October 31, 2011

Sex Scandal: Rise of Herman Cain in Presidential Politics May Be Over

I've heard 'Godfather' Cain talk during his presidential campaign about the powerful influence of his wife. He says that she is not visible on the campaign trail because she is home making sure that his personal life is undisturbed. Today we learn that Cain may have engaged in sexual harassment of two women who worked with him at the National Restaurant Association back in the day. The two women accepted 5-figure settlement offers from the Association in order to drop their cases.
"Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman."
I suspect that we will soon have the 'Good Wife' moment when Gloria Cain makes very public appearances with her husband.

We've seen many other times when male politicians got in trouble because of their inability to be faithful to their wives. I guess it's not just politicians ... this is a situation that many men get into over time. However, it is most public when it happens to a politician. Just ask Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Mark Foley, Christopher Lee, Anthony Wiener or David Wu.

In this case, we find a political candidate experiencing tremendous success in his effort to win the Republican nomination for the presidency. In fact, the most recent polls in the Iowa GOP primary showed Cain was leading the frontrunner. Folks were smiling at Cain's recent campaign ad that went viral. All things were coming up roses for Cain ... then POW! ... a sex scandal is unleashed on the public by the reporters over at Politico.

Cain will do some damage control over the next few days.  His side of the story is as follows:
"I've never sexually harassed anyone, and yes, I was falsely accused while I was at the National Restaurant Association, and I say falsely, because it turned out, after the investigation, to be baseless," he said on Fox News.  "It is totally baseless, and totally false, never have I committed any sort of sexual harassment," he added.
Cain was asked if he has ever had to settle a sexual harassment or sexual misconduct claim, false or otherwise.
"Outside of the Restaurant Association, absolutely not," he said. "If the Restaurant Association did a settlement, I am not - I wasn't even aware of it and I hope it wasn't for much, because nothing happened. So if there was a settlement, it was handled by some of the other officers that worked for me at the Association. So the answer is absolutely not."
However, the make or break moment for this story will be when the identities of the two women are made public. If either of the two women are white ... then all bets are off and we can see Herman Cain forced to resign his candidacy.

I suspect that the tip about this sex scandal was probably provided to Politico by someone in the 'Sheriff' Rick Perry campaign. Don't you agree?

Anyhow, what is your take on this sex scandal with Herman Cain?

Taser Autopsy: Cocaine is Cause of Death for Michael Evans

We learned that the 50,000 volts of electricity pumped into the body of 56-year old Michael Evans contributed to his death back on August 25. However, the cause of death is listed as cocaine overdose. [SOURCE]

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Fayetteville (NC) said Evans had more than four times the lethal amount of cocaine in his system when he was electrocuted by the police.

The report says the cocaine level was the cause of the death, complicated by cardiovascular disease, significant physical exertion while trying to avoid restraint and the electric shock.

Officers said they were trying to take Evans into custody because he was trying to jump in front of cars.

October 29, 2011

Obama's Weekly Address: We Can't Wait to Create Jobs

President Obama says that we can’t wait for Congress to take action to grow the economy and create jobs -- and highlights actions he took to help families refinance their mortgages, put veterans to work, and lower the cost of student loans. (video / transcript)

I think that President Obama is right on the politics and the policy on this issue. He is fighting for jobs and that Congress is doing nothing at all. Congress has refused to negotiate with the president for the past year ... so, it is about time that Obama find other ways to get things done.

What say u?

October 28, 2011

Message to Herman Cain

The greeting on your website says, "we are looking forward to hearing from you", but I'm not sure you will be looking forward to hearing from me, Mr. Cain.

I saw on the Internet that you called the President a liar. I deplore what you are doing and the things you are saying about the President in order to gain favor with these greedy, thieving, selfish, Republicans. How dare you call President Obama a liar. You are a pathetic, obviously brainwashed Black man who has lost his way and his mind. You have had opportunity and a smattering of privilege in America that has made you forget your roots. I despise people like you and Clarence Thomas, and you both have Georgia roots.

What is it with you Black men from the south who grow up in an oppressed environment and end up siding with the oppressor? The recent case of Troy Davis in Georgia is an excellent example of the present day oppression and legal lynching that still takes place in that state and in this country. The political party that you praise so highly is presently enacting laws to suppress the Black vote, the student vote, and many elderly voters across this entire country. Yet, you choose to stand with people who display such obscene and un-American behavior. You would throw Black people (including the President of the U.S.) and others under the bus to curry favor with these non-caring and hedonistic people.

You were there when your Republican cohorts cheered about the death penalty which disproportionately affects Black men and women in this country - some of whom have been proven to be innocent. You should be ashamed to stand with these people and yet, you appear to be proud of such an association.

Yes, President Obama does believe in fairness and sharing the responsibility of the tax burden, it is not socialism nor is it class warfare, and he is not a liar for saying it. That kind of rhetoric from you and those with whom you identify is nothing more than a weak defense for the greedy and despicable philosophy that you choose to embrace.

You had the unmitigated gall to tell Wolf Blitzer on CNN that two thirds of African American people are brainwashed and incapable of thinking for themselves. You are surely touched in the head. The millions of us who are capable of thinking for ourselves - we know who is really brainwashed - you - brainwashed whiter than snow.

Do you really think those people with whom you stand on the debating platform really respect you and see you as their equal? They as well as others see you as a joke and a person who is engaging in buffoonery. A Republican majority House and Senate would never pass your "so-called" 999 plan. They would never deem it in their best interest. Besides, there are many who believe your plan is a coded message from Satan. If you flip the numbers they become the 666 plan.

You will never be President of this country, and I thank God for that. I must say, you certainly live up to your last name. Just as Cain in the Bible so blatantly slew his brother, you are equally willing to do the same politically and economically to millions of Black and middle class citizens of this country. Such behavior is extremely ugly, and need I remind you, Mr. Cain, that God does not like ugly.

P.S. If it wasn't for the fact that I'm having a nice day, I would tell you what I really think about you.

NOTE: I don't know who originally wrote this 'Message to Herman Cain' ... but it expresses my thoughts about the candidate perfectly! -- Villager

October 27, 2011

Taser Lawsuit: Martin Harrison (Dublin, CA)

I see that the family of 50-year old Martin Harrison filed a $20 million federal lawsuit as a legal response to his taser-related death back in August 2010. The lawsuit says that Harrison was the victim of excessive force by deputies, and his beating death in August was "brutal, malicious and done without just provocation or cause."

But Sheriff Greg Ahern said the deputies "used only the force needed to get the subject under control."

Harrison died at a hospital on Aug. 18, two days after the incident at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. The coroner determined that he had died of lack of oxygen to the brain due to cardiac arrest after the confrontation.

Harrison had been arrested by Oakland police for allegedly driving while intoxicated. On Aug. 16, Harrison began acting erratically, breaking a food tray and flooding his cell by overflowing his toilet. Deputies found Harrison hiding behind a mattress, and the inmate told them that someone was trying to kill him.

This blog looks forward to learning the outcome of the lawsuit. I think that it will take more successful civil lawsuits like this one to force police officers around the nation to reconsider taser use that results in weekly deaths.

October 26, 2011

Brennan Center for Justice Issues Report on GOP Voter Suppression Efforts in America

I hope that villagers are taking a close look at the voter suppression efforts that have been implemented by GOP governors and legislators around the nation lately. A new report from the Brennan Center for Justice shines the spotlight on a range of new state laws that make it more difficult to vote, particularly for poor and voters of color.

These new restrictions fall most heavily on young, low-income voters, African Americans, Hispanics as well as on voters with disabilities. These new laws are part of a well-orchestrated campaign to hurt the chances of Democrats to retake control of Congress or retake the White House during the 2012 election.

Based on the Brennan Center’s analysis of the 19 laws and two executive actions that passed in 14 states, it is clear that:
  1. These new laws could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012.
  2. The states that have already cut back on voting rights will provide 171 electoral votes in 2012 – 63 percent of the 270 needed to win the presidency.
  3. Of the 12 likely battleground states in 2012 -- five have already cut back on voting rights (and may pass additional restrictive legislation), and two more are currently considering new restrictions.
I encourage you to read the report and come to your own conclusions. One thing that is obvious ... the Republicans are pulling out all of the stops to defeat President Obama in the 2012 elections. The question for us ... will we allow voter suppression strategy to work? Or will we register and vote in numbers that exceed expectations?

October 25, 2011

Herman Cain: 'Imagine There's No Pizza' (Video / Lyrics)

Soulclap to the folks at the Omaha World-Herald for sharing this video with the world!

Imagine there's no pizza
I couldn't if I tried
Eating only tacos
Or Kentucky Fried
Imagine only burgers
It's frightening and sad

You're lucky you have pizza
To feed for kids for you
Only frosting or cookies
And no dishes you must do
Imagine eating pizza
Each and every day

You may say that it's junk food
But to me it's so much more
It gives my life its meaning
And it makes a lot of dough

Imagine mozzarella
Anchovies on the side
And maybe, pepperoni
Rounds out your pizza pie
Imagine getting pizza
Delivered to your door

You don't have to give up now
On my skateboard I will go
I'll be back in 30 minutes
I just bought Dominoes

All I am saying
Is give pizza a chance
All I am saying
Give pizza a chance
All I am saying
Is give pizza a chance
All I am saying
You've got to, got to give pizza a chance!

October 24, 2011

Blacks In Technology Podcast #22: Sian Morson (Kollective Mobile)

We are very grateful to Greg Greenlee for his consistent efforts to provide us with greater insights into the technological genius of our time ... especially those of African descent. Greg does this with regular pod-casts that are published on the Blacks In Technology (BIT) website. A recent BIT podcast featured Sian Morson (CEO/Founder, Kollective Mobile)

Sian Morson is a digital veteran and mobile evangelist who has been working in the interactive and digital fields since 1999. A project manager by trade, Sian moved through the ranks at some of the top advertising agencies in the world including Tribal DDB, Draft/FCB and McCann Erickson. She has managed the development of web properties and bleeding edge campaigns for international brands such as Philips, Coca-Cola and Aviva. She made the transition to mobile in early 2006 and hasn’t looked back. Sian formed Kollective Mobile, a mobile development agency, in 2010 and is a strong advocate for the early adoption of mobile across all platforms.

Sian has lectured, and written about mobile and its influence on such disparate sectors as art, small business, and the African American community. She is a regular contributor to Politic365 where she covers mobile and technology.

An internationally exhibited video-artist, Sian’s work centers on the topics of sex, race, and of course, technology. She holds a BFA in Film & Television from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and an MA in Electronic Arts from Middlesex University in London.

Most recently, Sian has hosted a panel on Art & Technology at the Festival of New Black Imagination’s inaugural event. Sian is consults regularly with start-ups on their mobile strategy and is available for speaking engagements.

October 23, 2011

Coroner Rules 'Homicide' in the Taser-Killing of Alonzo Ashley

This blog told you about the taser killing of 29-year old Alonzo Ashley that took place at the Denver Zoo earlier this year. Denver's coroner recently ruled that the death at the hands of the police was a homicide. [SOURCE]

Officers said Ashley bit them before they electrocuted him with 50,000 volts of electricity from a taser gun. Police shot the taser gun FIVE times even though they had Ashley face-down on the ground, with shoulders pressed down, hands cuffed behind his back and legs crossed, flexed and pressed toward his buttocks, the autopsy by Dr. John Carver says.

Ashley began convulsing and he was dead before paramedics arrived.

Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey, however, said Ashley's death met no legal criteria for prosecution under Colorado homicide statutes.
"This clearly is not a homicide under Colorado law," Morrissey said. "I have some real questions about using the term homicide."
Police Chief Gerry Whitman said all the officers who responded to the incident will remain on duty. Additional investigations by police and Manager of Safety's Office to determine whether policies were violated are pending.

Ashley's death sparked protests by the Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance. Dr. Timothy Tyler, pastor of Denver's Shorter Community AME Church, said that the city promised changes after Marvin Booker's death at the city jail in July 2010 but that apparently nothing has changed.

He predicted the Police Department will investigate its own and determine that the officers followed the restraint policy.
"Perhaps the restraint policy needs to be changed," Tyler said.
I suspect that the next thing we hear from this case will be a lawsuit filed by Mr. Ashley's family.

October 22, 2011

Obama's Weekly Address: Bringing Home Our Troops

President Obama discusses how the death of Moammar Qadhafi in Libya and the announcement that troops from Iraq will return home by the end of the year are strong reminders that the United States has renewed its leadership in the world.

I shared my thoughts on this announcement yesterday. Personally, I think that Obama is playing chess while most of his opponents are playing checkers.

What say u?

October 21, 2011

President Obama is Kicking Butt and Taking Names

You would think that folks would no longer underestimate President Obama. Hillary Clinton underestimated him in the Democratic primary process 4 years ago. John McCain and Sarah Palin underestimated him in the 2008 elections. Methinks that Sen. McConnell, Rep. Boehner, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Rick Perry and anyone else that thinks Barack Obama is going to be a 1-term president is underestimating the man.

President Obama is one cool, calm and collected man. He puts his mind to a goal and works through the process until he reaches it. Just ask Osama bin Laden, Muammar al-Qaddafi and the others on Barack Obama's shrinking hit list.

Obama decided that today would be a good day to rock the world with another bombshell -- the end of the war in Iraq. In 2008, in the height of the presidential campaign, then-Senator Obama made a promise to give our military a new mission: ending the war in Iraq.

As the election unfolded, he reiterated this pledge again and again -- but cautioned that we would be "as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in." 

Last year, the President made progress toward achieving that goal. He brought an end to the combat mission in Iraq, and through the course of the past 14 months, more than 100,000 troops have returned to their families.

Today, President proved himself to be a person of his word -- the war in Iraq will be over by the holidays.

I'm proud of my president ... how about you?

October 20, 2011

Federal Court Rules Against Taser-Killing Cops

This blog has been sharing the story of taser-related deaths in America. We think that one way to slow down the weekly taser-related deaths is to charge more of the taser-happy police officers with manslaughter or homicide. The 9th Circuity Court of Appeals may have moved things in that direction with their recent rulings. [SOURCE]

The court ruled that police used excessive force when they fired Tasers at a pregnant woman in Seattle and a victim of domestic abuse in Maui.

In the Seattle case, a seven-months pregnant Malaika Brooks was driving her son to school when she was stopped by police, ticketed for driving 12 miles over the 20-mph speed limit and blasted with a taser gun three times after refusing to sign the citation.

Two years later and thousands of miles away in Maui, Jayzel Mattos was trying to defuse a brewing clash between her drunk husband and four police officers called to a domestic disturbance when one of the officers suddenly dropped her to the floor with two jolts from his Taser, which was set in dart mode. 

The federal appeals court ruled that in both instances, police used excessive force and that their actions violated the Constitution's protection from unreasonable force. The court's ruling may now serve to establish that using taser guns without an imminent threat of harm is unreasonable, at least in some cases, exposing police officers to liability in future lawsuits.

Time will tell if the rate of taser-related deaths begins to slow down as a result of this federal court ruling.

October 18, 2011

Call to Action: Improvement and Achievement for Black Men - 'Rumble Young Man, Rumble'

Soulclap to the Black Star Project for bringing this event to our attention.

A Call to Action:
Improvement and Achievement for Black Men -
'Rumble Young Man, Rumble'!


Saturday, November 12, 2011
9:00 am to 3:00 pm
Your City, Your Space, Your Leadership

In cities across America, Black males are being called to Action, Improvement and Achievement.  In each of ten cities, 25 men from 25 organizations will meet for 6 hours and then engage in an key actions to improve their communities and our country.  These solutions and actions will be shared with men and organizations throughout America.

One of the key features of this day will be a 10 a city video conference role call introducing 250 Black men from across America, to each other, who are doing the work.

Each session in each city will:
  • Contribute to a national solution on the issues of Black men
  • Create a clearing house of Black male achievement, improvement and action organizations in that city
  • Connect the people of that city to Black male improvement and achievement agencies in that city
  • Connect the work of Black male improvement and achievement organizations in other cities across the county
  • Connect men and elders with youth and women in their communities
  • Get Black men into action improving their children, families, communities and cities.
  • Chronicle achievement and improvement of Black men and Black people in your city and across the country
  • Seek funding and resources to support organizations doing this work
Picture from the Million Man March in 1996
organized by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan

Planning the Day:
  1. Choose a Theme 
  2. Choose a Space 
  3. Choose a Day 
  4. Choose a Facilitator/Moderator 
  5. Choose a Scribe/Recorder 
  6. Choose an Action 
  7. Choose 25 participants 
  8. Choose a Keynote Speaker or Expert Panel 
  9. Choose Youth Participants or Women Partners 
  10. Choose a Date for Next Meeting
Themes for Black men to choose for their session/city:

1) Entrepreneurship/Business/Personal Finance
2) Health/Nutrition/Emotional Wellness
3) Education
4) Relationships - Male/Male - Male/Female - Young/Old - Other Races
5) Incarceration/New Jim Crow
6) Family Development and Community Development
7) Mentorship
8) Fatherhood and Father Absence
9) Spirituality, Religiosity and Faith
10) History and Culture
11) Other Themes

"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee!
Your hands can't hit what your eyes can't see!
Rumble young man, rumble!"
These sessions are inspired by work done in Louisville, Kentucky in September of 2011 organized by Open Society Foundations. This work is being done in honor of Muhammad AliPlease call (773)285-9600 to sign up your city and to get an organizing kit to create a Black Male Action, Improvement and Achievement Summit in your city.

October 17, 2011

The 'Blogging While Brown' Journey Continues Into Its Fifth Year

Blogging While Brown is a movement that is entering its fifth year. I am proud to be one of the bloggers in the nation who attended the first BWB conference held in Atlanta.   However, I've not been able to attend any of the subsequent conferences ... including the breakout one held in Los Angeles last year.

2010 BWB Visits White House in DC
All that is going to change in 2012.   I plan to be in attendance on June 1-2, 2012 when the Blogging While Brown conference convenes in Philadelphia.  Registration is now open and I encourage all villagers to take a look at their calendars to see if they can make it.

BWB has grown to become the premier social media conference dedicated to education, collaboration and innovation among bloggers of color. A new wrinkle in the Blogging While Brown journey is creation of a membership program.  The annual membership fee is only $50. Benefits include:
  • 20% off Blogging While Brown 2012 Conference Registration
  • 15% Discount on BWB Virtual U Courses
  • The opportunity to become a BWB Virtual U Instructor
  • Earn money by participating in our Affiliate Program
  • Access to BWB Discount Mall
  • Free or discounted admission to BWB Local Events
  • Be featured on the BWB Blog & Newsletter
  • Have your blog listed on BWB Blog Roll
  • Discounted Blogger Sponsorship Opportunities
BWB memberships are for novice as well as seasoned bloggers. BWB brings together Black social media experts, speakers and independent content creators to educate, inspire and expand their influence in social media and technology. This is your chance to network year-round with other bloggers of color.

Will you become a BWB member?
What is your favorite BWB story

October 16, 2011

WTF?!? Herman Cain Shares Man-Love With Clarence Thomas

I couldn't believe my ears when I heard Godfather Cain heaping praise on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Any chance that Cain had for getting 33% of the Black vote is gone now. There isn't any brainwashed brother or sister in the nation who could vote for a candidate that thinks Clarence Thomas is the best Supreme Court justice in history.

What was your reaction to Cain's Supreme Court wet dream?

I Love Your Blog Award

There are many villagers that quietly join us to enjoy the posts and comments without sharing their village voice. Our blog never seems to get much in the way of COMMENTS in comparison to our daily hits. I appreciate the stealth villagers as much as those that are move 'vocal'.

One of my stealth villagers is Tey, a busy working Filipina mom living in Toronto. Tey publishes 'My Daily Thoughts'. Tey presented us with the 'I Love Your Blog Award':
"... for his informative posts about Black people (just love it)."
I appreciated the love when she gave our blog the award.  In fact, I've shared the award with others in 2007 and 2008.  I figure it was time to share some love again with other blogs that deserve it. The Electronic Village presents the 'I Love Your Blog Award' to five others that we read and enjoy often. They are more than welcome to pass along the award to other blogs which they love to read as well and so on.
  1. African American Pundit - Rock is one of the first bloggers that I regularly followed in the afrosphere. His blog comes strong and correct with information about both race and politics.  He was also one of the first to join me in speaking out against the high level of taser-related deaths in America.
  2. What About Our Daughters? - Gina is a blogger willing to take her online efforts to a new level.  She is a book author and a movie-maker.  She organizes the annual Blogging While Brown Conference.  At the end of the day this is a blog that I think should be followed by every person of African descent in our nation ... especially Black women!
  3. Eccentric Lover - Nailah is a young 'un.  She is a college freshman who shows remarkable clarity on her blog on the trials and tribulations of being a teenager.  She also finds some of the most provocative and unique photos that I've ever seen.
  4. The Field Negro - Field won this award from me in 2007.  He is the most consistent Black blogger that I've ever seen.  No guest bloggers.  It's all Field, all the time.  He seems to be able to have a new and powerful blog post each and every evening.  He provides outstanding social and political commentary on all issues that impact on the Black community.  This is my favorite blog of all-times!
  5. Booker Rising - I disagree with the perspective shared by Shay on this blog more often than not.  However, I admire this blogger for bringing out the diverse voices of Black opinion makers in both America, African and Europe.  Can anyone tell me if Shay is a man or woman?
Congratulations to all of you and thanks for writing such great blogs. Villagers, who are the blogs and bloggers that YOU love?

President Obama Speech at MLK Memorial Dedication (Video/Full Text)

President Barack Obama appeared to have his swagger back today when he helped to dedicate the Martin Luther King Memorial with the thousands who gathered at the National Mall. The memorial took over 15 years to complete. I look forward to my next visit to Washington DC so that I can see it in person.

Here is the video and full transcript of his speech:

The following is the text of the remarks delivered by President Barack Obama at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Dedication on The National Mall in Washington, D.C. at 11:51 a.m. Eastern time on Sunday, October 16, 2011. Transcript supplied by the White House.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you. (Applause.) Please be seated.

An earthquake and a hurricane may have delayed this day, but this is a day that would not be denied.

For this day, we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s return to the National Mall. In this place, he will stand for all time, among monuments to those who fathered this nation and those who defended it; a black preacher with no official rank or title who somehow gave voice to our deepest dreams and our most lasting ideals, a man who stirred our conscience and thereby helped make our union more perfect.

And Dr. King would be the first to remind us that this memorial is not for him alone. The movement of which he was a part depended on an entire generation of leaders. Many are here today, and for their service and their sacrifice, we owe them our everlasting gratitude. This is a monument to your collective achievement. (Applause.)

Some giants of the civil rights movement -- like Rosa Parks and Dorothy Height, Benjamin Hooks, Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth -- they've been taken from us these past few years. This monument attests to their strength and their courage, and while we miss them dearly, we know they rest in a better place.

And finally, there are the multitudes of men and women whose names never appear in the history books -- those who marched and those who sang, those who sat in and those who stood firm, those who organized and those who mobilized -- all those men and women who through countless acts of quiet heroism helped bring about changes few thought were even possible. "By the thousands," said Dr. King, "faceless, anonymous, relentless young people, black and white...have taken our whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in the formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence." To those men and women, to those foot soldiers for justice, know that this monument is yours, as well.

Nearly half a century has passed since that historic March on Washington, a day when thousands upon thousands gathered for jobs and for freedom. That is what our schoolchildren remember best when they think of Dr. King -- his booming voice across this Mall, calling on America to make freedom a reality for all of God's children, prophesizing of a day when the jangling discord of our nation would be transformed into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

It is right that we honor that march, that we lift up Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech -- for without that shining moment, without Dr. King's glorious words, we might not have had the courage to come as far as we have. Because of that hopeful vision, because of Dr. King's moral imagination, barricades began to fall and bigotry began to fade. New doors of opportunity swung open for an entire generation. Yes, laws changed, but hearts and minds changed, as well.

Look at the faces here around you, and you see an America that is more fair and more free and more just than the one Dr. King addressed that day. We are right to savor that slow but certain progress -- progress that's expressed itself in a million ways, large and small, across this nation every single day, as people of all colors and creeds live together, and work together, and fight alongside one another, and learn together, and build together, and love one another.

So it is right for us to celebrate today Dr. King's dream and his vision of unity. And yet it is also important on this day to remind ourselves that such progress did not come easily; that Dr. King's faith was hard-won; that it sprung out of a harsh reality and some bitter disappointments.

It is right for us to celebrate Dr. King's marvelous oratory, but it is worth remembering that progress did not come from words alone. Progress was hard. Progress was purchased through enduring the smack of billy clubs and the blast of fire hoses. It was bought with days in jail cells and nights of bomb threats. For every victory during the height of the civil rights movement, there were setbacks and there were defeats.

We forget now, but during his life, Dr. King wasn't always considered a unifying figure. Even after rising to prominence, even after winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. King was vilified by many, denounced as a rabble rouser and an agitator, a communist and a radical. He was even attacked by his own people, by those who felt he was going too fast or those who felt he was going too slow; by those who felt he shouldn't meddle in issues like the Vietnam War or the rights of union workers. We know from his own testimony the doubts and the pain this caused him, and that the controversy that would swirl around his actions would last until the fateful day he died.

I raise all this because nearly 50 years after the March on Washington, our work, Dr. King's work, is not yet complete. We gather here at a moment of great challenge and great change. In the first decade of this new century, we have been tested by war and by tragedy; by an economic crisis and its aftermath that has left millions out of work, and poverty on the rise, and millions more just struggling to get by. Indeed, even before this crisis struck, we had endured a decade of rising inequality and stagnant wages. In too many troubled neighborhoods across the country, the conditions of our poorest citizens appear little changed from what existed 50 years ago -- neighborhoods with underfunded schools and broken-down slums, inadequate health care, constant violence, neighborhoods in which too many young people grow up with little hope and few prospects for the future.

Our work is not done. And so on this day, in which we celebrate a man and a movement that did so much for this country, let us draw strength from those earlier struggles. First and foremost, let us remember that change has never been quick. Change has never been simple, or without controversy. Change depends on persistence. Change requires determination. It took a full decade before the moral guidance of Brown v. Board of Education was translated into the enforcement measures of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, but those 10 long years did not lead Dr. King to give up. He kept on pushing, he kept on speaking, he kept on marching until change finally came. (Applause.)

And then when, even after the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act passed, African Americans still found themselves trapped in pockets of poverty across the country, Dr. King didn't say those laws were a failure; he didn't say this is too hard; he didn't say, let's settle for what we got and go home. Instead he said, let's take those victories and broaden our mission to achieve not just civil and political equality but also economic justice; let's fight for a living wage and better schools and jobs for all who are willing to work. In other words, when met with hardship, when confronting disappointment, Dr. King refused to accept what he called the "isness" of today. He kept pushing towards the "oughtness" of tomorrow.

And so, as we think about all the work that we must do -- rebuilding an economy that can compete on a global stage, and fixing our schools so that every child -- not just some, but every child -- gets a world-class education, and making sure that our health care system is affordable and accessible to all, and that our economic system is one in which everybody gets a fair shake and everybody does their fair share, let us not be trapped by what is. (Applause.) We can't be discouraged by what is. We've got to keep pushing for what ought to be, the America we ought to leave to our children, mindful that the hardships we face are nothing compared to those Dr. King and his fellow marchers faced 50 years ago, and that if we maintain our faith, in ourselves and in the possibilities of this nation, there is no challenge we cannot surmount.

And just as we draw strength from Dr. King's struggles, so must we draw inspiration from his constant insistence on the oneness of man; the belief in his words that "we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny." It was that insistence, rooted in his Christian faith, that led him to tell a group of angry young protesters, "I love you as I love my own children," even as one threw a rock that glanced off his neck.

It was that insistence, that belief that God resides in each of us, from the high to the low, in the oppressor and the oppressed, that convinced him that people and systems could change. It fortified his belief in non-violence. It permitted him to place his faith in a government that had fallen short of its ideals. It led him to see his charge not only as freeing black America from the shackles of discrimination, but also freeing many Americans from their own prejudices, and freeing Americans of every color from the depredations of poverty.

And so at this moment, when our politics appear so sharply polarized, and faith in our institutions so greatly diminished, we need more than ever to take heed of Dr. King's teachings. He calls on us to stand in the other person's shoes; to see through their eyes; to understand their pain. He tells us that we have a duty to fight against poverty, even if we are well off; to care about the child in the decrepit school even if our own children are doing fine; to show compassion toward the immigrant family, with the knowledge that most of us are only a few generations removed from similar hardships. (Applause.)

To say that we are bound together as one people, and must constantly strive to see ourselves in one another, is not to argue for a false unity that papers over our differences and ratifies an unjust status quo. As was true 50 years ago, as has been true throughout human history, those with power and privilege will often decry any call for change as "divisive." They'll say any challenge to the existing arrangements are unwise and destabilizing. Dr. King understood that peace without justice was no peace at all; that aligning our reality with our ideals often requires the speaking of uncomfortable truths and the creative tension of non-violent protest.

But he also understood that to bring about true and lasting change, there must be the possibility of reconciliation; that any social movement has to channel this tension through the spirit of love and mutuality.

If he were alive today, I believe he would remind us that the unemployed worker can rightly challenge the excesses of Wall Street without demonizing all who work there; that the businessman can enter tough negotiations with his company's union without vilifying the right to collectively bargain. He would want us to know we can argue fiercely about the proper size and role of government without questioning each other's love for this country -- (applause) -- with the knowledge that in this democracy, government is no distant object but is rather an expression of our common commitments to one another. He would call on us to assume the best in each other rather than the worst, and challenge one another in ways that ultimately heal rather than wound.

In the end, that's what I hope my daughters take away from this monument. I want them to come away from here with a faith in what they can accomplish when they are determined and working for a righteous cause. I want them to come away from here with a faith in other people and a faith in a benevolent God. This sculpture, massive and iconic as it is, will remind them of Dr. King's strength, but to see him only as larger than life would do a disservice to what he taught us about ourselves. He would want them to know that he had setbacks, because they will have setbacks. He would want them to know that he had doubts, because they will have doubts. He would want them to know that he was flawed, because all of us have flaws.

It is precisely because Dr. King was a man of flesh and blood and not a figure of stone that he inspires us so. His life, his story, tells us that change can come if you don't give up. He would not give up, no matter how long it took, because in the smallest hamlets and the darkest slums, he had witnessed the highest reaches of the human spirit; because in those moments when the struggle seemed most hopeless, he had seen men and women and children conquer their fear; because he had seen hills and mountains made low and rough places made plain, and the crooked places made straight and God make a way out of no way.

And that is why we honor this man -- because he had faith in us. And that is why he belongs on this Mall -- because he saw what we might become. That is why Dr. King was so quintessentially American -- because for all the hardships we've endured, for all our sometimes tragic history, ours is a story of optimism and achievement and constant striving that is unique upon this Earth. And that is why the rest of the world still looks to us to lead. This is a country where ordinary people find in their hearts the courage to do extraordinary things; the courage to stand up in the face of the fiercest resistance and despair and say this is wrong, and this is right; we will not settle for what the cynics tell us we have to accept and we will reach again and again, no matter the odds, for what we know is possible.

That is the conviction we must carry now in our hearts. (Applause.) As tough as times may be, I know we will overcome. I know there are better days ahead. I know this because of the man towering over us. I know this because all he and his generation endured -- we are here today in a country that dedicated a monument to that legacy.

And so with our eyes on the horizon and our faith squarely placed in one another, let us keep striving; let us keep struggling; let us keep climbing toward that promised land of a nation and a world that is more fair, and more just, and more equal for every single child of God.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

October 15, 2011

Obama's Weekly Address: Made in America

From a GM plant in Detroit, President Obama highlights the landmark trade agreements passed this week which will support tens of thousands of American jobs, level the playing field for American workers, and help us meet our goal of doubling our exports. [Transcript / Video]

The president has been very consistent on his message regarding job creation. He may have come a little late to the party ... but, he has been strong on this message for the past 5-6 weeks. It should be interesting to see if the Republicans in congress can continue to simply follow their 'Do Nothing' legislative strategy when it comes to the American Jobs Act.

What are your thoughts as you listened to the president's weekly message?

October 14, 2011

Lawsuit Filed in the Taser-Killing of Javon Rakestrau

The mother of Javon Rakestrau has filed a federal lawsuit claiming excessive force using a taser in the wrongful death of her son on last October.   Her son was screaming for her right before he was tased-to-death by one of the Lafayette Parish deputies.   You can hear him yelling for his Mom on the dashcam video released by the police.   After the screams you hear the 50,000 volts of electricity being shot by the officer's taser gun ... then you hear nothing but silence.  You can tell that Javon is dead.

Deborah Rakestrau is asking for a jury trial in the civil case against Lafayette Parish Sheriff Michael Neustrom and Sheriff Deputy Chris Guidry. The case was filed September 30th and claims use of excessive force, pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, medical bills and expenses, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of future companionship, loss of love and affection, grief, funeral expenses, attorney fees and punitive damages against Deputy Guidry. The case was filed by attorney Clayton Burgess who is representing Rakestrau's mother.

Rakestrau died as a result of an altercation ended with Deputy Guidry.  You can see the video of the incident here. The next day, Rakestrau's family and friends protested the police presence in their neighborhood and said Rakestrau's death was "unprovoked". On October 6, 2010, the Lafayette Sheriff's Office released the dashcam video as evidence that they said "proves" Deputy Guidry followed protocol.

The suit claims on the evening of October 4, 2010, Rakestrau was approached by Deputy Guidry who asked him to place his hands on the patrol vehicle. The suit says Rakestrau protested the stop and continued walking and "a scuffle ensued between Deputy Guidry and Rakestrau".

According to case documents, "Deputy Guidry then began to tase Javon Rakestrau, but Rakestrau did not respond. After repeated administration of electric shock by way of taser to Rakestrau's body, Deputy Guidry then realized Rakestrau was unresponsive".

The suit claims, "as a result of being repeatedly tased, Javon Rakestrau suffered a fatal asthma attack, filling his lungs with foam and blood, and was pronounced dead".

At the time that they released the dash cam video, the sheriff's office said the video showed, "Javon with his right hand holding his cell phone, saying he's calling police. Then he reaches for something with his left hand. He pulls the item from his pocket".   It turns out that Javon was UNARMED at the time of his arrest.   He didn't have to be killed that night.

Witnesses at the time claimed Rakestrau had his hands up and asked not to be tased.

The Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office said the suspect was uncooperative, and that's why he was tased by Deputy Chris Guidry.

They also said he was witnessed by an undercover deputy, doing a drug deal before he was tased. Authorities found drugs on him, after he was subdued.   I guess that a lawsuit is necessary in order for the sheriff and his boys to realize that having drugs on your person is not punishable by death.

October 13, 2011

Taser Death: Darnell Hutchinson (San Leandro, CA)

It happened again! This time we learn that the San Leandro police were involved in a taser-related killing of 32-year old Darnell Hutchinson. Hutchinson, an Oakland resident, died after an incident at Nations Giant Hamburgers, where officers responded to a report of a suspicious person.

Nations employees reported that a man there, later identified as Hutchinson, was scaring customers by "acting strange" and was asked to leave several times but refused. [SOURCE]

Officers arrived and found Hutchinson outside the restaurant, where he refused to cooperate with the officers and a struggle ensued.

One of the officers pumped Hutchinson with 50,000 volts of electricity from a taser gun. Ultimately, the four police officers on the scene were able to control and handcuff him.

Immediately after being handcuffed, Hutchinson's health began to deteriorate. Paramedics responded and took him to a hospital where he died.

The cause of his death has not been determined, with toxicology and autopsy reports from the coroner's bureau still pending. We know that the young man was UNARMED and that the penalty for being 'scary' is not supposed to be death.

WTF?! Herman Cain Leads Both Romney and Perry in Latest Poll Results

Mitt Romney must be scratching his head right about now.   He has been running for the presidential nomination of the Republican Party for over five years now and he can't seem to get any love.  

Today we learn that Romney isn't even the "front-runner" any longer.   At least according to the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that named Herman Cain the front-runner for the Republican nomination in 2012. According to the poll 27 percent of Republican voters surveyed made Cain their first choice, and Mitt Romney dropped down to second place with 23 percent.

Do you have any idea why Cain is rising and Romney is stagnant in these latest polls?

Herman Cain Hypnotizes His Opponents with the 9-9-9 Plan

I watched most of the GOP debate that was on the Bloomberg channel earlier this week. A couple of things stood out for me:
  • Rick Perry is truly unprepared for prime time.  You have to begin to wonder what the people of Texas were thinking when they elected him to political office.  He has looked lousy in all four debates so far.
  • Mitt Romney is an experienced debater.  However, it appears that his positive debate performances still haven't brought him much love from the GOP primary voters.
  • Herman Cain made a winning decision when he began to focus on his so-called '9-9-9' economic plan.  Every GOP candidate in the debate seemed to have something to say about it.   Accordingly to the following video the word, 'nine' was mentioned 85 times during the debate!

Do you think that Herman Cain has a chance to win any of the Republican primaries this year?

October 8, 2011

Obama's Weekly Address: Making Your Voice Heard on the American Jobs Act

President Obama is focused like a laser on creating jobs. It is the only thing he has talked about ever since he had that nationally-televised speech to the nation about his American Jobs Act. Congress hasn't made any moves yet to pass the President's proposal. However, he continues to press the point in his weekly address today. In the following video message Mr. Obama urges Congress to pass the American Jobs Act to put more people to work, put more money in the pockets of working Americans and give the economy the jolt it needs right now. [Transcript / Video]

I appreciate that the president appears to be fighting for jobs every day. What are they doing in Congress?

October 7, 2011

Black Unemployment Rate Falls to 16.0% in September 2011

The economy added 103,000 jobs last month according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.   There are about 14 million unemployed people in the country bringing our overall unemployment rate to 9.1% ... same as the previous month.  In fact, the unemployment rate has stayed in a narrow range of 9.0% to 9.2%.   This is not good news for the re-election prospects of President Obama.

It's even worse news for the Black community.

The unemployment rate in the Black community did fall from 16.7% (last month) to 16.0% in SeptemberHowever, that is still a ridiculously high rate of unemployment ... that is even worse when you look at the impact on African Americans without a college diploma ... and worse than that for those in the Black community who left school without a high school diploma.

The jobs gained in September were in the following industries: professional and business services, health care, information technology and construction.

Early Voting for November 2011 Elections in Ohio

I encourage all villagers to remember that our ancestors worked hard to ensure that we have the right to vote.  It is up to us to be informed about the issues and it is up to us to VOTE.   We are going to try to ramp up the Proud Black Voter blog.   In the meantime, this blog will share voting updates that impact on my fellow villagers in the state of Ohio.

For example, did you know that 'early voting' for the November 2011 election is up and running in Ohio?

Registered voters may download, fill out, print AND sign an absentee ballot application here (En Español). Applications should be mailed or dropped off at your local board of elections. Do not delay returning your application. By requesting your absentee ballot early, you will help avoid problems that may make it difficult to quickly and easily obtain an absentee ballot.

Not registered to vote? There’s still time! Get your voter registration form here. Remember, you must mail or hand-deliver the registration form to your county board of elections by October 11.

Get more information to protect your vote at http://www.acluohio.org/vote.

October 6, 2011

Voter Suppression 'Map of Shame' is Now Interactive

Soulclap to The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law for sharing an interactive map of the voter suppression efforts taking place around the country.

We continue to see voter photo ID laws and other suppressive legislation being brought forward by Republican governors and legislators. These proposed laws threaten to roll back many efforts that have increased voter registration and turnout over the past few election cycles.

Restrictive voter ID laws are truly a "solution in search of a problem," since the issue they purport to address - impersonation of voters at the polls - is practically nonexistent. Therefore, these newly enacted voter photo ID requirements serve only to remove eligible voters from our democracy and are NOT needed to stop potential impersonation voter fraud. So why are these laws being enacted? It is obvious that other, more sinister motivations are at play here.

It seems obvious to most of us that these are thinly-veiled efforts to keep young people, senior citizens, poor people and people of color away from the voter booth in the 2012 election cycle.

This blog seeks to remind you that our right to vote is too important to allow these cynical plans by the Republican Party to continue unabated.

Add your name to the growing number of 'villagers' who are saying, "Enough is enough! Stop these harmful laws and focus on real reforms that will expand access to our democracy for all Americans."

Visit the interactive map to see what your state is doing to suppress your vote!

First Amendment Can't Protect Hank Williams, Jr. From His Own Stupidity

It took a few days ... but ESPN finally figured out that their 20-year partnership with Hank Williams, Jr. couldn't survive the terrible comparisons that Williams made on national television between President Barack Obama and one of the most evil people in the history of the world, Adolph Hitler.
ESPN wrote, "We have decided to part ways with Hank Williams Jr. We appreciate his contributions over the past years. The success of Monday Night Football has always been about the games and that will continue."
Williams saw it differently.
"After reading hundreds of e-mails, I have made MY decision. By pulling my opening Oct 3rd, You (ESPN) stepped on the Toes of The First Amendment Freedom of Speech, so therefore Me, My Song, and All My Rowdy Friends are OUT OF HERE. It's been a great run."
Methinks that Williams was simply a drunken redneck fool when he was interviewed on that Fox News show. He thought he was with friends and could talk in public about our president in the same way that he must talk in private. He quickly learned that he went too far with his comments that compared President Obama with Adolph Hitler. I rarely give Fox News credit ... but the anchors who were interviewing Williams were IMMEDIATELY abhorred by his 'Hitler' comments.

I'm glad that ESPN acted. Are you?

October 5, 2011

FOUND: Chioma Gray is Home with Her Family

Mom Greets Chioma at Airport
Chioma Gray's family last saw her Dec. 13, 2007. This blog began following the case a few weeks later.

The former student at Buena High School in Ventura, then 15, was getting into a stolen car that day driven by Andrew Joshua Tafoya, then 20, who had been released from jail the night before, according to witnesses. Gray and Tafoya were captured on a screening camera at the Mexican border on Dec. 13, 2007. The camera also showed the license plate of a stolen car.

In 2010, Chuck Hookstra, a private investigator and former Oxnard assistant police chief hired by Gray's mother, Franciene Black, found the stolen car parked in a compound near Acapulco, Mexico. He also discovered the two had lived in a small vacation spot, where Tafoya taught snorkeling and Gray worked as a waitress.

Chioma Gray, now 19, and Tafoya, now 24, arrived today at Los Angeles International Airport from Mexico City under escort of US Marshals. [SOURCE]
"I can only imagine what my daughter has been through the last three years," Black was quoted as saying in a statement released by her attorney, Cristina Armenta. "We have all been through a lot and we are so blessed to have her back."

Gray's family believes she was kidnapped. The mother has sued Tafoya and his parents, alleging custodial interference and infliction of emotional distress.

Tafoya's attorney, Tim Quinn, said the girl left willingly and the relationship was consensual. She still wants to be with him, Quinn said.

Tafoya is charged with violating probation stemming from his previous sentence and child-stealing.

Taser Death: Howard Cook (York, PA)

It happened again! This time a 30-year old father of four has been ripped from his family because of extra-judicial electrocution techniques of a couple of York (PA) City police officers. [SOURCE]

It turns out that Howard Cook was a passenger in a car that was pulled over for a traffic violation by the Pennsylvania State Police. Mr. Cook had some outstanding warrants and the sight of the flashing lights made him nervous ... so he made what turned out to be a fatal mistake ... he got out of the car and ran.

The police had no way of knowing about the warrants when they began chasing Mr. Cook. They simply saw a Black man running and they pulled out their taser guns. They shot the man once with a taser gun during the chase ... and evidently they electrocuted him once more when they caught him near his home.

The York Police Department took Mr. Cook into custody and then noticed that he wasn't breathing. He was taken to the York Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
"He left four children by themselves. He has a great wife. He left a lot of family members and a lot of friends that really loved them," said Claudia Ortiz.
The two unidentified police officers involved are on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

The coroner says an autopsy did not determine the cause of death.

I can't imagine that it is rocket-science. The police pumped 50,000 volts of electricity into the young man's body twice ... and his heart stopped. The young man was UNARMED and there is no evidence of drug use. He simply made the same mistake that most Black men make when they see flashing lights on top of a police car ... he got scared.

Now his four children no longer have a father. When will the police admit that there is something wrong when a so-called non-lethal weapons continue to kill American citizens on a weekly basis?

Wordless Wednesday: Obama Fried Chicken

As reported by Daily Mail

Taser Death: Glenn Norman (Camden County, MO)

It happened again! This time unidentified Camden County (MO) sheriff deputies electrocuted a 46-year old man until he stopped breathing and died. I'm sure that the deputies didn't mean to kill Glenn Norman. That doesn't change the fact that another 5'3", 140-pound UNARMED man is dead.

As I understand it, the Camden County Sheriff's Office responded to a 911 call stating a man had knocked on the caller's door and forced his way into the caller's home. The man turned out to be Glenn Norman. Norman's fiancee said that he was visiting the house to ask for a drink. The homeowner didn't think so. That explains why the 911 call was placed to ask for police help.

The Camden County deputies arrived on the scene and approached Norman, who began to resist arrest. That was Norman's fatal mistake.

Deputies used their taser gun to subdue him with 50,000 volts of electricity. Norman was handcuffed ... and then he began to have trouble breathing. Paramedics were called ... but it was too late. Norman was pronounced dead at the scene.

No cause of death has been officially ruled. However, it shouldn't be too hard to figure out. The guy was alive ... then he was shot with a taser gun ... then he was dead. The cause of death seems self-evident.   You have to wonder who's life was in danger when the tasers were deployed.   There were four deputies on the scene and this UNARMED man was small in stature -- only 5'3" tall.   Were the police in fear of their lives?

The family is now telling their side of the story. [VIDEO]

The Missouri State Highway Patrol has been requested to conduct the official investigation of the incident, and an autopsy is underway.   Glenn Norman did a stupid thing by resisting arrest ... however the penalty for being stupid should never be the death penalty.

October 4, 2011

Is Sherri Shepherd Wrong for Negative N-Word Reaction to Barbara Walters?

I don't watch The View, so my soulclap goes to Your Black News for pointing me to the following video that shows a tense exchange between the women on the subject of the N-word. The ladies were discussing the recent 'Niggerhead' controversy with presidential candidate Rick Perry.

Watch the video and let's talk afterwards.

The most remarkable part of this discussion came from one of the Black panelists -- Sherri Shepherd. She had a negative reaction to hearing Barbara Walters use of the N-word. Shepherd was candid in noting that she didn't have any reaction to Whoopi Goldberg when she used the word at the beginning of the discussion.

The word is the same in either case. The only difference is the skin color of the two women who uttered the word. Whoopi is Black. Barbara is white.

I've heard this commentary from many Black people over the years. However, it became obvious to me that there is no excuse for a distinction. If we think that the N-word should be eliminated ... it should be eliminated by EVERYONE ... not just white folks like Rick Perry or Barbara Walters.

It dawns on me that Sherri Shepherd's position is the same irrational racism that we hate when we hear it from members of the Ku Klux Klan. Shepherd had an emotional response because of the color of Barbara's skin. Period.

That is wrong in my view. The rule should be clear -- don't use the N-word. Period. What say u?