Notice How Silent Hillary Is On Ferguson.

That sound of crickets chirping is becoming louder and louder by the day.


Last week during a stop on her book tour, former Secretary of State and presumed 2016 frontrunner Hillary Clinton went mute when two reporters asked her about the current situation in Ferguson, Missouri. It’s been almost three weeks since an unarmed black teenager named Mike Brown was murdered by a white police officer named Darren Wilson. That murder set off a colossal overreaction to protesters by Missouri police forces who were able to live out their military fantasies by using tanks and tear gas on the citizens of the largely black St. Louis suburb.


Let’s do away with the suspense, Hillary Clinton is running for President so it is no surprise that she is deploying a tactic that all moderate Democrats deploy when they are seeking office, “Don’t piss off moderate and or independent whites.” Clinton and her team much like Barack Obama and his team in 2008 just assume that black and brown people will show up to the polls and pull the lever for them, which provides no reason for her to speak to the very issues that plague our communities every day.


Throw out all of the facts and statistics you want. The fact that Brown was unarmed during his altercation with Wilson, the fact that the St. Louis County police department behaved like Hitler’s troops in Nazi Germany with it’s use of excessive force, or The fact that America’s inner cities are over policed, highlighted by the terrifying statistic that noted during a recent seven year period white cops killed two black citizens a week. None of those facts and statistics keep politicians like Clinton up at night as much as the idea of a white swing voter pulling the lever for a Republican.


Then again I could be totally wrong on this. Clinton is an unapologetic war hawk who as a Senator voted for the invasion of Iraq and has recently been critical of President Obama for not escalating the civil war in Syria by arming rebels. The New Republic’s Peter Beinart has referred to her as “the Israeli Government’s best spokesperson” because she is more of a hardliner than Benjamin Netanyahu. The sight of tanks rolling down residential streets and citizens being blasted with rubber bullets might not have been what she would have prescribed but it’s not a stretch to believe that the rule of law would have been the first thing on her mind while making sure that everything else took a backseat. Mike Brown’s murder and the revoking of his neighbors freedom of speech would have paled in comparison to damaged property. Also keep in mind that Clinton’s spouse did sit in the big chair once, and while he was there he signed into law the largest crime bill in the history of the country. A crime bill that placed more cops in black and brown communities and built more prisons to house the residents of those same communities.


Clinton’s silence on Ferguson is just reason number 1,000 as to why the coronation should be stopped dead in it’s tracks. A lengthy and thorough primary process would be the best thing for progressives everywhere, you know assuming some actual progressives decide to take her on. “When I see things like that, and I see, like, a warzone and I see bazookas and tanks and all of this stuff in an American city it offends me, if you’re standing up and you want to voice dissent, you know it really is what America is all about, is being able to dissent.”


Those weren’t the words of another potential 2016 Democratic candidate, not Maryland Governor Martin O’ Malley or Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Those are the words of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. Paul and every other elected official in the country doesn’t get a break for not addressing America’s problem with cops killing people of color, but sometimes you have to give the devil his due and thus far Paul has been the only auditioner who has condemned the police overreaction in Ferguson.


Minorities and other people who don’t reside within America’s power structure should always use the most powerful democratic tool they have which is their vote, that said they should no longer feel like they have to use that vote on a candidate that only represents the lesser of two evils. A true–and I stress the word true–progressive candidate from Hillary’s left should be the people’s choice in 2016, the fact that there isn’t much of a difference between her and whoever the Republicans nominate justifies that thinking.


Obama’s Ferguson Performance Deserves The Criticism It Gets

There was a time when it wasn’t cool to be referred to as “Cornel” or “Tavis.” That was certainly the case at the outset of the Barack Obama presidency.


You see being called by those two names meant you were the equivalent of a political sellout, someone who was deemed to be the black sheep of the family because you dared to go against the grain and be critical of 44 and his administration’s policies. Princeton Professor Cornel West rightly criticised Obama for accepting a Nobel Peace Prize while at the same time killing innocent people with indiscriminate drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan. Radio and Television personality Tavis Smiley’s commentary on Obama’s lack of empathy for poor people has been on target as much as it’s been valuable but because of examples like those both men continue to find themselves at odds with the Obama posse that expected them to shut up, smile, and nod.


Your ideology doesn’t have to completely line up with West’s or Smiley’s. West’s penchant to personally insult people who disagree with him by calling them horrible names is despicable and beneath him. Smiley’s one time business alignment with Wells Fargo was hypocritical and short sighted but at the end of the day neither one of them occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. To expect them or anyone else to go silent on the Obama White House is irresponsible and politically dangerous.


What’s strange is that as Barack Obama’s historical run winds down the West and Smiley band wagon seems to be getting crowded and that fact makes people like me say “it’s about time” and “what took you so long.” Over the five and a half years of this presidency too many liberals and way too many black folks have been silent about BO’s acceptance of torture, his use of the kill list, the desire he has for cutting social security, the farm bill he signed into law that cut food stamps, his allowing himself to be convinced that the national debt is a crisis, his crackdown on whistleblowers and his overuse of the espionage act. Those are just some of the issues that certain people who voted twice for the President are disappointed over.


The one that is currently on the minds of black people and people everywhere who believe in truth, fairness, and justice is the rather tepid speech the President gave from his vacation at Martha’s Vineyard concerning the shooting death of Michael Brown. While speaking about Brown, an eighteen year old African-American man who was murdered by a white police officer named Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, Obama did what he does best. In his mind he wrapped everything up in a nice little bow by chastising law enforcement for using excessive force against peaceful protesters while at that same time wrapping the knuckles of the more rowdy portion of the crowds for hurling rocks and bottles at police. He talked about his conversations with Attorney General Eric Holder who was briefing him on the situation, and he mentioned his conversation with Governor Jay Nixon and his prodding of him to travel to Ferguson and assess the situation.


The President walked the line right down the middle, which was the wrong thing to do. The refusal to acknowledge the America has a problem with law enforcement murdering people of color was an omission that should have cut a lot of people deep. Obama has never had a problem with talking about America’s problems with firearms overall. He has verbally spanked Congress for not passing tougher gun laws in the wake of the Newtown and Aurora tragedies. He had no problem working up anger and outrage when condemning ISIS last week for the brutal and horrific murder of American journalist James Foley, but when it came to the murder of another black kid by people who are sworn in to protect us it was him remaining even keeled.


What’s just as sad is the excuses that are given by people who are The President’s blind defenders. “He can’t say anymore than that because he will be giving his political opponents ammunition.” or He can’t be more forceful because he will ruin a pending DOJ investigation.” or the one that makes me scratch my head the most, “He is even handed publicly but his My Brother’s Keeper” initiative is addressing the problem.


Those defenses make absolutely no sense. How can The President of the United States voicing concern about out of control police officers ruin a pending DOJ investigation? Lyndon Johnson publicly expressing concern about three missing civil rights workers didn’t derail the federal case against their murderers. Also Obama is a lame duck second time president, What are the geniuses at Fox News going to say about him that they aren’t saying already. MSNBC”S Melissa Harris Perry made a great point on her show Saturday concerning “My Brother’s Keeper” when she asked how would it have helped Mike Brown. Brown appeared to be on the right track already, he had just graduated from high school and was on his way to technical school despite whatever did or didn’t happen on that infamous videotape. If this was his fate, What will be the fate of other people of color when their is no punishment for law enforcement when they kill us.


Jonathan Capehart of The Washington Post thinks people like me are being unrealistic. He wrote that “some folks won’t be satisfied, it seems, until he–Obama– bursts into the East Room clad in Kente cloth and brandishing a definable “black agenda” or whatever so many blacks seem to want from him to prove that he cares.” I disagree. I don’t need the President to be Huey Newton, but I can’t have him be George W. Bush sitting on his ass during Katrina. I need him as the most powerful man in the world–who also happens to be black–to convey to the rest of America that black and brown people are fed up, I need him to express why our safety from the people whose job it is to protect us is vital.


As Capehart’s MSNBC colleague Michael Eric Dyson wrote in the same Washington Post concerning the President’s speech. The repeated killing of unarmed black people. The desperate poverty of black citizens. The bias in the criminal justice system. The raging social inequality. The intended or inadvertent disenfranchisement of large swaths of the citizenry. The dim prospects of upward mobility that grow bleaker by the day. Blacks must often use extraordinary measures, including protests in the streets, appearances in the media and appeals to local and national leaders to amplify their grievances, just to end up where white citizens begins. In psychological terms, that’s why Ferguson blew it’s id.

It would have been nice if the President had said that to the nation rather than offering up another even handed trope, topped off with the phrase “young black men commit crimes.”


Rather than saying just one time Mr. President, you screwed this one up the supporters have invented the phrase “Blackademic” as a slur for highly educated college professors who applaud a lot of what Obama has done, but rightfully ask him to do more. The ballot box is still the only recourse that America’s underclass has in terms of improving their lives for the better. When we use that ballot box we also have a responsibility to hold those in Government accountable. Even if he or she is an historic figure or somebody who fills us with immense pride.


The NFL And I Are Parting Ways

To quote the great blues legend B.B. King “The Thrill Is Gone.”


I plan on sitting out the 2014 National Football League season. No watching live games, no watching coverage on The NFL Network or ESPN, and no following league business through apps on my cell phone. Now before you say “who cares” or “suit yourself” let me explain why.


I grew up loving the game of football. It was a tradition that was passed down by my mother who grew up watching the game at the feet of her dad, my granddad. It’s physical nature, while tremendous has always overshadowed the strategic brilliance needed by the most successful players and coaches, making it–with all due respect to boxing–the ultimate version of physical chess. That love has not died, as a matter of fact it remains as strong as ever. The problem is that love can’t be separated from the corporation that runs the professional version of the game.


I despise the NFL, I despise the people who are in charge at the NFL headquarters, and every single day they seem to give me a new reason to do so. On Friday The Washington Post Editorial Board announced that they would no longer be using the racist nickname of the D.C. football team–you know the one that rhymes with deadpins.– “While we wait for the National Football League to catch up with thoughtful opinion and common decency, we have decided that, except when it is useful for clarity and effect we will no longer use the slur ourselves.”


The Post made it’s decision in the wake of retired NFL official Mike Carey telling the them that in 2006 he requested that the league stop assigning him to Washington games because of his opposition to the name. Carey, The Post Editorial Board, and a sizable percentage of Americans seem to get what team owner Daniel Snyder and league commissioner Roger Goodell can’t fathom. Racism cannot be justified. Despite that universal truth Snyder has dug his heels in and vows to never change the name and Goodell, in large part because Snyder is one of his bosses doesn’t have the balls to try and convince him to do so.


If all out bigotry doesn’t send you over the edge then what about tax evasion, domestic violence, and down right greed. America’s number one sport–by far– will generate close to $10 billion in revenue this year, that’s billion with a “B” and they will not have to pay one dime in taxes because the league is somehow designated as a non-profit organization. That’s right people a non-profit organization where owners are worth hundreds of millions of dollars and Mr. Goodell himself made $35 million last year. At a time when the country is burning economically it would be nice to have that tax revenue in the pot to you know create jobs and fund much needed government programs. There is Ray Rice delivering an uppercut to his wife’s chin and then dragging her across the floor the way a guy drags his lawnmower across grass. Rice going all Mike Tyson on his spouse was just a small matter in the eyes of Roger who only suspended the Baltimore Ravens running back for two games, This while hammering players who smoke marijuana for possibly the entire season. There is also the way the league has been shortchanging it’s retired players who are in terrible physical condition after spending years in the game. In January a Federal Court Judge threw out a $765 million concussion settlement between the league and former players because she thought that the figure wasn’t large enough to take care of everyone who had a legitimate claim. The National Football League as a whole has more than enough cash in it’s coffers to financially take care of the men who helped make the game into the nationwide phenomenon it is. It’s just too greedy to do so.


The reality is the NFL is drunk with power. It’s intoxicated with it’s own popularity, the popularity that you and I have made possible. How else do you explain the story that came out this week that said the league is asking future performers at it’s Super Bowl halftime show to pay them for the exposure that comes with the gig. Whether you like their music or not Coldplay, Katy Perry, and Rhianna have done well without the help of Goodell and company and we’ll do so in the future. Thinking that famous and well respected recording artists would go along with this arrangement is the strongest indication yet that The NFL needs to check itself before it wrecks itself. Eventually the bubble bursts for everyone and everything. Stuff like racist nicknames, abusive husbands, and rampant greed add up and people ultimately become fed up.


Look, I’m just one guy whose presence The National Football League will not miss and in no way am I saying people are wrong if they don’t join my self imposed boycott, but the only way to make the NFL understand that they have gotten too big for their britches is to turn off the televisions and stay away from the stadiums. You can enjoy the blocking and tackling in the fall if you want, as for me thank god for Netflix.



What Is The Plan After The Ferguson Unrest Ends

In April of 1967 a twenty two year old African-American construction worker named Denzel Dowell was shot and killed by members of the Martinez, California Sheriff’s Department. Dowell, a native of Richmond, California was unarmed at the time of the incident and when an autopsy was performed on his body he was found to have bullet wounds in his armpits, indicating that his hands were up when he was shot.


Dowell’s murderers were never brought to justice but the one significant event that came from his death was the formation of the original Black Panther Party For Self Defense and more importantly the unveiling of their brilliant “Ten Point Program.” It was the Ten Point Program that called for fair and equal treatment under the law for African-Americans when it came to full employment, adequate housing, the end of police brutality, and the right for black people to vote and to participate on juries.


The history lesson on Denzil Dowell and The Ten Point Program is a crucial lesson to be learned for black people in particular should Darren Wilson–the man accused of murdering eighteen year old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri– never see the inside of a prison cell. We’ve been down this road too many times before, Eleanor Bumpurs, Rodney King, Amadou Diallo, Phillip Dorismond, Sean Bell, The batting average in regards to a white cop being held accountable for the beating or murder of a person of color just isn’t that high. My fingers and toes are crossed that Wilson gets what he deserves from the law for executing Mike Brown, but that scenario coming to fruition is something that I’m not confident in.


Whatever you think of the current iteration of The Black Panthers the beauty of the Ten Point Program was that it was meant to utilize the only option that poor people and people of color have in terms of changing the process, and that option is to become part of the process. Folks knew no one would be held accountable for Denzel Dowell’s murder, but by getting black people registered to vote which also meant getting black people into the jury pool they knew that they could possibly prevent the next Denzel Dowell. If Darren Wilson is brought to trial, think about what the jury composition is going to look like in St. Louis County, remember what the Trayvon Martin jury looked like in Sanford Florida.


So much has been made about the lack of African-American participation in Ferguson’s city elections. The contrast between that and the participation of black folks living in Ferguson during the 2012 Presidential election is striking. It’s easy to be a cynic when it comes to politics particularly when we live in a time where the monopolistic, corporate bought two party system is at it’s strongest. There is a reason however why The Missouri Republican Party is all bent out of shape over people becoming registered to vote at the spot Michael Brown was murdered. They are afraid having officials like Ferguson Mayor James Knowles, Prosecuting Attorney David McCulloch, and Governor Jay Nixon become a thing of the past. The events of Ferguson have made household names out of lower level politicians like Maria Chappelle Nadal and Antonio French. Imagine either one of those individuals in true positions of power, with the ability to effect real positive change.


I’m not naive, people should always take every politician with a grain of salt, but people also have to ask themselves what other alternative do we have in terms of preventing another tragedy like Mike Brown. It has been almost twenty five years since Rodney King was beaten within an inch of his life by members of the LAPD, and yet almost twenty five years later the same city of Los Angeles has given us Ezell Ford, and Omar Abrego. Protests, while having a measured impact can only take you so far because the system is the system. While we didn’t invent the game that is so thoroughly rigged against us we do have to begin playing in it. Think of it as the 21st century’s version of the Ten Point Program.




The Racial Agitator Argument Is One That Isn’t New

“ Ladies and gentlemen, for 42 days now the city of Birmingham has been under siege from outside agitators led by Martin Luther King. Now, the President has seen fit to move some 3,000 federal troops into this state for possible use in Birmingham. These troops deployed for use in a city that does not need them. The Birmingham police, assisted by law enforcement agencies from the county and surrounding areas, and backed up by the Alabama highway patrol have the situation here under control and are working around the clock to maintain law and order.

If there is any one in this nation who understands what is going on here, it is me. I know that we have sufficient manpower, enough trained officers to keep the peace in Birmingham, without any outside help from the federal government. If the president is really sincere about wanting peace in Birmingham why doesn’t he use his great influence and ask Martin Luther King and his bunch of agitators to leave our city.

This bunch has done what they wanted to do, stir up trouble among whites and negro citizens, collected money, and have attempted to give this city a black eye to the rest of the nation. No sir, we don’t need federal troops here. What we need is for the president to show sincerity in wanting peace in Birmingham and get the outside agitators to leave us alone, and let us work out our problems locally. We will use the same tactics that we have used before.”


At least Eugene “Bull” Connor let the entire world know where he stood on fair and equal treatment under the law and how he was staunchly opposed to it for African American citizens in Birmingham Alabama. Connor, the city’s Commissioner of Public Safety at the time he made that statement, also didn’t take to kindly to people that he often referred to as “outside racial agitators.” It was that irrepressible racial animus that led Connor to unleash water hoses and dogs on Birmingham’s black children in the spring of 1963.


“I want the Factor audience and everybody else it know that this is just bull, just bull,” Now I’m hearing from the National Action Network, which is a despicable organization, that this is a smear that they put out of this video of the victim assaulting a clerk and stealing some stuff in a convenience store, There comes a point where we know what your up to, all of the racial agitators out there.”


Those aren’t the comments of an elected official hellbent on maintaining inequality in America’s justice system, A public servant determined to make sure that fairness isn’t doled out to every citizen in this great nation. Those are the words of right wing media’s biggest and most successful gasbag–sorry Rush–Bill O’Reilly.


O’Reilly offered those thoughts about the current situation that is occurring in Ferguson, Missouri where Michael Brown, an eighteen year old unarmed black man was shot and killed by Darren Wilson, a white police officer who serves on a force that has only three black cops, in a town that is two thirds African American. The case has caused the citizens of Ferguson to stage mostly peaceful protests. While some have produced looting and rioting they have not produced the arrest of Mr. Wilson.


O’Reilly and his conservative allies in media have naturally taken the position of “What the hell are black people talking about, cops aren’t racist, you people aren’t targeted and racism ended fifty years ago.” That mindset is fitting because it was slightly over fifty years ago that Connor, took the position of “what the hell are black people talking about, cops aren’t racist, you people aren’t targeted, and racism ended one hundred years ago.” Connor while complaining about Martin Luther King coming down to Birmingham displayed for the world bigotry at it’s worst. O’Reilly doesn’t have that kind of power, but by complaining about present day civil rights leaders making a much needed pilgrimage to Ferguson he is basically supporting the Connor playbook of sweeping everything under the rug while the rest of the nation is kept in the dark.


While saying that Michael Brown might have caused his own death, O’Reilly couched his “negroes shut up argument” in ridiculous word salad like the facts will come out and the justice system will render a fair verdict, whichever way it comes down.


Not only is that way of thinking short-sided but it is dripping with a type of privilege people of color will never know, it also displays an ignorance concerning the justice system that poor people and people of color know far too well. If conservatives were to bother with being honest and look at facts , they would see how the Ferguson Police Department has gone out of it’s way to protect Officer Wilson, including publicly defaming the character of Brown. The Ferguson PD has placed Wilson on administrative leave with pay, released a videotape of Brown burglarizing a bodega which officials admitted has nothing to do with the deadly encountered–and will surely poison a jury pool should the case ever come to trial,– and leaked information from a toxicology report that Brown had marijuana in his system. This after the results of a daming autopsy report were released, a report that said Brown was shot six times, twice in the head which indicate he was possibly leaning forward in a defensive position.


Truth be told the facts of the case don’t matter much to Bill-O, at least partially. If Wilson gets convicted, as he should O’Reilly will barely make mention of it on his highly rated cable news show, but if Wilson is acquitted he will have, and no doubt take the opportunity to wag his finger at people like his arch nemesis Al Sharpton, which is what this is really about.


Right-wing media exists in a world where anyway who isn’t a rich, straight, middle-aged white guy exaggerates their problems. “What restrictions to abortions,” “There is no such thing as Islamophobia,” “States should decide who gets married,” “Government shouldn’t guarantee a living wage.” The continued existence of this process takes the denigrating and the devaluing of legitimate causes and the people who are in front of them. Whatever you think of Al Sharpton, racism is still very real and very rampant, the Michael Brown case has once again confirmed this, also if it wasn’t Sharpton or Jesse Jackson there would be other living and breathing human beings conservatives would take shots at because the bodies are interchangeable, the cause is not. If an eighty-five year old Martin Luther King were alive today and still at the head of black America’s quest for fairness, O’Reilly would call him a “race hustler” or a senile old fool whose day had long passed, classic Eugene “Bull” Connor.


The Game Is Rigged In Ferguson

Let’s put it on the table. Black people didn’t light the fuse to the racial powder keg that is burning in Ferguson, Missouri right now. Darren Wilson and his band of bosses in the St. Louis suburb did.


It was Wilson who pulled his police issued revolver and fired anywhere between five and seven shots at an unarmed Michael Brown, killing him while his hands were in the air in a show of surrender. It was Wilson’s police chief Tom Jackson who took the first step towards putting Brown on trial by releasing a convenient store surveillance tape that showed the eighteen year old swiping cheap cigars and shoving a store clerk who tried to stop him just minutes before his death. It was Jackson who admitted that there was no link between that robbery and Brown’s deadly encounter with Wilson. It was the city’s mayor James Knowles, who in the wake of public unrest displayed a frighteningly high level of ignorance by suggesting the town had no racial strife when everything from traffic stops to the lack of diversity on the city’s police force would have suggested otherwise, and it was the state’s Governor Jay Nixon who was missing in action Wednesday night when the St. Louis County police force put on a performance that would have made the cops from the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago proud. Nixon’s presence hasn’t exactly made the situation better. His latest stunt, calling for a citywide curfew for it’s residents has only added to the raw anger and intense pain being felt by so many.


With all of that as a backdrop the latest developments in Ferguson have once again forced black people to defend themselves. Mike Brown’s friends and family are defending their son’s unalienable right to not be murdered in the street by someone who is sworn in by law to protect him, and his right to not have his lifeless body laid out in a residential street like a piece of roadkill for a significant amount of time before being picked up by authorities. Contrary to the beliefs of certain media personalities and outlets those friends and family have the ability to do that while simultaneously not defending his actions in that bodega. A strong armed robbery deserves an arrest and a day in court not a public execution. Ferguson’s African American community is also on the defensive. They are on the defensive against claims that the events of this past week were brought about because of their so called desire for media attention, that they are individuals being led down the wrong path by so called “race hustlers” who are only in it for themselves, and that they are no different than the small amount of selfish clowns who used the saddest of situations to loot and plunder businesses that the community as a whole are dependent upon.


This goes on while Darren Wilson remains in an undisclosed location, away from the white hot spotlight with the ability to still draw his paycheck. His bosses would have preferred that we as a public didn’t know his name and photos of him have been scrubbed clean from the internet, which implies that his anonymity is just as important as the infamy that is being attached to Michael Brown. Tom Jackson remains Ferguson’s police chief even though his impartiality went out of the window the minute Brown took his last breath. Jackson’s first instinct was to protect his officer rather than being the cop he would have been in any other situation which is one who would have conducted a thorough and fair investigation, and Jay Nixon, a man who once opposed forced busing for the benefit of black children remains Governor of a state whose black citizens have absolutely no reason to trust him. Being tardy highlighted his indifference to the situation, displaying mind boggling incompetence on top of that tardiness has forever burned any sort of bridge that may have existed.


In a Saturday press conference called by the Governor to announce Ferguson’s newly installed curfew, Nixon made no mention of Wilson’s whereabouts, why he was able to leave town–reporters have gone to his residence to find no one there–the autopsy report that was done on Brown, and if or when the state plans to move forward on possible charges. If his intention was to further incite he couldn’t have done a better job. Proclaiming that the constitutional rights of Ferguson’s citizens end at midnight, especially when Darren Wilson is lying on his couch with his feet up somewhere is not the type of message anyone with common sense would want to be sending, and yet Jay Nixon and Ferguson’s keystone cops are sending it. It is the biggest fuck you of all fuck you’s, and it comes at the end of a week where Ferguson’s black community has heard it’s share of those.


In this most crucial time where transparency is wanted and fairness is needed the higher ups in Ferguson have rigged the game. The only thing that the people who live on the other side of the tracks wanted was an honest shake instead what they are getting is another lesson on how the value of black life just isn’t that high in the eyes of some people in powerful positions.


Follow Me On Twitter @ebrew79


Why Is The Summer Of 2014 Looking Like The “Red Summer” Of 1919

The name Will Brown means as much as the name Mike Brown does.


If you’re asking the question who is that then allow me to explain. Will Brown was a regular guy who was a stockyard worker from Omaha, Nebraska. Unfortunately he was also one of the numerous African-Americans that was murdered by angry white mobs during the summer of 1919, the summer that activist James Weldon Johnson termed “Red Summer.”


Brown, like many black men during that time period found himself falsely accused of raping a 19 year old white woman named Agnes Loebeck. Loebeck’s recanting of a positive identification she made of Brown to police meant absolutely nothing given that fact he was lynched, shot, and set on fire by some of Omaha’s white citizen’s who believed that black people were not on equal footing with them.


Sadly, Brown was not alone that summer. From places as large as Chicago and Philadelphia to ones as small as Sylvester, Georgia and Newberry, South Carolina the same scenario was playing out. Black people were being murdered left and right because they were not provided protection by the law and in some cases were being murdered by the law itself.


Fast forward to the summer of 2014 where the hangman’s noose has been replaced with 9mm’s, and tightly wrapped forearms, and where lynch mobs with the worst of intentions have been replaced by bad apple cops who give the rest law enforcement a terrible name.


No matter who agrees or disagrees Will Brown and Mike Brown are joined at the hip in the same way that the 43 black men and women who were lynched during that time period are joined at the hip with John Crawford, Eric Garner, and Reneisha McBride. They are joined at the hip because very little within the fabric of America has changed. While a portion of society will pat itself on the back for electing a black President and proclaiming that we now live in a post racial world they do so without acknowledging the fact that black folks as a whole still struggle with the task of convincing the power structure that we are indeed human.


African Americans fight the battle of finding jobs with living wages and affordable housing with our right hand while trying to prevent California highway patrolmen from the beating the hell out of the Marlene Pinnocks of the world with our left. We combine the search for quality schools for our kids with the mission to keep those kids from being shot in the back by cops the way that Ezell Ford, a black 25 year old special needs person from Los Angeles was.


Pointing out the parallels between the summer of 2014 and the “Red Summer” of 1919 is not hyperbole, it’s not race-baiting, and it’s not some false sense of concern. That fact that Will Brown and Mike Brown could change places 95 years apart and find themselves in the exact same circumstance says a lot about certain aspects of America’s power structure and how they think about black bodies both then and now.