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


Leela James – Fall For You

Beautiful in every way...


Legacy of Racism & White Privilege – John Stewart Challenges Bill O’Reilly and the Myth of American Meritocracy

Fox News host and "Killing Patton" author Bill O'Reilly insists that the American Dream is available to anyone who is honest, gets educated and works hard, regardless of race. In this contentious clip, John Stewart challenges both the man and this long discredited idea, as he pushes Bill O'Reilly to acknowledge his own (and his family's) white privilege.

From Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Jazz vocalist Al Jarreau

An interview with Al Jarreau... A great jazz musician, and a wise elder, reflecting on the creative musical process, honoring those who we care about who have moved on before us into the ancestral realm, and our collective duty to continue the struggle on behalf of our people.

Jarreau tells why he pays tribute to the artistry of George Duke with his CD, “My Old Friend.”

Multiple Grammy winner Al Jarreau has won the Recording Academy's highest honor in three different categories (jazz, pop and R&B). However, music wasn't always the major force in his life. He excelled in sports and earned a master's degree in vocational rehabilitation. The Wisconsin native began a career as a counselor in San Francisco, but ultimately gave in to his passion for performing, getting his start by moonlighting with a jazz trio led by the late George Duke—to whom he pays tribute with his latest CD, "My Old Friend." Described by Time as "the greatest jazz singer alive," Jarreau tours extensively and is a master in front of a live audience, with his sextet and in symphony shows.


Support FERGUSON OCTOBER – Every supportive action you take will help!

Everyone can make a difference! Visit Ferguson October to learn more, and to get updates on activities and steps we can all take to push for change.



St. Louis Teen Vonderrick Myers Killed By Off-Duty Cop – Earlier Tonight

There are conflicting reports about the circumstances, but what we know is that an 18-year old African American child, Vonderrick Myers Jr., was killed by an off-duty St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department officer working security in the Shaw area of south St. Louis.

Police officials are reporting that Myers fired on the officer, but witnesses on the scene said Myers was unarmed, and only had a sandwich in his hand. At least two witnesses said the officer tased Myers, and then proceeded to shoot him at least 16 times. They said Myers and three others were returning from a store directly across the street when the off-duty officer - serving as a security guard at the time - approached the group in his car.

Interestingly, several of the eyewitnesses said they had not been approached by any law enforcement officials to get their statements about what they witnessed. And the cops were out there for several hours after the killing, before taking the yellow tape down and opening up the street to the hundreds of protesters who gathered nearby.

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

An off-duty city officer fatally shot a man who opened fire on him Wednesday night, police said.

Relatives who came to the scene, however, said the man had been unarmed. They identified the victim as Vonderrick Myers Jr., 18.

Police said the uniformed officer involved was working a secondary job for a private security company when he encountered four pedestrians in the 4100 block of Shaw Boulevard and stopped to talk with them at about 7:30 p.m.

The four fled and the officer chased one, Assistant Chief Alfred Adkins said.

The man the officer was chasing jumped from some bushes and struggled with the officer, Adkins said. The man then pulled a gun and fired at the officer, Adkins said. The officer returned fire and fatally shot the man.

The officer was not injured and a gun was recovered from the scene, police said.

The officer, 32, is a six-year veteran of the police department, Adkins said.

But in the same article, it's clear that multiple descriptions of what happened are emerging...

Teyonna Myers, 23, of Florissant, said Myers was her cousin.

“He was unarmed,” Teyonna Myers said. “He had a sandwich in his hand, and they thought it was a gun. It’s like Michael Brown all over again.

Jackie Williams, 47, said Myers was his nephew and lived with him in the 4200 block of Castleman, near the shooting scene. He said he had talked to several people who had been with his nephew or saw the shooting.

“My nephew was coming out of a store from purchasing a sandwich. Security was supposedly searching for someone else. They Tased him,” Williams said. “I don’t know how this happened but they went off and shot him 16 times. That’s outright murder.”

It should be noted that the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department had already tweeted its account of what happened within less than two hours of Myers being killed.

I'm sure we'll hear more in the coming hours, days and weeks. In the meantime, folks in the St. Louis area directly, and all of us who care about the lives and well-being of Black children and families, have yet another killing of a Black person at the hands of Missouri law enforcement.

One can only wonder what's going to happen with any attempts to get this officer prosecuted, particularly given the African American community's track-record and current experiences with the St. Louis County prosecutor's office.

Even greater urgency as we approach this weekend's planned awareness-raising, demonstration and protest activities in St. Louis, Ferguson October.

Black lives absolutely matter!


Police Pepper Spray North Carolina Teen Inside His Own Home, Mistaken for Burglar

Yet another example of a so-called concerned citizen calling the police on a Black person, because they assume they're either out-of-place, involved in some sort of criminal activity, or a combination of both. The start of this chain of events reminds me of those leading up to the August shooting of John Crawford at the Ohio Walmart store.

At some point, individuals in the larger society must also be held accountable - in addition to over-zealous law enforcement officials - for the ways in which Black males and females are profiled, and the harm that comes from their assumptions, stereotypes, etc.

I'm glad DeShawn wasn't harmed any worse than he was, although the effect of this sort of experience will stay with him for many years to come.

The parents of a Wake County high school student are outraged that police pepper-sprayed him inside their home after a neighbor mistook him for an intruder.

It happened Monday afternoon on England Avenue in Fuquay-Varina.

Ricky and Stacy Tyler have fostered 18-year-old DeShawn Currie for about a year. The Tylers, their three young children and DeShawn moved to Fuquay-Varina in July. They said while they're still getting to know their neighbors, it's hurtful someone would assume DeShawn was a burglar just for going about his normal routine of walking home after school.

"He's my baby boy just as much as my other three children are," said Stacy.

She left the side door to their home unlocked Monday for DeShawn, who was coming home early from school.

Fuquay-Varina police said when a neighbor saw DeShawn walk in; they called 911 to report a break-in. Soon, three officers were inside the house, all to DeShawn's surprise.

"They was like, 'Put your hands on the door,'" said DeShawn. "I was like, 'For what? This is my house.' I was like, 'Why are y'all in here?'"

DeShawn said he became angry when officers pointed out the pictures of the Tyler's three younger children on the mantle, assuming he didn't belong there. An argument ensued and DeShawn said one of the officers pepper-sprayed him in the face.

Read the full news story here.


Writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Reflections On African Cultural Identity

During this interview, the intelligent, talented and beautiful Chimimanda Adichie reflects on Nigeria, family, writing, race and racism, and her evolving identity as a "Black" woman in the United States.

While I appreciate the entirety of her reflections, I especially appreciate the portion of the discussion around the 18:50 mark, when she reflects on the importance of her African cultural identity - being an African, Nigerian, Igbo woman - as an anchoring force, giving her the rootedness that allows her to make it through this racialized American experience.

This is a great viewing resource for children and youth groups, social studies and writing classes, as well as adults of all ages.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is an award-winning writer, whose third novel— Americanah, a story of race and identity—has won several honors, including the National Book Critics Circle Award, and been optioned by Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o, who plans to star in and produce the movie adaptation. An earlier novel that deals with the civil war in the 1960s in her native Nigeria, Half of a Yellow Sun, has been made into a movie currently airing on various Starz channels. At age 19, Adichie came to the U.S. where she studied communication and political science and began work on her first novel. She has a master's degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins and another in African Studies from Yale.


Ferguson Protesters Delay Symphony After Intermission; Polite and Awkward Applause Follows

By now many of you have probably heard about or seen some of the footage from this weekend's St. Louis Symphony protest, highlighting the tragic killing of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri cop Darren Wilson. This occurs amid the relative silence among a great many whites whose primary complaints tend to be focused on the inconvenience of the aftermath and continuing protests to the comfortable (racial) social arrangements they are used to between Black folks and white folks.

In case you haven't seen or heard about this symphony protest, brief video and audio clips are shared just below.

The expressions seen in the faces of the couple at the 1:14 mark are priceless. Many words come to mind as I observe their reactions. Let's just say that "support" and "solidarity' are not among those words - at least not support and solidarity with the family of Michael Brown nor the larger community of African Americans who have to deal with the indignities of Black life in and around Ferguson.

Additional description, and a small amount of commentary, can be found at St. Louis Public Radio.

The St. Louis American reported that the protest was organized by "Sarah Griesbach, 42, a white woman who lives in the Central West End. She said that the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teen who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, has opened her eyes to the inequalities that exist in St. Louis."

Griesbach told the American: “It is my duty and desire to try to reach out and raise that awareness peacefully but also to disrupt the blind state of white St. Louis, particularly among the people who are secure in their blindness."

Click here to read the full write-up, including the audio and commentary.

After watching the video footage, and listening to the audio capture of this protest at St. Louis Public Radio, I can't help but reflect on the distinct contrast between the relatively "warmer" reception to this version of protest, and the horrendously violent response to those protesters on the streets of Ferguson (both in real-time by the police, and also in the equally as brutal aftermath shaped by the media).

If previously disengaged and oblivious whites really want to get out of their comfort zone, it seems they should also join en masse - in support, not as leaders - the protesters that have been braving it out on Ferguson streets day in and day out since the killing of Michael Brown.

The reality is that White people clapping in dignified solidarity, especially as a brief commercial break during their night at the symphony, will not ultimately move the systems and structures of power - especially those that repeatedly refuse to see and affirm the dignity and value of Black life.

Hopefully, however, at least for some of the people involved, this helps to create a pathway to more of that foundational engagement of those power structures.


The Price of Blackness, Parts 1 & 2 – African American Experiences with Law Enforcement

Below are some additional perspectives on the experiences of African American communities and law enforcement.

The Price of Blackness (Part One) from ODDGIRLIN on Vimeo.

The Price of Blackness (Part Two) from ODDGIRLIN on Vimeo.


Another Horrible Example of Police Behavior and Apparent Racial Profiling

This horrendous episode is one of the latest examples of police who - by all appearances - seem to be way out of line, and overstepping their authority. Fortunately, in this case, the brother who is riding in the passenger seat was able to record most of the encounter. And he appears to be the primary target of the officer's "concern".

This is absolutely horrible, but seemingly less and less uncommon! I'm just glad they were able to walk away from this relatively unscathed, and with video to help them make their case.

From The Free Thought Project...

Sandusky, OH — A mother and father were on their way home with their 2 week old baby when they were stopped by Sandusky police officers.

Andre Stockett, the father and the passenger in the vehicle, and the man who took the video, has a good understanding of his rights when dealing with police.

Despite the police pulling over the vehicle, for an alleged “traffic violation,” they do nothing to the driver. Her license is run and it comes back valid so they have nothing on them, yet like bullies on the playground they begin ganging up on Stockett.

Stockett has committed no crime and has not been suspected of committing a crime, so he lawfully refuses to identify himself. This assertion of his rights does not go over well with the bullies on the playground, so Officer Denny throws a temper tantrum.

Read more here.

Related Video:  Sandusky Police Over-Stepping Their Bounds

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