All Articles Tagged "racism"

When White Folks Riot…

June 28th, 2016 - By Charing Ball
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AP

AP

How come no one is talking about the race riots that happened over the weekend?

No, it wasn’t in Baltimore, New York or even in Ferguson.

Instead, it all went down in Sacramento, California at the Capitol building on Sunday.

According to published reports, 10 people were injured, some critically, after a knife and bat fight/riot broke out between the Traditionalist Worker Party, which is a White nationalist group, and an anti-racist counterprotest group.

As reported by CNN:

The Traditionalist Worker Party, or TWP, whose leader describes it as a “white nationalist” group, had a permit for a noon rally near the state Capitol, said Officer George Granada, California Highway Patrol public information officer with the Capitol Protection Division. Another group showed up “to stop them from carrying on their permit,” he said.

“They (counter-protesters) showed up ahead of time in a large group, probably 300 or more,” Granada said. “They were positioned around the Capitol to stop them (TWP demonstrators) from carrying on their permit.”

Around 11:45 a.m. PT, TWP members and supporters came out to a location south of the Capitol building, he said. It’s unclear how many TWP members participated, but they were clearly outnumbered.

There is a short 30-second clip of the melee, which was taken by a bystander, that you can watch below:

 

According to CNN, it remains unclear who started the fight and who of the protestors and counterprotesters suffered the most injuries. But, “Matthew Heimbach, leader of the Traditionalist Worker Party, was not at the rally but told CNN that TWP members armed themselves with knives, with blades within the California legal limit. He said they’d been threatened on social media forums. An affiliate group, the Golden State Skinheads, joined them for the rally, he said.”

By the way, he also told CNN that only two of his “comrades” were injured (one of them stabbed while the other was hit in the head with a bottle). So you can do the math…

Also reporting on the story is AJ+, which briefly interviewed Yvette Felarca, counterprotestor and member of the activist group By Any Means Necessary (which according to its website defends affirmative action, immigrants’ rights, and integration), who said, “We’re not going to wait until they’re big enough to come to our neighborhoods and attack and kill us. That means taking mass militant action to make sure they cannot hold a public rally to recruit anyone else to join their movement of genocide.”

It always sounds so romantic when White people do it.

To be fair, the counterprotesters weren’t all White. In fact, if you check out the video on the incident, you can see a sprinkling of us Black and brown folks there. But still, had that been a counterprotest of predominately darker-skinned folks from Baltimore, or New York, or Ferguson banging it out with the Klan on the grounds of the Capitol building, this incident would have been a much bigger deal.

For one, there would have been helicopters, tanks and cops in full SWAT gear throwing Black bodies around. There would have been live team coverage on all of the major – and minor – news outlets, and the punditry would have been plentiful. Politicians and the like would be releasing statements condemning racial violence and/or asking for healing and “conversations.” Law enforcement agencies would be promising more tightened security around public buildings so that nothing like this could ever happened again.

Yet, in this instance, not one Klansman was called a thug. Not one counterprotester was called lazy or accused of using the race card.

A few casual reports on the incident and poof! This story was suddenly erased from the collective consciousness. It goes to show you how deeply embedded the bias against Black folks is in this country. White people perpetrating violence against each other (and on “others”) is treated with a sense of normalcy or even seen as unimportant. White people perpetrating violence against each other (and “others”) is not seen as something to be feared or to protect the larger public from – even though history suggests otherwise.

But when Black folks do it, suddenly people care. And they care enough to talk about things – a lot.

I feel sorry for us. But I am also sympathetic to well-meaning White folks, too. You have some of them literally out there putting their lives on the line in the fight against racism. But judging by our 24-hour news cycle, stuff like this doesn’t happen.

Charing Ball is a writer, cultural critic, free-thinker, slick-mouth feminist and queen of unpopular opinions from Philadelphia. To learn more, visit NineteenSeventy-Seven.com.

Anchorwoman Wendy Bell Fired After Stereotyping Blacks, Sues For Her Job Back

June 21st, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: Facebook

Source: Facebook

Being a 21-time-Emmy-Award-winning-journalist, doesn’t mean you can’t ruin your reputation with a single Facebook post. Don’t believe me? Just look at Wendy Bell.  The Pittsburgh newscaster lost her job with WTAE, a station she had been working with for the past 18 years, when she commented on the suspects of a mass shooting.

On March 21, Bell was reporting on the March 9 shooting of five Black people in the Pittsburgh suburb of Wilkinsburg.

Commenting on the story on the station’s Facebook page, Bell wrote:

“You needn’t be a criminal profiler to draw a mental sketch of the killers who broke so many hearts. They are young, black men, likely in their teens or in their early 20s. They have multiple siblings from multiple fathers and their mothers work multiple jobs. These boys have been in the system before. They’ve grown up there. They know the police. They’ve been arrested.” 

At the time of her comment, no arrests in the shooting had been made.

Several people said that her comments were racist while others defended her, saying she was being honest.

According to the Post Gazette, nine days later, Bell was fired. WTAE determined that her comments violated their journalism and ethics standards.

Bell is suing for reinstatement and is seeking back pay, attorney fees and that Hearst be permanently enjoined from discriminating or retaliating against her.

Sam Cordes, who filed the lawsuit on her behalf, said that Bell’s dismissal has to do with her race.

“Had Ms. Bell written the same comments about white criminal suspects or had her race not have been white, Defendant would not have fired her, much less disciplined her. Ms. Bell’s posting of concern for the African-American community stung by mass shooting was clearly and obviously not intended to be racially offensive.”

In an interview with the Associated Press, on the day she was fired, Bell said she didn’t get a fair shake and the focus on her comments was a distraction from the issue of “African-Americans being killed by other African-Americans.”

Girl, bye.

This is the White paternalism we’ve spoken about here, on the site, a few times. Whether she was/ is genuinely concerned about African Americans killing each other, I don’t know why she’d skip over her own community of White people, to talk about ours. Secondly, writing as someone who attended the University of Missouri’s journalism school, the same one Bell did, I know she learned about the importance of striving for objectivity, particularly in hard news stories, where suspects were still at large, no names or pictures had been released and no arrests had been made. It was grossly unethical for her to speak on the race of the suspects and then apply so many different stereotypes to a profile she had completely made up: “multiple siblings from multiple fathers and their mothers work multiple jobs.” 

This is not concern, this is judgement and shaming. Bell, who is clearly not a member of the community, decided it would be appropriate to look in and cast judgment. What do multiple siblings by multiple fathers and a mother who works multiple jobs have to do with killing six people at a barbecue? There’s no one profile for mass murderers. Furthermore, this is not just an attack on the shooters, this is a very illuminating comment on Bell’s own beliefs about Black women’s sexuality and mothering skills. As if having children from several different men makes you more likely to raise criminals. As if working several jobs to provide for themselves and their family is somehow condemnable. What seems to escape Bell is the fact that this type of work schedule is often necessary for disenfranchised Black women in this country, who generally get paid less than White men, White women, and Black men.

As a career woman, someone who is fighting to get her job back, it’s surprising that Bell doesn’t understand that. If Bell were really concerned about the African American community, she would have sought and dug deeper than highlighting this isolated incident and spouting off arbitrary and unrelated symptoms to a problem that is much deeper than multiple baby daddies. Perhaps she would have asked herself what type of forces are working against the community and maybe she might have realized that her belief system, full of prejudice, is a large part of the problem.

Student Banned From Graduation Because Of His Beard, Gets His Own Ceremony

June 20th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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Student Banned From Graduation Because Of His Beard, Gets His Own Ceremony

Photo Credit: WLTX 19 News

Last month, we wrote about Andrew Jones. The Amite High School senior was named valedictorian of his graduating class. And while the valedictorian is highly recognized at graduation ceremonies, usually delivering a speech to the entire student body and their families, Jones was denied that right. The Louisiana honors student was told, during the day of his graduation that unless he shaved his beard, he would not be able to participate.

According to The Advocate while Jones had someone clean up his goatee by trimming it, he refused to get rid of it entirely, even at the request of his parents. The school asked him to shave it because the beard violated district-wide policy that stated:

“Hairstyles and mustaches shall be clean, neatly groomed and shall not distract from the learning environment nor be a safety factor for any of the school’s curricular offerings. Beards will not be allowed. Any hairstyle that distracts from the unique environment of a school shall be dealt with by the principal or his/her designee of that school.”

While three other students arrived with beards and shaved so they could participate in the ceremony, Jones, who earned a 4.0 G.P.A., said he refused to comply with the request because the rule had not been enforced throughout the school year. The school took his gown from him. Jones and his family say they know of other students in the district who were able to participate in graduation ceremonies with beards.

Democratic state representative Katrina Jackson and Rev. Roosevelt Wright, in response to what they believe was unfair treatment, sponsored a graduation ceremony for Jones.

According to the Epoch Times, The ceremony was held at the African American Heritage Museum in Hammond, Louisiana on June 17. Students from Jones’ graduating class were set to attend.

Jones, who played on both the football and basketball teams and worked a part time job, was also awarded student of the year. This fall, Jones will attend Southern Louisiana University, where he earned both athletic and academic scholarships.

Jackson said that when she initially heard Jones’ story, she believed he should have just cut his beard off. But once she learned that he was allowed to participate in other school activities with facial hair, she thought the rule was being unfairly enforced on a very important day.

In a statement, Jackson and Wright said, “He was unfairly excluded from the most important day of his life. A beard should NEVER upstage academic excellence.”

Jackson continued,” It’s wrong to enforce that policy on a young man who had worked so hard to achieve his goals. Students are responsible for following rules, but we as adults are responsible for enforcing them. As adults, we can’t arbitrarily enforce rules. This was a rule that was never enforced until graduation.”

I happen to agree. Obviously administrators didn’t take the rule too seriously throughout the school year. Furthermore, this reads as yet another attack on our hair. The trend of shaving mustaches and beards is a very European one, while many Black men (and Black women) prefer facial hair. We all know that beards are all the rage these days.

But that’s another story. I’m happy that Jones got to have the ceremony he deserved. And with achievements like the ones he made in high school, I’m sure with the places he’ll go, all of this unnecessary drama will one day be a distant memory. Life is so much bigger than high school.

What Would You Do If Your Daughter Came Home From School With Rope Burns Around Her Neck?

June 14th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: YouTube

As parents, it’s natural for us to want the best for our children. And a large part of that is hoping they get the proper education. It was with this dream in mind that this mother sent her daughter, known in the media as KP, to a private, mostly White school in Waco, Texas called Live Oak Classical School.

According to The Daily Beast, KP’s mother was looking for a “better education” and “wholesome learning environment.”

But that’s not what she found. Instead, her daughter was being bullied at school. And not only was she being picked on, those who did so often went unpunished.

In the lawsuit she’s now filing against the school, she wrote that back in November a boy repeatedly pushed and shoved her daughter.

She wrote, “This is not the first time this has happened. During the Tempest play rehearsal he was pushing and kicking her in the line that they were in.”

The school’s principal, Allison Buras, responded saying, that she “…would never want children hurting one another” and that she spoke to the boys about the incident.

She later excused the action.

“It sounds like he may have pushed on the back of her leg to make her leg buckle, which is something the kids sometimes do,” Buras wrote. “Rarely is that done out of meanness but more out of a desire for sport.”

And while Live Oak’s attorney alleges that the allegations made in the mother’s petition were false, that was not even the worst of it.

During an April field trip to Germer Ranch in Blanco County, Texas, KP and several other children found a swing with a long rope attached to it. According to the lawsuit, KP was standing next to the swing when three white boys, including one who had allegedly bullied her in the past, pulled the rope back and wrapped it around her neck. The boys then violently jerked to the ground, leaving abrasions on her neck.

A school board member told the Dallas Morning News that “Live Oak takes the safety of its students seriously and is saddened that one of its family suffered an unfortunate accident and injury.”

The school’s attorneys conducted interviews with the students, chaperones and teachers afterward and determined that the injuries were the result of an accident.

Meanwhile, the family’s attorney, Levi McCathern, who also represents the Dallas Cowboys, referred to the incident as an attack and called it “racially motivated.”

Their attorney said, “Based on the injuries KP sustained, it’s nearly impossible to argue that this was somehow an accident that could of happened to any child that day, regardless of race. The severity and the specificity of the injury certainly point to this incident being racial.”

When KP told adult chaperones what happened, they gave her Vaseline and Motrin for the pain. When the children returned from the trip, no one informed KP’s mother about the incident.

McCathern said, ““Even if this incident was unintentional,” McCathern wrote, “the school’s lack of supervision to let this happen, dismissive and tone deaf response after it happened, and refusal to investigate until legally prompted to, showed an utter disregard for one of the only African American children in the school.”

When KP’s mother saw the severity of the injury, she took her to the emergency room. Doctors at the hospital, noting the injury, notified police. A crime scene unit took pictures for an investigation.

Afterward, KP was immediately removed from the school. She is now receiving treatment and counseling for the injuries she sustained.

Check out our newest series Curls Run The World featuring poet, Aja Monet!

Noirebnb: Two Websites Launching To Combat Airbnb’s Discrimination Problem

June 9th, 2016 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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AirBNB's Discrimination Issues

NoireBNB

During the past year, many Black millennials have come forward, shedding light on the racist experiences they have faced when booking or lodging in Airbnb properties.

Clutch Magazine reports Rohan Gilkes launched Noirebnb when he was denied housing in Idaho from an Airbnb merchant while his white friend was approved. As relayed in his piece for Medium, Gilkes noted that he shared information about himself with the Airbnb host and was denied twice; by the third time the host canceled and ignored his messages. Because of this incident, Gilkes told Clutch he felt it was necessary to find a solution to the on-going discrimination people of color face when trying to book rental spaces on Airbnb.

While Gilkes plans to launch Noirebnb within six weeks, marketing professional Ronnia Cherry and musician/producer Steffan Grant also launched their own version of Airbnb after neighbors called the police on them for entering their Airbnb rental in Atlanta. “We decided racism and discrimination were still happening so it was pretty much up to us to solve the issue,” Grant shared. Since launching Noirbnb, Cherry notes the responses to the site have been overwhelming, even though the business is not up and running just yet.

But before either company can move forward, they have the settle the matter of their names’ similarity. Cherry told Select/All, “Initially we were ready to merge together, but we’ve had to take some steps back as a business to make sure it makes sense for us.” Gilkes shared similar sentiments and stated: “Merging is something that could happen, but if it doesn’t happen, we’re going to keep moving independently.”

Either way, we’re excited for either Noirebnb or Noirbnb to get off the ground.

Check out our newest series Curls Run The World featuring poet, Aja Monet!

Where Was Snoop Dogg’s Concern for Our Image when C. Delores Tucker Called Out Gangsta Rap?

June 1st, 2016 - By Charing Ball
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Source: A&E

Source: History

I have no intention on watching the revamped version of Alex Haley’s classic television mini-series Roots not because I’m tired of slave films, but because I don’t have cable.
After all, the practice of bondage and forced labor is as American as apple pie and baseball. So why should we forget?

Nevertheless, the anti-slave narrative movement marches on…

And championing the cause is none other than the distinguishable  and honorable crusader for the downtrodden and oppressed, Mr Snoop Doggy Dog.

In an Instagram posting on Monday, the “Ain’t No Fun If The Homies Can’t Have None” rapper courageously spoke out against the eight hour, four-night re-production, which is currently airing on the History Channel.

More specifically, he said:

“How the f— they gonna put Roots on on Memorial Day? They gonna just keep beating that s— in our heads of how they did us, huh?” he said in the video. “I don’t understand America. They just want to keep showing the abuse that we took hundreds and hundreds of years ago. But, guess what? We taking the same abuse.”

And after going on an explicit laden rant about how he “ain’t watching that sh*t,” he also added: “Let’s create our own shit based on today, how we live and how we inspire people today. Black is what’s real. F— that old shit.”

I swear this dude is giving weed heads a bad name.

Look, I appreciate his concern and all, but honestly he is reaffirming my belief that entertainers shouldn’t say or do anything other than entertain us. Because really, who asked him?
Matter of fact, when folks were asking him to stand up, be conscientious and be an inspiration to other Black folks, he and his crew were singing an entirely different Gin and Juice-induced tune.

What am I talking about?

Well I’m talking about Civil Rights activist C. Delores Tucker and her massive campaign against what she called “gangsta rap.” Back in the early 90s, the convening founder of the National Congress of Black Women called on the Black community to protest the recording and distribution of what she felt were violent and misogyny lyrics aimed at young adults. Her targets were record companies like Interscope and Death Row records, which produced such controversial acts as Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg and the Dogg Pound, who at the time had just dropped their first major label album entitled Doggystyle.

And through her campaign, she would regularly hold protests and demonstrations in front of these record companies as well as the record shops that sold their albums.

Needless to say, Tucker was not a very popular woman at the time. In fact, her efforts to hold the record companies as well as other businesses accountable for their contribution to the destruction of our community was met with a lot of backlash, including from the late Tupac Shakur who once called her a “motherf**ker in the single, “How Do You Want It?” and Eminen who in the song “D 12” said: “Tell that C. Delores Tucker slut to suck a d**k.”

Yeah, what a nice way to talk to a 60-something-year-old at the time Black woman. But folks insist Em is down…

And what did Snoop Dogg have to say about Tucker’s campaign?

Well at the time the Dr. Dre’s protege wasn’t saying much because he was too busy collecting those checks and getting famous. And since then he has been living high off the hog for his image of a weed-addicted former gang member turned womanizing pimp who likes to walk topless women around on leases.

But yeah, historically-themed slave narratives are the problem…

In spite of his hypocrisy and, quite frankly, attention-seeking behavior, I know Snoop is not alone in his objection to slave films. A lot of folks have objected to series and films like Roots because they want us to forget about the past and focus on what is happening now. I always found this quite curious considering what is happening now has a lot to do with what happened then. And how do we accurately find a solution to all that ails us if we are too chicken sh*t to face the actual problem (i.e America’s deep-rooted White supremacy)?

Not to mention, Jewish people remember the Holocaust and have made it required learning in some parts of the world including in Israel and Germany. They do this because of a sound belief that remembering keeps such tragedies from happening again. Unfortunately, we as Black folks have yet to learn that lesson. And we wonder why mass incarceration continues to be such a major issue in our community.

Of course, the obvious answer to why folks like Snoop Dogg want us to forget might have a lot to do with not wanting to hurt his bottom line. After all, if we begin to seriously contemplating what it meant to be 12 Years a Slave, folks might not have the tolerance they do now for music and other alleged entertainment that denigrates women and compels the brothers to take up arms against their own.

For The White Lady At My Cousin’s Graduation Who Didn’t Get The Memo That Black Folks Are Free Now

May 31st, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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"Angry woman pf"

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Every time I return home, I’m struck by a few things. One, how relaxed I become just being in hometown, with my family. How I took the lush greenery of my childhood home for granted. And how close-minded the people of my hometown, Indianapolis, Indiana, can sometimes be. I wonder if the anti-homosexual sentiment was so strong and so prevalent when I lived there. Or had I just done a great job of training myself to disregard or ignore it completely?

Then there’s the racism.

Now, to be clear, I’m under no illusions that since I live in New York City now, that my community or country is post-racial. I still see examples of discrimination and White privilege almost every day. But there is more diversity here. More cross-cultural, cross-racial interaction. And more than anything, it’s  inappropriate to openly display feelings of White superiority. It’s better to hide them. While they occasionally slip out, up here in the North; in the midwest and I’d argue in anywhere other than the coasts, they come barreling out in the most appalling ways.

This past week, I went back home to attend my younger cousin’s high school graduation and open house. And overall, I had a great time. But there was an incident, when we were looking for seats at the graduation ceremony that I was reminded of what Gil Scott Heron taught me: sometimes “Home is where the hatred is.”

After navigating traffic, the stadium parking situation and waiting for my mother to climb four flights of stairs in wedge heels, we walked into the stadium just after the students had all been seated but before anyone came to the podium to start speaking. So, we weren’t early but the timing worked out so we didn’t disrupt the ceremony for anyone else.

But you wouldn’t have known that based on the reaction of one stout and portly, White woman as we stepped into her row.

We, my mother, father, sister and best friend, stood on the outside of the row waiting for the woman to slide over or stand up to let us pass. She did the former, but not without attitude.

Now, I know how it is when you’ve gotten yourself situated in a seat and a group of people come in late. It’s annoying. But like I said, there was nothing going on at the time. Still, this woman’s face was twisted and contorted as if she was missing the climax of a Broadway production. My sister, noticing her unrest, leaned toward her and said, in mock sympathy, “I’m sorry. We’re just trying to get a seat.” The woman’s expression didn’t change. In fact by the time it was time for my mother to file in, after my friend, sister and myself had all said excuse me, she started grunting, huffing, puffing and sighing loudly.

My mother, never one for shenanigans, had watched the whole scene unfold. And when it was her turn to pass the woman, she said, “We have to sit.” Instead of being ashamed of herself and her impatience, the woman said, “Well, sit somewhere else!”

Standing directly in front of my mother, I parted my lips as the first word that came to my mind was, “B*tch…”

Thankfully, my mother handled it with a bit more class than I would have.

“No. I want to sit right. here.”

That was the end of the conversation.

Perhaps it was the way my mother leaned into the woman, the timbre in her voice or the implied and understood threat that that let the stout woman know that enough was enough. If she had anything else to say, it was best she keep it to herself. Not only was my mother not to be trifled with, she had four other reinforcements if necessary, including my father who had yet to pass.

When we all sat down, it took a while for me to calm down.

In what type of world do people believe it’s appropriate, polite or right to tell grown adults where to sit? It wasn’t an assigned seated event. Tickets were free. And she wasn’t an usher. She was a viewer like the rest of us. But still, she for some reason felt entitled to tell us, where to sit. I couldn’t believe it. But then again, I actually could.

I was reminded that I was in Indiana. The place where my sister and I had been called the N-word, hard “er”, by a White man before he spat in our direction.The place where my sister was arrested for nothing, handcuffed next to a police car as they searched for a charge to pin on her. It was the place where, before I was even in middle school, my family had been taunted by the Confederate Flag and Swastika symbols on the highway. It was the place where my sister and her volleyball team had to leave an away game early after the opposing team started lodging racial epithets, salty because they’d been bested by their predominately Black squad.

Long before myself or my parents were even thought of, Indiana, in the early 20th century, was the home of the largest Klan organization in the country. They taught us that in U.S. History, as a little bonus fact. That legacy is a part of what home is for me.

Just last week, I wrote about the irrational, paternalistic feelings White people get when a Black employee or coworker quits a job. I talked about the fact that said people believe that they know what’s best for your Black self and your Black career better than you do. And if they don’t approve of your decision, you’re shamed or scandalized for it. (See LeBron James and Michael Strahan.)

But I learned, this past week, that it goes beyond just the professional arena. There are some White people who, for one reason or another, have not gotten the memo that Black people are now free. And with that freedom comes free will and the freedom of choice to sit wherever the hell we want. This White woman should thank her lucky stars that she ran into the “right” group of Black folks that day. I know at least a handful of people who wouldn’t have given her the opportunity to shut her mouth before they reminded her, with more than just a stern, verbal warning, just how free we are these days.

Lezley McSpadden Makes Her Son Mike Brown More Than A Hashtag In Tell the Truth & Shame the Devil

May 10th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: Regan Arts

Source: Regan Arts

The first thing you’ll notice about Lezley McSpadden’s book is the arresting picture of her on the front cover. She looks different than the way we’ve seen her in the news. Her already narrow eyes don’t appear to be almost swollen shut from crying. Her hair, as we’ve become accustomed to seeing it, is laid, with a purplish tint to it. And most importantly, she appears strong.

I hesitate to use the word strong here. Because far too often it’s been associated with Black women, in an attempt to diminish our pain and our vulnerability. And while Lezley is still hurting and will always hurt for the loss of her oldest son, her first child, there is strength in the way she’s chosen to move forward, for her three other children, for herself and in memory of her son Michael O.D. Brown, or Mike Mike as she called him.

And in her book, Tell the Truth & Shame The Devil: The Life, Legacy, and Love Of My Son Michael Brown, we see how she managed to accomplish this unimaginable feat.

Tell the Truth begins with Lezley’s pledge to do just that. The very first sentence of the book is “I don’t tell lies because I can’t keep up with them.” Immediately she establishes an accessibility and familiarity that we haven’t been able to see on our television screens.

I remember watching Lezley at her son’s funeral, briefly. She appeared vacant, like all she could focus on was holding herself together. I remember wondering why she didn’t speak, like his stepmother did. I remember wondering what she had to say about her son, in the face of what the city of Ferguson, the media and complete strangers were spouting.

Tell the Truth answers all of those questions.

It speaks about her decision to have her son at 16-years-old, the strained, formerly abusive relationship she shared with Michael’s father. And most heartbreakingly, she talks about the challenges she faced in getting him to graduate high school and achieve a goal she herself was unable to complete. But more than that, it tells a story about the girl she was before and after she gave birth to her son, the woman she grew into raising him and the fighter she became after his tragic death.

The story, as we know, is sad, devastating. But more than that, it’s a love letter to her son. I found more often than not it’s not only her recollection of Mike Mike’s death that made me cry but the description of his birth, his character and the sacrifices she made to love and protect him that broke me up. She fought, often at the expense of herself, to ensure that he was safe, that he was healthy, that he had a chance in this world. Reading her anecdotes of their life together and knowing how his life ultimately ended is soul-crushing to us, but no one more than Lezley. Long before any of us knew Michael Brown’s name or face, he was treasured and loved deeply. He was beautiful and he mattered.

What’s most inspiring is the way Lezley has been able to turn tragedy into triumph. It would have been so easy to give up. It would have been understandable. The loss was that great. It would have been fair for Lezley to live a life of complete seclusion, choosing to focus only on raising her other three children. We could relate. After being thrust into the public sphere for more than two years, in response to such grief, who wouldn’t want to seek some privacy, some time to mourn without the eyes of the world on you?

But instead, Lezley used her pain and channeled it to help others. Not only did she start a foundation, the Michael O.D. Brown We Love Our Sons and Daughters Foundation, but one of the flagship programs of the organization is the way it gives back to other mothers who’ve lost their children. The Rainbow of Mothers provides women who’ve lost their children to violence or other tragic circumstances, with counseling sessions, legal advice and a support fund for women who’ve lost wages in the face of a tragedy.

Through Tell the Truth, Lezley McSpadden helped give us a glimpse of what and who Michael Brown was to her. She made him more than a hashtag or a catalyst for a movement. She made him a boy beloved. A boy whose death represented a great injustice not to just the Black community but to the country, to the world, to humanity. And beyond the words on the page, it’s her actions since then that have proven that his life, death and the sacrifices she made and love she showed to him, weren’t in vain.

You can purchase Tell the Truth & Shame the Devil: The Life, Legacy, and Love of My Son Michael Brown on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online venues today.

To learn more about the Michael O.D. Brown We Love Our Sons and Daughters Foundation, you can visit the website at MichaelODBrown.org.

Love On Top: Twitter Claps Back At Hateful Responses To Old Navy Ad With Love

May 3rd, 2016 - By Dani Faust
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Old Navy

Old Navy

I’m sorry… what year is it? I could have sworn it was 2016, but judging by the response to Old Navy’s recent ad image on Twitter… we may actually be firmly entrenched in 1950 complete with all the delightfully ignorant hate and close-minded sensibilities.  Watch out for the water hoses y’all.

Old Navy used models depicting an interracial family on one of their latest posts on Twitter and their website, and all the racists came out to show their e-asses. Comments ranged from mildly miffed to thoroughly disgusted. I refuse to repeat what was said, if you enjoy ignorance you can go check it out on Twitter for yourself. People were acting like Old Navy really did something to them:

I was shocked that the response was so vitriolic. Hello… it’s an ad. These are models that just met each other 20 minutes before the shot was taken. Get a grip, hatemongers. They’re not trying to sell “race-mixing”… they’re trying to sell clothes.

Then I remembered the intellect level we were dealing with…

Not sure why I was surprised, really. That Cheerios commercial a few years back got such horrific responses. You remember the one, with the adorable girl (biracial) talking to her mom (white) and then we see her father (Black) in the last scene?  People lost their minds on that one. Cheerios had to disable comments wherever the video was posted.

My fellow interracially-attached folks clapped back this time though. It made me proud to see so many people who feel that love has no color representing their relationships in direct response to the haters. They flooded @Oldnavy/#OldNavy with their family photos, wedding photos, and it was beautiful to see love in all shades giving a big middle finger to the imbeciles. I personally enjoyed seeing the multi-generational photos of very mixed families, and older couples along with young interracial couples.

I used to not think anything of interracial couples. But now I like seeing other mixed race couples whether on TV, in an ad or in real life. Being married interracially, I’ve certainly dealt with my share of side-eye-worthy drama. I’ve dealt with comments about my kids, their coloring and features, my husband, the cowardly under-the-breath muffled comments, the looks of contempt/disgust and the staring…oh the incessant starting… ::sigh::

We face it now more than ever being in south Florida. I guess being NYC born and raised spoiled me. Experiences I’ve heard from other mixed-race couples like having to tell hostesses at restaurants “Yes, we’re together,” are now happening to us down here.

Happily, I haven’t dealt with such direct, brazenly-openly, hate-filled commentary like what was spewed forth toward Old Navy. (Except a couple times when my husband – the “White devil”- and I would walk by the Black Isrealites that set up shop on the streets of midtown Manhattan) I’m sure it’s because on the internet you’re “safe” to be as racist (and sexist, and homophobic, and Trump-supporting) as you want, without consequence.

I love me some social media, I mean as a professional blogger, it’s a huge part of how I earn a living… but social media really gives racist trolls a free pass to spray their stupid all over the rest of us. That, is not fair and in fact it’s dangerous.

I’m grown. I’ve been with my husband since I was 19-years-old. These comments don’t impact me too deeply other than with a bit of disgust and pity for the children of the person saying it. My concern with these twitter comments, is for the poisoning that these words can do to a curious young mind who has yet to really figure out where they stand on anything. My concern is for the nervous little 13-year-old kid with a crush on someone that’s a different color as they are or who wears a hijab, or is the same gender.

It would be a shame for some random tween to be googling for an Old Navy coupon and stumble upon the conversations surrounding the add and get sprayed with that kind of stupid.

My hats off to Old Navy for using models to portray an interracial family, though. They haven’t spoken out about the ad other than to say they’re proud of the message of “diversity and inclusion” and hey, why not? Interracial relationships are on the rise. Despite the attitudes and views of the trolls mentioned above, we are in 2016. It is completely okay, natural, beautiful, and as of 1967 – shout out to The Lovings  – legal to date and marry outside of your race.

 

Black Women Removed From Napa Valley Wine Train Reach Lawsuit Settlement

April 19th, 2016 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Credit: Shutterstock

Credit: Shutterstock

Last Fall, the women of Sisters on the Reading Edge (SOTRE) filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the Napa Valley Wine Train after they were removed for being “too loud.” Their lawsuit sought $11 million in damages, claiming the incident was triggered by racial bias; two out of the 11 women lost their jobs in the medical and finance industries because of the reports published about the mishap.

According to Mercury News, as of last week the lawsuit was settled between the two parties. An amicable settlement was reached through private mediation and the settlement amount will not be disclosed.

As we previously reported, the 18-year-old book club’s members were targeted when “a nearby passenger was annoyed by [their] banter” during their August wine tour. “[Lisa Johnson] a member of the SOTRE  told the Napa Register [that] a passenger told the group, “Well, this is not a bar.” The women responded, “Yes, it is a bar, a bar on wheels.” In an uploaded photo to Facebook, Johnson wrote in a caption: “We are a group of 12… if we all laugh at the same time it’s loud! When we get to St. Helena they are putting us off the train.” Although Johnson admitted her group was a bit boisterous, they were not belligerent. Johnson also noted a manager asked them to quiet down but they didn’t understand why the staff and other passengers were offended by their laughter.”

“We’re relieved that we were able to resolve the matter. I think it’s something we can put behind us,” Johnson said in regards to reaching a settlement with Napa Valley Wine Train. Patrick Wingfield, who represented Napa Valley Wine Train during the settlement gave no comment on the case.