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When the past is present…

“…The great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do.” James Baldwin

 

MS Rep. Karl Oliver issues statement on “lynching” post he made on Facebook

By Waverly McCarthy and Courtney Ann Jackson, MS News Now

Rep. Karl Oliver of Mississippi

With one click to post to Facebook, Representative Karl Oliver ignited a firestorm of controversy. The post noted that those in Louisiana taking down the monuments should be LYNCHED, in all capital letters.

The post said: “The destruction of these monuments, erected in the loving memory of our family and fellow Southern Americans, is both heinous and horrific. If the, and I use this term extremely loosely, “leadership” of Louisiana wishes to, in a Nazi-ish fashion, burn books or destroy historical monuments of OUR HISTORY, they should be LYNCHED! Let it be known, I will do all in my power to prevent this from happening in our State.”

A couple of his colleagues went ahead and hit “Like” on the post. It came to a head Monday morning, though, with leadership stepping in.

“I called him immediately and said this is not acceptable,” said Speaker Philip Gunn. “This is inappropriate. And you need to apologize for this.”

“I think his comment was inappropriate and I think it’s foolish,” added Lt. Governor Tate Reeves.

“The first two words out of my mouth and my statement or, I condemn his statements,” noted Gunn. “That’s the strongest word I could come up with is condemnation. If there’s a stronger word, I’ll keep searching for it.”

Oliver’s original Facebook posted, now taken down.

Don’t bother going to Facebook to look for that original post. It’s since been deleted. But by mid-afternoon Monday, Oliver seems to have deleted all his Facebook content or at least changed his privacy settings. Now, all you can see is his profile picture, cover photo and the apology.

His apology reads: 

I, first and foremost, wish to extend this apology for any embarrassment I have caused to both my colleagues and fellow Mississippians. In an effort to express my passion for preserving all historical monuments, I acknowledge the word “lynched” was wrong. I am very sorry. It is in no way, ever, an appropriate term. I deeply regret that I chose this word, and I do not condone the actions I referenced, nor do I believe them in my heart. I freely admit my choice of words was horribly wrong, and I humbly ask your forgiveness. Karl Oliver

His post, which had been shared over 240 times and received over 450 comments, spread quickly, finding it’s way to hundreds of people who have called him out as being a racist.

To see the original story and video report and read comments posted to MS News Now, click here.

For more Breaking News, click here.

 

New Orleans takes down Confederate monuments under cover of darkness

From theguardian.com

Workers dismantle the Liberty Monument in the early hours of Monday, which commemorates whites who tried to topple a biracial post-civil war government in New Orleans. Photograph: Gerald Herbert/AP

In New Orleans in the small hours of the morning on Monday, workers wearing bulletproof vests and scarves that obscured their faces removed the first of four prominent Confederate monuments.

The precautions were taken in response to what police said were death threats, as the Big Easy became the latest southern institution to sever itself from symbols viewed by many as a representation racism and white supremacy.

The Liberty Monument, which commemorates whites who tried to topple a biracial post-civil war government in New Orleans, was taken away in pieces around 5.35am, after a few hours of work. The removal happened so early in an attempt to avoid disruption from groups who want the monuments to stay. Police were on hand, including officers who watched the area from atop the parking garage of a nearby hotel.

Three other statues, to Confederate generals Robert E Lee and PGT Beauregard and Confederate president Jefferson Davis, will also be removed now legal challenges have been overcome.

“There’s a better way to use the property these monuments are on and a way that better reflects who we are,” New Orleans’s mayor, Mitch Landrieu, said. [Editor’s Note: Mayor Landrieu’s speech about the monuments’ removal, below, is honest, pointed, articulate, touching – and well worth listening to in its entirety.]

Nationally, the debate over Confederate symbols has become heated since nine parishioners were killed at a black church in South Carolina in June 2015, by a gunman who posed online with the Confederate battle flag.

South Carolina removed the Confederate flag from its statehouse grounds in the weeks after the shooting, and several southern cities have since considered removing monuments. The University of Mississippi took down its state flag because it includes the Confederate emblem.

New Orleans is a majority African American city. In 2015 the city council voted 6-1 to approve plans to take the statues down, but legal battles have prevented the removal until now, said Landrieu, who proposed the monuments’ removal and rode to victory twice with overwhelming support from the city’s black residents.

Charles Lincoln speaks during a candlelight vigil at the statue of Jefferson Davis in New Orleans, in protest at the removal of Confederate monuments. Photograph: Gerald Herbert/AP

People who want the Confederate memorials removed say they are offensive artifacts honoring the region’s slave-owning past. Others call the monuments part of the city’s history and say they should be protected historic structures….Landrieu said the memorials did not represent his city as it approaches its 300th anniversary next year. The mayor said the city would remove the monuments, store them and preserve them until an “appropriate” place to display them was determined.

“The monuments are an aberration,” he said. “They’re actually a denial of our history and they were done in a time when people who still controlled the Confederacy were in charge of this city and it only represents a four-year period in our 1,000-year march to where we are today.”

Read the full article here.

More Breaking News here.

 

White Supremacist Sean Urbanski Charged With Murder of Black Bowie State Student Richard Collins III

By Kirsten West Savali

theroot.com

L-R: Sean Urbanski; Richard Collins III (Twitter)

Sean Christopher Urbanski, 22, has been charged with first- and second-degree murder in the stabbing death of Bowie State University student Richard Collins III, 23, and the FBI is investigating whether the killing was a hate crime.

Urbanski is a member of the white supremacist Facebook group, “Alt-Reich: Nation,” NBCWashington.com reports.

The completely random and unprovoked attack took place on the University of Maryland’s campus at approx. 3 a.m. Saturday morning near a bus stop. Collins was rushed to a local hospital with a stab wound to the chest and was later pronounced dead.

Urbanski, who was allegedly intoxicated—with alcohol or hate—was still sitting about 50 feet away from where he stabbed Collins when authorities arrived. He was taken into custody at the University of Maryland’s police department.

“It never gets any worse than this,” University of Maryland Police Chief David Mitchell said at a news conference Saturday afternoon. “When I sat with the victim’s father, who is a military veteran, and his pastor and we shed tears together … I can tell you, it rips your heart out.”

Read the entire article here

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Ceremony Of Remembrance Commemorates Brutal Lynching One Hundred Years Ago

 

Bresha Meadows Case Demonstrates How Domestic Survivors Are Punished for Defending Themselves

By Danielle Dorsey

Atlanta Black Star

After nearly a year of being dragged through the criminal justice system, it appears there might finally be some good news in the Bresha Meadows case. The 15-year-old was arrested and charged last year with the murder of her father, but her defense claims she was acting in self-defense after witnessing abuse toward her mother and being subjected to similar abuse for much of her life.

Art for Bresha Meadows by Molly Crabapple

Bresha has been incarcerated in a juvenile detention center for the past nine months, but a preliminary plea deal, offered at her pre-trial hearing on May 8 may allow her to fulfill the the remainder of her 18-month sentence at a mental treatment facility and seal her criminal record as of her 18th birthday.

Bresha’s case has garnered worldwide support and highlighted how our justice system’s treatment of domestic violence victims causes Black women and girls to disproportionately suffer. Through this case and others like it, activists hope to enact systemic change that will allow for more compassionate rulings instead of further criminalizing victims.

Many times, reporting domestic violence can lead to mothers being investigated by child protective services. Until 2014, mothers in Chicago who reported domestic violence could be charged with neglect, and in many places across the country, women who report intimate partner violence face a domino effect of consequences, including eviction from housing under nuisance ordinances. A 2012 study from the American Sociological Association analyzed every nuisance citation in Milwaukee and found that Black households received a disproportionate amount of nuisance complaints and that nearly a third of all citations were generated by domestic violence. A Milwaukee Domestic Violence Experiment study found that arresting abusers isn’t always the solution either, and for African-American victims, arrest increased mortality by 98 percent, compared to a 9 percent mortality increase among white victims.

Read the entire article here

Read more about Bresha Meadows here

Catch up on more Breaking News here

 

Yes, You Can Measure White Privilege

By Michael Harriot, theRoot.com

iStock, theRoot.com

Whenever anyone slips the words “white privilege” into a conversation, it immediately builds an impenetrable wall. For some white people, the words elicit an uneasy feeling because, for them, the term is accusatory without being specific. It is a nebulous concept that seemingly reduces the complex mishmash of history, racism and social phenomena to a nonspecific groupthink phrase.

But white privilege is real….

Imagine the entire history of the United States as a 500-year-old relay race, where whites began running as soon as the gun sounded, but blacks had to stay in the starting blocks until they were allowed to run. If the finish line is the same for everyone, then the time and distance advantage between the two runners is white privilege. Not only can we see it, but we can actually measure it. If we begin viewing it as an economic term—the same way we use “trickle-down economics”—then it might be debatable, but it becomes a real, definable thing that we can acknowledge, explain and work toward eliminating. Race might be a social construct, but white privilege is an economic theory that we should define as such:

White privilege: n. The quantitative advantage of whiteness

 

Read the full article here for four examples that explain white privilege in economic terms.

Read more Breaking News here.

Delve more deeply into white privilege in Peering Through White-Rimmed Glasses: A Letter to My Fellow White Americans here and in this annotated bibliography on whiteness.

 

Mississippi Cops Engage In ‘Systematic Targeting Of Black Residents,’ Lawsuit Alleges

By Nick Wing

Huffington Post Black Voices

Courtesy of the ACLU

The sheriff’s department of Madison County, Mississippi, methodically and often brutally targets black residents with a coordinated system of checkpoints and unconstitutional searches, the American Civil Liberties Union alleged in a federal lawsuit filed Monday.

These alleged tactics have left the black community of Madison “under a permanent state of siege,” the suit says.

In an 86-page complaint, the ACLU of Mississippi and the law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP accuse the Madison County Sheriff’s Department of abusing its power to uphold racial segregation and oppression in Mississippi’s wealthiest county.

“For Black residents, Madison County is a Constitution-free zone where their right to equal protection under the law and against unreasonable searches and seizures is nonexistent,” Jennifer Riley-Collins, executive director of the ACLU of Mississippi, said in a statement.

Madison County is approximately 57 percent white and 38 percent black, according to the 2010 Census. The population remains starkly divided along both racial and economic lines, however, with “predominantly Black towns, neighborhoods, and business districts and predominantly white towns, neighborhoods, and business districts,” according to the suit.

Read the entire article here

Read the full ACLU suit here

Read more Breaking News here

 

Harvard Will Hold School’s First Ever Black Commencement

By Taryn Finley

Huffington Post Black Voices

(Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images)

Black students at Harvard University are getting their kente cloth stoles ready for a special graduation ceremony: an all-black commencement.

Two days before the general university graduation, black students will celebrate the obstacles they’ve overcome and the accomplishments they’ve made despite racial issues they face at their Ivy League. More than 170 students and 530 guests have confirmed their attendance to the May 23 celebration, according to The Boston Globe.

Though black students have held separate graduations at predominantly white institutions before, Black Commencement 2017 will be Harvard’s first university-wide graduation ceremony honoring students of the African diaspora. Student organizers raised more than $27,000 to pay for the ceremony and reception. Though this year’s celebration includes mostly graduate students, organizers hope to expand the event to include undergraduates next year.

At a time when students are pressuring Harvard to reckon with its role in slavery and address current racial issues on campus, they see a separate ceremony as a way to reaffirm and uplift their community.

Read the entire article here

Read more Breaking News here

 

New Report Reveals Racial Bias In California’s Traffic Court System

By Tanasia Kenney

Atlanta Black Star

California’s failure-to-pay policy for traffic tickets has resulted in over 4 million suspended drivers’ licenses in recent years. (Photo by RichLegg/Getty Images)

California’s traffic fines are some of the steepest in the country, and a new report shows that the state’s current policies for those unable to pay are disproportionately affecting Blacks and Latinos.

The report, published by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights last week, covers the most recent information on California’s traffic court system and highlights how its policies unfairly impact residents of low-income, nonwhite communities.

The consequences are often harsher for Californians who can’t afford to pay their traffic fines, including license suspension, arrest, jail time, wage garnishment, towing of their vehicles and even job loss, according to the report. In the end, affected drivers are forced to ante up even more cash just for being poor. Meanwhile, those who can afford to pay are let off with a slap on the wrist for the same minor traffic offenses.

“In Bay Area counties, the burden of the current policies fall heavily on people of color,” wrote authors of the new LCCR study, “Paying More for Being Poor: Bias and Disparity in California’s Traffic Court System. “African-American residents are four-to-16 times more likely to be booked into jail on a failure-to-pay-related charge. This rate is higher than the [disproportion] found in initial traffic stops.

Read the entire article here

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Betsy DeVos To Deliver Commencement Speech At Historically Black University

By: Taryn Finley

Taryn Finley reports in a recent article published in Huff Post Black Voices that “U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is set to deliver the commencement speech at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida, the school announced on Monday.”

Finley quotes Preident Edison O. Jackson’s statement in a press release:

“The legacy of Dr. Bethune is that she was not constrained by political ideology, but worked across all parties to support B-CU.”

Finley also shares BCU graduate Domininik Whitehead’s Change.org petition to prevent DeVos from speaking at the ceremony that is to be held May 10th:

“Having DeVos speak at the commencement ceremony is an insult to the BCU graduating class, students, alumni, family, friends, and Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune’s legacy. We, the proud alumni of Bethune-Cookman University, do not want Betsy DeVos to have a seat at our table. Please rescind her invitation to speak at the graduation ceremony.”

According to Finley, the petition has more than 4,500 signatures as of Tuesday morning, more than five-hundred short of the goal.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images

Read the full article here
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