Three Things I Want You to Know – 11/21

This week was rough ya’ll. I’m thinking about taking a break from social media including blogging. I realized that I am too empathetic and this is causing me to get discouraged in humanity. Sometimes I feel like I’m losing my mind. Wondering what is going on in this world.

So, my three things that I want you to know this weekend are based off some of the things that are floating around on Facebook and in the media.

  1. Black women are not responsible for all the ills of the world. We are not solely responsible for raising our children. It takes two. Black women love themselves and I will admit that all of us have issues. Everyone, not just black women, but to say that we lack self-love and therefore we teach our sons the same thing so they have no regards for life is a fallacy that needs to stop being circulated. Instead, I implore you to change your environment and become mentors to children that don’t have a father or mother in the home and stop making blanketed statements about black women. I am a black woman and I am raising a son with no man in the house. He will be fine. Many other black boys will be too.
  2. I’m a black person. A black woman. I am not giving my black card back to the quasi-pro black police because I changed my Facebook picture in support of solidarity to the lives lost on Friday, November 13th. I know France’s history and I also know the history of the U.S. We’re no better. I can have sympathy for the tragedies that occurred in a country where my son is learning to speak their language. A place where I plan to visit in the next couple of years. To a country that has seen more tragedies than many of us can imagine. But, I’m still black. According to The New York Times there are approximately 8 million blacks living in Europe and I can support whoever the heck I want because first and foremost I am a child of God. I pray for everyone regardless of their race, nationality, religion or sexual preference.
  3. This grandstanding on not letting Syrian refugees in our country is getting on my last dang nerve. Who are you? Dang, didn’t we steal this country from the Native Americans? Aren’t we refugees? Not everyone is a terrorist and not everyone who is a Muslim is a potential threat. We have to stop this foolishness. We are a country that loves our guns but can’t stop the American terrorists who were born and raised in America from shooting up schools, killing children or blowing up government buildings and we think we are safe? These people are running from the wars in their country and seeking refuge. Hell, I want to seek refuge sometimes because I’m scared of a radical American shooting up schools. We have to stop acting like we care about people and tie it to other issues of social injustices. Separate them. Attack them one at a time. If you are not part of the solution, step the heck back and stop being a part of the problem.

Rant over.

Have a great weekend loves!

No More

No more please. No more killing of our black babies and offering up excuses. I’m tired. As a mother to a black boy, this is my deepest fear. A fear that he will not be here on this Earth all the days of my life because of senseless violence. I mean Michael Brown and Ferguson is still fresh in my mind and now we hear about Tamir Rice? How could this happen?

A boy. A baby. Not even a teenager. A child. He is six years older than my son. He is a black boy. He is someone’s son. He is not going to go on his first date. He will not go to his prom. He will not graduate high school. He will not go to college. He will not get married. He will not be a father. He is dead.

How does this happen? Why are our children being used as target practice. No more. I can’t take it. I have a son. I don’t let him play with guns. I don’t let him play video games. I don’t allow him to play alone any where. I organize play dates and I organize outings. Why? Because I’m afraid. I’m afraid that he will be used as target practice and there is nothing no one will be able to tell me.

I’m crying. Literally writing this piece with tears rolling down my face. I’m scared. Scared of looking into the eyes of my son and knowing that because he is a black boy that no matter what I do to prepare him to not be viewed as a threat, he may be killed senselessly by law enforcement. This is heartbreaking to me.

To make matters worse, how the heck can someone like former Mayor of NYC Rudy Giuliani even justify cops killing blacks by saying that “White police officers wouldn’t be in black neighborhoods, killing black men, if you weren’t killing each other.” Are you kidding me? Why would you even say that? To say that our tax dollars don’t buy us the right to have officers serve and protect without killing us or using the stop-and-frisk method because of the color of our skin is of true offense.

Understand this…I mourn all deaths due to senseless violence. But let’s get real, if my son was murdered by someone who is not a law enforcement official we would hopefully see some sort of justice. If it is law enforcement that murders him then the odds that something will happen are slim to none. He will still be dead and his murderer will be free.

My plea is simple:  Please stop killing our children. Please stop murdering my brothers, fathers, cousins and uncles. Please stop protecting those that kill the innocent. Please prosecute those who kill our children. I will go home and be able to kiss my munch, listen to him tell me about his day at school, listen to him tell me how he can’t wait to go to his grandma’s house for Thanksgiving and listen to him tell me that he loves me tonight. I will get to put him asleep, kissing his forehead and sending prayers of thanks to God for another day with him. Tamir’s parents do not have that luxury. They will have to plan a funeral.

Tamir Rice
Tamir Rice

 

Why I Vote

Today is election day. I love election day. Always have. Maybe because my mother instilled a strong sense of racial pride, politics and history that I always knew that voting was something I wanted to do. I was devastated that I couldn’t vote for President Bill Clinton in the first election. He was my hero. He was a cool white guy, who played the sax and loved black people. So at 17 I knew that I wanted him to represent me as an American. Didn’t take much, but I think his election resonated with African Americans and we felt like we had a “black” president. He was concerned about us as a people and we elected him.

I remember standing in line when I moved to Nashville to attend Fisk University at the city hall registering to vote. I was 18. I wanted to exercise my right in the electoral process and couldn’t wait. I filled out the forms and received my voter registration card. I was official. Although I didn’t cast my official ballot in Tennessee, that didn’t stop me from registering when I moved back home to Maryland and yes, I’m a Democrat. Do I believe in one party over the other? No, not really. I’m probably somewhere in the middle, but I feel as though Democrats genuinely like black people which is something I don’t quite experience in the Republican party. Doesn’t mean I dislike them, I just want them to find educated brown people that look like me and maybe I will be persuaded to change lines. Maybe.

Today is a great day because it is an historic time for African Americans. More than 100 African Americans will be on the ballots across the country. I’m loving it. How about the fact that 83 black Republicans and Democrats are running for the U.S. House and of that 83, 30 of them are women?Yep, I am still smiling. How about the fact that in Georgia, 5 black women are making history and running for statewide offices? They are known as the Georgia Five.  This is change. This is progress. This is what happens when people step up and exercise their right to vote and make change. They believe that they can make a difference.

Voting changes things. This is true:

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I’m encouraging you to get out and vote today. READ the issues affecting your county and state and vote.

Why do I vote?

I vote for me. I am a woman. I matter.

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I vote for those that marched.

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I vote because up until the Voting Rights Act I couldn’t vote. I’m from the south. This Act gave me the right to vote.

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I vote because of him.

Because he needs to understand that people died for our right to vote.
Because he needs to understand that people died for our right to vote.

I vote because it matters. Get out and vote!

The History of Labor Day

It’s Labor Day folks!

What an incredible day to be off and just spending time with the family. That is what I did today. I headed to a BBQ thrown by my beautiful nephew’s mommy (Cameron). I had a ball. As I sat there enjoying both my wonderful nephew and my blended and interracial family, I was in awe at how blessed I am. My SILIT (sister in law in training) is not only a phenomenal mother, but a phenomenal person that comes from a great family. How awesome it is that we get to spend guaranteed time off with each other eating and making memories? But, why do we have a Labor Day holiday? I couldn’t recall from U.S. history class in high school where the true origin of Labor Day came from, so I hit the internet. I wanted to find out why the government recognizes Labor Day as a national holiday and you know what? It’s pretty interesting.

Labor Day originated in the late 1800’s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States.  At that time, most people worked 12 hours each day for 7 days straight barely squeaking by. In some states, children as young as 5 or 6 worked in factories earning a fraction of working adult’s wages. Can you imagine that? My munch is 6 and I can’t imagine him working to support the family. Hard times. But, beyond the fact that we were working folks to death and illegally the workers often faced extremely unsafe working conditions.

As manufacturing grew, so did the labor unions. They began organizing strikes and rallies. They were protesting the conditions and arguing for new salaries and hours. Many  of the strikes and rallies turned violent. It was on September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march in NYC, holding the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history.

The idea of a “workingmen’s holiday,” celebrated on the first Monday in September, caught on in other industrial centers across the country. However, Congress would not legalize the holiday until 12 years later. Why did they wait 12 years to do it? Economics people! On June 26, the American Railroad Union (the union for all the railroads) called for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars. This boycott inevitably crippled the railroad industry nationwide. Now imagine only having trains and horses to transport your items and now you can’t use the faster of the two. What do you think would happen?

So, in order to end the strike, the federal government stepped in and released troops. This only made things worse because riots happened and more than a dozen workers were killed. So, the government attempted to repair ties with the workers and Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories. Cool huh? Many thanks to labor unions for organizing and requiring better wages and working conditions and many thanks to Congress for recognizing our labor.

Happy Labor Day!

 

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Sometimes I Hate Technology

As I was returning from a restful vacation with my girlfriend, I looked into my bank account to discover that I had been a victim. A victim of folks scamming my bank card and making fraudulent charges. Shopping and making purchases to stores that I don’t shop at and taking my money. Money that I worked hard to earn to be able to buy school supplies/clothes for my munch. They took it. So, yep…sometimes I hate technology.

I had dinner with my cousin, Friday night while in Tampa and his card got declined as he paid for our dinner. I offered to pay and he said, “No.” His wife covered the bill and then he discovered that someone had made a clone of his card and was making fraudulent charges in California. He posted this on Facebook the next day:

“To whoever stole my identity…I hope those couple of transactions were worth it!!! I don’t wish bad on anyone but I hope and pray that you receive the same profiling, racism and horrible customer service that comes with being a black man!!! Middle finger to all those who would rather steal than to work hard and make money!!!”

As I arrived home Monday night and was perusing Facebook, another one of my Facebook friends reported that they had been a victim too. It was this post that had me wondering what happened:

“Today I wish that the person who keeps hacking my online bank account will see his entire family die in a fiery ball of twisted metal and glass leading him to a failed suicide attempt that will leave him suffering miserably alone and in pain for the rest of his useless life.”

Today, I can truly say that I understood their pain. Looking at my empty bank account and wondering what did I do to deserve this? I had to pay bills, buy school supplies, pay before and after care tuition and buy food. I wanted to cry. You know that deep down earth shattering wounded animal type cry? The cry that wracks my body as I try to pick up the pieces of my life after being violated. But, I didn’t. I let the tears slide gently down my face and do what I do best. Research and write.

In February, Fox Business reported that every two seconds someone becomes a victim of identity theft in the U.S. That is ridiculous! I guess it’s no wonder why I was chosen. Every two seconds? That’s 30 people a minute. Unbelievable! What is going on people? I’m sure the money you spend to scam hardworking individuals can be better used to enroll in college and get a job than shopping at Lord and Taylor and Victoria’s Secret.

So, I’m calming down and I am thankful that it wasn’t a credit card too. I monitor those just as closely. Minor inconvenience aside, I’m fortunate that it wasn’t worse. But, here’s what the Department of Justice is recommending should you become a victim of identity theft.

To reduce or minimize the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft or fraud, there are some basic steps you can take. For starters, just remember the word “SCAM”:

S Be stingy about giving out your personal information to others unless you have a reason to trust them, regardless of where you are:

At Home:

1. Start by adopting a “need to know” approach to your personal data. Your credit card company may need to know your mother’s maiden name, so that it can verify your identity when you call to inquire about your account. A person who calls you and says he’s from your bank, however, doesn’t need to know that information if it’s already on file with your bank; the only purpose of such a call is to acquire that information for that person’s personal benefit. Also, the more information that you have printed on your personal bank checks — such as your Social Security number or home telephone number — the more personal data you are routinely handing out to people who may not need that information.

2.If someone you don’t know calls you on the telephone and offers you the chance to receive a “major” credit card, a prize, or other valuable item, but asks you for personal data — such as your Social Security number, credit card number or expiration date, or mother’s maiden name — ask them to send you a written application form.

3.If they won’t do it, tell them you’re not interested and hang up.

4.If they will, review the application carefully when you receive it and make sure it’s going to a company or financial institution that’s well-known and reputable. The Better Business Bureau can give you information about businesses that have been the subject of complaints.

On Travel:

1.If you’re traveling, have your mail held at your local post office, or ask someone you know well and trust ­another family member, a friend, or a neighbor ­ to collect and hold your mail while you’re away.

2.If you have to telephone someone while you’re traveling, and need to pass on personal financial information to the person you’re calling, don’t do it at an open telephone booth where passersby can listen in on what you’re saying; use a telephone booth where you can close the door, or wait until you’re at a less public location to call.

C Check your financial information regularly, and look for what should be there and what shouldn’t:

What Should Be There:

1.If you have bank or credit card accounts, you should be receiving monthly statements that list transactions for the most recent month or reporting period.

2.If you’re not receiving monthly statements for the accounts you know you have, call the financial institution or credit card company immediately and ask about it.

3.If you’re told that your statements are being mailed to another address that you haven’t authorized, tell the financial institution or credit card representative immediately that you did not authorize the change of address and that someone may be improperly using your accounts. In that situation, you should also ask for copies of all statements and debit or charge transactions that have occurred since the last statement you received. Obtaining those copies will help you to work with the financial institution or credit card company in determining whether some or all of those debit or charge transactions were fraudulent.

What Shouldn’t Be There:

1.If someone has gotten your financial data and made unauthorized debits or charges against your financial accounts, checking your monthly statements carefully may be the quickest way for you to find out. Too many of us give those statements, or the enclosed checks or credit transactions, only a quick glance, and don’t review them closely to make sure there are no unauthorized withdrawals or charges.

2.If someone has managed to get access to your mail or other personal data, and opened any credit cards in your name or taken any funds from your bank account, contact your financial institution or credit card company immediately to report those transactions and to request further action.

A Ask periodically for a copy of your credit report.

Your credit report should list all bank and financial accounts under your name, and will provide other indications of whether someone has wrongfully opened or used any accounts in your name.

M Maintain careful records of your banking and financial accounts.

Even though financial institutions are required to maintain copies of your checks, debit transactions, and similar transactions for five years, you should retain your monthly statements and checks for at least one year, if not more. If you need to dispute a particular check or transaction especially if they purport to bear your signatures ­ your original records will be more immediately accessible and useful to the institutions that you have contacted.

Even if you take all of these steps, however, it’s still possible that you can become a victim of identity theft. Records containing your personal data — credit-card receipts or car-rental agreements, for example — may be found by or shared with someone who decides to use your data for fraudulent purposes.

Now that we all know what to do and I have calmed down, I realized this fundamental truth:

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I choose to become a VICTOR. How about you?

Ferguson – Day 12

The community of Ferguson, Missouri is still experiencing civil unrest and my news and social media feeds are being dominated by all the activity. One of the things that I feel has occurred is that we keep forgetting the reason why we are protesting… The death of an unarmed young man. There are too many unanswered questions and journalists want to sensationalize the actions of a few misguided and misinformed protesters than focus on this issue. Ask the questions. Why did he die? Why did Officer Darren Wilson shoot him when he said he was unarmed? Why did his body lay in the streets for four hours? Why did the police chief release footage to try and discredit or taint this man’s reputation? Why did the governor allow tear gas and smoke bomb canisters to be deployed? Why did the governor issue a curfew? Why are people trying to say that because Michael Brown attended an alternative school he was somehow shady? Why haven’t the police interviewed Michael Brown’s friend that walking with him? Why are there conflicting stories about what truly happened?

You see? A lot of unanswered questions.

Please read the timeline by USA Today and watch the video below in which Jessie Williams, actor, discusses his outrage over the media’s coverage of Michael Brown.

And I think this tweet explains how I feel at the moment…

Is Ferguson a case of class warfare?

Ferguson, Missouri the scene of Michael Brown’s death last week has been put on the map. The New York Times reported that Ferguson has about 21,000 residents, in which 63% are black. There are 33% white and 3% other. What is interesting about this town (which is 20 minutes outside of St. Louis) is the fact that 92% of arrests are black residents and 86% of all stops are black residents. Astounding statistics, but I’m not surprised. In any small town populated by majority of blacks you probably will see the trend where the color of the police force doesn’t match the residents. With all the things that have happened and continue to happen in Ferguson since Michael Brown’s death, I’m left wondering is the bigger issue more of class than race?

The situation in Ferguson has escalated since the August 9th shooting. Last week the police chief released a video showing a “robbery” that the victim, Michael Brown, allegedly committed before he was shot. Michael Brown hadn’t even been buried yet. The police chief was trying to show cause for the officer shooting Brown. But, that video did nothing but escalate the tensions in an already ticking time bomb city. People were angry. The fact that the police chief seems incompetent has furthered their rage. So, in comes the governor trying to restore the order of things and he in fact makes it worse. He decides to set a curfew. He wanted to curb the civil unrest. But, tear gas and smoke into the crowds only made matters worse. On Sunday night, some protesters became violent and attacked the officers with firebombs and gunfire. Why? Don’t we need to focus on the issue? So, of course the governor announced yesterday that he will deploy the National Guard to restore order.

Last week, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine and I asked the question, what do you think about the situation in Ferguson? I told him, that I dread having to teach my son that he should always be respectful of others, but especially officers because I don’t want him “viewed as a suspect” and gunned down. His response…

“The problem with the “making sure our young men are respectable” argument is that Police target Black youth regardless. In fact they are targeting anyone they don’t think comes from wealth. While the media has made many of these incidents simply about race it points to a bigger problem of class warfare against lower income citizens. It just so happens that in this country the Black community for the most part is on the low end of the economic scale. This is why many Police have little regard for us. They’ll think someone White is more likely to have a higher income than a minority regardless of appearance. Go to any country and the citizens the Police abuse the most are poor people.

The only way Blacks can help stop these attacks and protect our civil rights is to have a greater economic base as a community that wields more influence on the Political Landscape and Legal system. The community is always so divided and selfish on so many levels that anything that would require cooperation and sharing is virtually impossible for us.

I just had a debate with a young guy on twitter. He doesn’t agree it’s about economics and thinks it’s just about skin color. I tried to explain that it’s deeper than that. If we had more power as a community then police would have to reform 1.Hiring practices 2.Police Procedures 3.Punishments for misconduct. A community only can push to get reforms through if they have economic weight. We don’t have any. We’re still the red headed stepchild of the US. We just have sprinkles of wealth among a few individuals but that’s it. We have trillions of dollars in spending power but it gets wasted on short term materialistic nonsense instead of being put to long term viable use. We’ve been playing Checkers for years and reacting instead of playing Chess and thinking steps ahead trying to proactively nip things in the bud.”

Deep huh? I thought so too. Another conversation with my girlfriends last night about Ferguson had me thinking that maybe my friend’s point of view had merit. She said, “The situation in Ferguson is being tainted by all the looters instead of the real issue which is the fact that this young man was shot. These people are not exercising their judicial rights of voting the people that they want in office. They can always write a letter to their attorney general for all the problems that they are facing with regards to the police.” I pondered her statement and then responded, “But how many black people know that?” I told her what my friend said, “This is a bigger issue than race, it is a class issue and how many of us in the middle class are doing enough to educate the lower class on their rights?”

Black people have gotten away from the grassroots efforts that we use to utilize in the 1950’s and 1960’s when we were fighting for Civil Rights and fair housing in our own communities. We began to create silos and sectioned ourselves from those who didn’t have as much as we did: money, education, connections. We became the haves and have nots. Our education became the fundamental difference between us and others. We moved into our big homes in neighborhoods that weren’t predominately black and started going to exclusive black clubs. We became bougie and disengaged from our brethren who couldn’t move out of the hood. Whether it be lack of economics or education, we didn’t try to bridge the gap of each one teach one.

Ferguson is not just a race issue but one of class warfare. Class warfare is defined on Dictionary.com as “the struggle for political and economic power carried on between capitalists and workers.” Isn’t this what my friend was just saying? Isn’t that the point of my girlfriend’s argument? Deeper than race. It’s economics and politics. Just last week, Peter Mccoy, wrote an article for Bloomberg Businessweek in which he said

“The map of St. Louis County, the home of Ferguson, looks like a shattered pot. It’s broken into 91 municipalities that range from small to tiny, along with clots of population in unincorporated areas. Dating as far back as the 19th century, communities set themselves up as municipalities to capture control of tax revenue from local businesses, to avoid paying taxes to support poorer neighbors, or to exclude blacks. Their behavior has ranged from somewhat parochial to flatly illegal.”

Class warfare right? But is there anything that we can do to change this? Probably not, because the issue is deeper than the poor blacks or poor whites in this country but one that unites us based on income levels. The richer have better opportunities to ensuring that their voices are being met because more money = more political power. I read this great article by Bill Moyers titled “The Great American Class War” whereby he talked about interviewing former Supreme Court Justice William Brennan about a documentary that he was doing for public television and how Justice Brennan worried about the “looming size of government”. This quote in the article about a speech that Justice Brennan made that went to the heart of the matter. He said:

“We do not yet have justice, equal and practical, for the poor, for the members of minority groups, for the criminally accused, for the displaced persons of the technological revolution, for alienated youth, for the urban masses… Ugly inequities continue to mar the face of the nation. We are surely nearer the beginning than the end of the struggle.”

So, can anything be done? Are we stuck in a class war that is brewing over and showing its ugly head in small town America? In an area, like Ferguson, will we continue to see the problems that America keeps trying to sweep under it’s rug because poor blacks don’t have the financial backing to ensure that their government elected officials are working for them? In an urban area, do we have to institute more grassroots efforts to educate the poorer classes on their rights and not just during election time?

We can’t let what we know and perceive to be true push us as a community to loot or be involved in illegal activities in spite of the misguided efforts of the elected government officials. Don’t resort to violence or you will forget that the point of the peaceful protests is to shed light on the injustices that occurred in that small town. The wheels of justice are slow, but they work as long as we are diligent and active and not combative to law enforcement. Remember, united as one, we shall overcome someday.

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