April 29, 2011

Taser Death: Jairious McGhee (Tampa FL)

It happened again! This time a Tampa police officer decided that the best way to deal with a young man suffering from viral meningitis was to electrocute him with 50,000 volts of electricity from a taser gun. [SOURCE]

Doctors told police that Jairious McGhee apparently was suffering from viral meningitis when he was taken to Tampa General Hospital for psychiatric evaluation Saturday, April 2. Viral meningitis is a fairly common disease caused by a number of viruses. Symptoms can include a high fever and severe headache; it's serious but rarely fatal.

Here is how police are spinning the story. They say that a motorist flagged down Officer Greg Preyor about 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 2, to report a crazy man was beating on cars.  Preyor approached McGhee, and asked whether he was OK. McGhee had urinated on himself, and had bloodshot eyes and dry lips.

Commonsense tells me that McGhee wasn't 'OK'. However, instead of expressing concern for the health of the unarmed young man ... Officer Preyor decided to escalate the situation.

Police say that McGhee lunged at Preyor and tried to punch the officer, who fired his Taser, striking McGhee in the chest. McGhee remained aggressive, so Preyor pointed his gun at the ground and told him to calm down.

Of course McGhee isn't able to tell his side of the story. He's dead.

The police eventually took McGhee to the Tampa General Hospital. He had a 105-degree temperature when he got to the hospital. He was dead less than 24 hours later.

The police have already done their own internal investigation. They've determined Preyor's deployment of his Taser was appropriate. The police indicate that "the level of force used was entirely determined by the actions of Mr. McGhee."

Jairious McGhee
McGhee's mother doesn't believe he had the disease. She said he appeared healthy hours before the incident.
"He hugged and kissed me and said, 'Mom, I love you. I'll see you when you get back,'" Melody Thompson said.
Thompson disputes the police account. She said her son was smart and energetic. A chef, he hoped to open an international cuisine restaurant.
"He was a loving, kind boy," Thompson said. "He got along with everybody."

April 28, 2011

Taser Autopsy: Rodney Brown (Cleveland, OH)

I think it is fair to say that most county coroners have a great deal of 'book sense' and very little 'commonsense'.

Commonsense tells me that 40-year old Rodney Brown would have been alive to see the new year if his path hadn't crossed the path of taser-wielding Cleveland police officers on December 31, 2010.

'Book sense' tells the Cuyahoga County coroner's office that 50,000 volts of electricity from a taser gun had nothing to do with Rodney Brown's death. [SOURCE]
Brown died of "cardiopulmonary arrest following physical exertion during law enforcement activity," spokesman Powell Caesar said.

Contributing factors were "hypertensive cardiovascular disease" and "chronic pulmonary disease," Caesar said.
Villagers will recall that unidentified police officers stopped Brown's car near his home for a traffic offense on 12/31/2010. Brown lost his cool and ran from the officers. They caught up to him less than two blocks away ... and they electrocuted him with a taser gun. Brown was rushed to University Hospitals, where he was pronounced dead later that evening.

Brown's family criticized the use of force after a traffic offense. They said he was shocked at least twice. There were no warrants for his arrest.

The city's Use of Deadly Force and Integrity Control teams have not yet completed their investigations.

April 27, 2011

Am I Not Human? Hole in the Head, A Life Revealed

Sometimes you think that you've lived long enough that nothing can surprise you. It seems that every plot in a movie has been told ... and every element of racism in America has been revealed.

Then you learn about Vertus Hardiman. Vertus Hardiman hid a shocking secret under a wig & beanie for over 80 years. He was experimented on at a county hospital in Indiana during 1927. Vertus was one of ten children, all experimented on with radiation back in the day.

I knew about the Tuskegee experiments on syphilis with unsuspecting Black men. I didn't know about the experiments on radiation with Black children until I saw the following video clip.   WARNING:  The clip starts off in a benign manner ... but, it takes a graphic turn towards the middle.

This feature length documentary tells the story of Vertus Hardiman and nine other young children, attending the same elementary school in Lyles Station Indiana who, in 1927 were severely irradiated during a medical experiment conducted at the local county hospital. The experiment was misrepresented as a newly developed cure for the scalp fungus known as ringworm. In reality the ringworm fungus was merely the lure used to gain access to innocent children whose unsuspecting parents blindly signed permission slips for the treatment.

Vertus was five years old and the youngest. Now after 20 years of friendship with writer/producer Wilbert Smith, through their church choir, Vertus unburdens himself to Wilbert with an incredible story, finally exposing the severe physical complication caused by this shocking medical crime. This crime had severe physical complications for Vertus – namely a harshly irradiated and malformed head, with an actual hole in his skull.

You can learn more about this film and this story here Just the idea of this happening in America turns my stomach.   However, it also reinforces the idea that we have to tell OURstory ... and never be limited or misled by HIS-story!

Roots of Humanity feels that each of us can fight against human rights abuses in the world. We simply need to do something. Protest. Meditate. Pray. In the case of bloggers ... we want you to blog on the 27th of each month. Just share information on behalf of our human siblings in all suffering areas who are either barred from communication by their governments, or lacking in technology to ask: Am I Not Human?

'Freedom' = Owning Your Own Business

In the United States of America lies a large industrial city which is the site of one of the world's largest slave labor camps.

Located in and around the center of this city are community settlements where the slaves live.
Each morning the slaves move herd-like from their quarters into the slave labor camps.

Each one is at his or her station by 7:30 AM. Here they report to their master for the day's duties. And here they remain chained until 5:00 PM when they're released to go home.

The slaves have no choice as to how many hours they must labor. Sometimes they are required to work overtime until their master tells them they may leave and go home.

Each year the slaves are told when to take their vacations, for how long, and when they must return.

They have little choice as to how much money they earn as they are paid not what they are worth, but what the job is worth.

They are allowed very little time for lunch and coffee breaks during the labor hours.

The slaves will remain in their chains in great fear because the master can punish them with the "firing" or "layoff" whip.

It is said that even some of the older slaves who have been good and faithful have felt the sting of the whip.

Day by day, year-by-year, the slaves toil and grow older until the master decides it is time to release them to the retirement camps where they're forced to sit idle and wait for death.
It's a well-known fact that the old slaves who try to keep working are sometimes whipped with a "stop-their-pension" whip.

I know these slave camps exist for I once was a slave. But now I am a free man who lives among the slaves.

The reason I am free is because I am in business for myself as an Entrepreneur.

Yes, I am truly free. I arise in the morning at the hour called for by my schedule. I decide my own hours. I can even sleep in late while the slaves are at work. I can vacation when, where, and for how long I please. I'm free to take my coffee break and lunch when I decide.

And of course, I can decide my own paycheck because I am not a slave.

I can choose to work when and where I please and with whom I please.

I'm free to stay in the city for as long as I want, or to move on to greener pastures if I decide to.  I've seen many slaves sadly pack their belongings to leave their city in search of a new master, but it is always the same.

There is, however, a ray of hope for the slave.

He or she can buy their own freedom.

The cost is not high, yet it seems high to those who do not have the courage to pay the price.

What is the price?


April 26, 2011

Taser Death: Kevin Campbell (Tallahassee, FL)

It happened again! Police in Florida are getting very active with their taser guns lately. Unidentified Tallahassee police officers electrocuted 39-year old Kevin Darius Campbell on Monday because he was behaving 'erratically' outside of an apartment complex. [SOURCE]

The police say that Campbell was running up and down the steps, in and out of his apartment, before running into a woman's apartment. Officers found Campbell inside the woman's apartment. Police say that Campbell struggled as they tried to detain him.  One of the unidentified police officers pumped 50,000 volts of electricity into him with a taser gun. Of course Campbell isn't around to give his side of the story ... he's dead.

Campbell became unresponsive. He was transported to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Campbell disrespected the police ... resisted arrest ... and now he's dead. Can anybody show me where the penalty for resisting arrest is DEATH?

Good News Tuesday: Titus Thomas, The Future Face of Technology

Titus Thomas
BDPA Education and Technology Foundation (BETF) has given out over 85 Jesse Bemley Scholarships valued at $154,000 since 1999 to talented high school students with a passion for science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) education. We are proud of all of these young men and women.  

Titus Thomas is our next Bemley Scholar.

He is a 3-time participant in the National BDPA High School Computer Competition (HSCC) championships as a member of two chapters (Northern Virginia and Washington DC).  Titus will use his Bemley Scholarship to defray expenses for attending Bowie State University. He shared his thoughts on BDPA with us:

My name is Titus Thomas and I am a freshman in college. I grew up in Washington D.C. In comparison to others, my life has somewhat been a bed of roses. I have two strict but loving parents, who teach me, care for me and feed me, not just to make me happy, but also to keep me healthy. I grew up with an older brother and an older and younger sister. Because of my parents I am the smart, creative and helpful person I am today. They taught me the difference between right and wrong.

For hobbies I developed the natural desire to play video-games but there was another game that I took interest in that other kids did not, Chess. At times my dad would take me after school to visit my mom at her job. There, I met the man who I have always known as “Mr. Bradley.” He taught me the basics. I used what he taught me to challenge my older brother in a series of chess games, where I was unsuccessful but I did not let that stop me. During middle school, I joined the chess club, where I furthered my skills until I realized that I was the best player in the school.

I attended one of the best schools in Washington D.C. with a clean academic history. I became one of the best chess players in the city at my age and was in the International Baccalaureate program. My dreams have been centered on being a technologist, mechanic, or aerospace engineer, but now I have decided to do something that I always have loved - a computer scientist. Like chess, I have always been a good “techie.” Around school I help teachers with their computer if it is acting up and help my parents and friends do certain things in Microsoft Word. I did not truly understand my passion for computers and technology until I joined the BDPA program where students compete internationally by creating websites using computer coding languages such as Hypertext Markup Language, Cascading Style Sheets and JavaScript. Our team placed in fourth in 2008 and third in 2009 and second place in 2010.

Looking back I can say the HSCC program is the reason for where I am and who I am today. I began participating in my first year of high school where I basically sat in each class and goofed off with my friends. Our HSCC coordinator, Mr. Lou Shack, saw that I had much more potential and would always treat me like I would do something great with my life, which I had a bigger purpose than to just, sit around all day doing nothing. So I got my act together next year and placed fourth in the 2008 National HSCC championship with my team.

Each national competition had new surprises and people to meet. From military leaders to the vice president of Wal-Mart, the networking never ended! The four years have gone by very quickly and now that I am in college the HSCC group continues to help guide me. Nothing but good has come from participating to the HSCC program and I would recommend it to any high school student who is interested in using computers.

And now in college I expect to learn as much as I can about computers as well as make good grades so that when I graduate from college, with my bachelors or masters in Computer Science, I can find a good job doing what I love. I also want to be able to return to the HSCC group that helped me get into college and help them in teaching their computer class.

BETF is very proud of Titus. We hope that you are proud of him as well. You can help us provide scholarships to many more if you have inclination to do so. We need your financial support if we hope to continue handing out these Bemley Scholarships in the future.

In the meantime, we hope you will REPLY or COMMENT on this post with your thoughts about this testimonial from Titus.  Share some BDPA-love with this young man!

This blog will continue to seek out Good News stories about people of African descent and share them with you each Tuesday. We need to tell the positive and upbeat information about OURstory. We can't depend on others to do it for us. Please pass along any Good News story that comes your way. In the case of bloggers ... we want you to join our Good News parade every Tuesday.

Taser Death: Ronald Armstrong (Pinehurst, NC)

It happened again! We are just now getting word that 43-year old Ronald Armstrong was tasered-to-death by unidentified Pinehurst (NC) police officers. There is some discrepancy about the number of times 50,000 volts of electricity were pumped into Armstrong's body. His family says that he was tasered at least three times. [SOURCE]

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is examining Armstrong's death. He was being taken into custody by members of the Pinehurst Police Department Saturday night based on an involuntary mental health commitment order.

The police spin on the story is that Armstrong resisted and fought with unidentified Pinehurst officers. One or more of the officers used a taser gun on Armstrong. He collapsed and stopped breathing.

Pinehurst (NC) Police Dept.
Officers immediately performed CPR and called for an ambulance. Armstrong was transported to Moore Regional Hospital where efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.  He died.

The officers who killed Armstrong have been placed on paid administrative leave.

I keep asking a simple question -- since when does resisting arrest have a punishment of the death penalty? Why do law enforcement officers all over the nation feel it is justifiable to kill an unarmed man whenever that man disrespects them (or resists arrest)?

April 25, 2011

Haley Barbour Realizes He Can't Beat Obama So He Won't Run

It is nice to see that the political world will not have to re-litigate race relations as explained to us by ol' school white southern Republican governor Haley Barbour (R-MS). Barbour decided that he won't try to run against Barack Obama for the presidency in 2012. [SOURCE]
I will not be a candidate for president next year. This has been a difficult, personal decision, and I am very grateful to my family for their total support of my going forward, had that been what I decided,” he said.

Hundreds of people have encouraged me to run and offered both to give and raise money for a presidential campaign. Many volunteers have organized events in support of my pursuing the race. Some have dedicated virtually full time to setting up preliminary organizations in critical, early states and to helping plan what has been several months of intensive activity.

I greatly appreciate each and every one of them and all their outstanding efforts. If I have disappointed any of them in this decision, I sincerely regret it.”
Barbour doesn't have the "fire in the belly" to get into a campaign that would be sure to turn on race relations at some point. The press wouldn't be able to resist the story line of a white Southerner who waxes philosophically on the Ku Klux Klan and its ilk versus an African American incumbent. Perhaps this is a good sign to know that Barbour didn't have the stomach for it ... perhaps it means that America won't tolerate it from other GOP candidates either.

It is nice to see Haley Barbour is no longer going to be part of the national political debate. Who's next?

Will Ken Blackwell Make Ohio Live the Nightmare Over Again?

Am I the only one that thinks Ken Blackwell stole that presidential election for George W. Bush back in the day? As such, it turns my stomach to realize that Blackwell wants to run for the U.S. Senate in Ohio.

Of course, like most GOP candidates nowadays ... Blackwell is timing his decision about entering the senatorial campaign on his upcoming book tour.

I'm trying to find comfort in the fact that Blackwell has been on a serious losing streak since his time as Ohio's Secretary of State. He was the GOP nominee for Ohio governor back in 2006 ... and he lost by more than 20 points. Later he ran against Michael Steele for the Republican National Committee chair ... and he got his butt kicked.

I guess that 'karma' has been full effect for Blackwell. I hope that 'karma' can take us through another election cycle. I'm simply not up to living the nightmare of having Ken Blackwell as my senator here in Ohio.

April 24, 2011

The Great Debate: High Tech vs. High Touch

April Gillespie
by April Gillespie, Catalyst for Everlasting Change
and Founder/CEO of Starseed Consulting

In the 21st century, this age of information technology, we are surrounded by gadgets that allow us to stay connected. The question is how much connecting are we really doing?

With 2,000 friends on Facebook, 800 connections on LinkedIn and 4,000 followers on Twitter, how well are we really connecting with our fellow man?

The Great Debate has begun. How is technology affecting our relationships in our family life, businesses and with friends?

About a year ago, a mentor of mine by the name of Jeff Olson spoke on this topic – High Tech vs. High Touch - at a large self improvement conference in Chicago. Jeff Olson is world renown for his best-selling personal development book, The Slight Edge, but he is also a leadership expert, business philosopher, motivational speaker, billionaire entrepreneur and personal development coach to those like Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump and more. As a student of the personal development industry I quickly became fascinated by the struggle human beings are enduring today to balance technology and personal relationships.

Do you remember the days when the only way you could get in touch with a friend was when they were at home and you had to leave a message on their….answering machine?

Or when a guy was late picking up a girl for a date and all she could do was wait – there was no Facebook messaging, texting or instant messaging to find out his ETA.

As we work to manage all of these fabulous resources that are creating billion dollar business deals, helping no-name artists get record deals through YouTube, and bringing people together virtually to create life-long matrimony, let’s not forget that although we live in an information age, information is useless unless we are creating “high touch” relationships in the process.

Here are a few tips to help us accomplish this:
  1. Say Thank you! - Our mothers worked to instill this sense of gratitude in us at a young age but ask yourself, how many times do you say thank you when someone approves your friend request on Facebook or LinkedIn? A simple acknowledgement through a quick thank you goes a VERY long way when it comes to building connections vs. just communicating. This simple gesture in gratitude shows the other person that you aren’t taking their relationship for granted but you genuinely care to get to know them.
  2. Be Different. - If there is one thing that irks my nerves more than anything is when people request to connect with me on LinkedIn, which is supposedly a more professional environment than many other social networks, but all I get is this generic “I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” My question is WHY DO YOU WANT TO CONNECT WITH ME?? We must remember that our presence and communication on the social networks are an extension of who we are in real life! If you don’t think you’re generic then don’t use a generic introduction. You wouldn’t do that in person would you? Let’s be different, ingenious, helpful and inspiring! I do some advertising work for human resources professionals; so if I’m connecting with someone in HR I might say something like, “As a fellow HR professional in greater Cincinnati, I would be honored with your connection. Please let me know how I can be of service to you personally or professionally.” Adapt this to your industry and what you seek to accomplish of course, but remember that if social media is going to be your first impression to a key decision maker, it better be an authentic one.
  3. Request a real life interaction. - Here is where the “high touch” comes into play. Remember that just because a small head-shot and bunch of text is on a page does not mean that person is a robot. They have feelings, emotions, hopes and maybe even some dreams that you might be able to help them accomplish. This high touch interaction could be coffee before work, a quick telephone conversation or inviting them to accompany you to a networking event that you feel they could benefit from based on what you learn from the content on their page. I’ve even created connections with people on LinkedIn in other states where I travel, then when I’m in planning to be in their area I send them a quick note requesting a time for lunch, dinner or coffee and every time they are excited to meet with me, collaborate and see how we can help each other. It’s a beautiful experience to see how technology can bring us all together but let’s not forget about how to translate that into an authentic personal connection.
Regardless of where you work or what business you are in, we are all working with these weird units called HUMAN BEINGS. We no longer live in an environment where we can hide behind our desks and block out the rest of the world – the world, and all these weird units in it will find you. Human beings long for high touch interactions and we can never underestimate this fact regardless of how advanced technology becomes. Your customers still want to hear your voice, shake your hand, and even play a round of golf with you from time to time. Leverage technology – high tech – to start initial communication but be sure to truly connect with others live via phone and in person – high touch – to fully maximize the power of technology.

April 23, 2011

OURStory: Moors of North Africa

I recently watched television series called Spartacus: Blood and Sand and Spartacus: Gods of the Arena. I enjoyed the show immensely ... especially the enslaved Moor known as Oenomaus who eventually became the Doctore of the gladiators. The story of the Moors is rarely told on television or in the movies.

The world news is filled with stories of conflicts in the so-called Middle East. Sometimes folks here in America don't realize that these stories are taking place in northern Africa ... ancestral home of the Moors.

When the Romans entered West Africa in 46 B.C., they saw Africans and called them Maures, from the Greek adjective Mauros, meaning dark or black. It is from Mauros and the Latin term Marues that the word Moor is derived. Since the inhabitants of North Africa were Black, the Romans and later the Europeans called them Moors. It is no coincidence that the land inhabited by the Moors was called Mauritania and Morocco, meaning "Land of the Blacks."

In the beginning of the seventh century, the Arab prophet, Muhammad, began to preach the word of Islam. Consumed with religious fervor, the Arabs sought to spread Islam and conquer the world. By 708, the Arabs had overrun North Africa. Consequently, Moors in large numbers accepted Arabic as the national language and converted to their conqueror's religion, Islam. Interestingly, hundreds of years later, Africans who had been enslaved by Europeans would again convert to their conqueror's religion, Christianity.

After the fall of the Roman Empire (fifth century), Spain was held by a barbaric white tribe, the Visigoths. Though they were Christians, their brand of Christianity was cruel and unjust. For this reason, Spain's Jews, serfs, and slaves looked favorably upon the arrival of a new civilization in which they would be able to live free of persecution.

Tarik, a great African chief, was given the rank of general in the Arab army and sent to raid Spain. On April 30, 711, Tarik landed on the Spanish Coast with 7,000 troops. His troops consisted of 300 Arabs and 6,700 native Africans (Moors). An ancient source, Ibn Husayn (ca. 950, recorded that these troops were "Sudanese", an Arabic word for Black people.

The Moors were unstoppable, and Visigothic Spain ceased to be. The few resisting Visigoths fled to the caves of the Cantabrian Mountains. Later in the century, the cave dwellers would venture out of the Cantabrian Mountains and reclaim parts of northern Spain.

The Moors of Africa were the real conquerors. When the Arabs arrived, the hardest part of the job had been done. Instead of treating the Moors fairly, the Arab chiefs assigned themselves the most fertile regions. The dissatisfied Moors were not long in coming to blows with the Arabs. (The History of Spain by Louis Bertrand and Sir Charles Petrie - published by Eyre & Spottiswood, London, 1945, page 36). Ultimately, the Moors acquired two-thirds of the peninsula, which they named Al-Andulus.

Al-Andulus was obliged to pay tribute to the Arab Caliph (King) of Damascus. As Al-Andulus acquired its own identity, its bond with the Caliph began to weaken. In 756, Al-Andulus proclaimed itself an independent state. Thus, its only links to the Arabs would be the Islamic faith and the Arabic language.

The Moorish architectural remains in Cordoba, Seville, and Granada prove conclusively that these cities were more prosperous and artistically more brilliant than any Christian cities in Europe at the time. The Moors of Al-Andulus held the torch of leaning and civilization when the rest of Europe was plunged in barbaric ignorance.

If Moorish Spain had been an accomplishment of the Arabs it would have been called Arab or Arabic Spain. Instead it bears the name of its creators, the Moors, i.e., Moorish Spain.

Moorish culture was Black in origin, bright in Achievement, and powerful in its influence on the rest of Europe.

Sometimes it is important to take a moment for OURstory ... we cannot forever be mis-educated by HIS-story all the time! What can you share with us about the Moors of North Africa?

April 22, 2011

Taser Death: Adam Johnson (Orlando FL)

It happened again. This time an off-duty Orlando police officer decided he was within his rights to pull out a taser gun to pump 50,000 volts of electricity into 33-year old Adam Spencer Johnson. Why? Because he thought that Johnson was acting irrationally.

Since when does being irrational earn you the death penalty?

According to Orlando police, officers working off-duty at the theme park were called by Universal Orlando security about a person who was acting irrational -- pacing back and forth, pulling his hair and rubbing his beard -- in front of the theater at Universal CityWalk.
"The security from Universal said that he may have been grabbing a patron. His behavior was completely irrational," Orlando police Sgt. Barb Jones said.
Johnson hadn't grabbed anyone ... in fact, he hadn't done anything violent at all ... at least not until the off-duty Orlando police officers tried to restrain the man. At that point the unidentified police officer electrocuted Johnson with a taser gun.

While the man was on the ground, he became non-responsive, police said. The officers performed CPR on the man, who was then taken to the hospital. He died earlier this morning.

Johnson worked for the last several years as the Operations Manager at Crown Shredding in Winter Haven.  He told co-workers that he planned to celebrate his birthday in Orlando with a friend from out of town.

We understand that there is surveillance video of this taser-related killing. Our hope is that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, who is investigating this killing, will share the video with the public.

All of the Orlando police officers, one of whom was on patrol and four who were working off-duty, will be placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure.

Are You Watching 'Black in Latin America' on PBS?

Are you watching Black in Latin America? It's the new four-part series on the influence of African descent on Latin America. Turns out that renowned Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. has been doing more than drinking beer at the White House. Gates has written and presented 11 documentary films including African American Lives (2006), Oprah’s Roots (2007), African American Lives 2 (2008), Looking for Lincoln (2009), and Faces of America (2010).

Six Latin-American countries are featured in the series
: Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru

Black in Latin America, premiering nationally Tuesdays April 19 and 26 and May 3 and 10, 2011 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings), examines how Africa and Europe came together to create the rich cultures of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Latin America is often associated with music, monuments, and sun, but each of the six countries featured in Black in Latin America including Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru, has a secret history. On his journey, Professor Gates discovers, behind a shared legacy of colonialism and slavery, vivid stories and people marked by African roots.

Twelve-and-a-half million Africans were shipped to the New World during the Middle Passage. While just over 11.0 million survived the arduous journey, only about 450,000 of them arrived in the United States. The rest ... more than 10.5 million ... were taken to the Caribbean and Latin America and kept in bondage far longer than the slaves in the United States. This astonishing fact changes the entire picture of the history of slavery in the Western hemisphere, and of its lasting cultural impact. These millions of Africans created new and vibrant cultures, magnificently compelling syntheses of various African, English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish influences.

Despite their great numbers, the cultural and social worlds that they created remain largely unknown to most Americans, except for certain popular, cross-over musical forms. In his new series, Professor Gates sets out on a quest to discover how Latin Americans of African descent live now; how Latin American countries acknowledge ... or deny ... their African past; and how the fact of race and African ancestry play themselves out in the multicultural worlds of the Caribbean and Latin America. Starting with the slave experience and extending to the present, Professor Gates unveils the history of the African presence in six Latin American countries through art, music, cuisine, dance, politics, and religion, but also the very palpable presence of anti-Black racism that has sometimes sought to keep the Black cultural presence from view.
  1. Episode One: Haiti & the Dominican Republic: An Island Divided - In Haiti, Professor Gates tells the story of the birth of the first-ever black republic and finds out how the slaves’ hard-fought liberation over Napoleon Bonaparte’s French Empire became a double-edged sword. In the Dominican Republic, Professor Gates explores how race has been socially constructed in a society whose people reflect centuries of inter-marriage and how the country’s troubled history with Haiti informs notions about racial classification. 
  2. Episode Two: Cuba: The Next Revolution - In Cuba, Professor Gates finds out how the culture, religion, politics, and music of this Island are inextricably linked to the huge amount of slave labor imported to produce its enormously profitable 19th-century sugar industry and how race and racism have fared since Fidel Castro’s Communist revolution in 1959. 
  3. Episode Three: Brazil: A Racial Paradise? - In Brazil, Professor Gates delves behind the façade of Carnaval to discover how this ‘rainbow nation’ is waking up to its legacy as the world’s largest slave economy.
  4. Episode Four: Mexico & Peru: A Hidden Race - In Mexico and Peru, Professor Gates explores the almost unknown history of the significant numbers of black people—the two countries together received far more slaves than did the United State —brought to these countries as early as the 16th and 17th centuries and the worlds of culture that their descendants have created in Vera Cruz on the Gulf of Mexico, the Costa Chica region on the Pacific, and in and around Lima, Peru.
In Black in Latin America, Professor Gates’ journey becomes ours as viewers are introduced to the faces and voices of the descendants of the Africans who created these worlds. He shows the similarities and distinctions between these cultures and how the New-World manifestations are rooted in, but distinct from, their African antecedents. A quest he began 12 years ago with Wonders of the African World comes full circle in Black in Latin America, an effort to discover how Africa and Europe combined to create the vibrant cultures of Latin America, with a rich legacy of thoughtful, articulate subjects whose stories are astonishingly moving and irresistibly compelling.

Are you watching this PBS series?  If so, what are your thoughts about it?

Old School Friday: Pieces of a Dream

This is the time of year that I enjoy watching the NBA playoffs. I was born and raised in Los Angeles ... so I've been a Lakers fan for all of my life. The Lakers have won 16 world championships ... but, they've lost quite a few championships as well ... including the one in 1982-1983. That was the year that Moses Malone and the Philadelphia 76ers kicked our butt.

The Philadelphia 76ers were a remarkable team that year. Before the playoffs began, reporters asked how the playoffs would run. Malone answered "four, four, four" — in other words, predicting that the Sixers would sweep all three rounds to win the title, with the minimum 12 games. Malone's deep voice made his boast sound like "fo', fo', fo'."

The Sixers backed up Malone's boast. They demolished the East with a 65-17 record; swept New York in the Eastern Semifinals; beat Milwaukee in five; and then overwhelmed the Lakers in the NBA Finals in four straight. It was a playoff run with only one loss. Malone was named Most Valuable Player for both the regular season and the Finals.

A jazz group called Pieces of a Dream rephrased Malone's prediction as "fo', fi', fo'" (four, five, four) in a song that I still think about every year when the playoffs come around.

Do you remember it?

Pieces Of A Dream - Fo-fi-fo (Funk #24)
Uploaded by KSOSA. - Music videos, artist interviews, concerts and more.

Do you have any ol' school songs that you think about when basketball is being played? For that matter ... do you remember Pieces of a Dream at all?

April 21, 2011

Did They Find the Body of Phylicia Barnes?

Phylicia Barnes
It is being reported that a female African American adult-sized body has been found in a Maryland river. [SOURCE]

Actually, there are two bodies found a short distance apart from each other in that river. Police in northern Maryland say it could be several days before they know the identities of the two bodies found in a river, but detectives in the case of missing Monroe teen Phylicia Barnes have been notified.

Work crews near the dam saw the woman's body about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday and alerted Maryland state troopers. The body was recovered about 10 a.m. on the north side of the Conowingo Dam by officers from the Maryland Wildlife Service. Then boaters on the south side of the dam spotted a body about 2 p.m. and called police. The man's body was pulled from the river about 2 p.m.

The two bodies were discovered more than a mile apart and there is no evidence linking the two. The bodies were taken to the state medical examiner's office in Baltimore, where autopsies will be conducted.

This would be a sad ending to this story. Phylicia Barnes was a bright young woman with her future shining bright in front of her. It would be a shame if her life ended in a river many miles away from her North Carolina home.

The prayers of all villagers are with the Barnes family has they wait to learn whether or not Phylicia has been found.

'E' is for Excellence Award: 10 Excellent Blogs

So many folks are heading to Facebook that the landscape for pure-bloggers is changing. One of the things that I see less nowadays are the informal blogging awards that used to be given out so often. A few years ago I was blessed to receive the 'E For Excellence' Blog Award'.

I would like to re-ignite that particular award. There is only one rule -- after receiving the 'E For Excellence' Blog Award, you must pass it on to 10 more excellent blogs. Here are the ten blogs that I would like to share this award with today:
  1. BDPA Education and Technology Foundation Blog - This blog shares information about fundraising, funding sources and BDPA programs. BDPA seeks to advance the careers of African Americans in the information technology industry.
  2. Black Web 2.0 - This blog is great about discussing the wealth of exceptional innovation, talent, and ambition of Blacks in the technology and new media industries in an opinionated and authentic voice.
  3. Booker Rising -This is a blog for Black conservatives. The sheer volume of quality blog posts blows me away every day.
  4. Depraved Mindset - This is a blog for the radical progressives who wish to expose the world to the truth and promote the create a more just society.
  5. Field Negro - This blog gets more comments on its daily posts than any other non-entertainment blog in the world. He has great rapport with his blogging community ... and his social commentary is always on point for Black America.
  6. For Harriet - This blog works to elevate the voices of Black women online and off.
  7. Jack & Jill Politics - This is the most prominent political blog in the afrosphere. JJP prides itself on providing a Black bourgeoisie perspective on U.S. politics.
  8. The BrownWatch - This blog provides news for people of color.
  9. The Intersection | Madness & Reality - This blog talks about the injustices AfricanAmericans face, politics, and the reverent or irreverent. RiPPa uses his sense of humor and sarcasm to convey his opinion, and whether others agree with him, it isn’t his concern.
  10. TNT: Truth ... Not Tasers - This blog tracks all taser-related deaths in North America. I admire the passion and comprehensive nature of the reporting done on this blog.
Congratulations to each of 'em for doing what they do! I hope that all villagers will take a moment to visit these ten Excellent Blogs.

April 20, 2011

Another Body Blow for Detroit - Over 5,000 Teachers Get Layoff Notices

The emergency manager appointed to put Detroit’s troubled public school system on a firmer financial footing plans to send layoff notices to all of the district’s 5,466 unionized employees.

In a statement posted on the website of Detroit Public Schools, Robert Bobb, the district’s temporary head, said notices were being sent to every member of the Detroit Federation of Teachers “in anticipation of a workforce reduction to match the district’s declining student enrollment.”

Bobb said nearly 250 administrators were receiving the notices, too.

The district is unlikely to eliminate all the teachers. Last year, it sent out 2,000 notices and only a fraction of employees were actually laid off. But the notices are required by the union’s current contract with the district. Any layoffs under this latest action won’t take effect until late July.

In the meantime, Bobb said that he planned to exercise his power as emergency manager to unilaterally modify the district’s collective bargaining agreement with the Federation of Teachers starting May 17, 2011.

Under a law known as Public Act 4, passed by the Michigan legislature and signed by the state’s new Republican governor in March, emergency managers like Bobb have sweeping powers. They can tear up existing union contracts, and even fire some elected officials, if they believe it will help solve a financial emergency.

Robert Bobb
I fully intend to use the authority that was granted under Public Act 4,” Bobb said in the statement.

He was appointed emergency financial manager for Detroit’s schools two years ago by then-Governor Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, to close chronic budget deficits brought on by declining enrollment. Over just the past year, Detroit’s population has dropped 25 percent, according to census data.

Bobb has closed schools, laid off workers and taken other steps to cut spending but the district still faces a $327 million deficit in its $994 million budget.

April 19, 2011

Nominations Open for 2011 Black Weblog Awards (Apr 18 - May 7)

We want to encourage all of our blog readers to take a moment to support the 2011 Black Weblog Awards.  You have the ability to nominate your favorite blogs about any and every topic.  The nomination service is open through May 7th.  Not only do we want you to make nominations ... but, we hope that you will spread the word about this online award program to others in your sphere of influence.


  • Nominations are open from April 18 - May 7
  • The official Nomination site is here.
  • You provide the web address (URL) for your favorite blog in each category as well as your name and email address on the nomination form and that's it.
  • There are 37 categories.


  • Finalists will be announced the week of May 15
  • Online voting commences May 16 – June 17. 
  • Again, you will need to cast your vote (your valid email address will confirm you are a person and not a bot).
Winners will be announced live at the Black Weblog Awards Ceremony during the 2011 Blogging While Brown Conference in Los Angeles, California.

Here are the categories:

Best Blog Design (This category is for well-designed blogs that incorporate a unique and eye-catching visual web design, keen use of typography, and a killer layout)

Best Blog Network (This category is for Black blog networks. Blog networks should be comprised of at least three blogs with content updated regularly, include some level of quality control, and include some type of blog network indication which links to the blog network’s site.)

Best Blog Post Series (This category is for a series of posts in a blog about a particular topic. Posts can be fiction or non-fiction, but post series must be linked by a common and identifiable theme with the ability to skip forward or backwards through the series for judging purposes.)

Best Business Blog (This category is for blogs that talk about the modern business world.)

Best Culture Blog (This category is for blogs which analyze and discuss Black culture and/or the African diaspora with respect to art, dance, Black history, music, and other related content.)

Best Cooking or Food Blog (This category is for blogs which focus on food and/or recipes. Blogs may also include restaurant and product reviews.)

Best Faith-Based Blog (This category is for blogs which feature unique religious and spiritual content from any religion or faith.)

Best Fashion or Beauty Blog (This category is for blogs which cover the topics of beauty, fashion, clothing, cosmetics, design, accessories, personal styling, and other related content for either men or women.)

Best Film Blog (This category is for blogs which promote or discuss films, actors, film culture, and other related content.)

Best Gaming or Comics Blog (This category is for blogs which promote or discuss films, actors, film culture, and other related content.)

Best Gossip Blog (This category is for blogs that focus on the reporting, satire, and lampooning of celebrities and pop culture.)

Best Group Blog (This category is for a single blog which is updated by a group of people (two or more people. This blog can be about any topic.)

Best Health or Wellness Blog (This category is for blogs that focus on health, fitness, living green, and overall physical wellness.)

Best Hip-Hop Blog (This category is for blogs that focus primarily on hip-hop culture, including urban fashion, current events, hip-hop music, and other related content.)

Best Humor Blog (This category is for humor blogs or blogs which feature humorous content. All sites comedy-related, including humor sites, sites spotlighting comedians, and sites that simply make you laugh.)

Best International Blog (This category is for blogs of any topic that are based in countries other than the United States. The country of origin for the blog must be clearly identified for judging purposes.)

Best LGBT Blog (This category is for blogs that relate to or are about the LGBT community, including news, pop culture, or personal stories)

Best Microblog (This category is for the following types of microblogs: Twitter profiles, Tumblr blogs, or Posterous blogs.)

Best Music Blog (This category is for blogs that focus on music; blogs can provide downloadable mp3s, and may cover more than one genre of music. The majority of the blog should be about music, not satire on pop culture.)

Best New Blog This category is for blogs of any topic which have been started on or after September 1, 2010.)

Best Parenting or Family Blog (This category is for blogs which center around the topics of family, raising children, families, etc.)

Best Personal Blog (This category is for blogs written by individuals about themselves or about others. Blogs do not have to adhere to a specific theme, but should specifically be about the blogger’s life.)

Best Photography Blog (This category is for blogs which present and feature photographs taken by the blog author.)

Best Podcast Series (This category highlights podcasts — serialized audio files available to download — on any topic.)

Best Political or News Blog (This category is for blogs which are about politics or current newsworthy topics.)

Best Science or Technology Blog (This category is for blogs which feature content about biology, chemistry, physics, technology, the Internet, and the various realms of science)

Best Sex or Relationships Blog (This category is for blogs which discuss or analyze romantic or interpersonal relationship topics, sexual health or other sexual or relationship topics.)

Best Sports Blog (This category is for blogs which discuss or analyze anything sports-related, including professional sports teams, fantasy sports, sports players, and other related content.)

Best Teen Blog (This category is for blogs of any topic where the author is anywhere from 13-19 years old.)

Best Travel Blog (This category is for blogs which explore world travel, travel plans, tourism, travel writing, or other related content.)

Best Video Blog/Vlogger (This category highlights blogs which feature original video content by the blog’s author on any topic. Blog content must be primarily video content.)

Best Writing in a Blog (This category is for blogs which have exceptional writing.)

Blog of the Year (The blog of the year has it all: great writing, frequent posts, active comments and a strong reader base)

Blog to Watch (This category is for that great blog that not everyone knows about…but should! It’s undiscovered. It’s a best kept secret)

Best Lifestyle Blog

Best Plus-Sized Fashion Blog

Best Automotive/ Car Blog

Best Green/ Nature/ Outdoor Living Blog

I hope that you take a moment to nominate those Black-owned and Black-operated blogs that you've been enjoying over the past year!

April 16, 2011

Tea Party Activist Circulates Racist Email About President Obama and His Parents

The so-called 'birther' movement has taken another step into the abyss. It seems that Marilyn Davenport, a Southern California Tea Party activist and member of the Orange County Republican Party leadership, sent out a racist email to her Republican Party cronies. [SOURCE]

Written under the words, “Now you know why — No birth certificate!”, is an Obama family portrait depicting his parents as chimpanzees.

When asked if she thought the email was appropriate, Davenport is quoted as saying,
Oh, come on! Everybody who knows me knows that I am not a racist. It was a joke. I have friends who are black. Besides, I only sent it to a few people–mostly people I didn’t think would be upset by it.”

'I Have Friends Who Are Black'

Anytime you utter those words ... you've proven yourself to be a racist!

Our nation is definitely having a difficult time pulling itself to a post-racial perspective in politics. The examples of politicians going public with their racist thoughts is growing:
I imagine that this list could go on for days.  Anyhow, it's my belief that people like Marilyn Davenport should not be in positions of political leadership.   I hope that her colleagues in the Orange County Republican Party agree ... I hope that they call for her immediate resignation!

Weekly Address: President Obama on America's Fiscal Future

It has been an interesting week for our federal budget. A compromise on the FY-2011 federal budget was signed into law by the president ... no government shut-down (at least thru September 30, 2011).

The discussion now turns to the FY-2012 federal budget. House Republicans, led by Paul Ryan (R-WI) stepped out first with their budget plan. It seemed to raise the ante on efforts to de-fund the health care reform bill that was passed last year as well as providing over a trillion dollars in tax cuts for the wealthiest folks in America. Oh yeah, and the plan seems to call for an end to the social safety nets like Medicare and Medicaid.

President Obama pushed back with his own plan to reduce the federal deficit by $4 trillion dollars over the next 12 years. The president's budget plan calls for an end to the so-called 'Bush Tax Cuts' for the wealthiest Americans, along with cuts of $400 billion to the defense budget. The president talks about his budget plan in his weekly address to the nation.

What is your view on the ongoing federal budget discussions. Is President Obama making sense to you? Or do you think that Paul Ryan and the House Republicans are more on point for future direction of our nation's fiscal future?

April 15, 2011

Is Rev. Jesse Jackson on the Down-Low?

Tommy Bennett
A former travel assistant to Rev. Jesse Jackson claims that his refusal to give oral sex led to his being fired by Rainbow Push. Tommy Bennett is suing Jesse Jackson and Rainbow Push for $450,000 for sexual harassment as a result of his termination from the organization.

It seems a million years ago that Jesse Jackson was standing tall as a legitimate candidate for the oval office. Lately, his image is tarnished by what he says about the president when nobody is looking or his out-of-wedlock baby or even by the indiscretions of his son.

Anyhow, Bennett says that his duties as Jackson's travel assistant included cleaning up after booty-call sessions with the Reverend. The sad thing is that Bennett's accusations have a ring of truth to them, don't they?!

Personally, I've lost my interest in what Jesse Jackson has to say ... however, it is sad that his legacy is taking another hit because of this lawsuit. Do you think that Rev. Jackson is being set-up? Or do you think that there is an element of truth to this story? 

April 14, 2011

Donald Trump is a Racist and a Fool If He Thinks That 'the blacks' Are Going to Vote For Him

Donald Trump is enjoying his elongated 15 minutes of fame. He jumped back into the culture wars last month with his courting of the 'Birthers'. Trump is going full-throttle with his cynical conspiracy theory that President Obama is not a legitimate citizen because he was born in Africa ... not America.

Trump went a step further today when he claimed that he could compete with Obama in the 2012 campaign because he's "always had a great relationship with the blacks."

'The Blacks'??????

How can the Republican Party ever imagine that they can have any significant part of the Black community vote for its candidates when GOP leaders refer to us as 'the blacks'?

Trump made his statement about 'the blacks' when asked about a recent poll showing Obama's sky-high support among African Americans. Trump said the numbers were troubling and pointed to Hillary Clinton as proof that he probably won't get the kind of support among African Americans that he deserves.
"I tell it like it is," Trump said. "[Y]ou'll hear a political reporter go on and say it had nothing to do with race. But how come she had such a tiny piece of the vote? And you know, it's a very sad thing.

"I have a great relationship with the blacks. I've always had a great relationship with the blacks. But unfortunately, it seems that, you know, the numbers you cite are very, very frightening numbers."
You listen to Trump and judge for yourself:

Donald Trump continues to move up in the polls of potential GOP candidates for the presidency. How can anyone think that the Republicans are serious when they are giving us such flawed candidates as Trump?

April 12, 2011

Cornel West and Al Sharpton Rumble About Obama on MSNBC's Black Agenda

Two hours of my life were lost this past weekend watching Black Agenda, hosted by Ed Schultz, on MSNBC. I kept trying to understand why Ed Schultz was chosen to host the show.  Evidently others had the same concerns.  If any villager can explain why Schultz was the host ... please do so.

Anyhow, there wasn't much new territory covered on the show.  In many respects it seemed like a mini-version of the 'State of Black America' program that Tavis Smiley used to produce each year.   This time MSNBC tried valiantly to cover a number of the issues within the Black community that need to be addressed.

The most entertaining part of the show was also the saddest part. Did any of you see when Cornel West and Al Sharpton started playing the dozens with each other? If they had been sitting next to each other ... or if there wasn't a table in front of them ... then I think that the two old men would have come to blows.

You be the judge!

What was your take on this segment ... or the entire show?

April 11, 2011

Another Racist School Teacher Asks 4th-Grade Students to Role-Play in Lesson on Slave Auctions

I wonder what it will take for white school teachers around the country to figure out that it is never a good idea to have Black students in elementary school pretending to be enslaved people in a mock slave auction? We saw this type of racist school activity in New Jersey and Ohio ... but, a fourth grade school teacher evidently didn't get the memo.

Jessica Boyle is the 4th-grade teacher who had the bright idea to teach a lesson on the Civil War to her children by separating them by race. She put the Black and mixed-race students in her mock slave auction as the enslaved people in chains. The white 9- and 10-year old students in her class played the role of the racist slave-owners.

After complaints began to come in from some of the parents ... the Sewells Point Elementary School principal, Mary Wrushen wrote a letter dated April 6:
Mary Wrushen
"I recently became aware of a history lesson that was presented to the students in Ms. Jessica Boyle's fourth grade class. Although her actions were well intended to meet the instructional objectives, the activity presented was inappropriate for the students. The lesson could have been thought through more carefully, as to not offend her students or put them in an uncomfortable situation."
No shyt Sherlock!

The level of arrogance, ignorance and racism shown by this teacher is remarkable. Does anyone think that this teacher would have her Jewish students role-playing as victims of the Holocaust during a lesson on World War II? Of course she wouldn't. The idea of doing such a thing would horrify her. Yet this same teacher had no qualms about having Black children role-playing as slaves.

Ms. Jessica Boyle should be fired. Anyone with that little regard for her students simply should not be allowed to teach any longer.

via The Last Tradition source: Mail Online

April 9, 2011

Weekly Address: President Obama on the Budget Compromise to Avoid a Government Shutdown

I used to work for the federal government. As such, I'm glad that the budget battles in Washington DC over the past few weeks didn't end in a government shutdown. I appreciate President Obama for the steps he took to bring the congressional leaders together over the past week to get an agreement.

I understand that the agreement calls for $38.5 billion in cuts. I don't know what cuts were made or what programs are impacted ... but, I do think that it is a good idea to seek out cuts in the federal budget whenever possible.

Here is what the president had to say in his weekly address:

What is your take on the recent budget battles?

April 8, 2011

Blacks at Microsoft (BAM) Seeks Applications for $5,000 College Scholarship

It’s our pleasure to announce the availability of the Blacks at Microsoft (BAM) scholarship for the 2011/12 academic year.  

This year, BAM will award two $5,000 scholarships to outstanding high-school seniors, who are interested in pursuing careers in technology. The scholarships are renewable, so winners who continue to meet the criteria can receive an annual $5,000 award for up to four years.  We encourage you to please share this opportunity with your network.

Scholarship Details
  • Support Period - Academic Year 2011 - 2012
  • Application Due - 05/01/2011
  • Anticipated Award Notification - 05/31/2011
  • Awards - 2 scholarships will be awarded ($5,000 per person)
  • Application Method - Apply electronically via the Washington Scholarship Coaltion
  • Renewable - Yes. This scholarship is renewable for up to a total of 4 years, provided the student continues to meet the scholarship criteria of a 3.3 GPA each year.
 Eligibility Requirements
  • High School Senior
  •  Situations Funded - Support for Tuition, Support for Mandatory Fees, Support for Room and Board
  •  School Types - Private 4-year University or College, Public 4-year University or College, Public 2-year Community / Technical College
  • Academic Programs - Undergraduate
  •  Enrollment Status - Full-time
  •  Ethnicity - Black or African American
  • Field of Study - Business, Computer Science/Information Technology, Science & Engineering
  • Career - Business, Computer Science/Information Technology, Engineering
  • GPA - 3.300 or Greater

Application Details
Financial Requirements
  • Must demonstrate financial need, Number of family members in household, Number of family dependents attending college, Family income
Instructions & Questions
  • Briefly, explain how you have demonstrated a passion for technology.
  • Briefly, explain how you have demonstrated leadership either at school or in the community.
  • In no more than 500 words, describe how you plan to engage in the technology industry in your future career.
  • In no more than 250 words, explain why you need this scholarship.
  • Please include two reference letters with your application. These letters should be from people who know you through your academic or employment experience or your community leadership and participation. (Do not include relatives as references.)
  • Please submit an unofficial transcript with your online application. Winning students will be required to submit an official transcript.
Donor Organization
Founded in 1989, Blacks at Microsoft (BAM) is a company-sponsored diversity organization dedicated to supporting the continued growth and development of African-American employees of Microsoft Corporation.  More than 500 Microsoft employees are members of BAM.
Scholarship Administrator
1200 5th Ave. Suite 1300
Seattle, WA 98101-3151

This is a wonderful opportunity for any villager with a high school senior in the house, neighborhood or community.   How cool would it be for one of our villagers to win this $5,000 scholarship from Microsoft?!