Tuesday, July 30, 2013

THIS MAKES ME WANNA HOLLA !


In 1987, I was gunned down in the streets of Los Angeles by an 18 year old gang member in his attempt to rob me.  I lost my entire right leg. The shooter turned himself in after the manhunt on my behalf.  He was tried and convicted to 25 years to life.  Oscar Grant was not afforded the same justice.

I saw Fruitvale Station this past weekend which is a film about the life and shooting of Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day 2009. Oscar was a 22 year old black man, in Oakland, California who was shot by Johannes Mehserle, a white BART policeman.   Unlike the George Zimmerman / Trayvon Martin matter that continues to capture our national attention, the Oscar Grant shooting at the Fruitvale Station was an unlawful taking of an innocent life under the color of authority as proven by the verdict; the difference, in my opinion, is that the Grant matter irrefutably involved racial profiling, racial injustice and the out-of-control power of law enforcement.  If there was ever a time for a national dialogue about racial profiling, this case should have been the spark.

I have never been more angry after a movie.  I have never cried longer or harder.  I have never felt so vulnerable as a black man.  There is nothing more infuriating than to watch the chaotic taking of a human life by law enforcement especially where racial profiling of an unarmed innocent person was involved. 

In this tragic encounter between citizen and officer, Grant and his friends were pulled off of the BART at the Fruitvale Station after being engaged in a fight.  As depicted in the movie, the white combatants were not identified or pulled off the train for equal treatment by the officers. They assumed it was a “black problem.”  Mehserle and another officer restrained the unarmed Grant, who was lying face down and allegedly resisting arrest.  Mehserle stood and, according to witnesses said, "Get back, I'm gonna tase him." Instead, Mehserle drew his gun and shot Grant once in the back; Mehserle claimed he thought he pulled his Taser and not his gun.  Grant died later that morning.

Mehserle was recently cleared of civil rights charges stemming from a similar altercation in 2008 with Kenneth Carrethers, a black man.   But for the many eye witnesses who captured the Fruitvale event as it unfolded on their digital cameras which were immediately watched by millions, the case may have never received the national attention it did and may have been dismissed like in the Carrethers case.

Mehserle was charged with second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter but was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to only 2 years.  He served 11 months for killing the 22 year old Grant.  This was an injustice by most objective observations.

The movie Fruitvale Station’s underlying goal was to humanize Oscar Grant specifically and black men generally in my opinion.  It bent over backwards to show his relationships with his mother, girlfriend, daughter and friends.  The filmmaker succeeded; we get it.  Oscar was a good guy (as are most black young men) and Mehserle is a bad cop.  That’s the easy part.

Now for the hard part.  Officers and others are apprehensive and maybe even afraid of young black men.  Recall, I was shot by a young black man.  Why does this apprehension exist?

Of the nearly 770,000 violent interracial crimes committed every year involving blacks and whites, blacks commit 85 percent and whites commit 15 percent.

Blacks commit more violent crime against whites than against blacks. Forty-five percent of their victims are white, 43 percent are black, and 10 percent are Hispanic. When whites commit violent crime, only three percent of their victims are black.[1]

Oscar was unarmed.  There can never be a justification for his murder.  However, his murder should help us all look inward to ensure that we are not a part of the problem first so that we may speak truth to power to enact federal legislation that makes it more difficult to profile (anyone)(including the hotly contested  NY  stop-and-frisk policy) that leads to the death of the innocent no matter the color.

First, our part must be to respect law enforcement.  As depicted in the film, it is never wise to be verbally combative, physically resistant, or attitudinal with law enforcement.  Anytime I am pulled over, I place both hands on my steering wheel so the officer does not have to guess my motives. As a lawyer and husband, I have something to lose. It’s just the smart thing to do. 

Instead, many blacks, and others, become immediately frustrated by the apparent racism that precipitated the stop but then put themselves in danger by their combative interaction with the officers.  Not wise.

On the other hand, to tolerate the unchecked authority of law enforcement to arbitrarily stop anyone because of how they look is tantamount to an infringement of our civil liberty and constitutional rights as Americans.  When law enforcement infringes the civil liberty of those it swears to serve and to protect, there must be deep and dire consequences.  Should there be another Oscar Grant, let there be sufficient deterrent in place in every jurisdiction across the country to prevent racial profiling.

We all must participate in government if we want different results.  We must elect leaders that understand this problem and then hold their feet to the fire by electing or un-electing them.  Register to vote!  Attend the Town Hall meetings of your elected officials and let them hear your voices.  Racial profiling is illegal in some states but not all; it will not end if we remain on the sidewalks with our hands above our heads.  It will only end when we apply pressure on the system to make the changes we need in our communities.  That can only be done by being a part of the solution.  We must  get an education and become the lawyers, the judges, the prosecutors, the defense attorneys and the jurors who now hold our destiny in their hands.      

"Racial profiling is wrong, and we will end it in America. In so doing, we will not hinder the work of our nation's brave police officers. They protect us every day -- often at great risk. But by stopping the abuses of a few, we will add to the public confidence our police officers earn and deserve,"[2] said President George W. Bush.

We must shout together-NEVER AGAIN!

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[1] /              http://www.colorofcrime.com/colorofcrime2005.html
[2] /              President George W. Bush, "DOJ Racial Profiling Fact Sheet". United States Department of Justice. June 17, 2003. Retrieved July 29, 2013.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Boogeyman


The traditional boogeyman is an imaginary monster used to frighten children.  The boogeyman of today is an often times imaginary racism used by blacks to intimidate and coerce white society.

A case in point.  Our American cities were overrun with protesters over the last weekend who, following the so-called black leadership, decry racism and injustice because of the George Zimmerman jury verdict and the state of Florida's Stand Your Ground law in particular.

To be clear, few can deny that racism exists in America today.  But based on the recent Rasmussen Poll, 38 percent of whites believe blacks are more racist.  Get this: 31 percent of blacks polled agree they too are the most racist!  Perhaps blacks must deal with our own internal racial tensions.

Notwithstanding the reasonable disappointment of protesters over a verdict that should have at least been manslaughter in my opinion, having a discussion about race in America can be productive.  I support the nonviolent discussion.

However, the black community runs the risk of not being taken seriously when it finds racism around every corner, behind every surprising verdict, or the reason for every law enforcement encounter because of our own default to point to racial mistreatment.  Everything is not about race folks and when we call everything racism, it diminishes those instances of racism that do exist and demand redress. We run the risk of creating the 'boy who cried wolf' syndrome by finding racism where it does not exist.

We must take the discussion of racism seriously and we must be careful to be clear about it and rally around true injustice.

If my black community wants to focus on how they are disproportionately treated  in the criminal justice system (which is likely one of the reasons even blacks say they themselves are racists) and how blacks are now the target of being ambushed and killed ala Trayvon Martin, we must first provide solutions that demonstrate that we ourselves value black life before we demand others to do so.

My black community must first start the conversation with itself about black-on-black crime in our communities and the killing of 16 million babies by black mothers and fathers since 1973.  These have become the norm; they are our standard for ourselves; common place, everyday occurrences.

No one is complaining about the millions murdered; why should anyone black or white care then about one black boy in Florida named Trayvon?

(Respect is hereby given to the families of the thousands, including the Martin family, who have lost their sons and daughters in senseless urban warfare killings.  As a victim of a violent crime, I care and want it to end.  Now.)

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Lets March!


In the wake of the Not Guilty verdict for George Zimmerman, black civil rights groups and activist are planning rallies and marches all across the country.  Some are planned to be non-violent and others not so much.

First, I suffered from a cruel act of gun violence at the hands of a black Los Angeles gang member and lost my leg as a result but I had a competent prosecutor in my case.  I am saddened by what seems to be a miscarriage of justice in the murder of Trayvon Martin. The Not Guilty verdict for at least manslaughter sucks on its face particularly in light of similar cases in Florida where the shooter was convicted.

Here, Zimmerman was told by the 911 dispatcher not to follow the hooded Trayvon; he did anyway.  Not a crime but a bad choice indeed.  Zimmerman had a gun and Trayvon did not. Zimmerman says it was self defense because this 17-year-old kid was beating the crap out of him. Trayvon has not spoken from the grave to say otherwise.  Trayvon is dead and Zimmerman goes free.

The Not Guilty verdict is the result of an incompetent prosecutor who over-charged Zimmerman, but the verdict is not racially motivated as many now claim.

But for NBC deliberately and maliciously editing the 911 recording adding to the already shoddy police work, it likely would have never been about race.  Zimmerman, perhaps over zealous, was doing his job as a neighborhood watchman based on the 911 recording. Shame on the usual race baiters. The media, Al Sharpton and the whole lot of them be shamed.

What was racial was how black leaders, including the president, responded to the tragedy essentially forcing a prosecution to occur.  And what was wrong was how local police handled the delayed arrest of Zimmerman.  There is also the matter of prosecutorial misconduct, which is the larger problem in this case.

Notwithstanding the debate that will undoubtedly continue in the Martin-Zimmerman case, I think it stinks that we can only focus on this case while ignoring the families of thousands of young black men murdered each day. And shame on President Obama for using the Zimmerman verdict to trumpet his liberal gun control agenda while ignoring the murder rate in his home state of Illinois that leads in young black-on-black homicides.

No leader seems to have a rally cry for these tragic endings that occur daily.  No leader is holding blacks accountable for what they are doing to themselves.  It only seems to matter when, for instance, a "white" Mexican is involved.   Leadership has significantly waned in the black community when they can only march when blacks are wronged by the "system" (ala Rodney King) or by non-blacks. Kill yourselves!   "That's okay," seems to be the message.

In the aftermath of the Zimmerman trial, the question now is what is next? We know that we blacks are disproportionately convicted of crimes and there are credible arguments that the criminal justice system has a history of being unfair to blacks in certain areas (i.e. drug crimes).  In the Zimmerman matter, a black teen was killed and the non-black shooter is free to walk. That's wrong when not supported by the evidence.

However, we cannot ignore the role that blacks must play in our own destiny in this country.

It does no good to march or protest for justice when we don't demand that we first register to vote (and then actually vote) so that the jury pool for all cases reflects our community.  Here, the Zimmerman jury consisted of 5 white women and one Latina. Have we not learned that we cannot influence a system unless we are a part of it? Study W. E. B. Dubois.

Instead of marching, lets encourage more prosecutors of color; lets promote more judges of color; lets ensure diverse representation on all Grand Juries.  Instead of making progress in these areas, blacks are less and less represented in these seats of influence because we are simply apathetic until some tragedy pushes our emotional button.

Blacks should be able to assume justice will be fairly handed out.  But that is not the history. So, we must be a part of the system that has had historical biases against us in order to ensure fairness.  Proaction is necessary not riotous reaction.

So. Lets march! First for men to be accountable as fathers in their homes and taking the guns and knives out of their sons and daughters hands. Then lets march for all kids to get a great education.  Someone will have to have guts like Rham Emmanuel in Chicago to take on the Teacher's Union so that failing teachers are removed from our schools. Then lets march to hold every American accountable to register to vote and then to actually vote so our voices will be heard. Then lets march to challenge black racism itself.  It's not okay for blacks to cheer for the acquittal of the murdering OJ Simpson of two white people. Remember that?  When blacks begin to respond responsibly to our own conduct, only then can we begin to have an honest discussion in this country about a whole host of issues, including judicial fairness. Lets see when and if these important marches ever occur.

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Hail Satan?


The force behind the Pro-Choice (Baby Killer) Movement in Texas has finally revealed itself.  Those who stood in opposition to the Texas legislature’s effort  last week to restrict late term abortions were caught on tape  chanting in unison “Hail Satan”  at the Texas State Capital as a show of solidarity against protecting the life of the unborn and born babies.  Research shows their movement also supports killing babies up to three years old which is universally known as infanticide. (See my blog titled Infanticide President, May 5, 2013.)

The chanters, who have not yet been rebuked by any recognized satanic sect, were met with a rendition of “Amazing Grace” by the Pro-Life advocates on-hand.  Watch the video below.  You cannot make this stuff up.





Now, when I am asked, “How can you be a black conservative Republican?”  I am quick to respond to my friends by asking them, “How can you stand shoulder-to-shoulder with peers who reject reinserting references to God in the platform at the Democratic National Convention?  Now I can add this little unforgettable scene to the dialogue. 

I have always believed in a Christ-centered agenda and that God did not favor one political party over the next. I simply and easily affiliate with the Republican platform because of my faith and values. However, if the choice before us now is whether we want to support late term abortions as a manifestation of Satan worship (as the Texas Pro-Choice advocates call into question), then Americans in Texas and perhaps elsewhere now have a clearer choice on the abortion issue and perhaps on party affiliation as well. (Note. I have not said or implied that all proponents of late term abortion are Satan worshippers.)

The choice for me has been clear and is supported within the context of a biblical world view.  I am firmly Pro-Life.  God values the life of the unborn for He knew it before it was formed in the womb.  And so, “…choose you this day whom ye will serve; …but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15 (KJV) ). 

Monday, July 8, 2013

N-I-G-G-E-R


We took the power out of the N-word and made it a term of endearment, said Jay-Z in a January, 2011 interview with Oprah.

I beg to differ.  Anyone who uses the term nigger (or nigga) in any context dishonors those who suffered and/or died while hearing themselves called that filthy word.  There is no power in the N- word in the way  Jay-Z would lead his fans to believe.  The power of a word must be considered in the proper context.  There is profound history in the N-word.  There is hatred woven into the very fabric of the N-word and there is ignorance displayed by those who use it.  No rap song or street corner conversation will ever change that.  The N-word should only stand in memoriam to the very dark past we all share as Americans and nothing more.   It is so bad that few even dare to spell the word “nigger” any more.  It is now only called, “the N-word” by those who are sensitive to its historical significance.

As of June 21, 2013, Celebrity chef Paula Deen became its latest victim.

Deen is being sued by a former employee for harassment and discrimination.  It was revealed from a lawsuit deposition connected to the case that Deen used the N-word privately back in the 60’s.  The revelation then caused her sponsors to jump ship; be clear, no evidence has been presented that Deen is a racist but the Food Network now refuses to renew her contract and her empire evaporates day-by-day.  The beloved chef gave more than nine national interviews weeping, wailing and apologizing for her error presumably to give her sponsors some “cover” but nothing prevented the “politically correct” police from landing her into its trash heap.

If I am to be consistent, I would have to agree with Deen’s demise for her use of the N-word some 50 years ago.  However, the politically correct police are hypocrites and that makes Deen’s punishment confusing at best; and shouldn’t there be a statute of limitations here?  I mean, how far back should we go to punish someone for using the N-word? 

And where was the PC police when director Quentin Tarantino used the N-word in his 2013 Golden Globe speech not to mention any objection to his film Django (which I refused to see simply because of the license the director took with the use of the N-word)?  As I recall, it received multiple nominations and Oscars. Where was the PC police when singer John Mayer used the N-word in his Playboy interview when bragging about his “hood pass”?  How about Mel Gibson’s 2010 drunken tirade where he dropped the N- bomb after being pulled over in Malibu? How about Charlie Sheen referring to his ex-wife as a N--gger lover on her voice machine? Jennifer Lopez, Gwyneth Paltrow, Eminem, Dog the Bounty Hunter, etc.  The list goes on and on.  Somehow, none of their careers were ruined; no sponsors fled Lopez’ empire.

I am in no way condoning the “pass” that so many public figures have received in their poor choice of words.  In fact, I am saying quite the opposite.  There should be no N-word pass.  Is it too much to ask for one standard for everyone?  And is it too much to ask that the standard include that the N-word simply should not be used by anyone and if you even think about it, first run the tapes of Paula Deen’s interviews in the death spiral of her empire.  It’s not pretty.

Note to Jay-Z and to you:  instead of making the use of the N-word acceptable, try making it what it is, unacceptable and abhorrent.

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