August 31, 2014

Sunday Inspiration: Thank You Lord

Dear GOD:

I want to thank YOU for what YOU have already done.

I am not going to wait until I see results or receive rewards; I am thanking YOU right now. I am not going to wait until I feel better or things look better; I am thanking YOU right now.  I am not going to wait until people say they are sorry or until they stop talking about me; I am thanking YOU right now. 

I am not going to wait until the pain in my body disappears; I am thanking YOU right now.  I am not going to wait until my financial situation improves; I am going to thank YOU right now. I am not going to wait until the children are asleep and the house is quiet; I am going to thank YOU right now.

I am not going to wait until I get promoted at work or until I get the job; I am going to thank YOU right now.  I am not going to wait until I understand every experience in my life that has caused me pain or grief; I am thanking YOU right now.  I am not going to wait until the journey gets easier or the challenges are removed.  I am thanking YOU right now.

I am thanking YOU because I am alive. I am thanking YOU because I made it through the day's difficulties. I am thanking YOU because I have walked around the obstacles.  I am thanking YOU because I have the ability and the opportunity to do more and do better.

I'm thanking you because GOD, YOU haven't given up on me.

This blog will continue to seek out Sunday Inspirations, a meme inspired by Sojourner's Place. Sunday Inspirations is just one way to help get us through the week ahead, the trials we may face, and yes, to say 'Thank You Jesus' and testify! I invite you to participate in this weekly meme as your contribution might serve as an inspiration to someone in need.

August 30, 2014

Spoken Word: 'Miss America 2014' by Ramya Ramana

Nina Davuluri
Nina Davuluri won the 2014 Miss America contest. She is the first American of Indian descent to win that prestigious award. Not everyone in America was happy with her victory. There were some who chose to 'hate' on Ms. Davuluri rather than glory in the diversity that is America.

Ramya Ramana, 2014 Youth Poet Laureate, recently won a full scholarship to St. John's University as a result of her creative talents. Ms. Ramana was proud that Nina Davuluri had a similar heritage as herself. As such, she was deeply offended when she read from anonymous 'haters' on the Internet who spat out vile against Ms. Davuluri.

Ms. Ramana responded with her own lyrical spit.

"...say back, 'NO'. Your great-grandfathers raped, killed and oppressed every race in the world ... YOU are the biggest terrorist I know."

Powerful words...

August 29, 2014

Taser-Happy Cop Found Guilty of Excessive Force in the Electrocution of La'Reko Williams

Perhaps if taser-happy police officers have to pay for their impatience and arrogance when they electrocute people to death with their taser guns ... we will have less taser-related deaths! I'm fairly certain that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) officer Michael Forbes will think twice before he uses his taser with such wanton disregard as a result of a federal jury ruling this week!

A federal jury ruled that CMPD Officer Forbes used excessive force when he fired a taser on 21-year old La'Reko Williams a second time, causing his death in 2011.   The jury also awarded the victim's family $500,000, but no award for punitive damages.  [SOURCE]

La'Reko Williams
On July 20, 2011, CMPD officer Michael Forbes was responding to a domestic violence call. When he arrived, 21-year-old La-Reko Williams was walking away from a fight with his girlfriend.   Officer Forbes ordered Williams to stop, but he didn't obey.  So Officer Forbes ended up firing 50,000 volts of electricity with his taser into the chest of Mr. Williams.   Williams fell to the ground, but Forbes then tased him a second time because he didn't listen when he asked him to roll over on his stomach. Williams then died from a heart attack.

The big question in this case was whether the second time Officer Forbes used his taser on Williams was excessive force.

David Ventura, one of the lawyers representing the family, says the jury's decision sends a strong message.
"Tasers have to be used reasonably like any other use of force," Ventura says. "Reasonably meaning based on the circumstances of what is happening at the time, whether it's a taser or any other type of weapon that they have available to them."
In a statement, city attorney Bob Hagemann says the city believes Officer Forbes acted reasonably in a very difficult situation, but respects the jury's decision.   Someone needs to remind Hagemann that the first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem.   The jury didn't think Forbes "acted reasonably".  Otherwise they wouldn't have ruled against him!

August 28, 2014

All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten

All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten
by Robert Fulghum

Most of what I really need
To know about how to live
And what to do and how to be
I learned in kindergarten.
Wisdom was not at the top
Of the graduate school mountain,
But there in the sand pile at Sunday school.

These are the things I learned:

Share everything.
Play fair.
Don't hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don't take things that aren't yours.
Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life -
Learn some and think some
And draw and paint and sing and dance
And play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world,
Watch out for traffic,
Hold hands and stick together.
Be aware of wonder.

August 27, 2014

Am I Not Human? Don't Discriminate

On the 27th of each month we plan to blog about human rights.  Every person is entitled to certain fundamental rights, simply by the fact of being human. These are called “human rights” rather than a privilege (which can be taken away at someone’s whim).

They are “rights” because they are things you are allowed to be, to do or to have. These rights are there for your protection against people who might want to harm or hurt you. They are also there to help us get along with each other and live in peace.

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt Reviews UDHR
Born out of the atrocities and enormous loss of life during World War II, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948 to provide a common understanding of what everyone’s rights are. It forms the basis for a world built on freedom, justice and peace.  This declaration provided a list of 30 specific human rights

Human right #2 is something we need to remind ourselves about more often ...

Don't Discriminate!

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Just because the nations of the world signed a declaration that defined and respected 'human rights' doesn't mean that abuses don't occur.  Human rights abuses are taking place in America and in most other nations of the world.  On the 27th of each month we are going to shine our blogging spotlight on human rights abuse ... and our hope is that other bloggers will do so as well.

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?

Wordless Wednesday: Equal Justice?

August 26, 2014

Powerful Eulogy by Al Sharpton at Funeral of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri

I've always had mixed feelings about Rev. Al Sharpton. However, I have to admit that his commitment to the empowerment of the Black community is evident from his long years and persistence. He has a daily radio show, a daily television show, runs the National Action Network and such.

The family of Michael Brown asked him to give a 'national eulogy' as part of the young man's funeral in Ferguson, MO on August 25, 2014.

Did you see it?

What are your thoughts about the clarion call for change made by Al Sharpton at the funeral of slain teenager, Michael Brown?

August 25, 2014

Melissa Harris-Perry: The Death of Black Men in America

Melissa Harris-Perry shares a powerful essay on the plight of Black men in America over the past decade. Local police killed a Black person at least twice a week in this country since 2006.

Twice per week for the past eight years...

America is a place where the Supreme Court once said, "It is too clear for dispute that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration ... Black men had no rights which the white man was bound to respect."
How much longer will our nation be victimized by its poisonous race relations? How much longer will police be able to kill Black men with impunity? What will it take to improve race relations in America?

August 24, 2014

Taser Death: Jose Paulino, Jr. (Tamaqua, PA)

It happened again! This time an unarmed 38-year old man - Jose Paulino, Jr. - was electrocuted to death after several taser shots by unidentified Tamaqua police officers. The police officers indicate that Mr. Paulino didn't comply with their orders.

So they killed him.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Since when did being disrespectful of a police officer become a death penalty offense? Were the officers in a hurry to clock out? They couldn't wait to see if there was some other way to help this unarmed husband and father?

Our blog had been sharing updates on taser-related deaths for a number of years. Perhaps it is time for us to get back into it again! Let us know if you have any additional information on this specific taser torture incident or others that may come across your timeline.

In the meantime, our prayers are with the Paulino family as they deal with the results of this horrible police encounter.

August 23, 2014

What To Do If You're Stopped by the Police

We all recognize the need for effective law enforcement, but we should also understand our own rights and responsibilities — especially in our interactions with the police. We also need to realize that having rights doesn't guarantee that you will survive to tell the tale of your interaction with the police as demonstrated by the following photo array!

Here are some are some suggestions on what to do if you are stopped, questioned, arrested or injured in your encounter with the police:
  • Do not make any statements regarding the incident.
  • Don’t get into an argument with the police.
  • Don’t resist even if you believe you are innocent.
  • Don’t run.
  • Don’t touch any police officer.
  • If you are arrested, ask for a lawyer immediately.
  • If you are injured, take photos of the injuries as soon as possible, but make sure you get medical attention first. Ask for copies of your medical treatment files.
  • If you complain at the scene, or tell the police they’re wrong, do so in a non-confrontational way that will not intensify the scene.
  • Keep your hands where the police can see them.
  • Never bad-mouth a police officer.
  • Remember officers’ badge numbers, patrol car numbers and physical descriptions.
  • Remember, anything you say or do can be used against you.
  • Stay calm and in control of your words, body language and emotions.
  • Try to find witnesses and their names and phone numbers.
  • Write down everything you remember ASAP.
Is there anything you would add to this list? Any thoughts run through your mind as you read through this list?

August 22, 2014

Taser Lawsuit: La'Reko Williams vs. Officer Michael Forbes (NC)

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Michael Forbes took the stand this week in the civil case surrounding a 2011 death. The wheels of justice move slowly ... but, the parents of the La'Reko Williams, 21, have not given up. They are suing Forbes for wrongful death and say he used excessive force when he shot Williams with a Taser two times in 2011. Williams later died of a heart attack.  [SOURCE]

Officer Forbes was cleared by the department of any wrongdoing and is still on patrol. But Williams' family said the actions of Forbes are the reason Williams died.

The attorneys suing Officer Forbes, on behalf of Williams' parents, showed autopsy photos of Williams. They also played the video dash cam recording, which included audio. Attorneys said Forbes tased Williams within 15 seconds of arriving on-scene.

The audio cuts out right before Forbes used his Taser the second time. Was the second shot from Officer Michael Forbes’ weapon necessary?

Opening statements to the five-woman, three-man jury on Wednesday were brief, but direct. Attorneys for the prosecution said Williams was not a threat when he was approached by the officer in July of 2011. They say he didn't try to punch, bite or run from Officer Forbes, and only asked why he was detained.

August 21, 2014

Setting the Record Straight on Voter ID Laws

Republicans across the country have been pushing voter ID laws claiming that they would make voting more secure. But the truth is, all they do is make voting more difficult while doing nothing to improve the integrity of our elections. In fact, the problem they say they are trying to fix – voter impersonation – is incredibly rare with a recent analysis revealing only 31 credible instances since the year 2000. These laws are part of a cynical GOP strategy to keep people from the ballot box. Today’s Republican Party is so out of touch with the American people that they know their best path to victory is if fewer voices are heard, if fewer Americans exercise one of their most basic constitutional rights.

'Villagers' know that our country is stronger when more voices are heard. Don't we want to live in a country committed to expanding rights not taking them away – we want to empower people, to break down barriers and to expand opportunity for all Americans. And one of the best ways to do that is to make sure they have all the facts. So take a look at this video to learn the truth about some of the most common GOP myths on voter ID laws.

The current unrest in Ferguson, Missouri is a clear example of the truism, 'Elections Have Consequences'. The Black community in that city had single-digit turnout to vote ... and as a result the town's political power structure doesn't have many Black participants.

We need to vote! Can you make the commitment to vote this year?

August 20, 2014

Rest in Peace: Stephanie Tubbs Jones (1949-2008)

We continue to be reminded that tomorrow is not promised to any of villager.

U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, the first African-American woman to represent Ohio in Congress, died after suffering an aneurysm while driving her car on this date in 2008. She had limited brain function at the time of her death.

Tubbs Jones, 58, served as a Cuyahoga County judge and prosecutor before succeeding U.S. Rep. Louis Stokes. She has served five terms in Congress and is expected to easily win her sixth in November.

I didn't agree with her endorsement of Hillary Clinton. However, I respected her for being true to her word. She demonstrated loyalty to Hillary at a time when there was great pressure for her to move to another candidate. She always seemed like a 'happy warrior' whenever I saw her in action.

I encourage all villagers to say a prayer for her family. May she rest in peace!

August 19, 2014

World's Easiest Quiz

  1. How long did the Hundred Years War last?
  2. Which country makes Panama hats?
  3. From which animal do we get catgut?
  4. In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?
  5. What is a camel's hair brush made of?
  6. The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?
  7. What was King George VI's first name?
  8. What color is a purple finch?
  9. Where are Chinese gooseberries from?
  10. What is the color of the black box in a commercial airplane?
All done? Check your answers in the 'Comments' section of this blog post!

August 18, 2014

Today Black Men Die by Police Violence, Yesterday Black Men Die by Lynching. What's Changed?

Melissa Harris-Perry shocked me when she noted that a Black man is killed by a white police officer twice a week on average. How much different is this state of affairs from the days when the 'strange fruit' on trees around the nation were filled with lynched Black people? No trial, no jury, no judge, no appeal. Now, well into a new century, as a family in Ferguson, Missouri, buries yet another American teenager killed at the hands of authorities, the rate of police killings of Black Americans is nearly the same as the rate of lynchings in the early decades of the 20th century.

About twice a week, or every three or four days, an African American has been killed by a white police officer in the seven years ending in 2012, according to studies of the latest data compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That number is incomplete and likely an under-count, as only a fraction of local police jurisdictions even report such deaths – and those reported are the ones deemed somehow “justifiable”. That means that despite the attention given the deaths of teenagers Trayvon Martin (killed by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman) and Jordan Davis (killed by a white man for playing his music too loud), their cases would not have been included in that already grim statistic – not only because they were not killed by police but because the state of Florida, for example, is not included in the limited data compiled by the FBI.

Click here for more...

August 17, 2014

Happy Birthday: Marcus Garvey (1887-1940)

Born in St. Ann's Bay, Jamaica, on August 17, 1887, Marcus Garvey was the youngest of 11 children. Garvey moved to Kingston at the age of 14, found work in a print shop, and became acquainted with the living conditions of the laboring class. He quickly involved himself in social reform, participating in the first Printers' Union strike in Jamaica in 1907 and in setting up the newspaper The Watchman. Leaving the island to earn money to finance his projects, he visited Central and South America, amassing evidence that black people everywhere were victims of discrimination. He visited the Panama Canal Zone and saw the conditions under which the West Indians lived and worked. He went to Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Colombia and Venezuela. Everywhere, blacks were experiencing great hardships and discrimination.

Garvey returned to Jamaica distressed at the situation in Central America, and appealed to Jamaica's colonial government to help improve the plight of West Indian workers in Central America. His appeal fell on deaf ears. Garvey also began to lay the groundwork of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), to which he was to devote his life. Undaunted by lack of enthusiasm for his plans, Garvey left for England in 1912 in search of additional financial backing. While there, he met a Sudanese-Egyptian journalist, Duse Mohammed Ali. While working for Ali's publication African Times and Oriental Review, Garvey began to study the history of Africa, particularly, the exploitation of Black peoples by colonial powers. He read Booker T. Washington's “Up From Slavery”, which advocated black self-help.

In 1914 Garvey organized the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and its coordinating body, the African Communities League (ACL). In 1920 the organization held its first convention in New York. The convention opened with a parade down Harlem's Lenox Avenue. That evening, before a crowd of 25,000, Garvey outlined his plan to build an African nation-state. In New York City his ideas attracted popular support, and thousands enrolled in the UNIA. He began publishing the newspaper The Negro World and toured the United States preaching Black Nationalism to popular audiences. His efforts were successful, and soon, the association boasted over 1,100 branches in more than 40 countries. Most of these branches were located in the United States, which had become the UNIA's base of operations. There were, however, offices in several Caribbean countries, Cuba having the most. Branches also existed in places such as Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Venezuela, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Namibia and South Africa. He also launched some ambitious business ventures, notably the Black Star Shipping Line.

Garvey promoted two new business organizations — the African Communities League and the Negro Factories Corporation. Financial betrayal by trusted aides and a host of legal entanglements (based on charges that he had used the U.S. mail to defraud prospective investors) eventually led to Garvey's imprisonment in Atlanta Federal Penitentiary for a five-year term. In 1927 his half-served sentence was commuted, and he was deported to Jamaica by order of President Calvin Coolidge.

Garvey then turned his energies to Jamaican politics, campaigning on a platform of self-government, minimum wage laws, and land and judicial reform. He was soundly defeated at the polls, however, because most of his followers did not have the necessary voting qualifications. In 1935 Garvey left for England where, in near obscurity, he died on June 10, 1940, in a cottage in West Kensington.

Marcus Mosiah Garvey advocated that Africans control the wealth of Africa. He taught that control, control of resources, control of self, control of nation, requires preparation, Garveyism was about total preparation.


August 16, 2014

Technology Expresso Cafe Interviews Wayne 'Villager' Hicks

David Blackman and Jacqueline Sanders are the co-founders of Technology Expresso Cafe, a multimedia platform that promotes all aspects of the IT industry with a focus on BDPA programs, scholarships and services.

Wayne 'Villager' Hicks
An Internet radio interview was conducted with BDPA Education and Technology Foundation executive director Wayne Hicks, however, due to technical difficulties, the show was never archived. David and Jacqueline were kind enough to post a complete transcript of the interview on their website.

Click here to read Part 1 & 2 of the interview.

Click here to read Part 3 & 4 of the interview.

August 9, 2014

Rest in Peace: Bernie Mac (1957-2008)

Bernie Mac was a comedic genius. He took his stand-up comedy skills to the limit with concerts, movies and a top-rated television show.

Bernie Mac died on Aug. 9, 2008, at age 50, of heart failure during a bout of pneumonia. We still miss Bernie Mac ... may he rest in peace.

Many of us learned about Bernie Mac from Def Comedy Jam show that used to play on HBO. Here are clips from those early days when I first learned of his remarkable talent. Be warned: Bernie Mac's language and topics are RAW in this clip!

Bernie Mac was a once-in-a-generation entertainer. Don't you agree?