September 30, 2011

Taser Death: Bradford Gibson (Mt. Pleasant, MI)

It happened again! This time Mt. Pleasant (MI) police Sgt. Sean Paull used his taser gun on an unarmed man who was being disorderly at a bar on Saturday, September 24. Paull pumped over 50,000 volts of electricity on two separate occasions from his taser gun into the body of 35-year old Bradford Gibson.

Gibson died a few hours later while in police custody. Speculation is that the death was directly related to the taser gun usage.

The police indicate that Gibson was "out of control" and didn't comply with orders in a timely manner. It seems that Gibson was being quite a jerk inside of the bar. He is accused of grabbing women and such. Of course, the police seem to forget that the penalty for disorderly conduct or resisting arrest is not supposed to be death.

The police issued a report yesterday that included the following:

When told he had to leave the bar, Gibson at first did as he was instructed but then, when Paull arrived,

"It was apparent to me at this time that Gibson was not going to leave the property as requested," the officer said in the report. "I then asked Gibson to take a seat next to a cement pillar. I asked Gibson to sit down multiple times before he eventually complied and sat down in front of the pillar."

When Gibson stood again, Bliss told him he was under arrest for trespassing, and got his right hand cuffed, before Gibson began resisting, according to the report.

Police eventually got Gibson into the back seat of their patrol car.

Still, Gibson continued to try to get out of the car, Bliss drive stunned him twice on the leg, which moved him backwards enough for officers to shut the doors, according to the report.

An autopsy has been completed but results could take as long as two weeks.

September 29, 2011

Herman Cain Insults Black Community When He Calls Them 'Brainwashed' for Not Supporting GOP

Herman Cain is feelin' his oats. He won the Republican president candidate straw poll held in Florida last weekend and now he's shot up 11 points to 3rd place in the polls. He's spouting off that he can win 33% of the Black vote if he runs against President Obama.

I can understand Mr. Cain feeling cocky this week. He's this week's GOP fad in the 2012 presidential campaign cycle. Rick Perry was the the most recent fad. Michelle Bachmann was the fad before that. Heck, even Donald Trump was a fad for awhile.

I cannot understand Mr. Cain being so arrogant and uppity as to indicate that Black people are 'brainwashed' because they don't vote for Republicans. That is how he responded when asked to explain why the Republican Party basically poison for so many African Americans?
Godfather Cain's reply, "Because many African Americans have been brainwashed into not being open-minded, not even considering a conservative point of view. I have received some of that same vitriol simply because I am running for the Republican nomination as a conservative. So it's just brainwashing and people not being open-minded, pure and simple."

My guttural response to Godfather Cain is simple -- 'Phuque You'. African Americans have looked at the GOP platform and policies ... and they've concluded that the GOP simply doesn't care about the Black community or its issues.   I still don't have a clue how any self-respecting Black man or woman could be part of the Republican Party.

GOP Enacts Voter Suppression Laws to Rig 2012 Election Results

The Republican Party is trying to suppress the votes of African Americans, elderly and students. Chris Matthews talks about voter suppression on his show recently.

The best way to combat these voter suppression efforts is to learn the new rules and follow them. Voting is our right ... and elections have consequences.

President Obama's 3rd Annual Back to School Speech: 'Set Your Sights High' (Video)

I remember when the president gave his first 'Back to School Speech' that was broadcast to the nation's students was quite a controversy. Republicans thought that he was brainwashing the youth to be Democrats for life. The 3rd annual speech was delivered earlier this week without the same level of concerns.

The President encouraged America's students to use their time in school to try new things, discover new passions and hone their skills to prepare themselves for the kind of profession they want in the future.

I appreciate Mr. Obama for continuing to highlight the importance of EDUCATION as our nation seeks to win the future.

September 27, 2011

Am I Not Human? UNESCO-Obiang Science Award

Most of us know so little about Africa. For example, I didn't know very much about Equatorial Guinea. I didn't realize that the leader of Equatorial Guinea is now the longest serving ruler on the continent. What I sadly do realize is that being in office for a long time does not make you a good person.

Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the president of Equatorial Guinea, is not a good person. Obiang and close family members have diverted tens of millions of dollars from their country's natural resource earnings to their private benefit. In spite of having attained the highest GDP per capita in Sub-Saharan Africa, 60 percent of Equatoguineans live on less than $1 a day in conditions comparable to Haiti or Chad. President Obiang has neglected to invest available resources in basic social services, resulting in declining primary school attendance, poor health indicators, and needless poverty.

President Obiang is trying to purchase a good image for himself by funding a life sciences prize via the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The $3 million UNESCO-Obiang Nguema Mbasogo International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences was set up in 2008 but has never been awarded. Implementation of the prize was frozen last year after an outcry from concerned Equatoguineans, human rights groups, anti-corruption campaigners, and prominent literary, scientific, and cultural figures. That action came about after prominent African figures, Latin American writers, Nobel laureates, scientists and public health professionals, press freedom groups, Cano prize winners, and rights organizations from around the world came together in an unprecedented effort to challenge the prize, citing serious concerns about Obiang’s record of corruption and abuse.

This issue is back on the UNESCO agenda at their next meeting in Paris on October 6, 2011. 

An effort by the Obiang government to reinstate the prize in May failed to make it onto the agenda.

But the current initiative has the nominal support of other African countries following an African Union (AU) resolution at its summit meeting in Equatorial Guinea in July, which Obiang hosted as this year’s AU chairman.
"UNESCO should not honor President Obiang," said Tutu Alicante, executive director of EG Justice, an organization based in Washington, DC. "If he wishes to fund science and education around the world, he should start with his own country, where many still lack basic services such as electricity and clean water, while the president and his family flaunt an extravagant lifestyle that is the subject of legal investigations around the world."
Public figures involved in the campaign against the prize have included: Nobel laureates Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Wole Soyinka, Mario Vargas Llosa, Claude Cohen-Tannoudji and John Polanyi; author Chinua Achebe; human rights advocate Graça Machel; and over 60 professionals from Equatorial Guinea.

You can join these world leaders by signing an online petition against the prize. 

I encourage all of our villagers to learn more about Equatorial Guinea. My hope is that UNESCO will put an end to this transparent effort by President Obiang to change the narrative of his life.

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?

Charlotte Police Want a 'Safer' Taser Gun

The Charlotte Police Department suspended use of taser guns after the taser-related killings of 17-year old Darryl Turner and 21-year old La'Reko Williams. After a two-month review the Charlotte Police Department wants to throw out their current inventory of tasers and spend $1.8 million to purchase a new model that is supposed to be safer. [SOURCE]

Among its safety features: the shock stops at five seconds regardless of how long an officer holds the trigger down.

The Charlotte City Council agreed to spend the money for the new tasers.

This blog feels that such a safety feature is a good one. It's a shame that it's taken weekly taser-related deaths for safety to be factored into the creation of these taser guns.

September 26, 2011

Obama's Speech to Congressional Black Caucus (Video)

There has been so much angst by folks about the remarks that President Obama gave to the Congressional Black Caucus folks over the weekend. He talked about a number of things including the American Jobs Act. He was in a fiery mode. Some call it his 'campaign' mode. Personally, I like this flow from him ... much better than trying to work with the folks on the other side of the aisle who simply 'hate' the guy.

Obama received about 95% of the African American vote in his 2008 election. He is polling much lower right now. I guess that Black folks are not feeling the love from his administration as much this year as they did in the past. 16% unemployment in the Black community is a big reason for the decline in popularity. I suspect that some are wondering if the situation would be any different under a President Mitt Romney or President Rick Perry.

What did you think about his speech to the Congressional Black Caucus folks?

September 25, 2011

Do Republicans Really Believe That We Should 'Let Him Die'?

The audience in the recent GOP presidential candidate debates is making almost as much news as the candidates themselves. Whether it is cheering the number of death penalty killings in Texas or yelling out 'Yes' when the moderator asked a candidate if he would let a person without insurance die rather than provide emergency room care ... the GOP appears to have gone wild.

One woman -- Susan Grigsby -- was moved and quite hurt by the 'Let Him Die' incident at the GOP debate. She shares her personal insights on the issue ... and wonders why all of the GOP candidates were silent on the matter.

What do you think?

September 24, 2011

Florida Gov. Rick Scott Predicts Herman Cain Will Win Presidency

It's simple math. 1 + 1 = 2

1. Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) indicated that the winner of today's Florida Straw Poll would become the next president of the United States. [SOURCE]

1. Herman Cain is the upset winner of the Florida Straw Poll with 37 percent of the vote out of 2,657 ballots cast.

2. Therefore, Gov. Scott predicts Herman Cain is our next President of the United States.

I don't know if Scott is going to be prophetic. I do know that Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) was expecting to win this straw poll down in Florida. However, he did such a lousy job in recent GOP presidential debates ... that many of his supporters switched over to other candidates, including Cain.

The other surprise was that Michelle Bachmann came in DEAD LAST in the 7-person field. That would seem to put a nail in her coffin as a presidential candidate.

I imagine that the person who is in the background smiling about all of this is Mitt Romney. Anything that weakens Rick Perry is a positive thing for Mitt Romney.

Congratulations to Herman Cain for sticking around ... let's see if it results in better fundraising support for him over the coming days and weeks.

Obama's Weekly Address: Strengthening the American Education System

President Obama explains that states will have greater flexibility to find innovative ways of improving the education system, so that we can raise standards in our classrooms and prepare the next generation to succeed in the global economy.

I think that President Obama is absolutely correct when he talks about the need for us to significantly improve our educational system if America ever hopes to 'win the future'. It is disappointing to hear the Republican presidential candidates talking about abolishing the Department of Education. Don't they understand that our nation's future is tied to the improved competitiveness and education of our young people?

September 23, 2011

Voter Suppression Strategy by Republican Party in Nebraska and Pennsylvania

Soulclap to Mirror on America for pointing us to this interview with Melissa Harris-Perry, professor of political science at Tulane University. Dr. Harris-Perry talks with Rachel Maddow about a national effort by state Republican leaders to reconfigure voting rules, independent of principle and to bias the electoral system against President Obama's re-election.

There is some detailed information about how these voter suppression efforts are taking place in Nebraska and Pennsylvania.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Are you hearing about voter suppression in your state?

September 22, 2011

President Obama to United Nations: 'Peace is Hard, But We Know That It Is Possible'

President Obama spoke to the United Nations General Assembly yesterday (transcript / video). He used his speech to talk about the numerous challenges that stand in the way of a lasting peace. He advocated for peace defined by more than the absence of war, saying: “a lasting peace -- for nations and for individuals -- depends on a sense of justice and opportunity, of dignity and freedom.”

What is your take on the President's speech to the United Nations?

September 21, 2011

Supreme Court Issues 7-Day Reprieve on Troy Davis Execution

It appears that the voice of the people was heard by the Supreme Court of the United States. Troy Davis was scheduled for execution at 7:00pm ET today. Our understanding is that the Supreme Court has issued a reprieve that could last a few hours ... or up to seven days. The reprieve gives the SCOTUS a chance to review the petition for a stay of execution.   

Oddly enough, it appears that Justice Clarence Thomas may be the one trying to get consensus from his peers on the court.    Clarence Thomas was born and raised in Georgia.  Perhaps this will be an opportunity for Clarence Thomas to do the right thing for Black people.

Troy Davis can still be executed if the Georgia authorities decide to do so.

It appears that the Georgia parole board had a close vote, 3-to-2, to deny clemency to Davis. There were people in that room who had doubts about his conviction. There is simply too much doubt to put this man to death.

The news on this case flowed through the Internet much quicker than I saw it on either cable or network television. I followed the flow on Twitter and with the live streaming taking place on Democracy Now in front of the Georgia prison where the execution was scheduled to take place.

Two Police Officers Charged with Murder and Manslaughter in Taser-Killing of Kelly Thomas

Orange County district attorney Tony Rackauckas has criminally charged two Fullerton police officers in the violent confrontation ... including multiple taser shots in the face of 37-year old Kelly Thomas, a homeless schizophrenic man.

Officer Manuel Ramos has been charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in connection with the beating of 37-year-old Kelly Thomas, a homeless schizophrenic man. Officer Jay Cicinelli has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force.

Rackauckas said the department reviewed 151 witness statements, videos of the beating, medical reports and police statements. It is obvious that the power of smartphone cameras along with pressure from the 'new media' is making a difference.

Officers approached Kelly Thomas on July 5 at the bus depot in downtown Fullerton while responding to a report of someone trying to break into cars. According to witness accounts, Thomas ran when officers attempted to search his bag. Exactly what happened next is unclear, but witnesses said they saw multiple officers hitting Kelly and shooting him with a Taser while he was on the ground. [Video]

Officials from the district attorney's office have said they were awaiting toxicology and other test results from the coroner before making a decision on the case. That report was handed over to the district attorney's office Tuesday, but the findings were not made public.

Thomas, a 37-year-old homeless man with schizophrenia, was a regular presence in downtown Fullerton. He died five days after the confrontation, after being removed from life support.

Earlier this month, an attorney representing the Thomas family released hospital records that showed Thomas had tested negative for drugs and alcohol and that the immediate cause of death was "brain death" due to "head trauma" from the incident.

The hospital records released showed that he suffered brain injuries, a shattered nose, a smashed cheekbone, broken ribs and severe internal bleeding (see photo). Thomas also had been shocked with a stun gun "multiple" times, including in the left chest near the heart, the records showed.

Thomas' father, Ron, has been pushing the district attorney's office to file charges against the officers, and the case has sparked a furious reaction, including weekly protests outside the police station and a recall campaign against three City Council members.

This death went beyond just the use of tasers.   These police officers felt a blood-lust streaming their their bodies on July 5th.  There can be no other explanation for the way that they treated this UNARMED man who was screaming for help from his Dad while being electrocuted and beaten.   This blog is glad to see that criminal charges are being filed against at least two of the officers involved in this taser-related killing.

What Does the Bible Say About the Death Penalty?

Troy Davis is in his jail cell down in Georgia. His execution is set to take place tonight. Only Troy and God know whether or not he murdered Mark MacPhail.

I began to wonder what the Bible says about the death penalty.

The first mention of the appropriate punishment for a murder is in Genesis 4:11-15.
"And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand;...a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him." (KJV)
Adam and Eve's sons were Cain, a farmer, and Abel, a shepherd. Each brought the best that they had had produced as a sacrifice to God. God accepted Abel's sacrifice of meat but rejected Cain's grain offering. Cain's resultant disappointment turned to anger; he killed his brother. God cursed Cain for the murder and sent him to wander the earth. God also put a mark on Cain's body so that nobody who saw him would be motivated to kill him. If anyone killed Cain for the murder of his brother, that person would be very severely punished. Here, banishment and exile is the penalty for murder; capital punishment is specifically prohibited.

The first mention of capital punishment as a penalty for murder is in Genesis 9:6:
"Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man." (KJV)
This passage regards the killing of a human as an offense against God because humans were made in the image of God, both male and female. Unlike the previous passage which required that the murderer be merely exiled, this verse required the murderer to be killed.

I imagine that proponents on either side of the death penalty question can find comfort in the Bible.

Rethabile Masilo (see photo) reached inside of his soul and created this poem for Troy Davis:

(for Troy Davis)

Over the outer wall
a sun will rise, lighting
the same things it lights
whether or not another war
has been sparked, or
a market dried up and dead,
the same sun that sometimes
appears to linger above
a plot of land on which
his mother grows beans,
collards, in soil smeared with
blood, cleared with toil.
It’ll be so early one might
mistake it for a hanging night
On white picket fence
at an unearthly hour
on the morning of this last day,
a cock crows to tell the dead man
it’s time to go, while, somewhere
in the country, a postman
slides letters into mailboxes
whose arms, too, hang loosely
at the sides. A dog runs after
his jeep to the end of the street,
slinks back home dragging its tail.
A day Jehovah won’t forget
that easily. A day nobody
is waiting for nor thinks should
materialise. A last day for a man
through whose skin, milling
with melanocytes, past whose
layers of vein and into
whose lumen a needle will
enter and leave its message.
© Rethabile Masilo

President Obama to Host Online Town Hall Meeting on LinkedIn Network

We encourage all 'villagers' to mark their calendars for the online town hall meeting with President Barack Obama on LinkedIn Network on Monday, September 26th. This continues a policy of open engagement by the president via social networking channels such as Facebook and Twitter.

Obama will answer questions about jobs and the economy that are posted in LinkedIn Network through their group called, Putting America Back to Work.

The exact time for the event hasn't been announced yet. We do know that the town hall will be broadcast live on both LinkedIn Network and the White House website.

Wordless Wednesday: Seeking Palestinian Statehood

September 20, 2011

Too Much Doubt: Stop Death Penalty Execution of Troy Davis

This blog has been following the tragic story of Troy Davis for a couple of years now. It is a sad day in America as we learn that the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles voted to deny clemency to Troy Davis.

This means that very little is standing in the way of the state of Georgia executing a potentially innocent man this Wednesday, September 21 st at 7pm.

There is simply too much doubt in the case against Troy Davis to allow for this execution to go forward. However, it appears that the state of Georgia and Chatham County (Savannah) District Attorney Larry Chisolm don't intend to do anything to put brakes on a runaway justice system that is calling for Troy's execution. They have until the final moments before Troy's scheduled execution to put the brakes on this runaway justice system.

Amnesty International plans to fight the scheduled execution down to the last minute. This blog will join them in their call to action. We encourage all villagers to contact Georgia's District Attorney and urge him to stop the execution of Troy Davis.

Make the state of Georgia hear you! Tell them that executing Troy Davis will only deepen the cycle of violence and injustice.

September 19, 2011

Taser Death:Tyree Sinclair (Corpus Christi, TX)

It happened again! This time four police officers (Javier Cantu, Ismael Ybarra, Daryl Anderson and Lou Villa-Gomez)are on administrative leave as a result of their use of taser guns in the death of 31-year old Tyree Sinclair.

The four officers responded to a disturbance call on September 11. Police say Sinclair was arguing with a relative when they arrived. Officers say they tried to detain him, but he resisted arrest. Police were forced to use their taser guns and pepper spray to get Sinclair under control. Just a few minutes later police say the man collapsed. He was taken to the hospital where he later died.

An autopsy was done, but the medical examiner is waiting on toxicology reports to come back. At this point, authorities don't know how the man died.

We may not know how we died ... but, we do know that the death penalty is not warranted for an unarmed man involved in a "disturbance".   Something went terribly wrong once 50,000 volts of electricity from a taser gun was involved.

This is not the first time that the Corpus Christi Police Department has been involved in a taser-related killing.  When will they learn?

September 18, 2011

Obama's Weekly Address: Passing the American Jobs Act

No more games. No more gridlock. President Obama uses those terms as he seeks immediate action by Congress to deal with the high unemployment rate in our nation. President Obama discusses the need for Congress to pass the American Jobs Act to put more people back to work, and more money back in the pockets of people who are working.

Here is a 3-page 'fact sheet' about the President's plan to create jobs now. What is your take on what President Obama is trying to do?

Taser Death: Richard Kokenos (Warren MI)

It happened again! The story is confusing ... but, the outcome is not. 27-year old Richard Kokenos was pumped with 50,000 volts of electrcity up to three (3) times by Warren police officers. The young man was unarmed, in custody and in handcuffs at the time of the taser use by the police.   It appears that the dozen or so police officers were too wimpy to get the young man help.  In fact, the police turned away an ambulance that rushed to the scene.

Kokenos died shortly after the last taser blast into his body.

Kokenos died around the corner from his Warren home in front of a neighbor’s home. The neighbor shared what she heard between Warren police officers and Kokenos in the minutes before he died. [SOURCE]
"The police said Richard, stay on the ground and do not get up. They told him several times. They were telling him if he didn’t stay down they would have to tase him,” said the woman who didn’t want to be identified.

Another neighbor ... the one who called the police ... said that she was home with with her daughter and 11-year-old grandson when a man slammed his body against the house and tried to get in. It happened just before midnight. She said the man was sweating while pounding on the windows and screaming to get inside. She said he kept trying different doors until police arrived.

The dozen or so Warren police officers involved in this taser-related death have not been identified.

This is not the first taser-related killing by the Warren Police Department. Villagers may recall that they were involved in the tragic taser-related killing of teenager Robert Mitchell a couple of years ago.

Too Much Doubt for Us to Execute Troy Davis (VIDEO: Jasiri X)

Georgia's Board of Pardons & Paroles will hold a final clemency hearing tomorrow -- a final chance to prevent the execution of Troy Davis. The Board of Pardons claims that the execution would only take place if there is “no doubt” about the guilt of the man they are killing.

Our prayers are with both families who have been torn apart by this tragedy.  You see, we understand the grief and despair felt by Michael McPhail's mother.   Her son was the off-duty cop killed in August 1989.  McPhail's family is looking forward to the execution scheduled for September 21.   They feel it will be some form of 'justice' and 'closure'. 

However, this blog along with many other villagers think that there is 'too much doubt':
  1. Of the nine original witnesses in the case, seven have either recanted or contradicted their original stories. One witness said in a CNN news interview "If I knew then, what I know now, Troy Davis would not be on death row."
  2. Of the two witnesses who have not recanted, one of them (Sylvester Coles) was a suspect in the murder. A witness even claimed that Coles bragged at a party about having killed an off-duty police officer.
  3. Nine individuals have signed affidavits indicting that the murder was committed by Sylvester Coles

Troy Davis survived three previous execution dates .... but, in order to do so again it will take action by all of us. Here are some ways that you can help.
  1. Request clemency from the Board of Pardons
  2. Sign Amnesty International petition to the Board of Pardons
  3. Sign Your Black World petition to the Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and President Barack Obama
  4. Send a message of support to Troy as he fights for justice on what may be the final days of his life: 
  5. Sign the name wall, if you haven't already. And if you have, send it to your friends and family. Each name means a more united front for justice:
  6. Tell everyone you know! Spread the word about this injustice on Twitter by using the hashtag #TooMuchDoubt. Be sure to tell your Facebook friends as well.
Please take action to help us save the life of Troy Davis.

September 17, 2011

Blacks In Technology Podcast #19: Kellep Charles (

This blog seeks to support the efforts of the Blacks In Technology folks as they interview remarkable IT professionals of color.

In this podcast Greg Greenlee along with guest co-host Ronnie Hash, speak with IT Security consultant and guru Kellep Charles. Kellep operates and is also an IT Security consultant for SecurityOrb, an information security knowledge based website for security members. The flows into information security, latest data security threats and an interesting review of the log management tool Splunk.

Kellep is a Doctoral student in Information Assurance. He also holds a Master of Science in Telecommunication Management from the University of Maryland University College and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from North Carolina A&T State University. Kellep works as a government contractor in the Washington DC area as a Network Security Analyst and is an Adjunct Professor at Capitol College in Laurel (MD) where he teaches in the Computer Science department.  He holds a CISSP certification.

Follow Kellep on Twitter @kellepc

September 16, 2011

Why Technology Networks Are Important to African Americans

by Kai Dupé

The lack of support networks has been identified as a critical aspect to involving more African Americans in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  While I agree that this is very important, I do not agree that African Americans lack technology support groups.  I assert that the problem is that the African American community at large is not aware of the networks that do exist.

There are three that I have worked with over the years. I am sure there are others and I am even more certain that most of our people, particularly our young people are not aware of these groups.  I know this because I do quite a bit of public speaking around the country.  When I ask students if they are familiar with The Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA), BiTWiSE, or Blacks In Technology the answer is invariably no.

In all fairness, BiTWiSE and Blacks in Technology are recent developments.  But BDPA has been around since 1975.  I have been a professional software developer since 1986 and I only recently became aware of BDPA.  We must do a better job of making our folks aware of these organizations.

This is not an indictment against BDPA as I personally know that they make every effort to ensure that our people know about their good work.  The charge is ours.  Any time I speak to a young person who has demonstrated an interest in technology, the first question I ask is ‘where do you live’ and if BDPA has a chapter in that city, I direct him or her to contact the chapter in their area.

The abundance of knowledge, experiences and social capital that exists within BDPA must be leveraged if our community is to become a player in the global technology game.  As a speaker and blogger I am constantly receiving questions related to technology and how to get involved in the technology arena.

I am happy to answer these questions but how much better would it be for the learner to not only pose the question to a larger group but possibly someone who has experienced the same circumstance.  This is a common occurrence on the web community, Blacks In Technology (BIT).  BIT is a wonderful online community of Black technologists who are ready to share their stories, knowledge, wisdom and encouragement not only to those who are looking for others like themselves who are already involved in technology careers but also technology aspirants.

Without these kinds of support groups, African Americans in technology may began to deal with feelings of isolation.  I can attest to this circumstance personally.  Since I graduated from college with my undergraduate degree in computer science in 1986 I have rarely had the pleasure of working in an IT department with another African American.

This issue of isolation occurs in high school, the workplace as well as on college campuses.  It is also one of the main reasons that African Americans do not persist in STEM careers.

Many scholars studying this issue from S. Craig Watkins in his book The Young and the Digital as well as Jane Margolis in the book Stuck in the Shallow End have reported on the importance of support groups or networks to combat the issue of isolation.

I would have loved being a part of either of these groups when I first became a software engineer.  Why? Because it is great to be able to speak with someone who can relate to your circumstance.  Someone who can understand what you may be going through.

I can remember having to explain to members of my family and friends what exactly it was that I did as a computer programmer.  The people in my community simply did not understand that I was CREATING software, not using it!  I also never had anyone to talk shop with for the early years of my career.

This is why I am so excited about this third group, BiTWiSE, which is a networking group dedicated to the African American software engineer and is sponsored by Microsoft.  You can find BiTWiSE on LinkedIn under LinkedIn Groups.  You can simply search Groups and enter ‘BiTWiSE’.

Technology support groups do indeed exist in the African American community.  However they become less effective if they are unknown to the people who can benefit from them the most.  We must do a better job of promoting the efforts of these groups in order to remove yet another obstacle to the inclusion of African Americans participation in the digital society.

 Kai Dupé is a doctoral student at Pepperdine University where he is conducting research on Why African American Males Are Underrepresented in Computing. Kai can be reached by email at or by visiting his website at or follow him on twitter @KaiDupe

September 15, 2011

'Justified' Actor Endorses Herman Cain in Cowboy Parody Video

President Barack Obama had a ton of actors endorsing him when he ran for president in 2008. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee was famously endorsed by actor Chuck Norris. It appears that 'Godfather Pizza Man' Herman Cain enjoys the support of an actor as well. Any of you familiar with the television series, 'Justified'? If so, you will recognize actor Nick Searcy in the following video endorsing 'Godfather Pizza Man'.

What actor would you like to see make a candidate endorsement in the 2012 election cycle?

September 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Michelle Obama Challenges Serena Williams to a Tennis Match

Sarah Palin Ain't Running for President; Not Now That Her Secret Romance w/ Former NBA Star Glen Rice is Exposed

Sarah Palin won't be running for President of the United States any longer. Not now that the National Enquirer has exposed the secret of a sexual affair with former NBA Star Glen Rice. The secret affair is in a new book by Joe McGinniss, titled, 'The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin.'

Palin was once a sports anchor in Alaska so the story could have some legs. Glen Rice visited Alaska while playing for the University of Michigan in a tournament in 1987. The affair allegedly occurred while Palin was dating her future husband, Todd. Glen Rice was a three-time NBA All-Star, and won a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2000.

Here is an excerpt from the National Enquirer article:

In the book, which will be published on September 20th, McGinniss claims Sarah had a steamy interracial hookup with basketball stud GLEN RICE less than a year before she eloped with her husband Todd.

Sarah hooked up with the NBA great, then a 6-foot-8 junior at the University of Michigan when he was playing in a college basketball tournament in Alaska in 1987, the book says. At the time, Sarah, just out of college, was working as a sports reporter for the Anchorage TV station KTUU.

What is your take on this story?

Taser Death: Damon Barnett (Fresno, CA)

It happened again. This time the taser-related killing was done by an unidentified Fresno County Sheriff's deputy.  Damon Barnett, 44, is the victim.  All we know for sure is that an unarmed man was dodging traffic on Highway 99 near the Highway 180 on ramp. Deputies arrived to try and save the man and prevent an accident. But Detective Robert Buenrostro says Barnett wasn't cooperating.
"He's coming in and out of the traffic, he's in the center median coming in and out of the vehicles, almost getting hit. They are trying to address him. They have to take him into custody in that process a Taser had to be used."

An autopsy will determine Barnett's cause of death. However, it's likely that the 50,000 volts of electricity flowing from the taser gun into the man's body may have contributed to his death. Many will say that the goal of the taser weapon is to subdue, not kill ... but, we continue to see these taser-related deaths occurring on a weekly basis.

Police are only supposed to use tasers when the "suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the officer or others." However, it seems that the police pull those bad boys out whenever they feel disrespected or whenever they are unwilling to wait for appropriate assistance from mental health professionals or others. Shoot first and deal with the medical consequences later seems to be the strategy.

The Taser's used by the Fresno County Sheriff's Department have built in cameras to record video whenever they are used. This should be helpful in the investigation of the Highway 99 case, which is being handled by the department's Homicide Unit.

September 13, 2011

Almost 50 Members of Congress Want Clemency for Troy Davis

Soulclap to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for telling us that four dozen members have asked the state Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant clemency for Troy Davis, who is scheduled to face execution on September 21st for the 1989 killing of off-duty Savannah Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail.

The letter signed by the Congressional representatives can be read here.

This blog hopes that the momentum to get Troy Davis off death row continues in the next few days. Please do anything that you can to help this cause!

September 12, 2011

Should Serena Williams Be Suspended from US Open Because of Her Outburst?

Only one thing went wrong with my sporting weekend. My favorite NFL teams -- Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions and New York Jets -- all managed to win their opening games. For at least a week Bengals fans can say that their team is UNDEFEATED. My favorite college football team -- University of Michigan Wolverines -- showed remarkable courage in their comeback victory over the Fighting Irish. Even my 11-year old son and his youth football team won their first game of the year by a score of 14-12 yesterday!

The only downer for the weekend was the US Open
. I was stunned that Serena Williams lost the finals to Aussie Samantha Stosur. I guess Serena was in disbelief as well ... as she had a severe explosion during the first game of the second set.

Serena has a habit of yelling 'Come On!' at the top of her lungs during big points in her matches. She let out such a yell during her match against Stosur. However, she let it out before the point was over ... and that appears to be a rules violation in tennis. The judge in the match, Eva Asderaki, took the winning point away from Serena.

In my view, Serena's yell is the equivalent of the constant grunts that you hear from other tennis players, like Maria Sharapova. However, it appears that Judge Asderaki thought that Serena's yell was loud and menacing.

Serena was still peeved at the judge while resting between points.
"If you ever see me walking down the hall, look the other way, because you’re out of control," Williams said while sitting in her chair. "You’re totally out of control. You’re a hater, unattractive inside. Who would do such a thing? And I never complain. Wow, what a loser. Give me a code violation because I expressed my emotion? We’re in America last time I checked. Really, don’t even look at me, don’t look my way."
In fact, there is some talk that Serena may be banned from next year's US Open as a result.

I don't think that the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) will go that far. After all, Serena is to tennis as Tiger is to golf -- she is a money-maker. Who would care about tennis in America if Serena (or her sister Venus) weren't in the mix?
"Any impact this code violation might have on Serena Williams’ grand slam probation would require the incident being ruled a major event," a WTA statement said. "That determination will be made by the grand slam committee director."
Serena was all smiles and kind words in the post-match interviews. She congratulated her opponent and accepted her second-place trophy and prizes with dignity and grace. However, her earlier on-court explosion didn't do much for her image within the sport.

I suspect that she won't be given the ultimate penalty of suspension from the next US Open ... but, I also suspect that Serena would prefer to be remembered for her tennis and not for her inability to handle her emotions.

What say u?

September 10, 2011

Troy Davis Scheduled for Execution on September 21st

We are very sad to learn that the state of Georgia plans to execute Troy Davis on September 21st. Most villagers know that Troy Davis has been on death row in the state of Georgia since 1991. He was convicted on August 19, 1989 of the murder of Georgia police officer, Mark MacPhail.

On August 24, 2010, the conviction was upheld, with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia declaring, “Davis is not innocent.” The judge did not say that Davis is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, implying that the standard for exoneration had been lifted unreasonably high.

The Supreme Court refused to hear his final appeal -- even though many of us feel that Troy Davis is innocent of all charges.

Georgia's Board of Pardons & Paroles will hold a final clemency hearing in the next week or so -- a final chance to prevent the execution of Troy Davis. The Board of Pardons claims that the execution would only take place if there is “no doubt” about the guilt of the man they are killing.

Many villagers think that there is 'plenty of doubt':
  1. Of the nine original witnesses in the case, seven have either recanted or contradicted their original stories. One witness said in a CNN news interview "If I knew then, what I know now, Troy Davis would not be on death row."
  2. Of the two witnesses who have not recanted, one of them (Sylvester Coles) was a suspect in the murder. A witness even claimed that Coles bragged at a party about having killed an off-duty police officer.
  3. Nine individuals have signed affidavits indicting that the murder was committed by Sylvester Coles
Troy Davis survived three previous execution dates .... but, in order to do so again it will take action by all of us. Here are some ways that you can help.
  1. Request clemency from the Board of Pardons
  2. Sign Amnesty International petition to the Board of Pardons
  3. Sign Your Black World petition to the Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and President Barack Obama
  4. Organize locally for Troy. Sign up now to rally in the coming days to stop the execution of Troy Davis.
  5. Tell everyone you know! Spread the word about this injustice on Twitter by using the hashtag #TooMuchDoubt. Be sure to tell your Facebook friends as well.
Please take action to help us save the life of Troy Davis.

September 9, 2011

Anyone Can Criticize President Barack Obama -- Just Do It With Respect

One of my blogging colleagues -- Aaron Laramore (A Political Season) -- recently said on his blog, "Tavis and Cornel Have One Thing Right...Black People Can & Should Criticize Obama". In the blog post Bro. Laramore noted,
"I voted for Obama, gave money, canvassed my neighborhood. I want him to be a successful president. But he is not the leader we expected him to be. His walk vastly underperforms his talk, routinely. I routinely encounter Blacks online and off who contend that as Blacks we should support him no matter what because he is Black, irrespective of whether he is doing a good job or not. My brothers and sisters, is that really what you mean? I don't think Rosa and King and Malcolm and Medgar and all the other civil rights heroes sacrificed so that we could live in an America where we have to support a Brother no matter how he performs. They fought for an America where we CAN be judged on our merits, on our results..."
I didn't have any problem with Aaron's message. He was able to express his disapproval of the President without using provacative and unwarranted language the way that Tavis and Cornel have been doing in recent months.

Tavis and Cornel try to raise their own profile in the media and in the white community by attacking Obama in a way that sounds similiar to the rantings of Tea Party activists around the nation. That is the issue that I hear most often in my discussions with other Black folks online and offline.

In fact, I don't hear many Blacks blindly supporting the president. Many Blacks that I talk to are disappointed in the unemployment numbers in the Black community ... they are disappointed in the fact that America is still in two major wars ... they are disappointed in the fact that the so-called 'post-racial' era that everyone saw on the horizon when Barack Obama was elected in 2008 hasn't taken hold. In fact, it seems quite the opposite. You don't have to be a racism-chaser to see racism in both words and deeds on a daily basis in America. 

However, elections are all about context. Barack Obama won't be running against our expectations. He will be running against a man (or woman) from the Republican Party ... likely Mitt Romney or Sheriff Perry from Texas. I suspect that an overwhelming number of Black folks who go to the polls in 2012 will compare the idea of having Barack Obama (and his family) in the White House from 2013-2016 against the idea of having a man (Romney) who doesn't appear to have ever hired or worked with a Black person in his life *or* a man (Sheriff Perry) who takes pride in approving the death penalty against 260+ people (mostly Black). When they make that comparison they will vote for the re-election of a decent and highly intelligent Barack Obama for another four years as President of the United States.

I don't begrudge anyone ... including the Black community ... from criticizing Barack Obama. It would be nice if they could do so in a respectful manner and if they could do so in a fair and balanced manner.