August 31, 2013

Obama's Weekly Address: Commemorating Labor Day

President Obama discusses Labor Day and reflects on the contributions of the working men and women in our country. The President says that by recommitting ourselves to the values of working Americans and coming together with common purpose, we can ensure that everyone who works hard has a chance to get ahead.

The Electronic Village joins our president in wishing a blessed Labor Day to all those who read our blog!

August 27, 2013

Am I Not Human? Emmett Till (1941-1955)

Emmitt Till was murdered on this day in 1955. Till was a 14-year-old African American boy who was beaten and shot to death by two white men. These men then threw the Till's mutilated body into the Tallahatchie River near Money, Mississippi. Young Till was killed for talking to and perhaps whistling at a white woman at a Mississippi grocery store. Later that year, Roy Bryant, whose wife Carolyn was the white woman at the store, and his half brother, J. W. Milam, were tried for Till's murder and acquitted by a jury of 12 white men.

In March, 2007, the FBI released a summary of its 8000 page report of its investigation of the murder of Emmett Till. This report also includes the 354 page transcript of the 1955 murder trial of J. W. Milam and Roy Bryant.

This gruesome photo of Emmett Till helped spark the civil rights movement. It demonstrated the brutality of southern violence towards African Americans, and created outrage across the nation. Emmett's mother, Mamie, insisted at his funeral that he be given an open-casket, so others could see what they had done to her boy.

The truth of what happened that night became public knowledge several months after the trial. William Bradford Huie, an Alabama journalist in Mississippi to report on the aftermath of the case, offered Bryant and Milam money to tell their story. Since the two could no longer be prosecuted for a crime of which they had already been acquitted, they gladly told for a fee of how they had beaten and killed young Till. Huie reported what the killers told him in Look magazine. Now publicly exposed as murderers, Bryant and Milam were ostracized by the community, and both moved elsewhere within a year. Emmett Till in death became a martyr for the civil rights movement, a symbol of the racial hatred African Americans had yet to overcome.

America has moved quantum leaps in terms of both civil and human rights since 1955. African Americans are no longer murdered for giving wolf whistles to white women. However, our gains are not guaranteed. All Americans need to be vigilant in protecting our national commitment to equality for all. All it will take for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing.

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?
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August 24, 2013

Obama's Weekly Address: 'Making Higher Education More Affordable for the Middle Class'

In his weekly address, President Obama notes that while college education has never been more important, it has also never been more expensive -- which is why he proposed major new reforms this week to make college more affordable for middle class families and those fighting to get into the middle class.

College is expensive. I appreciate President Obama for bringing this issue into the public discussion. I wish that Congress would participate in this discussion.

August 23, 2013

Online Petition: Call on Federal Government to Regulate Tasers

Morgan Brown is an activist who wants to eliminate taser-related deaths in America. He recently created an online petition to 'Call on Federal Government to Regulate Stun Guns'. The petition reads as follows:

Although it might be true that neither bullets or gunpowder are used in the deployment of Tasers or other stun guns, and even when the intention of the shooter is not to seriously maim or kill, nonetheless, these weapons are still deployed much like firearms and other lethal weapons in use by police and civilians, firing projectiles and also, no matter what the purported causes given whenever serious bodily injury or deaths occur after their use, these weapons employ enough energy with which to be lethal; either that or serious bodily injury or death can result afterwards, whether from the impact of a fall or other circumstance involved. This can particularly be the case when these weapons are used on certain populations who are at greater risk of serious bodily injury or even death.

It is deeply disturbing about how, more often than not, these weapons are deployed on unarmed citizens and most especially on people with disabilities, people living homeless, young children, senior citizens and so on, including when these individuals have not been a danger to others or themselves.

In fact, it has been the case that these weapons are being used for matters of mere non-compliance as well as convenience and, sometimes -- particularly when used in 'drive stun' mode -- apparently even to inflict pain as a means of torture.

It is obvious that this is a matter sorely in need of proper governmental intervention, oversight, regulation and enforcement.

How much serious bodily injury or how many more deaths are necessary in order to finally have something meaningful and real happen in order to change how and when Tasers and other stun guns are used?

Is it not time to call on the federal government to govern and regulate the law enforcement and civilian use of Tasers or other stun guns, just as they do with the law enforcement and civilian use of firearms and other lethal weapons?

Tasers kill. That is why I signed a petition to President Barack Obama and U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (Vermont), which reads:

"The undersigned petitioners call on the Government of the United States to govern and regulate the law enforcement and civilian use of Tasers as well as other stun guns in the exact same manner it governs and regulates the law enforcement and civilian use of firearms and other lethal weapons."

Villagers, if you agree with the above petition language, please sign onto this petition calling on President Obama and the U.S. Congress to take action:

August 22, 2013

Taser Death: Michael Ruiz (Phoenix AZ)

Michael Ruiz
It happened again! Michael Ruiz, an unarmed 44-year old man, may have needed help ... he didn't need to be electrocuted by these unidentified Phoenix police officers. What was their hurry? Were they missing a meal at the local doughnut shop?

Video taken by witnesses show 44-year-old Michael Angel Ruiz on the roof of his apartment building and police trying to talk the man down. Police then used a taser to kill him.

Ruiz jumped down from the roof and was quickly surrounded by police — who carried him down the stairs in handcuffs. Video shows his unsupported head hitting the stairs repeatedly on the way down.

Police are much too quick to use 50,000 volts of electricity from their taser guns to try to solve situations like this.
Why would you tase an unarmed man on a roof? What is the rush?  Michael Ruiz will never see his two children again ... and that simply is wrong!

August 16, 2013

Say It Plain: Shirley Chisolm (1924-2005)

"I was the first American citizen to be elected to Congress in spite of the double drawbacks of being female and having skin darkened by melanin. When you put it that way, it sounds like a foolish reason for fame. In a just and free society it would be foolish. That I am a national figure because I was the first person in 192 years to be at once a congressman, black and a woman proves, I think, that our society is not yet either just or free." ~~ Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm

August 11, 2013

Obasi Davis: Young, Gifted, Black and Oakland's Youth Poet Laureate

Earlier this summer, this blog introduced many of you to an aspiring young spoken word artist named Obasi Davis.  Obasi continues to share his passion for the spoken word with others in the community as evidenced in this interview conducted by the Oakland Public Library.

Oakland Poetry Finalist 2013 - Obasi Davis from Oakland Public Library on Vimeo.

The Post News Group recently shared some new and exciting news about young squire Davis!

Obasi Davis
The Oakland Public Library has selected 17-year-old Obasi Davis as the new Youth Poet Laureate for the City of Oakland.

Davis emerged as the best of eight talented finalists in a competition that began in April with a highly competitive process juried by accomplished authors, educators and community leaders.

Born and raised in Oakland, Davis is a founding member of the heralded poetry ensemble Young, Gifted and Black. A t student of prose and poetry since age 12, he has dedicated himself to his craft in workshops, at open mics and on stage at some of the nation’s largest performance venues.

Davis has shown leadership as a member of Spokes, Youth Speaks’ teen advisory board and production training program. Earlier this year, he represented the Bay Area as a member of its delegation to the Brave New Voices international Teen Poetry Slam and Festival.

California Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, a judge in the competition, calls Davis “a rare master of the out-breath, “born into consciousness, singing. With the humanity-voice of Gwendolyn Brooks, the long-jeweled line of Ginsberg and his own Obasi magic, here stands a giant poet in the making – for the people of Oakland and the world.”

Judge Raphael Cohen, a poet and local publisher, immediately recognized Davis as a frontrunner. “He bravely engages the painful puzzles of young adulthood in an era that alternately derides or dismisses young people’s experiences, turning inward to explore his, and our, capacity for truth-telling and change-making. Expertly balancing a focused rage with an irrepressible tenderness, Davis is certain to inspire and activate a new generation of leaders through both the written and spoken word.”

Now in its second year, the Youth Poet Laureate competition was staged by Oakland Public Library’s Teen Services Department, in partnership with Youth Speaks, ProArts Gallery, Oakland School for the Arts and more than a dozen community partners.

As the winner, Davis will receive a $5,000 scholarship and the opportunity to officially represent the Oakland community through poetry, media, and public appearances.

Too often we are bombarded with negative news about young Black men in our community. Today we are proud of a young Black man who is developing his craft in a positive and future-oriented manner. Please share some Village-love with Obasi Davis!

August 10, 2013

Obama's Address: 'A Better Bargain for Responsible, Middle Class Homeowners'

In this week’s address, President Obama says that the housing market is starting to heal, and now it’s time to build on that progress by creating a better bargain for responsible, middle class homeowners. The President announced steps he will take to strengthen the housing market, and now Congress must act to help make home ownership a source of pride and middle class security for generations to come.

Do you ... or anyone you know ... plan to take advantage of these programs to encourage home ownership?

August 8, 2013

Who Murdered Bijan Shoushtari?

18-year old Bijan Shoushtari was a young man with a future.  I guess that all families feel that way about their children, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews or cousins.  But, you could sense something just a little special ... a little blessed ... a little hopeful ... if you ever spent time with Bijan. From church elders, to his kindergarten teacher, to former teammates at Hamilton High; all paint a picture of a young man who had promise and deep ties to the community.

He died this week.  18-years old.  And he went out with some friends less than a week ago ... and now he no longer walks the earth.  The police have no idea who did this evil deed.  Maybe you can help?!?

I write this blog from the greater Cincinnati area. I don't live in Los Angeles any longer. However, I know that many who read this blog do live in Los Angeles ... so it is on that infinitesimal chance that those who read my blog may know something that I post this video report from a local newscast in the area.

Bijan Shoushtari deserved better than this. Anyone with information is urged to call the Los Angeles Police Department.  If you don't have information or if you don't live in Southern California ... maybe the thing you can do is hug your child ... or call your parents ... or write your nephew ... or visit that relative who lives nearby.  Yesterday is gone.  Tomorrow is not promised to any of us.  Do something about your love and your family Today.

August 4, 2013

Pray First, Aim High and Stay Focused

There once was a man who had nothing for his family to eat. He had an old shotgun and three bullets. So, he decided that he would go out and kill something for dinner.

As he went down the road, he saw a rabbit and he shot at the rabbit and missed it. Then he saw a squirrel and fired a shot at the squirrel and missed it.

As he went further, he saw a wild turkey in the tree and he had only one bullet, but a voice came to him and said, "Pray first, aim high and stay focused."

However, at the same time, he saw a deer which was a better kill. He brought the gun down and aimed at the deer. But, then he saw a rattlesnake between his legs about to bite him. He naturally brought the gun down further to shoot the rattlesnake.

Still, the voice said again to him, "I said 'Pray, aim high and stay focused."

So, the man decided to listen to the voice. He prayed, then aimed the gun high up in the tree and shot the wild turkey.

The bullet bounced off the turkey and killed the deer. The handle fell off the gun and hit the snake in the head and killed it. And, when the gun had gone off, it knocked him into a pond.

When he stood to look around, he had fish in all his pockets, a dead deer and turkey to eat. The snake (Satan) was dead simply because the man listened to God.

Bottom line: Pray first before you do anything, aim and shoot high in your goals, and stay focused on God.

August 3, 2013

Obama's Weekly Address: 'Securing a Better Bargain for the Middle Class'

In this week's address, President Obama tells the American people that his plan for creating a better bargain for the middle class builds on the progress we've made, fighting our way back from the worst economic recession of our lifetimes.

August 2, 2013

Black Unemployment Drops to 12.6% in July 2013

The United States added 162,000 jobs in July 2013 - making it 41 consecutive months of private sector job growth - and unemployment rate dropped to 7.4 percent.  You can click here to check out the unemployment rate in your state.

There are about 11.5 million unemployed people in the country - and our nation's unemployment metrics.  There isn't a reason for ticker-tape parade with these numbers ... but, they do show that the economy is continuing to trend in a positive direction.

The numbers in the Black community are bad!

The unemployment rate in the Black community dropped in July 2013 to 12.6%. This compares to previous months:
  • Jun 2013 - 13.7%
  • May 2013 - 13.5%
  • Apr 2013 - 13.2%
  • Mar 2013 - 13.3%
  • Jun 2012 - 14.4%

The unemployment rate for Black teenagers (age 16-19) is horrific - 41.6%. I guess I have more appreciation for my 16-year old daughter being able to find summer employment over the past few months!

The Labor Department said private companies accounted for virtually the entire 162,000 increase in jobs last month. Employment rose in retail trade, food services and drinking places, financial activities, and wholesale trade. The increase in jobs for July 2013 is below the 189,000 average sustained in the previous 12 months.

What is your opinion of the unemployment data that was released today?