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Monday, August 25, 2014

Where will the next Ferguson uprising take place?

By Charles Brooks

Michael Brown has finally been laid to rest after he was gunned down two weeks ago by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9th.  You can only imagine what Mr. Brown’s parents, family, friends and those who knew him – have gone through in the last two weeks since that fateful day on August 9th.  Just like that - after their son's fate encounter with the police - Mr. Brown's parents now have to deal with the grief and numbing sadness that comes with having to bury an 18 year old young man.

Who would have thought or even have the foresight that the Michael Brown murder – the death of yet another unarmed black youth by the hands of a police officer – would have triggered such a rebellious uprising in Ferguson? Who would have believed Mr. Brown’s death would peel back the scab of American hypocrisy for all to witness the bubbling infectious sore of American apartheid, racism, and social inequality? 

Ferguson has clearly become a flashpoint - a hotspot where racial frustrations and deep seated tensions were unleashed in the face of aggressive and provocative policing.  Within hours after Mr. Brown’s murder, the response to the rebellious uprising quickly escalated into a domestic military operation – complete with the deployment of the National Guard.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Eric Garner: Resisting arrest or Resisting harassment (Part II)



The tragic death of Mr. Eric Garner that came as a result of the choke hold – an illegal police maneuver banned since 1994 – continues to provoke nationwide outrage, particularly in black communities.  Consider for a moment, the reasons igniting this outrage – the excessive use of force leading to yet another death of an unarmed black man, and the political support for police in the face of a blatant lack of accountability to these seemingly routine acts of police misconduct and murder.  But there’s deeper factor to consider here – the historical roots that branches out to the limbs of indifference afforded to black life.

Mr. Garner’s death continues to spark outrage because of the many people who can relate and connect through personal experience – the thousands who have been stopped and harassed by the police - and lived to talk about it. The thousands of stories about controlling that feeling that just grips you when you see the bright flash of the red and blue lights in your rear view mirror. Or the harassment that comes with being repeatedly stopped and frisked.  Or the feeling of being fully aware that even the slightest encounter with the police can turn bad…and sometimes fatal.  This connection was played out when the video was being played over and over again to the collective nods of approval. People are outraged because they connected with Mr. Garner when he crossed his arms in front of him and told the police officers that it stops today…we all knew what he meant by ‘it’. Mr. Garner said to the officers: “…Every time you see me you want to wrestle with me. I’m tired of it…it stops today…I’m minding my own business officer, please leave me alone…I told you for the last time, please leave me alone…”  This is why Mr. Garner’s death continues to resonate with the public consciousness - because of their connection to a shared experience.  The outrage grew in the aftermath of Mr. Garner’s death when more videos displaying similar criminal acts by NYPD were released as well as chokehold statistics – 1022 chokehold incidents between 2009-1013.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The tragic death of Eric Garner: Resisting arrest or resisting harassment?

By Charles Brooks

Last week, the body of Mr. Eric Garner was laid to rest after funeral services were held in Brooklyn, New York – Mr. Garner was the latest victim of NYPD use of excessive force…that led to Mr. Garner’s tragic death. Mr. Garner’s death has attracted international attention and considerable outrage for several reasons – Mr. Garner was an African American, unarmed,  accused for selling cigarettes individually out of the pack – a long time practice called selling “loosies” – or as media reports state – selling untaxed cigarettes – and for that he was placed in an illegal police maneuver – the notorious chokehold.  Although Mr. Garner lost his life after NYPD says he “resisted arrest” …was Mr. Garner actually resisting repeated police harassment?   

Sunday, July 13, 2014

BlackboardBlog Interview: NBUF Chairman Kofi Taharka


The National Black United Front (NBUF) has just held their 35th annual convention in Washington D.C. at Howard University between July 10th and July 12th. They opened their convention with two inspiring presentations, the first, a panel discussion entitled “Gentrification & Discrimination in Housing and Education: Why we need Reparations”.  There were four panelists provided their analysis around the critical question of reparations and gentrification.  The panel discussion was followed by a presentation, “African History: A Tool for Liberation” delivered by Dr. Leonard Jeffries, who was recently named the International Director of the Organization of African American Unity.  See my article on the panel discussion published by The Black Star News here.  

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

...and the Republicans chose race

By Charles Brooks


LBJ Library photo



LBJ Library photo
A nation still divided on race celebrates the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights law.  As you read and/or listen to the various social commentary and analysis, there's a particular focus on how the 1964 civil rights law transformed the nation – and indeed it did – American apartheid was dealt a severe blow.  Consider for a moment how Jim Crow and states rights shackled black life in America - the entry onto public spaces were severly restricted or simply refused.  Swimming pools, movie theaters, hotels. motels, restaurants, public transportation, libraries, hospitals and even cemetaries are just a few examples of  just how deep the racial divide was that characterized America.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Blackboard remembers Kwame Ture - June 29, 1941 - November 15 1998


Today we celebrate Kwame Ture day of birth, June 29th, 1941.  The following is a reprint of an article that I wrote for The Black World Today back in February 1997 when the late Kwame Ture has honored by the United African Movement in Brooklyn, New York.  


By Charles Brooks
His fiery spirit still burns strong! The scene was a perfect setting for what was about to occur.  The sweet smell of incense filled the air, giving way to the flags of various African nations that were displayed overhead. As always there was a mood of fellowship and spirituality - joined by the common goal that brought the audience together to learn from the honoree, Kwame Ture.

The air was filled with electricity and anticipation as the packed audience waited to hear the words of the self-proclaimed revolutionary.  The silence that filled the room as Alton Maddox, chairman of the United African Movement completed his introduction, quickly turned to a standing ovation as Kwame Ture took the microphone. 

As he began to speak in strong and fiery tones, his shaven head proved to be the only reminder that this was a man who just last year suffered from prostate cancer.  He spoke for over an hour with passion and undying love for his people about what he knows best…revolution and organizing!  “There’s no greater honor than to die for your people,” said Mr. Ture.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Walter Rodney's Intellectual and Political Thought, Reviewed by L.V. Gaither

A few years back Mr. L. V. Gaither wrote an insightful book review about Rupert Charles Lewis’ book, Walter  Rodney’s Intellectual and Political Thought. In reading through Mr. Gaither’s critique of Mr. Lewis’ book as well as his own observations of the Guyanese scholar-activist, you will see how Mr. Gaither’s writing clearly highlights the significance of Dr. Walter Rodney’s legacy.   The fact that there are just a handful of books about Dr. Rodney simply raises the value of both Mr. Lewis’ important book as well as Mr. Gaither’s review of it.  Although Mr. Gaither’s book review was published in 1998 – nearly sixteen years ago – it is plain to see why Dr. Rodney’s legacy has grown even stronger as the years go by.

L. V. Gaither is the publisher of The Gaither Reporter, and author of Loss of Empire: Legal Lynching, Vigilantism, and African American Intellectualism in the 21st Century. Mr. Gaither has written many essays and articles published in several publications.

WALTER RODNEY’S INTELLECTUAL AND POLITICAL THOUGHT
Reviewed by L.V. Gaither
Walter Rodney, born in British Guiana in 1942, was one of the most outstanding historians within the radical, international Caribbean tradition. Largely remembered for his Marxist reading of the underdevelopment of Africa, Rodney possessed that rare capacity to take theory and situate it into practical politics; to push liberating ideas beyond the limits of one’s imagination into concrete reality. Although Rodney’s life, and correspondingly his course of revolutionary activity, ended when he was assassinated at the young age of 38, his intellectual production continues to resonate in the international arena.

 Rupert Lewis’s new book delves deeply into the impressive and wide-ranging panorama of Rodney’s political and intellectual thought. As I read it, I was reminded over and over again that at a time when a reassessment of Rodney’s ideas could benefit us most, his contributions to Caribbean and African political thought are unfamiliar to the present generation. Popular awareness of his contributions to the intellectual formation of black radicalism in North America is limited mostly to his book, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. But even here, as the next generation emerges to take the reins of political, social, and intellectual leadership, prospects for understanding the importance of this major work are fading.