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

17Dec/140

We remember the lives taken away

Every name below belongs to a real person, someone whose life was taken by a police officer between 1999 and 2014. Every one of these individuals belonged to a family, with parents, with children in many cases, and other close relatives who loved them dearly. Each one of these individuals is still loved and missed. Read brief statements about each person here.

Last Saturday, the nation and world listened and watched as the loved ones of several Black men killed in recent years spoke about the need for justice and police accountability. For any of you who are inclined, take a few minutes to say each one of the names below - both women and men who have been killed in recent years. And when you feel like it's getting to be a long and drawn out exercise, think about the family members of each one, and how the idea of "long and drawn out" now takes on a different kind of meaning for them. The process of seeking justice. The realization that their loved ones won't be coming back home for birthdays, for graduations, for marriages. They won't be coming back to offer a smile, to tell one more joke, to offer guidance and wisdom to the young people coming behind them, to console their husbands or wives, to tuck their children into bed at night, or to care for their mothers and fathers as they age. They won't be around to tell stories and reminisce during this coming holiday season, or the next. I hurt for their loss of life, and for the many grieving family members who will never see their loved ones again.

For anyone who so flippantly dismisses any of this loss of life as being 'justified' and somehow not the huge tragedy that it is, I can't help but assume a complete lack of humanity and compassion in that person's heart and spirit. Every one of these losses is a huge tragedy, and one that we should all be outraged about.

The underlying concept of policing and law enforcement, and how the officers in these institutions have come to view specific racial and ethnic communities in this country, appears to be a key part of the problem. Everything from the underlying mission of law enforcement to the face-to-face contact between officers and citizens has to be addressed.

To reiterate that not all police officers are bad is a distraction. The problem is that there are some - however many there are - who are, and that there are few to no accountability mechanisms in place to discourage the corrupt and brutal acts of violence too many officers inflict upon other people.

I agree with the folks I've heard call for felony criminal prosecution of officers who observe or otherwise know about the misconduct and brutality of officers and fail to intervene and/or report it. Some sort of drastic intervention will be needed to turn this historical pattern around.

And until this happens, let us continue to remember each one of these lives that have been taken away from us - and also those many whose names don't appear here.

Let us simultaneously continue to protect the lives of all our loved ones still here...

Gone too soon...

Rumain Brisbon, 34, Phoenix, Ariz.—Dec. 2, 2014

Tamir Rice, 12, Cleveland, Ohio—Nov. 22, 2014

Akai Gurley, 28, Brooklyn, NY—Nov. 20, 2014

Kajieme Powell, 25, St. Louis, Mo.—August 19, 2014

Ezell Ford, 25, Los Angeles, Calif.—August 12, 2014

Dante Parker, 36, San Bernardino County, Calif.—August 12, 2014

Michael Brown, 18, Ferguson, Mo.—August 9, 2014

John Crawford III, 22, Beavercreek, Ohio—August 5, 2014

Tyree Woodson, 38, Baltimore, Md.—August 2, 2014

Eric Garner, 43, New York, N.Y.—July 17, 2014

Victor White III, 22, Iberia Parish, La.—March 22, 2014

Yvette Smith, 47, Bastrop, Texas—February 16, 2014

McKenzie Cochran, 25, Southfield, Mich.—January 28, 2014

Jordan Baker, 26, Houston, Texas—January 16, 2014

Andy Lopez, 13, Santa Rosa, Calif.—October 22, 2013

Miriam Carey, 34, Washington, D.C.—October 3, 2013

Jonathan Ferrell, 24, Bradfield Farms, N.C.—September 14, 2013

Carlos Alcis, 43, New York, N.Y.—August 15, 2013

Larry Eugene Jackson, Jr., 32, Austin, Texas—July 26, 2013

Deion Fludd, 17, New York, N.Y.—May 5, 2013

Kimani Gray, 16, New York, N.Y.—March 9, 2013

Johnnie Kamahi Warren, 43, Dotham, Ala.—December 10, 2012

Malissa Williams, 30, Cleveland, Ohio—November 29, 2012

Timothy Russell, 43, Cleveland, Ohio—November 29, 2012

Reynaldo Cuevas, 20, New York, N.Y.—September 7, 2012

Chavis Carter, 21, Jonesboro, Ark.—July 29, 2012

Shantel Davis, 23, New York, N.Y.—June 14, 2012

Sharmel Edwards, 49, Las Vegas, Nev.—April 21, 2012

Tamon Robinson, 27, New York, N.Y.—April 18, 2012

Ervin Jefferson, 18, Atlanta, Ga.—March 24, 2012

Kendrec McDade, 19, Pasadena, Calif.—March 24, 2012

Rekia Boyd, 22, Chicago, Ill.—March 21, 2012

Shereese Francis, 30, New York, N.Y.—March 15, 2012

Wendell Allen, 20, New Orleans, La.—March 7, 2012

Nehemiah Dillard, 29, Gainesville, Fla.—March 5, 2012

Dante Price, 25, Dayton, Ohio—March 1, 2012

Raymond Allen, 34, Galveston, Texas—February 27, 2012

Sgt. Manuel Loggins, Jr., 31, Orange County, Calif.—February 7, 2012

Ramarley Graham, 18, New York, N.Y.—February 2, 2012

Kenneth Chamberlain, 68, White Plains, N.Y.—November 19, 2011

Alonzo Ashley, 29, Denver, Colo.—July 18, 2011

Kenneth Harding, 19, San Francisco, Calif.—July 16, 2011

Raheim Brown, 20, Oakland, Calif.—January 22, 2011

Reginald Doucet, 25, Los Angeles, Calif.—January 14, 2011

Derrick Jones, 37, Oakland, Calif.—November 8, 2010

Danroy Henry, 20, Thornwood, N.Y.—October 17, 2010

Aiyana Jones, 7, Detroit, Mich.—May 16, 2010

Steven Eugene Washington, 27, Los Angeles, CA—March 20, 2010

Aaron Campbell, 25, Portland, Ore.—January 29, 2010

Kiwane Carrington, 15, Champaign, Ill.—October 9, 2009

Victor Steen, 17, Pensacola, Fla.—October 3, 2009

Shem Walker, 49, New York, N.Y.—July 11, 2009

Oscar Grant, 22, Oakland, Calif.—January 1, 2009

Tarika Wilson, 26, Lima, Ohio—January 4, 2008

DeAunta Terrel Farrow, 12, West Memphis, Ark.—July 22, 2007

Sean Bell, 23, New York, N.Y.—November 25, 2006

Henry Glover, 31, New Orleans, La.—September 2, 2005

Ronald Madison, 40, New Orleans, La.—Sept. 4, 2005

James Brisette, 17, New Orleans, La.—Sept. 4, 2005

Timothy Stansbury, 19, New York, N.Y.—January 24, 2004

Alberta Spruill, 57, New York, N.Y.—May 16, 2003

Ousmane Zongo, 43, New York, N.Y.—May 22, 2003

Orlando Barlow, 28, Las Vegas, Nev.—February 28, 2003

Timothy Thomas, 19, Cincinnati, Ohio—April 7, 2001

Prince Jones, 25, Fairfax County, Va.—Sept. 1, 2000

Ronald Beasley, 36, Dellwood, Mo.—June 12, 2000

Earl Murray, 36, Dellwood, Mo.—June 12, 2000

Patrick Dorismond, 26, New York, NY—March 16, 2000

Malcolm Ferguson, 23, New York, N.Y.—March 1, 2000

Amadou Diallo, 23, New York, N.Y.—Feb. 4, 1999

16Dec/140

The Root of this is Racism: Ferguson Activist Speaks Out on Police Abuses After Meeting Obama

From the Democracy Now broadcast on December 2, 2014:

One week after the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case, President Obama has given his first major policy response to the protests from Ferguson and beyond over racial profiling and police brutality. At a meeting with activists and officials from around the country, Obama unveiled a process to address what he called "simmering distrust." The administration's response comes as protests continue nationwide over the non-indictment of former officer Darren Wilson over killing Brown. On Monday, demonstrators walked out of workplaces and classrooms in some 30 cities with their hands raised, the symbol of Brown's death and the movement that has emerged since. As the "Hands Up Walk Out" took place, some of the movement's key leaders were not out in the streets but inside the White House.

Obama's guests included seven young activists who have helped organize the protests in Ferguson and in other communities of color. We are joined by one of those activists:

Ashley Yates, an activist, poet and artist who is co-creator of Millennial Activists United. "While that is a step towards ending this real problem," Yates says of Obama's reforms, "the real root of it has to be addressed. And the real root of it is racism in America, the anti-black sentiments that exist. Until we begin to address that, we really can't have any real change — all we have are these small steps towards justice. We need leaps and bounds."

Powerful and clear perspective by Ashley Yates shared at approximately 4:15 into the video clip below.

15Dec/140

Glory – The ‘Selma’ tribute song with Common and John Legend

'Glory', the tribute song by Common and John Legend, featured in the new movie, Selma.

On the song, Common reflects...

I really was thinking about encouraging people that we've come a long way, but we've still got some fighting to do, and we are capable. We've got to carry this torch and take it to the next level.

13Dec/140

Four Black mothers share pain of losing sons and a resolve to achieve justice #BlackLivesMatter

Many thousands of people will be out on the streets marching today, in cities across this country. The rallying cry is justice for families and communities whose women, men and children have been killed at the hands of law enforcement officers, and others acting with a sheer disregard - contempt even - for Black life.

Just this past week, four mothers of African American men and boys murdered at the hands of police officers, and one acting in a vigilante law enforcement spirit, sat together for the first time for an interview and discussion about their families' experiences, and their continuing quest for justice for their sons.

The four mothers included:

  • Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, 17 years old when he was killed by a 'neighborhood watch' person in Florida
  • Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Gardner, 43 years old when he was killed by a police officer in New York City
  • Lesley McSpadden, mother of Michael Brown, 18 years old when he was killed by a police officer in Missouri
  • Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice, 12 years old when he was killed by a police officer in Ohio

From the CNN piece...

Their sons -- Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner -- have become symbols of a raging national conversation about police brutality and racial injustice.

The mothers of these four unarmed black men and boys felled by bullets or excessive police force have no doubt their sons would still be alive if they were white. No question, they say.

Describing the role of racial profiling in the killing of her son, Sybrina Fulton describes...

The main reason why he was shot and killed was because this neighborhood crime watch was looking for an African American who had been breaking in houses around there, and he picked the wrong teenager. My son was not breaking in any houses, my son was not committing any crime.

Anderson Cooper then 'innocently' asks... "How do you change that perception?", presumably speaking of our greater society.

Fulton's reply is very telling, and clearly explains the wide gulf (more here and here and here for starters) between African American and white perceptions of law enforcement, our respective reactions to the recent high-profile killings of African Americans by law enforcement, and the urgency required for responding to this pattern:

Well, I actually think we need a little divine intervention. Because, I don't really believe that people are going to just change overnight. And it's a more deeply rooted hatred that people have for African Americans. And if you're not an African American... A lot of people don't understand. They don't quite get it. They just think that we are complaining about something that doesn't really exist. And we are living this every day.

I won't spend much time on this, but here's one of the problems I have. Isn't it kind of ironic that Anderson Cooper, one of the most widely recognized news personalities of our time, a white man whose recognition among many is as someone who 'gets it' - and on such a huge network as CNN no less - is asking with his characteristically concerned and innocent tone, how 'you' change that perception? And I get that he was probably using 'you' casually, but I'm not feeling it. His institution represents the problem involved with 'changing that perception'.

I absolutely appreciate the news coverage, and the opportunity to have this group of mothers tell a part of our community's story, but this passive-when-it-wants-to-be news approach is insulting and offensive. Andersoon Cooper, and CNN for that matter, both know exactly how to change that perception. Instead, however, and as a great deal of their Ferguson coverage illustrates, they reinforce that larger societal perception of Blacks as being violent, lawless and to be feared.

The stories of this group of mothers, though, is absolutely worth listening to. The spirit in their voices is powerful, and their steadfast determination not to let the brutal killings of their sons - our collective sons - be forgotten is absolutely admirable.

Let's be clear that lynching is not a thing of the past. This nation's government and legal systems, with media complicity - just have a more sophisticated way of allowing - even encouraging, one could argue - these sorts of horrendous acts of racial terrorism and brutality.

13Dec/140

Follow the Leader (Your Spirit, Your Ideas) by Suli Breaks @ UK House of Parliament

"We don't need more leaders, we need more ideas"... to solve this world's challenges. - Suli Breaks' presentation

12Dec/140

J. Cole Performing “Be Free”

J. Cole performing his song, Be Free, dedicated to Mike Brown...

"All we want to do is take the chains off... All we want to do is break the chains off... All we want to do is be free!"

12Dec/140

The Language of Anti-Racism

There's a quick read worth checking out about a tendency among some to want to qualify certain 'types' of racism. Racism is racism, and it's origins are found in the quest to rationalize the exploitation and subjugation of African people, their land and their cultural resources (when and wherever you found/find us). Within the context of this 'racism' ideology and worldview, all of the so-called 'races' fall along the 'white' / 'Black' continuum. You can check out the piece by Scott Nakagawa here.

What some people want to call 'anti-Black racism" is just racism. Let's not complicate things. We don't need creative and fancy ways to carve out certain types of racism. We need truth. Talk about racism for what it is, and let people fall on the side of justice, or not.

The concluding lines of the article...

American history revolves around the story of the exploitation and exclusion of Black people. We live in denial of this reality at our own great peril. The exploitation of Black bodies and Black labor (and our justifications for Black unemployment), and fear and loathing of Black people is at the very heart of our politics, our economy, and our culture. Perhaps this is why when we resist injustice, we so often draw from the template of Black struggle.

Many of us are victimized by white supremacy. However, white supremacy rests on a color line drawn in black and white. If we want to free ourselves of racism and white privilege, we’ll need to situate ourselves on one or another side of that line.

9Dec/140

Celebrating John Coltrane – 50 Years of ‘A Love Supreme’

50 years ago, the John Coltrane quartet recorded "A Love Supreme," a jazz masterwork recognized as one of the greatest albums in history. Cornel West, Archie Shepp and others join to discuss the album's lasting musical, cultural and spiritual impact.

Guests:

  • Cornel West @CornelWest (New York, NY) Activist; Author; Public Intellectual
  • Guthrie Ramsey @DrGuyMusiqology (Philadelphia, PA) Professor of Music & Africana Studies, University of Pennsylvania
  • Lewis Porter (New York, NY) Jazz Pianist & Composer; Author, "John Coltrane: His Life and Music"
  • Archie Shepp (Paris, France) Grammy Award-nominated Jazz Saxophonist & Composer
  • Ashley Kahn (San Francisco, CA) Instructor, Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, NYU Tisch ; Author, A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Album
  • Stanley Crouch (New York, NY) Poet, Author & Cultural Critic

Recorded earlier today, Tuesday, December 9, 2014

8Dec/140

Stevie Wonder on Ferguson & New York grand jury verdicts #BlackLivesMatter

Stevie Wonder... from a YouTube video posted on December 4, 2014.

"Can you believe that within one month, two secret grand juries declined to indict two policemen for the killing of two Black men? I just don't understand that.

Let me just say this also: I don't understand why a legal system would choose secrecy when there's so much mistrust of what they're saying. I don't understand why there could not have been a public trial where we would be able to hear all sides...I just don't understand that.

I tell you what I do understand. I heard Eric Garner say, with my own ears: 'I Can't Breathe.' And as much as he's apologized, I don't understand why he [the policeman] did not stop...I've heard politicians say, you've got all this black-on-black crime, but my feeling's that guns are too accessible to everybody.

I do understand that something is wrong, real wrong. And we as family, Americans, all of us of all colors, need to fix it with a quickness, real soon.

I really love you, you know that. This is why this song unfortunately is still relevant today....."

"Living For The City" - Stevie Wonder performing during the Seattle stop of his 2014 "Songs in the Key of Life" concert tour..

8Dec/140

#BlackLivesMatter Trinity United Chicago Protest

In light of the recent high publicity killings of Black women, men and children at the hands of police officers and other white citizens, as well as the recent series of 'no-indictment' decisions handed down by grand juries, members of church congregations across the country have carried on the legacy of activism and advocacy that has characterized the Black church tradition for over a century.

Below is a short clip featuring highlights of a series of protest actions organized by members of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Illinois.

#BlackLivesMatter