti, Europe, and Canada.

The newspaper employed subscription agents such as David Walker, who in 1829 published the first of four articles that called for rebellion.

The pamphlet "Walker's Appeal" stated, " is no more harm for you to kill the man who is trying to kill you than it is for you to take a drink of water..." This statement was widely read, with Walker distributing copies of his pamphlet into the Southern United States, where it was widely banned.

Text Attribution: Wikipedia,

Inner City - Big Fun

Milli Vanilli - Blame It On The Rain

Soul II Soul - Back To Life

Sunday, February 24, 2008

What calling?

Have you ever wondered what your true calling is? I wonder that. At different times in my life I've thought that I knew what my calling was. When I was in my teens I thought it was to be a ballerina. Then I thought it was to be a playwright. After that I thought it was to work in the film industry. Then I thought it was radio.

Well I guess you get the picture. Over time I have gone through many "callings". At this point in my life I'm not sure if I really have a calling. There really isn't anything that I can think of that I want to be the best at, that was always my idea of a calling, wanting to be the best at something.

It would really be nice to find another calling. I'd love to feel the passion of having a calling again.

Have you found your calling?

Has your calling changed over time?

Black History Month: The Arts

Mary Edmonia Lewis (born July 4, 1845 - died 1907) was the first African American and Native American woman to gain fame and recognition as a sculptor.

At a time in America when slaves were just freed, she found inspiration in the lives of abolitionists and Civil War heroes. In a world which didn’t encourage women of color, through incredible determination and sense of purpose, Edmonia Lewis created great art and received world acclaim.

The daughter of a Chippewa Indian woman and an African American man, Edmonia Lewis was born about 1845 near Albany, New York. Her parents died when she was young, and she went to live with her mother’s sisters in Niagara Falls.

The Chippewa people named her Wildfire and taught her to make baskets and embroidered moccasins. Her brother, a California gold miner, arranged for her to enter Oberlin College in Ohio. At the school, Lewis was accused of theft and of trying to poison two classmates. Although she was acquitted of both charges, she was not allowed to graduate.

Moving to Boston, Lewis studied with a local sculptor and began selling her work. She opened her own studio, where she created a number of pieces, including a bust of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the commander of an African American Civil War regiment from Massachusetts, as well as medallion portraits of the abolitionists John Brown and William Lloyd Garrison.

Cleopatra by Edmonia Lewis

In 1865 Lewis sailed for Europe, settling in Rome to continue her studies. She ended up staying there most of her life and becoming a member of a lesbian circle of American expatriates and artists (the group included Emma Stebbins (1815-1882) and Margaret Foley (1820-1877). Influenced by the Greco-Roman sculpture she saw there, she began creating works in a neoclassical style.

By the time she returned to the United States in 1874, her patrons included distinguished families in this country and abroad.

Edmonia Lewis eventually vanished from the art world.

Lewis’s surviving works include Forever Free, which was acquired by the Howard University Gallery of Art, and Death of Cleopatra, in Washington’s National Museum of Art.

Nothing is known of Lewis' final years and her death has been calcuated to have occurred sometime around 1907.

In 1996, the PBS television network featured Lewis in a "News Hour" piece hosted by Charlayne Hunter-Gault. Her story was also told by author Rinna Evelyn Wolfe in a 1998 biography titled Edmonia Lewis: Wildfire in Marble and in A History of African American Artists from 1792 to the Present, by Romare Bearden and Harry Henderson (Pantheon, 1993).

Text Attribution: Wikipedia

Indeep - Last Night A DJ Saved My Life

Starpoint - Object Of My Desire

Bonnie Raitt - Something To Talk About

Saturday, February 23, 2008

It's In The Eyes: Part Two

What experience?

I have been wondering for quite some time what Senator Hillary Clinton means when she says she has more experience than Senator Barack Obama. She says this over and over again.

But I think it's time for a reality check.

Hillary Clinton was elected to the U.S. Senate in the year 2000. That means she has been a U.S. Senator for 7 years. Prior to that Hillary Clinton never held public office. She had been a practicing lawyer and on the board of several corporations. Her only other experience was being First Lady of the United States.

Barack Obama served in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. He was then elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004. That's just about 10 years of legislative experience.

So can anyone explain to me how it is that Hillary Clinton claims to have more experience than Barack Obama? Am I missing something?

Do you think Hillary Clinton has more experience than Barack Obama?

Why doesn't the media challenge her assertion that she has more experience?

Music Saturday!

Do any of these bring back good memories?

Patrice Rushen - Forget Me Nots

Gil Scott-Heron - The Bottle

The Isley Brothers - Voyage To Atlantis

Anita Baker - Caught Up in the Rapture

Michael McDonald- I Keep Forgettin'

INXS - What You Need

Lucy Pearl - Dance Tonight

Queen Latifah - Ladies First

Us3 – Cantaloop

Black History Month: Revolutionary Women

This is part two of a profile of Assata Shakur. The previous post was yesterday.

After a widely-publicized nine-week trial, on March 25, 1977 in Middlesex County, New Jersey, Shakur was convicted as an accomplice in the murders of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster and Zayd Shakur and possession of weapons, as well as of assault and attempted murder of Trooper Harper.

Although the prosecution could not prove that Shakur fired the shots that killed either Trooper Foerester or Zayd Shakur, being an accomplice to murder carries an equivalent life sentence under New Jersey law.

New Jersey Superior Court Judge Theodore Appleby sentenced her to 26 to 33 years in state prison for assault and weapons charges which was to be served consecutively with her mandatory life sentence for being an accomplice to the murders.

All of the jury members were white and five had personal ties to State Troopers (one girlfriend, two nephews, and two friends). One prospective juror was dismissed for reading Target Blue , a book by Robert Daley, a former New York City Deputy Police Commander, which dealt in part with Shakur and had been left in the jury assembly room.

Shakur's attorneys sought a new trial on the grounds that one jury member, John McGovern, had violated the jury's sequestration order. McGovern later sued Kunstler for defamation after Judge Appleby rejected Kunstler's claim that he had violated the order. In September 1977, New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne vetoed a bill to give the Morris County sheriff $7,491 for overtime expenses incurred in guarding Shakur's jury.

The judge did not allow evidence of alleged COINTELPRO involvement to be admitted during her trial. Shakur's defense attorneys had attempted to subpoena FBI Director Clarence Kelley, Senator Frank Church and other Federal and New York law enforcement officials to testify about the Counter Intelligence Program, which they alleged was designed to harass and disrupt black activist organizations.

Shakur's attorney's had also successfully asked a 10-judge panel of the Federal Philadelphia Court of Appeals to order that sessions for her murder trial not be held on Fridays because of Black Muslim Sabbath, although Appeals Court rejected her plea to move the murder trial to a federal court.


After the Turnpike shootings, Shakur was imprisoned in New Jersey State Reception and Correction center in Yardville, Middlesex County, New Jersey and later moved to Rikers Island Correctional Institution for Women in New York City where she was kept in solitary confinement.

After a bomb threat was made against Judge Appleby, Sheriff Joseph DeMarino lied to the press about the exact date of her transfer to Clinton State Correctional Institute for security reasons. She was also transferred from Clinton Prison for Women to the Yardville Youth Correction and Reception Center in New Jersey, where she was the only female inmate, for "security reasons."

On May 6, 1977, Trenton Federal District Court Judge Clarkson Fisher denied Shakur's request for a transfer from the all-male facility to Clinton Correctional Facility. Shakur's only daughter, Kakuya Shakur, was conceived during her trial and born in September 1974 at the fortified psychiatric ward at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens.

On April 8, 1978, Shakur was transferred to Alderson Federal Prison Camp in Alderson, West Virginia where she met Puerto Rican nationalist Lolita Lebrón and Mary Alice, a Catholic nun, who introduced Shakur to the concept of liberation theology. At Alderson, Shakur was housed in the Maximum Security Unit, which also contained several members of the Aryan Sisterhood as well as Sandra Good and Lynette Fromme, followers of Charles Manson.

On March 31, 1978, after the Maximum Security Unit at Alderson was closed, Shakur was transferred to the Clinton Correctional Facility for Women in New Jersey.

A 1979 special UN investigation into human rights abuses of political prisoners cited Shakur as "one of the worst cases" of such abuses and including her in a "a class of victims of FBI misconduct through the COINTELPRO strategy and other forms of illegal government conduct who as political activists have been selectively targeted for provocation, false arrests, entrapment, fabrication of evidence, and spurious criminal prosecutions."

Escape and political asylum in Cuba

On November 2, 1979 she escaped the Clinton Correctional Facility for Women in New Jersey, when three members of the Black Liberation Army visiting her drew concealed .45-caliber pistols, seized two guards as hostages and commandeered a prison van. No one, including the guards, was injured during the prison break.

Charged with assisting in her escape was her brother, Mutulu Shakur, and Silvia Baraldini; Ronald Boyd Hill was also held on charges related to the escape. In part for his role in the event, Mutulu was named on July 23, 1982 as the 380th addition to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, where he remained for the next four years until his capture in 1986.

State correction officials disclosed in November 1979 that they had not run identity checks on Shakur's visitors and that the three men and one woman who assisted in her escape had presented false identification to enter the prison's visitor room, before which they were not searched.

After her escape, Assata lived as a fugitive for the next several years. The F.B.I. circulated "wanted" posters throughout the New York-New Jersey area; her supporters hung "Assata Shakur is welcome here" posters in response.

In July 1980, FBI director William Webster said that the search for Shakur had been frustrated by residents' refusal to cooperate, and a New York Times editorial opined that the department's commitment to "enforce the law with vigor – but also with sensitivity for civil rights and civil liberties" had been "clouded" by an "apparently crude sweep" through a Harlem building in search of Shakur.

In particular, one pre-dawn April 20, 1980 raid on 92 Morningside Avenue, during which FBI agents armed with shotguns and machine guns broke down doors, and rummaged through the building for several hours while preventing residents from leaving, was perceived by residents as having "racist overtones."

In October 1980, New Jersey and New York City Police denied published reports that they had declined to raid a Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn building where Shakur was suspected to be hiding for fear of provoking a racial incident.

She fled to Cuba in 1984 where she was granted political asylum, saying she had never received a fair trial. In 1985 she was reunited with her daughter, Kakuya, who had previously been raised by Shakur's mother in New York.

She published Assata: An Autobiography, which was written in Cuba, in 1987. Her autobiography has been cited in relation to critical legal studies and critical race theory.

Extradition attempts

In 1997, Carl Williams, the superintendent of the New Jersey State Police wrote a letter to the Pope John Paul II asking him to raise the issue of Shakur's extradition during his talks with President Fidel Castro.

During the pope's visit to Cuba in 1998, Shakur agreed to an interview with NBC journalist Ralph Penza. Shakur later published an extensive criticism of the NBC segment, which interpliced footage of Trooper Foerster's grieving widow with an FBI photo connected to a bank robbery of which Shakur had been acquitted.

On March 10, 1998—the 85th anniversary of the death of Harriet Tubman—New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman asked Attorney General Janet Reno to do whatever it takes to return Shakur from Cuba. Later in 1998, U.S. media widely reported claims that the United States State Department had offered to lift the Cuban embargo in exchange for the return of ninety U.S. political exiles, including Shakur.

In 1998, the United States Congress passed a resolution asking Cuba for her "return"; House Concurrent Resolution 254 passed 371-0 in the House and by unanimous consent in the Senate.

Many members of the Congressional Black Caucus later explained that they were against her extradition, but mistakenly voted for the bill which was placed on the accelerated suspension calendar, generally reserved for non-controversial legislation.

Representative Maxine Waters of California, who voted for the resolution, later explained her opposition, calling COINTELPRO "illegal, clandestine political persecution."

On May 2, 2005, the thirty-second anniversary of the Turnpike shootings, the F.B.I. classified Assata Shakur as a "domestic terrorist", increasing the reward for assistance in her capture to $1 million, the largest reward placed on an individual in the history of New Jersey.

New Jersey State Police superintendent Rick Fuentes said "she is now 120 pounds of money." New York City Councilman Charles Barron, a former Black Panther, has called for the bounty to be rescinded. The New Jersey State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation each still have an agent officially assigned to her case.

Text Attribution: Wikipedia

Friday, February 22, 2008

El Malecón

Why I became a "vegetable - tarian"

I have a friend who has a niece that refers to people who eat nothing but vegetables as "vegetable - tarians", that is how she now refers to me. About a month ago I decided to transition from being a semi-vegetarian to being a vegetarian.

I had been thinking about becoming a vegetarian for quite some time but I suppose I needed something to push me over the edge. That thing was an announcement last month by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that cloned meat would be entering the food supply at some unspecified time in the near future. They also announced that cloned meat would not be labeled as such.

I refuse to be a guinea pig for corporate meat producers and the FDA.

I am also a very picky vegetarian because of the influx of food from China and Mexico. Food items from these countries have been reported to be substandard and potentially harmful to humans for a variety of different reasons. One thing I have heard is that it is a common practice in Mexico to use human waste as a fertilizer.

So now I do not purchase food from those countries and also avoid food that is not labeled with its country of origin. This is a problem when shopping in most commercial food markets since many times they don't label their fruits and vegetables with the country they are grown.

I do most of my shopping now at a specialty market that gets most of its fruit and vegetables from within a few hundred miles. And they clearly label the origin of food grown outside of the U.S. I also shop at a few different local farmers’ markets.

I have even had to be very careful when buying fruit juice since a lot of fruits used to make commercial juice are grown in China. This is sometimes a problem because a lot of juices do not label the origin of the fruit used in the juice.

All of this might seem like a lot to go through but to me it's worth the trouble, I don't want to find out in five or ten years that food I have eaten was not safe and is likely to make me sick in the future.

The U.S. has allowed food safety to take a backseat to corporate profit. That is totally unacceptable. I hope food safety becomes an issue this election season.

Do you worry about food safety?

Are you concerned about food grown in China?

Black History Month: Revolutionary Women

Assata Shakur (born July 16, 1947, as Joanne Deborah Byron Chesimard) is an African-American activist who was a member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army (BLA).

Shakur was born in New York City on July 16, 1947, or, according to the FBI, August 19, 1952, but spent most of her childhood in Wilmington, North Carolina until her family relocated to Queens when she was a teenager.

She attended Borough of Manhattan Community College and City College of New York in the mid 1960s, where she was involved in many political activities. After graduation, Shakur became involved in the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army.

Shakur and others claim that she was targeted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's COINTELPRO as a result of her involvement with these organizations.

New Jersey Turnpike shootout

On May 2, 1973, just after midnight,Shakur, at that time a member of the Black Liberation Army and no longer a member of the Black Panther Party, along with Zayd Malik Shakur (born James F Coston) and Sundiata Acoli (born Clark Squire), was stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike in East Brunswick by State Trooper James Harper and backed up by Trooper Werner Foerster, for driving with a broken taillight, only 200 yards away from a police administration building.

Accounts of the confrontation differ, but Zayd Shakur and Trooper Foerester were killed in the ensuing shootout, and Assata Shakur and Trooper Harper were injured. Acoli then drove the car (a white Pontiac LeMans with Vermont license plates) which contained Assata, who was wounded, and Zayd, who was dead or dying; several miles down the road, where Assata Shakur was apprehended.

Acoli then exited the car and fled into the woods and was captured after a manhunt the following day.

After the Turnpike shootings, Shakur was imprisoned in New Jersey State Reception and Correction center in Yardville, Middlesex County, New Jersey and later moved to Rikers Island Correctional Institution for Women in New York City where she was kept in solitary confinement.

Part Two of the Assata Shakur profile tomorrow

Text Attribution: Wikipedia

Special Ed - I Got It Made

Amii Stewart - Knock on Wood

Friday Rare Groove: Chuckii Booker - Turned Away

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Jersey Shore


Do you think Barack Obama, if elected President of The United States Of America, will or should apologize on behalf of the U.S. government for Slavery, Jim Crow Laws, stolen land and the many other atrocities committed against African Americans?

Japanese Americans who were interned during World War two received an apology and monetary compensation from the U.S. government. The details are below.

In 1988, U.S. President (and former California governor) Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which had been pushed through Congress by Representative Norman Mineta and Senator Alan K. Simpson — the two had met while Mineta was interned at a camp in Wyoming — which provided redress of $20,000 for each surviving detainee, totaling $1.2 billion dollars. The question of to whom reparations should be given, how much, and even whether monetary reparations were appropriate were subjects of sometimes contentious debate.

World War Two internment camp

On September 27, 1992, the Civil Liberties Act Amendments of 1992, appropriating an additional $400 million in order to ensure that all remaining internees received their $20,000 redress payments, was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush, who also issued another formal apology from the U.S. government.

Would you hope for or expect an apology from Barack Obama?

Do you think the United States owes African Americans an apology?

Japanese Internment Information courtesy Wikipedia

Black History Month: Revolutionary Women

Kathleen Neal Cleaver was born on May 13, 1945, in Dallas, Texas. Kathleen's father was a sociology professor at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas and her mother had a master’s degree in mathematics.

Soon after Kathleen was born, her father, Ernest Neal, accepted a job as the director of the Rural Life Council of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Six years later, Ernest joined the Foreign Service.

The family moved abroad, and lived in such countries such as; India, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Philippines.

Kathleen returned to the United States to attend a Quaker boarding school near Philadelphia, the George School. She graduated with honors in 1963. She continued her education at Oberlin College in Ohio, and later transferred to Barnard College in New York. In 1966, she left college for a secretary job with the New York office of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

Black Panther Party

She was in charge of organizing a student conference at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. At the conference, Kathleen met the minister of information for the Black Panther Party, Eldridge Cleaver.

After she met Eldridge, Kathleen moved to San Francisco in November, 1967, to join the Black Panther Party. Kathleen Neal and Eldridge Cleaver were married on December 27, 1967.

Cleaver became the communications secretary and the first female member of the Party’s decision-making body. She also served as the spokesperson and press secretary. Notably, she organized the national campaign to free the Party’s minister of defense, Huey Newton, who was jailed. Cleaver also ran for the California state assembly for the Peace and Freedom party, but was unsuccessful.

As a result of being part of the Black Panther Party, the Cleavers suffered from some acts of violence. The Cleavers’ apartment was raided in 1968 before a Panther rally by the San Francisco Tactical Squad on the suspicion of hiding guns and ammunition. Later that year, Eldridge was wounded in a shoot-out between Panther members and the police. Eldridge was charged with parole violation following the incident. He decided he did not want to face another incarceration and fled the country.

Living in Exile

Eldridge spent seven months in Cuba and was finally reunited with Kathleen in Algeria in 1969. Kathleen gave birth to their first son, Maceo, soon after arriving in Algeria. A year later she gave birth to Jojuyounghi, while the family was in North Korea.

In 1971, Huey Newton, a fellow party member, and Eldridge had a disagreement; Huey expelled the International Branch of the Black Panther Party. The Cleavers formed a new organization called the Revolutionary People’s Communication Network. Kathleen returned to promoting and speaking about the new organization. To accomplish this, she and the children moved back to New York.

The Algerian government became disgruntled with Eldridge and the new organization. Eldridge was forced to leave the country secretly and met up with Kathleen in Paris in 1973. Kathleen left for the United States later that year to arrange Eldridge’s return and raise a defense fund. In 1974, the French government granted legal residency to the Cleavers and the family was finally reunited.

After only a year, the Cleavers moved back to the United States, and Eldridge was sent to prison. He was tried for the shoot-out in 1968 and was found guilty of assault. He was sentenced to five year’s probation and 2,000 hours of community service. Kathleen went to work on the Eldridge Cleaver Defense Fund and Eldridge was freed on bail in 1976. Eldridge’s legal situation was not finally situated until 1980.

After all of Eldridge’s legal situations, Kathleen went back to school in 1981, after receiving a full scholarship from Yale University. She graduated in 1983, summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history.

In 1987, Kathleen divorced Eldridge Cleaver. She then furthered her education by getting her law degree from Yale Law School. After graduating, Cleaver worked for the law firm of Cravath, Swaine and Moore.

Cleaver has had numerous jobs following the law firm including: law clerk in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia, the faculty of Emory University in Atlanta, visiting faculty member at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City, the Graduate School of Yale College and Sarah Lawrence College.

In 2005, she was selected an inaugural Fletcher Foundation Fellow. She currently is a Senior Research Associate at the Yale Law School, and a Senior Lecturer in the African American Studies department at Yale University.

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About Me

West Coast, United States
African American, Poet?, Vegetarian, Music lover, Agoraphobic, Social Phobic

My Favorite Poet

My Favorite Poet
Staceyann Chin

My Favorite Track Athlete

My Favorite Track Athlete
Christine Arron