Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families


CHP Officer Accused In Beating Of Grandmother Identified In Federal Lawsuit

Here's an update on the California Highway Patrol officer who pummeled the African American woman a couple of weeks ago.

From the local CBS news station in Los Angeles.

New details are emerging in the story of the CHP officer who was caught on cell phone video repeatedly punching a homeless woman in the face.

The incident occurred on July 1 on an on-ramp of the 10 Freeway.


Pinnock, 51, says that the defendant approached her and “addressed her by her name” having had contact with him on prior occasions.

She said she became frightened by him as he was “arrogant acting with me,” her suit alleges.

Pinnock said she left the area and heard no commands from the officer. She said she was then violently thrown to the ground and “bamming me in my temples with all the strength he had.”

She also said the officer purposely ripped her dress to expose her bare buttocks to drivers going by on the freeway.

Her complaint also says she continues to fear the officer — or his colleagues — will try to do her harm.



Pregnant woman apparently put in chokehold by NYPD cop during dispute over illegal grilling

Police are investigating whether a cop put a seven-months-pregnant woman in a chokehold while busting her for illegal grilling in Brooklyn — an incident caught on film.

Photos released Monday by an East New York advocacy group show Rosan Miller, 27, struggling with a cop who appears to have his arm around her neck.

The NYPD prohibits the use of chokeholds.

Officers went to the home over the weekend because Miller was grilling on a public sidewalk in violation of local law, cops said. But a melee broke out that ended with her, her brother and husband all in handcuffs.

Read more at the New York Daily News.

A Pregnant Woman Says the Choke-hold was Used By Cops to stop a BBQ at her East NY Brooklyn home this past Saturday that ended with her and husband injured and arrested. Posted July 28, 2014. New York Daily News.


What President Obama (among many others) gets wrong about ‘acting white’

The following excerpts are from an article in yesterday's Washington Post. Written by Nia Malika Henderson, it challenges the continuing myth that suggests African American children and families don't value high levels of education, nor academic achievement and excellence.

Please check out the article, share it with friends, review the research referenced in the article, and then challenge people in your circles who continue to push this unsupported argument.

At best, this myth reflects a misunderstood social interplay between African American children trying to make sense of (and explain) the social realities of schooling for African American children.

At worst, this myth reflects a deliberate attempt to deflect any meaningful efforts to promote school transformation policies and practices that affirm and develop the brilliance in our young children.

Neither is acceptable, and both stand in the way of progress for our children and families.

When President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama speak to an audience of African Americans, particularly students, they invariably mention the trope of  “acting white.”  That is the notion that one impediment to black students’ success is the belief in some black communities that academic achievement is synonymous with whiteness, and therefore devalued.


The concept of “acting white” gained traction with a 1986 research paper called “Black students school success: Coping with the “burden of  acting white’”  by Signithia Fordham and John Ogbu that was based on the study of a predominantly black Washington, D.C. public school.

Fordham and Ogbu concluded that blacks created an “oppositional cultural identity,” because of their historical oppression at the hands of white Americans, and thereby had come to devalue whatever they associated with whiteness, including social markers like academic achievement and speech patterns.


But is there a problem with the Obamas’ focus on “acting white” as an explanation for how black student’s perceive academic success and the achievements of their peers?

Over the last 20 years, in several studies, the original theory has been largely debunked.


And that’s the part that the Obamas leave out in their constant rehashing of the idea of “acting white.”  Their rhetoric, while seen as refreshing and bold by some, actually seems to confirm a stereotype, that somehow African Americans don’t value academic achievement, even though history and the Obamas’ own lives, not to mention the millions of other black kids who will go off to college in the fall, suggest just the opposite.

A personal aside:  I mentor a young woman who recently graduated from an all-black D.C. charter high school, in which almost every graduate goes off to college. The valedictorian of her class is a young man who wrangled with his parents as graduation approached over a problem–whether to accept a full ride to Yale or Stanford.

During the commencement ceremony, each student who got a scholarship stood up as a list of the awards and the total dollar amount was read out loud.  The valedictorian’s list was by far the longest with the highest total–$1.17 million to be exact.  And as the school official read that long list, the crowd — teachers and administrators, parents and mentors and brothers and sisters and friends of the graduates — began to stand and cheer.  His ovation was by far the loudest and longest.


Prentice Powell, Good Fathers and Detrimental Child ‘Support’ Policies

I just came across this clip via one of the facebook posts of the Office of African American Male Achievement at the Oakland Unified School District. I encourage you to visit and find some way to support their work, if and however you're able.

This is brother Prentice Powell, a spoken word artist based in Oakland, California, talking about the congratulatory praise he receives for being "a good father", largely from people who've never met him, only see the posts he shares via facebook and have no idea about his blocked attempts to spend more time with his son.

Through all of the talk about African American fathers, there's so little acknowledgement and exploration of the real structural barriers that stand in the way of men spending more time with their children. These structural barriers include courts, judges, attorneys, child support enforcement officials, among others, who don't see beyond the stereotypes of "absent fathers", and don't understand the value of a father's physical presence in his child's life.

This clip is just under 5 minutes, and is worth talking about with fathers and mothers you know, and even (older) children who have been separated from one of their parents because of unfair court orders and this nation's unjust mass incarceration practices.

I don't care if any of you all clap... I just want my praise, my kudos, my air, my earth, my water, my drive, my moon, my son, my baby, my motivation, MY SON! I just want my chance! I just want my son... I want my son, back!


Wrongful Convictions: The Central Park Five and Beyond

The 2-minute video below was featured in the article I linked to in the previous post.  It highlights seven notable exoneration cases, evidence of the long-standing flaws of our nation's criminal justice and juvenile justice systems.

In every one of these cases, these were individuals who belonged to families... individuals whose parents and children and other relatives cared about them, and whose lives were also forever changed.

Five men wrongly convicted and imprisoned in the 1989 beating and rape of a Central Park jogger have agreed to settle with New York City for about $40 million. The proposed settlement would give the "Central Park Five" about $1 million for each year of imprisonment. Here are seven other notable exoneration cases.


Man exonerated in 1982 D.C. killing; DNA reveals FBI error in conviction

A D.C. Superior Court judge concluded Monday that DNA evidence exonerates a man who spent 26 years in prison in the 1982 killing of a Washington woman.

Kevin Martin’s case marks the fifth time in as many years that federal prosecutors in the District have acknowledged that errors by an elite FBI forensic unit had led to a conviction that should be overturned.

U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. joined defense calls to vacate Martin’s conviction and declare him innocent of the attack on Ursula C. Brown. Machen cited DNA evidence that contradicts a previous finding by forensic experts linking Martin to a hair collected at the crime scene.

Martin, who had long professed his innocence in the killing, left the D.C. courthouse with his name cleared. He was paroled in 2009 and lives in San Francisco.

“I am free at last. I am humbled. I never gave up,” Martin said, hugging and high-fiving his attorneys. Martin’s younger sister, his fiancee, his 6-year-old niece and other family members gathered around.

Read more at The Washington Post.


The Case Against the Prison State: From ‘Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’

From Last Week Tonight with John Oliver...  Here's a relatively short summary of the immoral and unsustainable reality of prisons and mass incarceration in the United States.

Of course, the reality is far worse and more extreme than this short overview can really tap into.

Some of the major themes:

  • Extreme rates of incarceration in the United States
  • Extreme racial disparities
  • Inhumane conditions of solitary confinement
  • Immoral and financially unsustainable movement toward private prisons
  • Unacceptable track record of private prison corporations
  • Inadequate health and medical practices within prisons
  • Ineffective "corrections" function, and the resulting high rates of recidivism

Published on July 20, 2014


Attorney-activist Bryan Stevenson & the Movement to End Mass Incarceration – On the Tavis Smiley Show

Bryan Stevenson appeared on the Tavis Smiley show this past week, discussing the continuing - and growing - movement to undo this nation's still-out-of-control prison state. What's most clear is that the current reality is unsustainable. While many of us are clear that this nation's criminal justice policies and practices are largely morally bankrupt, a growing number of legislators at least recognize that these policies make little to no financial sense.

One way or another, we have to keep pushing legislators and other policymakers to more aggressively undo these unjust policies.

The Harvard-trained lawyer, who’s won exonerations for death row inmates, examines the issue of excessive sentencing.  --  Founder and executive director of the Alabama-based Equal Justice Initiative—a private, nonprofit organization that provides legal representation to indigent defendants and prisoners—Bryan Stevenson gained national acclaim for his work challenging bias against the poor and people of color in the criminal justice system. He's a graduate of Harvard Law School and the Harvard School of Government and has argued five times before the U.S. Supreme Court. The recipient of numerous awards, including the MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant, he's on the faculty of New York University School of Law and has written extensively on criminal justice, capital punishment and civil rights issues.



Pharoahe Monch f/ Denaun Porter – Haile Selassie Karate

"I just want to feed my people, so misunderstood.

Struggling... hustling... trying to make it right.

I just want to spread the light to help us free our minds."

--  Pharoahe Monch,  Haile Selassie Karate


The Roots’ Questlove & black thought LIVE: The Ideas and Work Behind the Music

I always appreciate the thoughtfulness and reflection on what they do, how they do it, as well as why.

Coming from a tradition of great music and musicians, and committed to advancing that same tradition:

Questlove and Black Thought are the two original members of the Legendary Roots Crew. They join HuffPost Live to discuss The Roots' new album, their day job at "The Tonight Show," performing with Dave Chappelle and a new partnership with Kellogg's.

Originally aired on June 25, 2014

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