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When the past is present…

 

Racist Jokes About This Photo Got People Fired and Sparked the Hashtag #HisNameIsCayden

By Dian Ozemebhoya Eromosele, The Root

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There is a man who goes by the name of Geris Hilton on Facebook (reportedly not his real name) who used to have a job.

“Hilton” used to work at Polaris Marketing Group, according to AtlantaBlackStar, but his employment status changed after he posted a photo on Facebook Sept. 16.

In the photo, Hilton was taking a selfie at work, alongside a little cute black boy who is the son of one of his now-former co-workers—a dandy woman by the name of Sydney.

All was seemingly fine, until Hilton and his friends started making racist jokes about the photo in the comments section on Facebook, insinuating that the little boy, whose name is Cayden, was a slave, and Hilton the slave master.

The photo has made its way around the Internet. As you guessed it, pink slips are flying and heads are rolling because of the racist shenanigans afoot in the photo’s comments section.

“I didn’t know you were a slave owner,” a poster by the name of Emily Irene Red reportedly said. According to the tweet below, she has since been fired. Casualty No. 1…

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The president of Polaris Marketing Group posted a note on Facebook announcing that an employee—the man behind the Hilton Facebook profile, according to AtlantaBlackStar—had been terminated and denouncing the disgusting comments he and his friends made about the little boy…

Sydney Jade, Cayden’s mother, got on social media to thank all of the people who spread the news about the inappropriate photo. She created the hashtag #HisNameIsCayden to make the statement that her little boy is a person and shouldn’t be objectified or trivialized as the butt of a racist joke…

This’ll teach people to keep their lack of home training to themselves and not bring it out into the public sphere.

 

 

 

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Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Reflects On The Origins Of The Movement

From Oscar Grant to Trayvon Martin to Ferguson, the movement has steadily grown in prominence over the past two years.

By , The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — In July 2013, Opal Tometi walked out of a New York movie theater. She had just finished watching Fruitvale Station, a film documenting the lead-up to Oscar Grant’s death at the hands of a police officer in 2009. …

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 14: (L-R) Black Lives Matter Co-Founders Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi at the The New York Women's Foundation. May 2015. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for The New York Women's Foundation)

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 14: (L-R) Black Lives Matter Co-Founders Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi at the The New York Women’s Foundation. May 2015. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for The New York Women’s Foundation)

That is when she discovered that George Zimmerman, who had been charged in the murder of 18-year-old Trayvon Martin, had been acquitted. “I remember sitting on the street corner and getting a slew of text messages, tweets [from] folks who were frantic,” Tometi, who went on to co-found Black Lives Matter, said Wednesday…. 

“I remember in that moment, just sitting with the fact that everybody knew what took place,” Tometi continued. “And despite all the knowledge, despite the testimonies, despite all of that, Trayvon Martin was put on trial for his own death … I was struck with the fact that my younger brother — who was 14 at the time — could have been Trayvon.”

After hearing the news, Tometi was inspired to build a movement to prevent this from happening again. She read a Facebook post by Alicia Garza arguing that the anger people felt was justified and that “black lives matter.” Inspired by Garza’s post, Patrisse Cullors put a hashtag on that crucial phrase and began posting it on social media….

“Beyond just our walls, we need this to actually be very public,” Tometi recalled telling the other two, who would become her co-founders. “We need to have other people interact with this message and also share the work that they’re doing to ensure black lives matter. And how can we, as a collective … make sure that we are coordinated and uplifting a message that will ensure that all of our black lives would matter?”

Using a controversial tactic , the Black Lives Matter movement disrupted the speech of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in August 2015. (Photo: Alex Garland)

Using a controversial tactic , the Black Lives Matter movement disrupted the speech of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in August 2015. (Photo: Alex Garland)

“We created #BlackLivesMatter. We created a platform,” she continued. “We used our social media presence online in order to forward a conversation about what is taking place in black communities … This was actually a racial justice project for black people.”

The movement gained significant traction after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. …Asked about the group’s goals, philosophies and tactics — mainly activists disrupting speeches by presidential hopefuls — Tometi said Black Lives Matter is open to a variety of strategies for addressing systemic racism, and doesn’t claim that one tactic is more effective than another.

“You have a duty in this moment in history to take action and stand on the side of people who have been oppressed for generations … Whatever means you need to take, we believe that folks should do that,” she said…Tometi also addressed the allegation that Black Lives Matter is provoking violence. …“When we say black lives matter, we’re not saying that any other life doesn’t matter.

 

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Is This the End of the 2nd Reconstruction?

By Henry Louis Gates Jr., The Root

People take part in a rally on April 29, 2015, at Union Square in New York City, held in solidarity with demonstrators in Baltimore demanding justice for Freddie Gray, who died of severe spinal injuries sustained in police custody. (Photo by EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

People take part in a rally on April 29, 2015, at Union Square in New York City, held in solidarity with demonstrators in Baltimore demanding justice for Freddie Gray, who died of severe spinal injuries sustained in police custody.
(Photo by EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

This has been a bruising time for the African-American community—as bruising as any in recent memory. The tragic deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney and the other eight victims in Charleston, S.C.—as well as others too numerous to name, but whose lives and sacrifices matter no less—shocked us all. Legions of young activists have taken to marching, tweeting, advocating and protesting in order, simply, to save lives that matter so deeply. As were so many who came before, they have been called to action by the grueling inequalities that seem to grow more vivid every day, despite the significant and stunning advances that we as a people have experienced—inequalities in education, wealth, justice, health, political representation and the safety of day-to-day living.

My concern is that the end of the Second Reconstruction is upon us now, or that there are too many in power who are trying to achieve that pernicious end. W.E.B. Du Bois said of the beginning and end of the first Reconstruction, “The slave went free; stood a brief moment in the sun; then moved back again toward slavery. The whole weight of America was thrown to color caste. The colored world went down. … A new slavery arose.”

Following the first Reconstruction—that decade after the Civil War in which the Union was to become whole again, the slave was to become free and property was to become citizen—the economic relation of slave to master was essentially reconstituted through sharecropping and disenfranchisement mounted mischievously in fits and starts, and then confirmed and maintained as the law of the land…

The legacy of the ending of Reconstruction, the redemption of the Confederacy, was a debilitating blow to the status of the newly freed slaves and their descendants: sharecropping, convict lease (both actually forms of neo-slavery), Jim Crow and lynch laws, poll taxes and literacy tests, and the scandalous sanctioning of separate but equal as the law of the land by the U.S. Supreme Court. These are just some of the items in the catalog of horrors that kept the majority of black people systematically separate and decidedly unequal throughout the first half of the 20th century…

 

 

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Former officer files suit claiming discrimination in arrest by fellow officers

By Katie Mulvaney, the Providence Journal

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A former Providence police officer is accusing fellow officers and the state police of assaulting him and his son and violating their rights by placing them under arrest due to the color of their skin during a violent encounter in 2012.

Christopher Owens, who served on the force for 10-plus years, and his son Tyler are seeking $1 million in a lawsuit filed this week in U.S. District Court.

Christopher Owens, serving as a school resource officer in 2008.

Christopher Owens, serving as a school resource officer in 2008.

According to the lawsuit, Christopher and Tyler Owens, who are African American, were doing yard work on Sept. 19, 2012, when they heard sirens and saw a tow truck driven by Sean Sparfven hit a car on their street. At the time, Sparfven was fleeing the police who suspected him of dealing in stolen vehicles, and he had led officers on a high-speed chase from North Providence.

Christopher Owens, who had worked as a school resource officer at Hope High School, went to assist the woman driving the car that Sparfven had struck. Owens then pursued Sparfven as he attempted run away and tackled him in what turned into a violent struggle. Providence officers, some of whom Owens worked with or attended academy with, arrived along with state police and others.

According to the lawsuit, Owens was then assaulted, handcuffed and placed in the back of a cruiser by Providence officers Martin A. Rawnsley and Frank Furtado, Lt. Oscar Perez and state police Detective Mark McGarrity, despite repeatedly identifying himself as a Providence police officer.

Christopher Owens suffered multiple injuries and received injured in the line of duty benefits. He has been approved by the Retirement Board for a disability pension. He never returned to work.

The lawsuit alleges that although Owens single-handedly apprehended Sparvfen while putting himself in grave danger, he and his son were treated as criminals. “They were assaulted, arrested, handcuffed and placed in the rear of police cars due to the color of their skin and because they are African Americans. One officer remarked that all he saw was a big black guy,” the suit says.

The suit also asserts that some of the officers who arrived on the scene later tried to deny that they participated or were even there. The Providence Police Department acknowledged that the treatment of Owens and his son was motivated by their race, the suit says…

The lawsuit alleges that the city and the department make a practice of providing inadequate training to officers regarding the use of force, preventing racial discrimination and bias, preventing abuse of authority, and recognizing, avoiding and otherwise safeguarding against racial stereotypes and profiling, so as to avoid the misidentification of off-duty and plainclothes African American police officers by other officers, the suit says.

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A White Artist Wrote ‘Black Lives Matter’ 2,000 Times. But His Mural Almost Said ‘All Lives Matter.’

By Kate Abbey-Lambertz, Huffington Post

The mural commissioned by Detroit’s N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art. Huffington Post

The mural commissioned by Detroit’s N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art. (Huffington Post)

Artist Renda Writer wrote “Black Lives Matter” about 2,000 times last week on a wall in Detroit, the white text in his handwriting appearing both tiny, streaming over the black background, and huge, shouting its message to anyone who walks by.

Writer, a white painter and poet from Miami, was commissioned by Detroit’s N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art to create the mural. He worked on the piece for about 80 hours and finished earlier this week.

Gallery owner George N’Namdi said he wanted to spark dialogue and pay homage to the Black Lives Matter movement, which formed in response to police shootings of young black men and addresses racial inequality more broadly. But initially, he and the artist discussed incorporating the phrase “Lives Matter” or “All Lives Matter.”

Though the obvious meaning of “all lives matter” doesn’t contradict the assertion that black lives matter, some say changing the focus to “all lives” undermines the BLM movement and ignores its message that society doesn’t value black and white lives equally.

Artist and poet, Writer, with N'Nandi Gallery owner George N'Nandi. (N'nandi Center for Contemporary Art)

Artist and poet, Writer, with N’Nandi Gallery owner George N’Nandi. (N’nandi Center for Contemporary Art)

“All Lives Matter” has been used to criticize the movement’s tactics, appearing in Twitter fights, political speeches and more destructive scenarios. In July, a mural in Ottawa, Canada dedicated to a black woman who died in police custody was defaced, with the words “All Lives Matter” spray painted over her face. A Maryland church’s Black Lives Matter sign was vandalized twice this summer, with someone cutting out the first word.

“‘All Lives Matter’ really is a way of co-opting the Black Lives Matter movement,” N’Namdi told The Huffington Post. N’Namdi, who is black, ultimately decided that if Renda Writer included the words “All Lives Matter,” it would take away from the mural’s message.

“It really dawned on me, we’re talking about a movement here, we’re not talking about just a slogan,” N’Namdi continued. “We’re talking about something we’re trying to change, and once you start diluting the movement and making it ‘All Lives Matter’ … What issue is ‘All Lives Matter’ confronting? None.”

“I think ‘Black Lives Matter’ is a message of love,” he [Writer] said. “This particular race needs a little more attention, a little more love.”

Read the full article here.

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Why It Isn’t Possible For Black Americans To Appropriate African Culture

By Julia Craven, Politics Reporter, The Huffington Post

(Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images) Parade participants march with a tribal themed group wearing colorful face paint. The 46th Annual African-American Day Parade was held in Harlem; the spectators, politicians and prominent members of Harlem's black community celebrated the historically-rich NYC community of those from different African heritages.

(Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Parade participants march with a tribal themed group wearing colorful face paint. The 46th Annual African-American Day Parade was held in Harlem; the spectators, politicians and prominent members of Harlem’s black community celebrated the historically-rich NYC community of those from different African heritages.

Columbus Fortune was the name given to my great-great grandmother’s grandfather. I only know this because my Nana is a stickler for attempting to compose family trees. I say “attempting” because, with the exception of what has been told to us, it is difficult to recount an undocumented lineage.

My grandfather was an enslaved African. He was 18 when slavery was abolished in the United States and I don’t know if he knew his mother, his father, his brothers, his sisters or his grandparents. I do not know if he knew what tribe he hailed from.

For black Americans, tracing our lineages back to their African origins is almost impossible (unless we use DNA testing). African enslavement left us devoid of a way to define ourselves. It severed familial ties and deprived us of any viable opportunity to reclaim them. When we go looking for our ancestors and their culture, we’re chasing shadows.

This is why it hurts when native Africans criticize black American attempts to regain a lost portion of ourselves. Writer Zipporah Gene, who identifies as both British and Nigerian, wrote a post earlier this month claiming that black Americans can appropriate African culture — since we are American — by wearing tribal garb to be “trendy.” Backlash to her piece led her to write an equally obtuse follow-up declaring that, based on her own experiences, it is unnecessary for black people to showcase their Africanness…

It is understandable why an African woman might look at a picture of Afropunk’s New York festival attendees, recoil and believe her culture is being used as a costume (though The Root pointed out that, because of New York’s diversity, whether or not the people in the photo are African-American or African immigrants cannot be determined). But cultural appropriation requires a degree of economic and political privilege black Americans simply do not have. We cannot oppress Africans, shame their cultures, claim it for ourselves and then decide it’s trendy. Even if we could, that’s certainly not what’s happening here, by any stretch of the imagination…

 

Read the full article here.

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Jeb Bush, ‘Free Stuff’ and Black Folks

By Charles M. Blow, the New York Times

Jeb_BushAt a campaign event in South Carolina on Thursday, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush was asked how he planned to include black people in his campaign and get them to vote for him.

Bush responded, “Our message is one of hope and aspiration.” But he didn’t stop there. He continued: “It isn’t one of division and get in line and we’ll take care of you with free stuff. Our message is one that is uplifting — that says you can achieve earned success.”

…Not only is there a supreme irony in this racial condescension that casts black people, whose free labor helped establish the prosperity of this country and who were systematically excluded from the full benefits of that prosperity for generations, as leeches only desirous of “free stuff,” this line of reasoning also infantilizes black thought and consciousness and presents an I-know-best-what-ails-you paternalism about black progress.

One of the houses in the Bush family compound in Maine.

One of the houses in the Bush family compound in Maine.

It echoes the trope about lazy “welfare queens,” although as a report last year from the Congressional Research Service makes clear: “Historically, nonwhite women had a higher labor force participation rate than did white women. This especially held true for married women.”

Furthermore, although blacks are disproportionately the recipients of programs likes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a 2013 report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that most households with at least one working-age, non-disabled adult receiving the benefit work, and of those with families, “almost 90 percent work in the prior or subsequent year.”

Can't survive on min wageThe problem isn’t refusal to work, but inability to find work that is stable and pays a living wage, thereby pushing them out of need and eligibility.

Bush’s comment also hints at the role of black men without acknowledging the disastrous toll racially skewed patterns of mass incarceration have taken on the fortunes of black families by disproportionately ensnaring black men.

All history and context are cast aside in support of a specious argument: That the black community is plagued by pathological dependence and a chronic, self-defeating posture of victimization…

Black folk don’t want “free stuff” as much as the fulfillment of the promise of freedom: true equality of access, opportunity and justice. Bush — and America — would do well to consider that.

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Art Student Hangs ‘Black Only’ And ‘White Only’ Signs Around University Campus

By Priscilla Frank, Arts Writer, The Huffington Post

 

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On Wednesday, Sept. 16, students of the University of Buffalo were shocked to find “White Only” and “Black Only” signs hung near campus bathrooms. Students were sickened and traumatized by the apparent act of racism; by 1 p.m., the police had received 11 phone calls regarding the signage.

It was later revealed, however, that the signs reminiscent of the Jim Crow era were put on display by graduate fine arts student Ashley Powell, who is black, as part of an art project.

Before Powell admitted to hanging the signs at a Black Student Union (BSU) meeting on Wednesday night, students and faculty were left wondering about the source of the racist designations. “We didn’t know it was an art project, it could’ve been an act of terrorism,” a student explained to The Spectrum, the independent campus newspaper.

When Powell revealed that she was behind the act, a project for her “Installation: Urban Spaces” class, which requires students to install art in a public space, many students stormed out of the BSU assembly, some in tears. “It brought up feelings of a past that our generation has never seen, which I think is why it was so shocking for us to see,” Micah Oliver, president of the BSU, told ABC.

whitesonlyAs an artist, I respect you as an artist,” said student Jefry Taveras in the BSU meeting. “But you should know racism isn’t art, it’s a reality and traumatizing.”

In a statement to The Spectrum, Powell explained the reasoning behind her installation, which addresses issues of non-white suffering and white privilege. “I apologize for the extreme trauma, fear, and actual hurt and pain these signs brought about,” she wrote. “I apologize if you were hurt, but I do not apologize for what I did.”

She went on to expand upon the motivations behind the project, which was intended to spark outrage and discomfort in viewers.

“My art practice is not an act of self-policing meant to hide my rage. Instead, it uses pain, narrative, and trauma as a medium of expression and as grounds for arguing a need for change in the first place. I understand that I forced people to feel pain that they otherwise would not have had to deal with in this magnitude. But I ask, should non-white people not express or confront their trauma? Should we be content with not having to confront that pain? We know it exists, and it often causes many of us immediate discomfort. Should we not be in a state of crushing discomfort?

These signs made you feel discomfort. They are tangible objects that forced you to revisit your past, to confront your present, and to recognize here and now the underlying social structures that are directly responsible for your pain and suffering. This project makes forceful what has been easy for you to ignore.”

Read Powell’s statement in full here

 

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Richard Sherman Says He Supports Black Lives Matter, But ‘Black-On-Black’ Crime Needs To Stop First

By Matt Ferner, National Reporter, The Huffington Post

Seattle Seahawks’ star cornerback Richard Sherman says he supports the Black Lives Matter movement, but believes that the issue of “black-on-black” crime needs to be resolved first.

Sherman made the impromptu remarks before reporters Wednesday in response to a controversial website comment about the Black Lives Matter movement that many had incorrectly attributed to him. And while Sherman denied that he wrote the post Wednesday, he did take several minutes to offer a heartfelt statement on his thoughts regarding Black Lives Matter and police-community relations in the inner-city.

“As a black man I do understand that black lives matter,” Sherman said. “I stand for that, I believe in that wholeheartedly. I also think there’s a way to go about things and there’s a way to do things.”

Sherman, a Stanford graduate who was born and raised in Compton, California, suggested that the black community needs to address “internal” issues like “black-on-black crime” before police are blamed. He shared a personal story from his past about a “best friend” who, Sherman says, was killed by two 35-year-old black men…
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“If black lives matter, then they should matter all the time,” Sherman said.

The concept of black-on-black crime is a controversial one. And while it has existed in American culture for decades, Jamelle Bouie detailed in The Daily Beast that there is a huge problem with the phenomena: It does not actually exist. The issue of black-on-black crime is no more real than the one of “white-on-white crime.” Bouie writes:

Yes, from 1976 to 2005, 94 percent of black victims were killed by black offenders, but that racial exclusivity was also true for white victims of violent crime—86 percent were killed by white offenders. Indeed, for the large majority of crimes, you’ll find that victims and offenders share a racial identity, or have some prior relationship to each other.

 

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Ta-Nehisi Coates To Write New Black Panther Comic Book Series For Marvel

By Matt Ferner, the Huffington Post

Ta-Nehisi Coates will be writing a new Black Panther comic book series for Marvel, The New York Times announced Tuesday.

Cover art for the first issue of the upcoming Black Panther comics series

Cover art for the first issue of the upcoming Black Panther series

Coates, 39, a national correspondent at The Atlantic, National Book Award nominee, and author of the recent New York Times bestselling book Between The World And Me, is one of the most thoughtful and provocative writers about the African-American experience, America’s long struggle with racism and issues of social and criminal justice. He’s also a Marvel Comics superfan and living encyclopedia on the subject.

“How often do you find a literary voice as singular and powerful as Ta-Nehisi Coates, who also happens to be a hardcore fan of the Marvel mythology?” Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso told The Huffington Post about the announcement. “Through comic books’ first and greatest black super hero, and the fictional kingdom over which he presides, Ta-Nehisi will shed unique insight into the world in which we live.”…

Coates told the Times that the Marvel universe was “an intimate part” of both his childhood and adulthood.

“It was mostly through pop culture, through hip-hop, through Dungeons & Dragons and comic books that I acquired much of my vocabulary,” Coates said.

Black Panther, the first black superhero, was created in 1966 by Marvel comics legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby…

The storyline to be written by Coates is titled “A Nation Under Our Feet.” It’s inspired by Steven Hahn’s book of the same title

New and more diverse characters are becoming a trend at Marvel. Recently Michael B. Jordan stepped

Author Ta-Nehisi Coates

Author Ta-Nehisi Coates

into the role of the Human Torch in the latest Fantastic Four reboot. Earlier this year Marvel reintroduced their classic Thor hero as a female. A black teenage girl is the new “Moon Boy” in Marvel classic Devil Dinosaur. There’s also a new black-Hispanic Spider-Man and a new Pakastani-American Muslim Ms. Marvel.

“The Marvel Universe is at its best when it reflects the world outside your window — and that world looks different in 2015 than it did in 1963,” Alonso told HuffPost in an earlier interview

Read the full article here.

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