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Why Black Lives Matter Too!

***************** RELEASING JUNE 19, 2016 ******************  
We are pleased to announce our soon-to-be-released multi-contributor anthology, “Why Black Lives Matter (Too)”! Recognizing that the fight for social justice and equality is bigger than any one person and that there is room for diverse talents and expertise of anyone who is committed to freedom, this multi-contributor anthology comprises curated essays written by 50 social justice advocates from across the nation.
Our release date, June 19th, is set to coincide with Juneteenth—also known as Independence Day or Freedom Day—a holiday commemorating the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas in June 1865, and more generally the emancipation of African American slaves throughout the Confederate South.
Book Summary: The Black Lives Matter movement evolved as a protest against police brutality against unarmed Black men. This book extends beyond police brutality to revolutionize the national conversation about racial injustice and inequality and advocate for freedom and justice for all Black Americans. Addressing a range of hot button issues and racial disparities that disproportionately impact the Black community, this is a call to action that will challenge you to confront your long-held values and beliefs about Black lives and confront your own white privilege and fragility as you examine racial justice and equality in a revolutionary way.
All proceeds will benefit The Sentencing Project, a leader in the effort to bring national attention to disturbing trends and inequities in the criminal justice system through the publication of groundbreaking research, aggressive media campaigns and strategic advocacy for policy reform. Our gift to the organization will support their efforts to promote reforms in sentencing policy, address unjust racial disparities and practices, and advocate for alternatives to incarceration.
Stay tuned, and please consider purchasing this book, when available, to support the vital work of The Sentencing Project.
#VoicesForEquality #WhyBlackLivesMatterToo

Segregation 2015

   

By Sevgi Fernandez

As I look at the state of our country and the racial divide I can’t say I’m surprised. In fact, although formal segregation hasn’t been at play in many years, racism has never left and it plays out in our schools everyday.

With the majority of students in k-12 public schools being of color and the majority of the teachers in these schools being white, the racial biases the teachers hold are cause for great concern. Aside from parents, one could argue that teachers are the next most influential people in our children’s lives. They lay the foundation for how our young people view education and what they are capable of becoming in the future. They are pivotal in how far reaching our children’s dreams will be.  

Institutional racism is a pervasive machine that begins to work on a child’s sense of self worth the moment they begin school. It’s a machine that’s been well oiled and perfected over the years.  With knowledge comes power and one need only look at the history of racial oppression in this country to see why the white dominant society would want to create and perpetuate a system that makes getting a quality education equal to that of their own extremely difficult to attain for people of color.  

“So while our education system is highly problematic—it is neither fair nor equal—it’s not broken. It does exactly what it was deliberately built to do.” C. Royal

If we look back at the history of education in the U.S., we can clearly see how the systematic approach to keep people of color uneducated began.

  
“Most White Southern slaveholders were adamantly opposed to the education of their slaves because they feared an educated slave population would threaten their authority.”H.A. Williams, 2005

Although many slaves and free Africans found ways to self teach and there were whites who aided them in their education, there was a significant amount of time in which there were few schools available to them.
In the 1600-1700’s there was a steady increase in schools and educational options for blacks yet by the early 1800’s leading up to the imancipation proclamation, many southern states outlawed the education of blacks both free and slaves. These laws had steep penalties for anyone caught aiding in the education of blacks as well.

In the interest of keeping this an article and not having it turn into a book, I’m go to skip around a bit. So let’s fast forward to 1954 and Brown vs The Board of Education. On May 17, the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed racial segregation in schools. Did that change things? Yes, absolutely. Unfortunately the statistics aren’t all one would have hoped. 

 

 
It’s telling that we live in a country where it took a Supreme Court order to desegregate our schools. What’s even more abhorrent is the fact that since over 200 school districts (mostly in the south) were released from this court order, many quickly returned to their segregated ways.    


“But while segregation as it is practiced today may be different than it was 60 years ago, it is no less pernicious: in Tuscaloosa and elsewhere, it involves the removal and isolation of poor black and Latino students, in particular, from everyone else. In Tuscaloosa today, nearly one in three black students attends a school that looks as if Brown v. Board of Education never happened.” (N.H. Jones)

The effects of this systematic racism are apparent in the African American community across the country, wherever you look. It’s in the hopelessness of our youth, in the violence within our communities and at the hands of the police. It’s in the educational system that is set up to fail our kids and the healthcare system that is either unattainable or so discriminatory many fear ever seeking out the care they need.  Rather than educating and nourishing the minds of our young people of color, the system is feeding the school to prison pipeline .

“Young Black men — across the board — score below their counterparts in other racial and ethnic groups when it comes to graduation rates, literacy rates and college preparedness. And many African American men, in turn, are virtually locked out of employment and are filling up the nation’s prisons in disproportionate numbers.” (J. Daniels)  
  

“Nearly 75 percent of imprisonment spending happens at the state level, where dollars are drawn from a general fund that is meant to pay for a range of public needs, including health care, housing, public assistance, and education.” S. Hawkins

 So when people wonder what all the protests are about, what black people are so upset about, just open your eyes!!!! Why are our youth rioting??!!! It’s not just about police brutality, it goes much deeper.  Look at the reality these young people face everyday. Poor quality education, teachers who don’t understand them culturally, who don’t believe in them, who tell them what they cannot be.  

“When black teachers and white teachers are asked to sum up black high school students’ potential, white teachers are much less likely to see black students as college material. And that’s true even when they’re discussing the same students.” L. Nelson

They face a school system that has been designed for whites to excel. A system that is funneling our children of color into prisons at epic proportions.  A curriculum that is culturally irrelevant to a huge percentage of those it’s there to teach. A system that is funneling money into prisons while subsequently starving the programs that could keep our kids out of prison. They are insuring the continuance of the cycles of poverty, illiteracy and hopelessness. 
This system is purposeful. There have been plenty of studies that have examined why the system is failing African American children and plenty that have offered solutions, yet here we are.

For example, the “No Child Left Behind” law that instituted mandatory testing with the purpose of accountability, has failed miserably. The number of African American drop outs increased by 10% in its first 10 years. One study shows only 50% of the nations girls of African American, Hispanic, and Native American descent are actually graduating high school. The statistics for boys are much lower.                   W.B. Harvey 

Why?

  1. The curriculum is designed by whites for whites.
  2. The testing is based on this curriculum and once again was designed by whites for whites.
  3. Schools are concerned with test scores only, not the child, not the education
  4. Most of our urban public schools are non-white and subsequently underfunded
  5. Many African American children are misinterpreted and mislabeled due to racial stereotyping 
  6. These children feel the effects of this stereotyping and begin to feel dumb because they are labeled dumb

If we examine this list, we can see why our African American youth are in the state they are in.  I was fortunate to sit on the thesis committee of an incredible educator, Chilufiya Safaa, she summed up what these children are facing with heart piercing accuracy:

The children act out; they take on the labels of being dumb or trouble. They then become vulnerable to the streets, jail, and death.  They start fighting each other rather than fighting against the stereotypes and the system which is oppressing them.  It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Wake up folks. We are steadily heading backwards. Racism and segregation are very real and our young and vulnerable are faced with it everyday. We can’t just complain, or close our eyes and pretend it doesn’t exist. It takes critical thinking and community action. What can you commit to do in your community to address these issues and bring about change? If you don’t know here are some places to start:

  
Sources:

  1. Tavis Smiley Reports. EPISODE 5: Too Important to Fail.  Fact Sheet: Outcomes for Young, Black Men.  Tamika Thompson
  2. SELF-TAUGHT, African American Education in Slavery and Freedom. HEATHER ANDREA WILLIAMS. CHAPEL HILL: UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS, 2005. 
  3. http://www.nationalcenter.org/brown.html
  4. The Impact of the Brown v. Board of Education Decision on Postsecondary Participation of African Americans. William B. Harvey, Adia M. Harvey and Mark King. The Journal of Negro Education,Vol. 73, No. 3, Special Issue: Brown v. Board of Education at 50 (Summer, 2004), pp. 328-340
  5. http://m.ourweekly.com/news/2013/oct/03/whats-african-american-literacy-rates/. What’s up with African American literacy rates?Story by David L. Horne, PH.D. 10/3/2013
  6. Racism in K-12 Public Schools: Education Series July 12, 2011,       JessieDaniels,racismhttp://www.racismreview.com/blog/2011/07/12/racism-k-12/
  7. Racism in the classroom: the “soft bigotry of low expectations” is just regular bigotry.  Libby Nelson, August 19, 2015, @libbyanelson libby@vox.com
  8. Nikole Hannah-Jones, ProPublica, April 16, 2014, 11 p.m.
  9. http://m.prospect.org/article/education-vs-incarceration. Steven Hawkins
  10. http://magazine.good.is/articles/our-education-system-isn-t-broken-it-s-designed-to-create-winners-and-losers. Our Education System Isn’t Broken, It’s Designed to Create Winners and Losers. Camika Royal.

Police Brutality

  

 By: DJ Schuette

  Police Brutality

      A man jumped out of the car. He was a big guy, mid-40’s maybe—bald and wearing a white t-shirt and jeans. He was about 25 feet away, and totally amped up. He had a gun pressed against his right temple. His eyes were wild, like a cornered animal. My partner and I pulled our Glocks and took aim. He demanded that we back off or he’d shoot himself.

      “Get out of here,” he screamed. “I’ll do it, I’m serious!”

      I called for him to drop his weapon. From my left, my partner did the same. I noticed that the pitch of her voice was just a bit higher than it had been a few moments before. I don’t think she was in a panic, but it was pretty clear to me that she was nervous. Hell, I was nervous. The guy might blow his own head off, or turn the gun on us at any moment. Neither of us wanted to shoot him.

      Then time slowed down for me. I became hyper-aware, my senses turned up, like someone had jacked my dial to 10. Tunnel vision. My finger pressed harder against the trigger guard. 5.5 pounds of pressure and about a third of a second was all that was keeping me from ending this guy. At eight meters, I wouldn’t miss.

      He grew more agitated. His voice rose and grew more frantic. Then he raised the gun straight up from his temple, pointing it toward the sky. 

      My partner blew his ass away

        Today is October 19th, 2015. As of the moment I write this, 922 people have died at the hands of police in this country, this year alone. In just a handful of hours, that number will almost certainly be 923.

       Last year, 1106 people died at the hands of cops. If we continue at this pace, this year will again top 1100. From May to December of 2013: 748.

        I want you to think about that for a minute…

 In roughly two and a half years, as many people will have died at the hands of police as did in the attacks on 9/11.

  Nearly 3000 lives lost.

   The worst year of US casualties in Iraq: 904. In Afghanistan: 499. That’s right. Our police are killing more people on American soil than die in active war zones. Often, significantly more.

 Consider also:

There have been 47 lethal-force deaths in England over the past 95 years, and only one so far this year.

In Germany: one this year, and one last.

In Australia: just six in 2014

In Norway: there hasn’t been a single police-related killing in nearly ten years

In Iceland: only one in nearly 71 years.

In 2013, police in Finland fired a grand total of 6 bullets. In the US that same year, a single suspect with a rock was fired upon 17 times.

    Contrary to what you may believe from the early content of this post, I am not anti-police. I can’t say enough that the vast majority of cops are some of the bravest and best among us, protecting us from the absolute worst among us. Their jobs are sometimes dangerous. They don their uniforms despite the understanding that they may not make it home to their families. There’s a reason why kids so often want to be cops when they grow up—to them, they’re real-life, honest-to-goodness heroes. Without law enforcement, society would surely collapse into chaos and anarchy. We need them. And they need and deserve our respect and cooperation. 

     But they are also human beings. Prone to all of the same injuries, insecurities, emotions, prejudices and even instabilities and errors in judgment that plague the rest of us. A badge is not a mystical talisman that makes them superhuman. It is not a shield of invulnerability. They are people, just like you and I, sometimes placed in high-intensity scenarios that call for split-second, life-or-death decisions. They make mistakes. And occasionally those mistakes prove fatal.

       Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting deadly force is never justifiable. There are “imminent danger” scenarios, in which I would support an officer’s decision to discharge their weapons. If lives are at grave, immediate risk, then I get it. Truly, I do. That said, shooting an unarmed, fleeing suspect when no one else is around? That’s murder in my book, whether you’re a coked-up thug or an adrenalin-amped cop.

       But what is it that makes our society so much more susceptible to death at the hands of those we trust to serve and protect us? With that question in mind, I decided to see if I could find some answers. What I discovered is that there’s no single, obvious solution—no silver bullet. But there are a handful of factors that seem to play a part.

      Socioeconomics/Income Inequality: Operating under the assumption that less crime equals fewer encounters with law enforcement and thus fewer opportunities for lethal force to be an issue, I took a look at crime rates in other countries. While researching statistics in Iceland, I came across an article (here) about a man whose thesis was on the subject of the lack of violence and crime there (there was only one intentional homicide in 2014). This is despite the fact that nearly a third of its population is armed. One of his conclusions is that the overall economic and social equality in the country is a primary reason—97% of the population considers themselves to be middle income or working class. At first blush, this would suggest that the current economic gap in the U.S. might be partly to blame—but is this indicative of the whole, or merely an aberration?

      I discovered something called the GINI Index, which is a tool used to measure income distribution. In the simplest of terms, the lower the number, the closer that country is to perfect “income equality.” When compared alongside the intentional homicide rates*, there is a very suggestive correlation between the two: the smaller the GINI coefficient, the more likely that country is to have a lower intentional homicide rate. To use the above countries as examples, Iceland’s GINI Index is one of the lowest at 24. Finland is around 28. Norway, 27. Sweden, 26. Germany, 31. Australia and England come in at around 34 and 38, respectively. The U.S. income coefficient is nearly 41. Conversely, countries with extremely high GINI’s like Brazil (53), Honduras (57) and South Africa (63) all have higher intentional homicide rates than we do here in America. Obviously, there are exceptions and outliers, but generally speaking, it certainly appears that there is a parallel between income inequality, unrest and violent crime. And violent crime means more police in positions where they might encounter deadly force situations.

     Arming/Militarization of Police: As one might logically expect, there are far fewer police-involved killings in countries where the police don’t carry guns at all: England, Norway, Iceland, New Zealand and Ireland are among those that don’t (except in exceptional circumstances). But as we’ve seen, violent crime itself is also much lower in those countries as well (our intentional homicide rates are five times higher than those of New Zealand and Ireland, in case you were wondering). But whether those lower violent crime statistics are part of the reason that police don’t need to be armed, or a product of it, is a line of inquiry worth examining. Put another way—is a society less violent when their police don’t carry guns, or is it inherently less violent to begin with?

      With the rise of police killings in America, it seems that there has been a fundamental breakdown in our trust of the police, and respectively, theirs of us. If people are afraid that police might use excessive force against them, might they then be more apt to act aggressively? And if people act more aggressively, does it stand to reason that police, concerned for their own safety, might use more force than necessary? Does being armed, in and of itself, engender a self-perpetuating and self-fulfilling cycle of violence? Does violence (or the very threat of it) beget more violence?

      I’m not necessarily championing the idea that police in the U.S. shouldn’t have firearms, but there is a case to be made for moving in that direction. Since 1997, our government has been issuing surplus military equipment and weapons to our police departments. Unfortunately, FBI statistics are woefully incomplete on the subject, so it’s hard to assess whether or not this has had a direct impact on the amount of violence perpetuated by police, but it certainly seems like it has. Some would argue this “militarization” allows them to be more prepared and able to respond to any situation. Others wonder if it just further perpetuates the mistrust between the public and their police. And it isn’t as if police don’t have a number of (typically) non-lethal weapons and tactics available to them: backup, batons, mace, tasers, flashlights, fists. Most are trained in self-defense, and/or hand to hand combat. Even an uncooperative suspect doesn’t deserve to be brutalized, and certainly not shot and killed. The primary objective should always be to apprehend and subdue first, and then escalate only as much as the situation requires. More on this in a minute.

Gun Culture: There are very nearly as many guns as people now in this country. I’m a gun owner myself. We know from Iceland’s proliferation of firearms (fifteenth in the world) that it’s not simply a matter of the weapons themselves. But Iceland does have extremely strict regulations in place. Most of their guns are used for hunting. Very few people own handguns. This is in stark contrast to gun control policies in the U.S., where there are a variety of ways to skirt background checks, and where proficiency exams, transfer paperwork, and medical/mental health screenings aren’t required in most states.

      The prevalence of guns in America goes right back to the issue of trust. As much as we need to be able to trust police, they too, have to be able to do their jobs without fearing the very citizens they’re tasked to serve and protect. Armed with the knowledge that anyone might have a weapon, police are sure to be more cautious and on edge and they are more likely to act more severely if questioned or challenged.

      I’ve had several people contend that cops must go into every scenario believing that they might be killed. I find this to be not only ludicrous, but also an irresponsible and dangerous mindset. My position is that police must always go into every situation alert, prepared, (and perhaps most importantly) calm. If every officer constantly believes they are about to be shot and their adrenalin is flowing as if they’re taking their last breaths, there are sure to be bad outcomes.
      The screen went dark and the sim ended. My partner had shot the suspect twice, once in the head and once in the chest. My finger had never left the trigger guard.

       Our instructor deemed it a justified shooting. The suspect had made a sudden movement, and my partner was scared. It rang hollow and felt flimsy to me. I mean, I get that she was scared. I was too. But I felt like I had all the time in the world to make that life-or-death decision. The gun never swung toward us at all. He might have been preparing to throw it down on the ground. He might have surrendered. But now we’ll never know. Because that guy is dead. My partner killed him. 

       This story is important to me because I learned a few things during that shoot/don’t shoot simulation. The first is that we are all different and will therefore react to these kinds of high-pressure scenarios differently. While everything came into perfect focus for me, my partner’s fear drove her to a split second reaction that I didn’t have. Part of that is training. I’ve fired a gun many times and consider myself highly proficient at that distance. I was confident that I had plenty of time to make and enact the right decision. She was not as confident. Training—repetitive situational training, until one’s responses and reactions become almost reflexive—might help that to some degree. But when it’s not a laser sensitive screen and the people and guns are real, I’m sure it’s a very different thing. Instinctive survival mechanisms kick in. A conscious effort must be made to combat the flight-or-flight response. You can bet there will be adrenalin flowing. Until you’re put in that scenario, there’s no way to know how you might react. But I suspect, just like with my partner and me, some will act upon action and others will act upon their fear. 

     That’s another thing I learned. In being told that the threshold for a “righteous” shooting was fearing for my life, I realized that threshold sits on a very nebulous and sliding scale. It will be different for all cops, based on their training, experiences, confidence, focus and control. And how can anyone be expected to judge an officer’s level of “fear” in a given situation? We must provide more tangible, measurable criteria as to when use of force is justifiable. I’ve heard many times that cops are “held to a higher standard,” but as it pertains to shootings and brutality, that’s not true at all. If any citizen shot a fleeing, unarmed man in the back after a struggle, they’d almost certainly face Murder Two charges. Police, on the other hand, are rarely indicted (much less prosecuted) as their actions are considered within the realm of their duties. But if we are to judge those actions, there must be some way for us to know the circumstances that led to them. Enter body cams. In my view this is an obvious solution, as it provides protection for both citizens and law enforcement alike. If we were able to see the circumstances that led to an officer’s use of force, then we would be in a much better position to determine whether or not their decisions were justified.

     I was also told that officers are permitted to be one degree of threat beyond that of a suspect at any given time. One. If a perpetrator is holding a knife for example, I can have a projectile Taser, or failing that, a gun. If they have a gun in their waistband, I can have my gun in hand. If they have a gun in hand which is not aimed at me, I can have my weapon trained on them. One degree. If that is indeed true, then I must admit some confusion as to how 187 of this year’s victims were shot while unarmed. How does one man with a rock end up with 200 grams of lead inside of him? How does a teenager with no weapon facing multiple officers wind up shot to death?

      I’ll be the first to admit that I’m armchair quarterbacking here. There’s no way I can comprehend every complexity of every scenario—maybe it’s too much to even say that I can comprehend the complexity of any scenario. I’m not a cop. But I am a human being. A human being without extensive training on how to react to potentially dangerous situations. A human being without a number of non-lethal weapons at my disposal. A human being without self-defense, or hand-to-hand combat training. I’m at a disadvantage in all of those ways. And even so, I can’t see myself shooting an unarmed, fleeing suspect in the back several times. If I’m honest about it, I don’t believe my sim partner should have taken those shots. Our suspect did not pose an immediate threat to either of us or anyone else for that matter. A danger, perhaps—but not an imminent threat. And in my view, that must be the measure of every lethal force scenario—are lives in grave peril right now? This very second? If the answer is no, then there are still other options on the table and it is the responsibility of police to work toward a non-violent resolution.
      This issue is clearly very complex. I believe at its heart lie economic factors that are rooted in our society that will not change easily or quickly. I also think the militarization of law enforcement coupled with a lack of reasonable gun ownership regulations has created an escalating pattern of violent outcomes with police over the past several years. But perhaps most to blame is the profound erosion of trust between police and citizens. Thanks to the media, we forget that the vast majority of police are good people who have a potentially dangerous job to do. And every now and again, they forget that we’re not at war with one another. Our lives don’t matter less or more than theirs, and their job is to preserve life—all life—if at all possible.

      I do think that cops in the U.S. are sometimes too quick to resort to deadly force when there are other alternatives available to them. I feel that there needs to be a tangible hierarchy of police tactics and responses and exhaustive re-training of our law enforcement officers in those procedures. Then someday, if we’re smart enough to endeavor for more equality (in all of its forms) and start reducing our reliance on firepower as a solution, I believe we can begin to restore the kind of trust we see in Norway and Australia and England. Places where police related killings are the rare exception and where cops who don’t even carry guns still feel perfectly safe among the people they serve.

Let’s hope.

*I chose to use intentional homicide rates as a measure here because it is static and means the same thing in all countries, whereas “violent crime” has different definitions in other countries and cannot be compared quite so easily.

 DJ Schuettewww.djschuette.com

Sources:

The Counted (The Guardian)

GINI Index (Quandl)

Crime Statistics (NationMaster)

Police Use of Force: The Impact of Less-Lethal Weapons and Tactics (Philip Bulman, NIJ)

5 Countries Where Police Officers Do Not Carry Firearms—and it Works Well (Rick Noack, Washington Post)
     

 

 
       

 

 

          

 

     

 

 

 

     

 

 

 

 

Black Lives Matter…..Well, they do don’t they?

  

  

  


By: DJ Schuette 

http://www.djschuette.com

 It borders on absurd that it’s even necessary to write this particular post, but there are so, so many people out there incessantly raging against the Black Lives Matter movement that I felt I must. Every day, I see posts calling their members “racists,” emphatic proclamations of “All Lives Matter,” and pictures of police officers with “Their Lives Matter” emblazoned on them in some way, as if it’s become a competition to determine whose lives matter most. I should confess, for the record, that I was—until very recently—one of those “All Lives Matter” guys. But my opinion on the subject has evolved, so I encourage you to at least consider the content of this post before deciding one way or another. Maybe you’ll see things from a different perspective in a few minutes.

My own “aha!” moment came to me while reading a rather brilliant reddit post by user GeekAesthete (which you can read here if you wish). In short, it asks you to imagine that you’re at dinner with your family and your father is dishing everyone’s food, but leaves your plate empty. You say, “Hey Dad, I should get some.” In response, your father corrects you by saying “Everyone should get some.” That sentiment is true, and really, supports your very point—that everyone (including you) should get to enjoy dinner. But Dad’s response utterly rejected your concern without doing anything whatsoever to remedy it. Meanwhile, you’re starving and your still empty plate is a testament to just how little he cares. 

I’ve seen other fine examples floating around on the Internet: if I were to say “Save the Whales,” that in no way implies that I don’t care about dolphins, sharks, and stingrays; but if I were to instead say “Save All Marine Life,” how would you know that the whales are endangered? Another: Your house is burning down and someone is spraying water on a nearby home that isn’t on fire, with the caption “All Houses Matter.” By responding to BLM with “All Lives Matter”, we’re effectively saying that we don’t care if your house burns to the ground, as long as mine doesn’t. We’re refusing to even acknowledge the issue, are (conveniently) dismissing the concerns of people who are plainly in crisis, and who are already being singled out by our society and justice system.

The BLM movement has never stated (nor ever suggested) that other lives don’t matter. It’s not the “No Lives But Black Lives Matter” movement. I have yet to hear anyone chanting “Black lives matter more than yours!” If that were the case, I might understand people taking such exception. Instead, it’s very simply and succinctly stating a fact: black lives matter. And they do, right? If we can’t even agree on that much, then you need to take a good hard look in the mirror, because the person staring back at you is almost certainly a racist.

Some argue that the BLM moniker is itself racist—that it sows further division among us because it segregates one group from the whole. They feel that it would be more acceptable if the name were “Black Lives Matter Too.” Maybe it would seem more inclusive to some if it were stated that way, and BLM and their supporters wouldn’t constantly have to defend such a silly litany of semantic arguments. And they are silly. Do black lives matter? Yes or no? It’s not a trick question. It’s not “do black lives matter more than everyone else’s?” But, but but… No buts. So let me ask you again. Do black lives matter, or do they not?

Perhaps you’d feel better if we used the even more inclusive “All Lives Matter,” though that utterly fails to address the concerns of the black community. Or perhaps you’ll respond with “Cops Lives Matter,” as if those of us that support BLM are not also capable of supporting law enforcement. I’ve recently even heard some suggest that they should start a “White Lives Matter” group to counter the “reverse racism” that BLM perpetuates (this is at it’s core, ridiculous, since protesters of all races are welcomed to join Black Lives Matter rallies). Do white lives matter? Sure. If you want to start a movement based on that, knock yourself out. But white lives have always mattered in this country, so starting a WLM campaign would be petty and pointless and insensitive. Do all lives matter? Absolutely. And guess what? Included in that “all” are black lives. In saying “all lives matter,” you’ve just inherently agreed with the BLM movement. You’re actually on the same team—you’re just refusing to play because you don’t like the team name, and that, quite honestly, is a fine bit of ignorance. And what about cops? Do blue lives matter? Of course they do. But again, how does saying black lives matter suggest that police lives don’t? Why is BLM suddenly a siege on law enforcement? 

Many, including Fox News (that bastion of reporting integrity), point to an admittedly unfortunate chant (“Pigs in a blanket, fry em like bacon”) that took place at a BLM march recently as evidence of the racist, anti-cop, and potentially violent nature of the movement. It was sad to see that side come out of what otherwise amounted to a peaceful display of civil disobedience. I too was disappointed. But then I was reminded that there are bad people in every group—police, the church, protesters, white people—who have their own agendas, and want something that isn’t necessarily compatible with the message the rest are trying to convey. There are pedophile priests; should we therefore condemn the entire Catholic faith? There are a handful of bad cops out there—but that doesn’t mean that the overwhelming majority of them aren’t incredibly brave and kind men and women doing a sometimes dangerous and often thankless job of serving and protecting the public. Sometimes peaceful protests get out of control because an unruly few instigate and fuel riots and looting. (Some people really do just want to watch the world burn). The few—as bad as they may seem—can’t be used as a barometer to judge the whole. So while I freely admit the chant was vile and unfortunate, I have to remember that the content of that chant is not the message that BLM portrays—which is, simply, that black lives matter. Their goal is to create awareness and to attempt to correct a society and justice system that consistently appears to deem black lives as less valuable than those of others. 

Fox News and many police officials have also latched on to the tragic murder of a Texas sheriff’s deputy at the hands of a black man as further evidence of the violent nature of BLM, and have now gone so far as to label them as a “hate group.” It is important to separate fact from fiction here, however. There is absolutely NO evidence that the killing was in any way related to the Black Lives Matter movement. While they would have you believe that BLM is inspiring violence against cops, police deaths have gone DOWN since the inception of BLM in 2013. There is precisely zero correlation between BLM and increased violence against police officers. There has however, been an increase of police lethal force cases the past few years. Last year 1106 deaths came at the hands of police. This year, we’re on track for 1100. There have been 1070 (more than 200 of those unarmed) so far in 2015. Of those, 25% of the victims were black, yet the black population is less than 13%. Without even speculating what the reasons may be, the simple fact is that black people are being killed by the police at a rate DOUBLE their population. If you want to see the live up-to-the-minute information, take a look at The Counted. It’s truly eye opening. Every. Eight. Hours.

Still other detractors use the argument that there are black people who disagree with the BLM campaign in principle. Of course there are. Some southern black people supported the right to fly the confederate flag on government grounds, despite the fact that it was seen as hurtful to millions of others. Some don’t feel that the team name “Redskins” is at all offensive, while others find it racist and insensitive. Nothing will ever have the complete support of any group­—we are all individuals with our own ideas and influences and experiences. But that does not mean that we should ever stop trying to do right by our country’s people, and provide all of them with respect and an equitable chance to succeed.

I agree it’s sad that we still have to have these conversations in 2015. But we do. Nothing will ever change if we don’t acknowledge that there is a problem and damn well do something about it. Saying “All Lives Matter,” doesn’t allow black people to ask why they’re being killed more often by police. It doesn’t allow them to ask for change in their communities. It shuts them down, and makes them feel as if their concerns don’t matter. It suggests that we still place less value on their lives than other lives. And it implies that WE DON’T CARE.

 

So to all of you still saying “All Lives Matter,” stop. Just fucking stop.

And listen.

Unite Against RacismBreaking Down Walls and Building Community

  
Challenging Racism and Islamophobia

Join us for the second in our three part series Unite Against Racism: Breaking Down Walls and Building Community; Challenging Racism and Islamophobia.Given the growing divide along racial and religious lines in this country and globally, we will focus this seminar on examining where the breakdowns in communication and understanding are occuring specifically between blacks/whites and Muslims/Non-Muslims. Sevgi Fernandez of Together We Stand and Dr. John P. Fernandez of ARMCGlobal, global leaders on racism, sexism and diversity training, will be facilitating. The emphasis will be to create GolbalTREE, Trust, Respect, Empathy, Ethics, through a multifaceted approach using individual and group exercises.

Please RSVP to Diversewc@gmail.com, we will be emailing attendees an exercise to do prior to the workshop.
Register now, space is limited!!!

Unite Against Racism: Breaking Down Walls and Building Community

When

Saturday, Jan. 23rd 2016 at 2:30-5:30pm

Where

2930 Shattuck Avenue Berkeley, CA
Agenda
Welcome – Introductions

Individual – Group Exercises

Break

Documentary

Group discussion

Closing – personal commitments to change

Western Institute for Social Research

Since 1975 WISR, the Western Institute for Social Research, has been a multicultural academic institution of higher learning devoted to social change and community improvement. WISR, is a community-based, globally connected degree granting institution of higher learning. WISR’s students can earn Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degrees in a variety of disciplines related to community improvement and leadership, educational innovation, counseling psychology, and progressive social change.

2930 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA, United States Mail@wisr.edu 510 655-2830 wisr.edu

Advanced Reaearch Management Consultants

Advanced Research Management Consultants Global, LLC– is a full service human resources, executive coaching, diversity, mentoring, marketing, e-learning and video production firm. We specialize in assisting organizations realize their competitive advantage on a local and global scale.

ARMC Global develops and delivers seminars in such areas as leadership, global virtual teams, teambuilding, communications, generation gap, GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender), work and life balance, cultural clashes, conflict resolution, Proactive Inclusion® and GlobalTREE℠ (Trust, Respect, Empathy, and Ethics).

701 West Allens Lane, Philadelphia, PA, United States JPF@Globaltree.com 215 247-4547 armcglobal.com

Sevgi Fernandez – Together We Stand – Diverse World Coaching

Diverse World Coaching specializes in working with blended, cross-cultural and interracial families as well as individuals struggling with racial identity formation, anxiety and depression.

Together We Stand advocates for victims of racism, discrimination and police brutality across the country. We are developing a youth leadership academy that will train participants to become social change agents and prepare them to enter college with an excellent foundation in social justice advocacy.

Together We Stand also offers the following workshops:

Racism and White Privilege

Parenting Mixed Race Children: Understanding their Racial Identity Development 

Navigating the Blended Family

Youth Empowerment through Community Action

Richmond, CA, United States diversewc@gmail.com

Demand Arrests after assault at Trump Rally!

  
ATTENTION:The police allowed a black man to be assaulted on video at a Trump rally and did nothing. My group Together We Stand is active in cases of police racism/brutality. I’m posting the letters going out below. The more signatures we get the better. If you’d like to add your name please leave (add me) in the comments and I’ll do so. Thank you!
Mayor William A. Bell, Police Chief A.C. Roper, D.A. Brandon K. Falls:

I am writing on behalf of Together We Stand, a national and global group dedicated to racial equality and social change. It has come to our attention that an incident occurred in your city of which we are truly concerned.

After watching the video of the African American man who was assaulted at one of Donald Trump’s campaign rally’s in Birmingham, and the subsequent response, we are utterly dismayed.
Is it not against the law for people to physically assault an individual? We demand that an impartial investigation into the identities of the perpetrators be conducted and that arrests be made. You have all the evidence you need, as we are certain obtaining the video which is rapidly spreading across the Internet is quite simple. Lt. Sean Edwards made the statement that the three people were “asked to leave”, which is an unacceptable response, especially from an officer charged with upholding the law. We certainly hope you take the assault of this man as seriously as we do. This is the United States of America and no one is ABOVE the LAW.

We look forward to your timely response.

Sevgi Fernandez, President Together We Stand
http://www.diverseworldcoaching.wordpress.com

Diverse World Coaching

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing. ~Albert Einstein

Lt. Sean Edwards,

I am writing on behalf of Together We Stand, a national and global group dedicated to racial equality and social change. It has come to our attention that an incident occurred in your city of which we are truly concerned.
After watching the video of the African American man who was assaulted at one of Donald Trump’s campaign rally’s in Birmingham, and the subsequent response, we are utterly dismayed.
Is it not against the law for people to physically assault an individual? We demand that an impartial investigation into the identities of the perpetrators be conducted and that arrests be made. You have all the evidence you need, as we are certain obtaining the video which is rapidly spreading across the Internet is quite simple. Your statement that the three people were “asked to leave”, is an unacceptable response especially from an officer of the law and one in your position. 

We will be contacting your superiors and those in the community who can assist in this. We certainly hope you reconsider your response and take the assault of this man as seriously as we do. This is the United States of America and no one is ABOVE the LAW.

An Open Letter to the Neighbor Who Filed a Complaint against my Black Lives Matter Sign

Dear Neighbor, I don’t know who you are, but you surely know me. We’re a pretty conspicuous family: two dads—one white and one Asian—and two young kids—one black and one Latino—who live right up the street from Thoreau Elementary. Maybe you’ve seen me reading on the porch while my kids play soccer in the front […]

https://gaysiandad.wordpress.com/2015/10/28/an-open-letter-to-the-neighbor-who-filed-a-complaint-against-my-black-lives-matter-sign/

Colorism: Light-Skinned African-American Women Explain The Discrimination They Face

 Jan 13, 2014 | Updated Jan 23, 2014
OWN

 

On a recent episode of “Oprah’s Lifeclass,” Iyanla Vanzant joined Oprah to discuss the issue of colorism, the prejudices people can face based on the lightness or darkness of their skin tone. While many understand colorism as the discrimination against darker-skinned African-Americans, two of Oprah’s lighter-skinned audience members surprise Iyanla with the colorism discrimination they face as well.

Though one of the women has seen first-hand how some of her darker-skinned family members are treated, she says that she, too, struggled with discrimination. “Being a light-skinned girl, you get called names,” she tells Iyanla. “You get called ‘lite-brite,’ you get called ‘high yellow,’ ‘redbone.’ This is a reality every day.”

Having longer hair or lighter skin, she continues, makes others in her community assume she thinks she is prettier than them — something she says simply isn’t true. “You’re alienated from your own people. You’re never black enough,” she says. “But we’re still black in America. None of us feel advantaged.”

 Iyanla finds this prejudice against lighter-skinned black women very interesting. “Both the dark and the light are experiencing the same thing at different ends of the spectrum,” she says before turning to the woman who had shared her story. “You got insulted by being called ‘high yellow’ or ‘redbone,’ but somebody [darker] being called a ‘coon,’ a ‘jiggaboo,’ and a ‘monkey,’ –

“We’re called that too,” another light-skinned audience member interrupts. “We’re called ‘coon’ and ‘jiggaboo’ and all those same things too. We’re still called that on top of ‘light bright’ and all those other things.”

“So the outside world that sees you as just a black person heaps the black stuff on you and then within the community, you get it,” Iyanla says. “Wow.”

Also in the video, one of the audience members explains the only way she believes real healing can begin, prompting Iyanla to give Oprah a “tweetable moment.”

For video- http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/4588825

Racist’s Fear

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