Archive for March, 2012
by Richard Prince
The loss of journalists of color in newspaper and online newsrooms outstripped the decline of journalists overall in 2011, according to the annual diversity census of the American Society of News Editors, released on Wednesday.
“The total newsroom employment at daily newspapers declined by 2.4 percent in 2011, while the loss in minority newsroom positions was 5.7 percent,” ASNE said. Ronnie Agnew, who co-chairs ASNE’s Diversity Committee, said in announcing the results, “It’s not just the numbers that are going down, there’s a nuance that’s going to be missed . . . with the shortage of people” lost to “this wonderful, wonderful profession.”
Agnew pointed to the killing of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed Florida teenager, as an example.
“African American people are having to go to alternative media sources to get the news coverage they are looking for. It’s a content issue,” said Agnew, executive director of Mississippi Public Broadcasting and former executive editor of the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss.(Read More in Journal-isms)
Reflections on the Trayvon Martin Murder
by Playthell Benjamin
Listening to the conversation that has followed in the wake of revelations about the murder of Trayvon Martin – an unarmed 17 year old Afro-American boy going happily about his business who was stalked by a racist white Latino bully named George Zimmerman, who shot him down like a wild beast then claimed self-defense and white male State Attorney let this killer walk – I am reminded of a day during the summer of 1960, when I had a serious talk with my Granddad that caused me to leave Florida for good.
I had just completed my freshman year at Florida A&M University where I had participated in the student sit-ins that began that spring. Once I became active I could no longer accept the status quo again, because I could see that collective struggle was the way to freedom. But, like most people I knew in the ancient city of St. Augustine, I was not a saint like Dr. Martin Luther King.
Hence back then, as now, my inclination was to put a cracker in the cemetery if they put their hands on me. You could say I had a homicidal disposition and a grave yard mind…I was on a freedom high and ready to die! As small town southerners we belonged to a hunting culture; everybody was armed, and guns were readily available.
My grandfather George Benjamin was a pious church deacon, yet he kept a 20-gage shotgun loaded with 00 buckshot mounted on the wall just above a sign professing his faith in Jesus Christ! Grandpapa didn’t take no mess! Like his friends, he was an Old Testament Christian who believed in an eye for an eye!
We lived in a state of constant tension with the white community. They were in charge as a community, but individual whites understood that there were lines they were not to cross, and they did so at their peril on this hot August day, Grand Dad stepped to me and said: “Boy I think it’s time for you to go on up north. Cause if you stay around this town either you gonna kill one of these peckerwood crackers or one of them is gonna kill you. Either way it goes down you bout to git this whole family in a war with these rednecks….cause whatever they do to you they do to all of us!”
It was good advice, because relations between the races were very tense…just like now. My generation had reached a consensus that we would not submit to the white supremacist racial caste system any longer, although the system of separate and unequal treatment for Afro-Americans had the force of law. I heeded grand-dad’s advice and soon left town and joined the Airforce. This was three years before Dr. King came to town and lead some of the most dangerous demonstrations of his career.
The local crackers, led by local Redneck terrorist ”Hoss” Manucy, were mean and prone to violence; and Dr. King told Jet Magazine he had never seen so many Negroes with guns! It was a hard sell to convince them to put down their guns and follow him in a passive resistance campaign. He never convinced me!
He didn’t convince my neighbor Reverend Goldy Eubanks either. A truly righteous and fearless fundamentalist preacher, Goldy and his sons shot it out with the Klan and offed a couple of them. They were tried for murder by the state of Florida, and only the lawyerly brilliance of William S. Kunstler, who swooped down from New York to defend them, had saved their lives!
While I now concede that Dr. King’s non-violent campaigns was the right strategy to change government policy, and the Maoist strategy of armed revolution we advocated in the Revolutionary Action Movement and the Black Panther Party of Oakland, was wrong; a half century later I still believe that anybody who steps to me with violent intentions is tired of living and I’m going to try my best to take them out of their misery!
Witnessing the way the state of Florida allowed Piggy Zimmerman to walk after murdering a black child in cold blood then covering it up, and the mounting attempt to even justify Zimmerman’s homicidal attack by painting Trayvon as the aggressor, if I were living in Florida today I would be strapped and practicing my fast draw in the mirror!
The New Black Militia is armed and actively searching for Zimmerman and his picture is all over the internet. Since the depraved child killer is in hiding like the punkass low down dirty rat that he is, the militia men intend to conduct a search, ferret him out, and make a citizen’s arrest since the police won’t do it. They consider him armed and dangerous…as all black folks should, and they intend to act accordingly.
The militia men have declared their intention to bring Zimmerman in dead or alive! Although a chorus of voices is denouncing their decision: I wish them well. White policemen have been getting away with murdering unarmed black men all over this nation….including here in New York City repeatedly. Now we are to stand by while private white citizens are getting away with murdering our children? Those who think this are flirting with disaster!
My black friends in Florida are armed to the teeth….one classmate told me he won’t go to the bathroom without his Glock! They intend to stand their ground, and there is no Martin Luther King around to cool them down…a white racist shot him years ago. So it’s on: Anything can happen! If you are planning to vacation in Florida don’t do it….unless you are some sort of freak who gets off hanging out in free fire zones.
Benjamin is a veteran political journalist out of Harlem NY. His essays can be read on his blog site Commentaries on the Times.
by Alton H. Maddox, Jr.
In American jurisprudence, every legal action must be authorized by an applicable constitution, statute or charter. It was revealed this week that the Sanford Police Department seized George Zimmerman for the death of Trayvon Martin. Trayvon was fatally shot on February 26, 2012 in Sanford, FL. Thus, this seizure had to have been done in compliance with the Fourth Amendment.
Neither George Zimmerman nor Robert Zimmerman, has father, has ever claimed a false arrest. Similarly, the attorney for George Zimmerman has never charged the Sanford Police Department with conducting a false arrest. Thus, Zimmerman is admitting to a lawful arrest. His claim of self-defense does not vitiate the arrest. Self-defense is reserved for trial.
Once a defendant has been arrested, the legal process commences. An arrest occurs when a suspect has been restrained of his liberty. Geroge Zimmerman was escorted from the crime scene to the police precinct in handcuffs. This is an arrest. Zimmerman was in police custody.
Once a criminal suspect has been arrested, he or she must be taken before a judicial magistrate who may detain the suspect, fix bail or release the suspect after according him or her due process of law. There is no evidence that George Zimmerman appeared before a judicial magistrate. Why?
How did George Zimmerman secure his release from police custody? This is the $64,000 question. With the sua sponte appointment of a special prosecutor, there is at least a suggestion of misconduct. No one has explained how George Zimmerman secured his release and went immediately into hiding with protection from Florida.
At this stage, George Zimmerman has obviously escaped from police custody. The police can re-arrest George Zimmerman, however. Similarly, any citizen or civilian group can arrest George Zimmerman. This includes the New Black Panther Party. The Black community needs a military unit to comply with the Second Amendment.
In the meantime, the governor of Florida must explain how George Zimmerman escaped from police custody and whether he had any assistance. If Zimmerman did have assistance, the governor should identify an accomplice and take necessary steps to bring criminal charges against him or her.
The killing of a person by another person could give rise to a capital offense. This is possibly a non-bailable offense. The unlawful release of a criminal suspect is a serious offense. It is even more serious if the criminal suspect escapes police custody. This would warrant a nationwide manhunt led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. There is still a manhunt for Assata Shakur.
The Black community should be putting serious question not only to the state of Florida but also to the U.S. Department of Justice. So far, Blacks have refused to exercise the right to self-help or to demand answers from public officials. This murder investigation is in dire need of someone with legal knowledge and courage. Allegedly, an attorney for the Martin family is seeking my advice. If asked to seize George Zimmerman, I will take bloodhounds to Florida forthwith.
Immediately after the state-sponsored, fatal beating of Michael Stewart by 11 transit cops in New York City in 1983, attorneys Louis Clayton Jones and Michael Warren asked me to joint the legal team for the family of Michael Stewart because of my knowledge of police brutality cases.
After we had personally witnessed Mayor Ed Koch and NYC Medical Examiner Eliot Gross engaged in a cover-up of the fatal beating, we immediately demanded a special prosecutor. Evidence tampering is a ground for a special prosecutor but Governor Mario Cuomo argued that a special prosecutor could only be employed in a case of official misconduct. This was in 1983.
Michael Griffith was murdered in Howard Beach by a white mob in 1986. While New York argued that there was no official misconduct in the killing, I was able to show that Queens District Attorney John Santucci had close ties to organized crime including organized crime members like John Gotti who resided in Howard Beach.
I also conducted my own investigation into the kidnapping and rape of Tawana Brawley in Dutchess County. The investigation revealed that Steven Pagones was involved in the kidnapping and rape of Tawana Brawley and that Harry Crist, Jr. an accomplice and a police officer, was murdered after he demonstrated a willingness to become shaky.
The petit jury in Dutchess County Supreme Court found that Pagones was involved in the kidnapping and rape of Tawana Brawley. No one ever sued Brawley for defamation and no quasi-criminal charges were brought against her. Nonetheless, New York disbarred Maddox for telling the truth. The pathologist also found that Crist had been murdered. There is no statute of limitations for murder.
When the governor of Florida replaced the state attorney’s office with a special prosecutor, I knew that the racially-motivated killing of Trayvon Martin was riddled with official and police misconduct. Like in Brawley, the Florida governor refused to reveal the police misconduct in the Sanford, FL Police Department and the state attorney’s office. This is a serious breach of trust and it should be revealed immediately and fully.
Because the governor has failed and refused to make open disclosures in the death of Trayvon Martin and because the newly-appointed special prosecutor has failed and refused to immediately re-arrest George Zimmerman, coupled with the failure of Florida to have already convened a grand jury, the special prosecutor should also be given the boot. This is a repeat of Robert Abrams.
A state attorney’s office or a district attorney is only removed from an investigation when it is clear that the investigator has committed a serious breach of trust. It is not easy to remove a district attorney from an investigation. There is undisclosed misconduct in Sanford, however. Blacks must get focused. The big fish now is the governor of Florida for the suspected cover-up of the murder. Compare Michael Stewart.
In addition to putting George Zimmerman on the hot seat, articles of impeachment should be in the preliminary stage for Florida’s governor. If the people of Florida will not remove the governor upon good cause, it may be necessary for the Black consumers and other people of goodwill to take matter into their own hands.
Hate crime legislation in the United States is rooted the racially-motivated murder in Howard Beach. I took lumps for demanding a special prosecutor. In 1986, it was clear to me that the traditional district attorney’s office could not be trusted. This stance of non-cooperation in 1986 led to the appointment of the first special prosecutor in a racially-motivated case in the United States and also the first hate crime legislation.
Noel Leader of “Community Cop” and 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care told me last night that he would be returning to “Here and Now” this Sunday to discuss police brutality and criminality; particularly, in the cases of Ramarley Graham and Trayvon Martin. He thanked me for my efforts.
I would suggest that everyone purchase a copy of this week’s “Community Cop” from Sis. Leola W. Maddox this Wednesday evening at Elks Plaza in Brooklyn. The tape raises some serious legal questions. This purchase on March 28 will also help “2012 Freedom Retreat for Boys and Girls”. The distribution of this tape has also been approved by “Community Cop”.
I am the only lawyer in this nation who has secured a special prosecutor in two racially-motivated cases. When the governor of Florida, sua sponte, said that he was removing the state’s attorneys office from the Martin investigation and naming a special prosecutor, I knew that police misconduct was running amuck.
While the governor has named a special prosecutor, he has failed to impanel a special grand jury. This is like hiring a mechanic but refusing to give the mechanic the tools of the trade. In the criminal process, this has serious negative consequences on the criminal prosecution.
Last night, a caller raised police leaks in the Martin investigation. I only had an opportunity to answer one of the questions. A police leak can only happen with immunity when the state has failed or refused to impanel a grand jury. Because a grand jury investigation is secret, a grand jury is impaneled forthwith to make any leak a felony.
Any police leak before the formulation of a grand jury is not a criminal leak. This is the reason why Florida is waiting until April 10 before it impanels a grand jury to conduct the investigation. It also allows for the trail to grow cold. In the meantime, lawyers are supposed to remain silent. No one is complaining about the lack of a grand jury. Censorship is in full effect. This harms the Black community.
I will return to “Community Cop” next Tuesday and Utrice Leid of Florida will be the keynote speaker at UAM’s Wednesday evening forum on April 4, the anniversary date of Dr. Martin L. King’s assassination. Utrice Leid needs no introduction in the tri-state area. Between today and next Wednesday evening, Blacks in the tri-state will be given a full and informative discussion on Graham, Martin and the future of “Like It Is”.
Too honest for the White Press and too black for much of today’s Black Press; bullet columnist Alton Maddox upsets the same people and status quo as he did as an uncompromising Defense Attorney. He is also a founding member of the Freedom Party. Please sign his Petition to save “Like It Is.” Contact him at c/o UAM P.O. BOX 35 BRONX, NY 10471
by Alberta Parish
April 1, 2011 was the last day I attended my church as a Christian. Today is the one-year anniversary in which I cut ties with religious indoctrination. The last night I attended my church, I knew then that I would NOT be returning as a born-again Christian.
My mom is still Christian, and of course, she has requested to be funeralized in a church. In the event that I return to a church in order to funeralize my mom, it certainly won’t bother me because my mind has been set free from religious enslavement. I can sit there with a straight face, and know that what the minister is preaching is historically incorrect and based on ancient mythology. I can possibly have a conversation with this same minister, and tell him or her why I’m an atheist. I come across Christians all the time. Therefore, I’m not offended by their religious rhetoric and nonsense, because I know that they just don’t know any better.
My transitioning from Christianity to atheism began with research on the origin of Christianity in 2010, because I wanted to prove the validity of an historical Jesus as being the true savior of mankind who was resurrected from the dead. Instead, I found evidence that disproves the existence of Jesus as a Jewish historical figure. Let me start by saying that there could never have been a Jewish man named Jesus in the 1st Century CE. The term “Jew” did not even originate until the 18th Century. The letter “J” was never part of the Hebrew or Aramaic alphabet. The term “Jew” was originally used to denote the term “Judean” in earlier versions of the bible. “Judean” was the official term in earlier versions of the bible before it was replaced with the term Jew, which was first seen in the New Testament (King James version) in the 18th Century.
A “Iudaean” was a resident of the ancient occupied territory by the Romans known as Iudaea. The Roman province “Iudaea” comes from the Greek “Ioudaia”. The letter J is an English letter (acquired from the French “J”), and is a derivative from the Latin languages. All so-called historical accounts (outside the Bible) from the First and Second Centuries CE containing the name Jesus in reference to him being the Jewish Savior-Messiah are historical FORGERIES.
CHRISTIANITY WAS INDEED INVENTED BY THE ROMANS AS FAR BACK AS THE FIRST CENTURY CE.
The account given by Flavius Josephus, a Jewish-Roman historian concerning Jesus is nothing more than a sophisticated FORGERY, because Josephus was a pen name for a man named Arrius Calpurnius Piso, a Roman aristocrat who, according to author Abelard Reuchlin, had written the Four Gospels, the Pauline writings, and the Book of Revelation along with other members of his family. Furthermore, Josephus would not be the correct spelling of his name by the Romans during the First Century CE, because “J” is an English alphabet. Josephus would’ve possibly been “Iosef”, and the English name Jesus would’ve possibly been spelled by the Romans as Isus also from the Greek Isous (Zeus). In other words, Jesus is a continued version of Zeus who, according to Greek mythology, was the father of gods and men, and ruled the Olympians on Mount Olympus. Zeus was also known as the god of sky and thunder. Nut was the goddess of the sky, according to the Egyptian creation story. There are parallels of gods and goddesses within all major religious systems, which makes the Jesus figure the latest version of ”sky” deities worshiped in the ancient world.
In addition, Josephus’ reference of the man Jesus comes from a 15th Century copy of “The Antiquities of the Jews” supposedly written by Josephus himself (who really was Arrius Calpurnius Piso).
THERE WERE NO SUCH PEOPLE CALLED JEWS in the 1st Century CE!
There was no mention by credible ancient scholars/historians regarding a Jewish Messiah who performed miracles and raised the dead during the First Century CE except by those who forged stories to advance their own agendas, which is what Arrius Piso and his relatives did.
In Josephus’ account, Jesus was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher and the Christ, who appeared again alive the third day after his death to his disciples. Remember, Arrius Piso wrote the “Antiquities”, which was later translated into the English language, and this is where the 1466 copy comes from. Also, entire passages and new words/names were included during the translation process by the English.
A Roman named Gaius Cornelius Tacitus had supposedly written in his final work, the Annals, about Christus. However, John Wilson Ross, the author of Tacitus and Bracciolini: The Annals Forged in the XVth Century, noted that the Annals was not known in antiquity, with classical writers only quoting from Tacitus’ Histories. The Annals have also been challenged by several other modern scholars as being non-authentic.
In the non-authentic work, the Annals, Tacitus only references the word Christus and not the name Jesus. Christus was never a name, but a Greek word to describe a liberator. Tacitus supposedly wrote about Christians who were in Rome during the fire that consumed Rome when Nero was Emperor. The Christians were blamed by Nero for the fire and were persecuted although it was Nero who caused the fire. In the Annals, Tacitus never describes Christus as a Jewish Savior-God who performed miracles. There is no mention by Tacitus that Christus was ever resurrected from the dead. He references that Christus had suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius Caesar at the hands of Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator. However, there were previous Christos or Chrestus in the ancient world before the Biblical Savior-God was ever invented by the Romans in the First Century CE. The term Christos was already upon Greek inscriptions thousands of years before the Biblical Savior became the New Messiah of the Romans.
The Jewish-Savior-God is also a continuation of the worship of Serapis, a Greco-Egyptian deity invented by the Greek ruler Ptolemy in the 3rd Century BCE. There are historical references about Christians being regarded as worshippers of Serapis in the First and Second Centuries CE (this was in the early history of Christianity). Even the deity Serapis is a continuation of earlier deities, including the worship of Horus (Heru), the firstborn son of Asar and Aset. The biblical Jesus is not even an historical figure, and yet, millions of people continue to pledge their allegiance to a mythical and nonhistorical figure! There were many historical forgeries, which include Christian forgerers during the early history of Christianity. Therefore, Christianity cannot be regarded as an authentic religious system when it is based upon ancient mythology and forgeries.
Gods and goddesses cannot save humanity. If they could, the world would not operate in chaotic and destructive behaviors, which threatens the future of humanity. Our future depends upon what we do today. Your gods/goddesses cannot save the future of mankind, because they don’t exist. Only we can save ourselves.
by Gloria Dulan-Wilson
When it comes to fashion, no one can make an outfit come alive like a Black woman. No matter what her skin tone, her stature – tall and slinky, short and curvy, or a combination – tall and curvy, short and slinky, we make colors pop and bring out the beauty in the lines and styles.
In watching stars walk the famed Red Carpet at the 2012 Academy Awards, it was hard to find a design that I could resonate to. There were some interesting designs, to say the least, but nothing really earth shaking or memorable. I felt I had to compliment them by default. You know: “Well it’s not as bad as the last one;” or “What were they thinking when they did that one?” In some cases they wore the dresses; in other, the dresses wore them.
It’s rather sad to see Black women trying to relate to a design that has absolutely nothing to do with their physique, skin tone, sense of fun, or culture. Most of the designers don’t factor in our curves, or the full (voluptuous) bodies we tend to have. And, for the most part, pastels do little to nothing for our rich skin tones – we, the children of the Sun and the Rainbow.
Perhaps this is what lead Elaine Baskin-Bey, an ebony-toned native New Yorker, to embark on a career in the fashion industry. The lack of representation of quality Africentric designs in the show rooms, on stage, television and more importantly, on men and women of color, inspired her to embark on a career in couture. She started early on at the High School of Fashion Industries. So it was clear that fashion was neither an after thought, or a fall back position, but a passion from her childhood.
Of course, one does not just “become” a fashion designer. The flair is born in you (or it isn’t), and is revealed as you mature. It’s like a calling. It’s the vision you see when you watch someone crossing the street, when, in your mind’s eye you find yourself dressing them in eye-catching colors, or flowing robes, or elegant Afro suits. It’s the kind of vision that Elaine weaves into every garment she designs.
Of course, the training at Fashion Industries played a great role in helping Elaine hone her talents, but she most certainly already had a naescent eye for design, color, and a flair for the dramatic. Whatever that catalyst was that first drew it out of her, Diva Designer Elaine Baskin-Bey, who is now celebrating over 30 years in haute couture, is finally opening the doors to her secrets for those who are likewise looking to make their mark in the world of style, beauty, sophistication
But, I’m writing about Elaine, not just because this is Women’s History Month – and she certainly is a Black woman who has made history on so many levels – but because I’ve crossed paths with her so many times and didn’t know it. And I’m pretty sure there are many of you who have had the same experience. I had seen her work early on in Essence Magazine, and was totally blown away by the lines. When Essence -By-Mail featured beautiful Africentric attire in their catalogue, I had ordered one or two outfits, with absolutely no idea that she was the genius behind the design. Like so many of us who were looking for clothes that reflected who we are, I would see her designs, say “wow,” and proceed to place an order.
I’m also writing this for my sisters (and brothers) who try to fit in those eurocentric clothes and find that the hems hike up in the back, or it doesn’t zip up just right, or it bunches up in certain parts of our anatomy, because we are definitely much more apt to be amply endowed. We either have to buy extra big, extra wide, or just stuff our way in. Elaine Baskin-Bey’s clothes were designed with us in mind. And, no, I’m not talking about “fat” clothes – but clothes that caressed our anatomy, and flowed in ways that accentuated the positive, and made even the negative look unique. From business attire to casual, to elegant evening wear, she had us covered!
I’m also writing this article for the younger generation who are caught between eurocentric clothes and the street clothes that don’t really complement us, or reflect who we really are, and the wealth of our cultural heritage. And, no, low hanging pants, plunging necklines, raggedy jeans, or hoodies, are not reflective our rich cultural heritage, which is straight from Africa, with a mix of positive aspects of all of these factors.
The fact is that the highly touted fashion industry is overrun with fashions locked in “eurocentric” styles, some of which have borrowed heavily from Afrocentric themes, but most of which ignored us completely. But generally speaking there is little to no credit or recognition accorded African American designers.
However, no where in the realm of “fashion” are the Black innovative fashion designers (whom many of us wear, especially here in New York City), either consistently, or prominently, mentioned. What you see, instead, is some derivative of Afrocentricity, played out on emaciated models, who tend to walk as though they suffer from some sort of physical impediment – coupled with a bad attitude – as personified by the horror make-up and the “screw-you” look on their faces as they assault the runway. This concept of fashion, along with the anorexic uber-thin, unrealistically tall models, has dominated the fashion industry for the past few years.
When Elaine Baskin-Bey emerged from the hallowed halls of Fashion Institute in the 70’s, her next step was up. And she wouldn’t have had it any other way. When you meet her, you are immediately struck by her can do attitude; and that sense of pride, coupled with an air of gracious elegance, that engages you. While she is definitely one to act on her concepts, she is neither pushy or frenetic. She exudes creativity, but in an assured manner that says, ‘be cool, I know what I’m doing, and you’re going to love the results’. A big difference from the over the top atmosphere you generally encounter in the fashion industry.
Elaine was one of the first Black designers to “cross over” early on into the world of Haute Couture. In fact, the first fashion house she worked in was located on the toney East side on Fifth Avenue, with “king of the bias cut,” designer Charles Kliebacker at the Park Royal Hotel. He took a total departure from the de riguer fashion lines and cut everything on the bias; draping fabrics in elegant style so that they accentuated the body in wonderful ways. Elaine was one of his premiere designers, though just fresh out of school.
Following that experience, she had the great good fortune to work with Italian-born fashion iconoclast, Giorgio Di Sant Angelo, whose departure from the staid and stodgy designs to embrace the natural influences of American Indian, Asian, and East Indian cultures, through the use of stretch and chiffon fabrics to bring about flowing lines and vibrant colors, meshed perfectly with her own natural Afrocentric proclivities.
From there, she moved on to Khadija Designs in Greenwich Village on West 8th Street, where she designed grand African attire for such artists as Miles Davis, Roberta Flack, Melba Moore, Eartha Kitt, Kathy Sharpton, Les McCann, and Freddie Hubbard among others. Using such textiles as Kente cloth, Ashoki, and other African fabrics; mixing leathers with wools and feathers, Fashions by Elaine Baskin-Bey were considered the epitome of Afrocentric sophistication on the East Coast. The flowing lines, the elegantly designed crowns which gave a rather regal quality to any attire, were the hallmark of the day, and could be seen gracing the heads some of the most famous artists, as well as African Americans eager to express their consciousness through fashion. And her hat designs were (are) to die for! More like crowns, they adorn, compliment, and make an unmistakable statement.
Elaine Baskin-Bey, whose skin tone is deep, dark chocolate brown, knows full well what it’s like to design for Black celebrity artists. She’s dressed the best of them. Stevie Wonder, Mabel King, Marvin Gaye, Stephanie Mills, Rick James’ Mary Jane Girls, X-Clan, Popa Wu of Wu Tang Clan, Jim Brown, among a great many others.
She captured history by becoming one of the first fashion designers to partner with Avon, who featured her unique line of Crowns and Collars for Afrocentric women. Her designs appeared in Essence Magazine, Ebony, Jet, and other leading publications of the day. The beautifully coifed models wore custom designed crowns and matching collars of African fabrics, trimmed with her signature Soutasche, an innovation that graces most of her work. The Soutasche motif, which is a delicate line of chording that outlines the contour of a collar, cuff or head piece, is unique to Ms. Baskin-Bey and has emblazoned practically every one of her designs.
“I never know what shape it’s going to be until I complete it,” she said enthusiastically, in a recent conversation about her vast body of work and accomplishments. And indeed it was a conversation. One can conduct an interview with Elaine, but to get the real essence of who this woman truly is, one has to really sit down and “conversate.”
There is little she has not seen, done, or been in the fashion industry. She is what one means when they accord the title of being “blessed and highly favored,” because her life path is just that. Others, of course, might call it “luck” but too many signs point to the fact that “luck,” meaning happenstance, had very little to do with how her steps were ordered.
When she made her sojourn from New York to California, she was just going out there to explore her options of expanding the outlet for her unique fashion design. At the time she knew no one; but just “happened” to meet Mabel King, the great actress who played Evilene in the movie production of “The Wiz.” King befriended her and introduced her to the who’s who in Black entertainment – the icons of the day in Hollywood. Through her she met and subsequently designed stage outfits and wardrobes for Michael Jackson and his family, vocalist Ruth Brown, producer Quincy Jones, the great Sammy Davis Jr.
Elaine took California by storm and designed grand African attire for artists and performers, as well as for every day wear for conscientious Black men and women who wanted to display their Afrocentricity via their clothing.
Looking back on it, she credits Mabel King with her success: “You know, I had never met her before. I really didn’t know anyone in California. Someone said I might have an opportunity to do some work, so I went. When I met Mabel, she was so nice. She allowed me to work out of her garage until I got my own set up. She didn’t have to do that. I met so many great people because of her.”
This connection spawned contacts and contracts the likes of which one doesn’t just walk into. But then, there is a dynamic magnetism about Elaine Baskin-Bey, born of her love for fashion; for her innate ability to not only think, but to step outside the box; to envision a new way, try a new concept; coupled with a genuine interest in, and a warm personal regard for the people she’s interfacing with, which makes people like her.
She has designed for the top pop music artists of the day, including Stevie Wonder, the late Eartha Kitt, Rick James, Miles Davis, Roberta Flack, Marvin Gaye, Cab Calloway, among others.
Along the way, she paved the way and opened the gates to business success in fashion design for other Black women – particularly actresses – on both the East and West Coasts. She designed clothing for TV shows such as The Jeffersons, and Easy Rider “The Jimmy Winkfield Story” for PBS Television.
And at a time when it appeared that interest in Black fashion on the West Coast was disappearing, she returned to New York and the Brooklyn neighborhood she loved, and reestablished her ties with the high fashion realm of New York. Subsequently, Elaine’s garments have been featured on Live With Regis and Kathy Lee, the Phil Donahue Show,The Cosby Show, The McCreary Report; as well as on the CD jacket cover for Roberta Flack (and all of her present Promotional Work).
Without missing a beat, Elaine embarked on another level of fashion design most of us would have never considered: That of designing choir robes and coordinated garment bags. Elaine Baskin Bey is currently the leader in the realm of designing gospel robes, collars, and garment bags for churches and professional gospel choirs throughout the US She has inculcated her unique brand of Afrocentricity, with her distinctive insignia – the Soutasche, which now serves as her trademark signature on all her designs.
Those of you who follow the Gospel Fest concerts, or are fans of our local church choirs may have recognized her design on such groups as sister Bettye Forbes’ Ebony Ecumenical Ensemble (Riverside Church), Phyllis Jubert’s – WWRL “Gospel Coral Singers”, Morningside Church of Harlem, Mt. Vernon’s Missionary Baptist Church, St. Lukes Lutheran Church of Brooklyn, and the Lafayette Church of God, to mention just a few. The signature reversible collars and tunics with an Africentric pattern on one side and a solid color on the other, have been worn proudly on tours, as well as at their church services.
A trail blazer in the corporate realm, as well, Elaine has produced fashion for the corporate world, including McDonald’s corporation; and is responsible for their Afrocentric uniform design that has been worn by employees across the nation. Kudos to her for her work with Revlon, Avon, “Black Radiance, “Pavion” and Le Mac Cosmetics. She can also take credit for the design of Wyandanch Security Guard Uniforms. But, closer to home, the design of the Bedford -Stuyesant (Bed-Stuy) Restoration “Tent Enclosure Project,” which resulted in an elegant draped tent that surrounded the entire perimeter of the courtyard; and the “Museum of African Art” design.
There is practically nothing that this Diva of Design puts her mind to that doesn’t turn out beautifully. She continues to amaze. So this is a kudo to the Elaine Baskin-Bey, Diva of Design who dared to take a giant step, and create an avenue of her own for other Black fashion designers to follow. Kudos as well as to all the other sisters who have had the good sense to follow her and transform the fashion world for us into a realm of elegant Afrocentricity. To all the sisters (and brothers) who want to follow in their footsteps and add to the realm of beautiful Black fashions – Thank you, because you really do make us look good. I am looking forward to the day when a commentator on the red carpet asks a Black actress the inevitable question “who are you wearing” and she responds “Elaine Baskin-Bey!”
Stay Blessed &
PS: But of course, we don’t have to wait for that eventuality, we can start now,set our own EBB Trend. GDW
bullet ColumnistGloria Dulan-Wilson Is a veteran New York City Journalist. Her experiences, perspective & sense of history are an invaluable combination. “check out my blog:” www.gloria-dulan-wilson.blogspot.com
Gloria Dulan-Wilson is available for speaking engagements: Black History, African History, Foreclosure Prevention, Home Ownership, Education, etc., Contact her via email@example.com
by Pat Freeman
The Buffalo Bills this off season have sent shock waves through out the NFL by signing to high profile free agents. This has not been the method of the Buffalo Bills in the last several years who usually sign low profile free agents at very low prices. Well this has not been the case this year. The signings of Mario Williams and Mark Anderson along with the resigning of Steve Johnson have the Bills as one of the NFL teams creating a buzz around the league. This is my latest Bills Mock Draft which is based on whether or not the Bills resign offensive tackle Demetrius Bell.
Buffalo Bills Mock Draft #6
1st round 10th selection- Offensive Tackle/ Riley Reif Iowa
2nd. round 41st selection- Cornerback/Kick Returner/ Josh Robinson Central Florida
3rd round 71st selection- Linebacker/ Tank Carder Texas Christian University
4th round 105th selection- Wide Receiver/Kick Returner/ Joe Adams Arkansas
4th round 124th selection- Russell Wilson/ Quarterback / Wisconsin
5th. round 144th selection- Andrew Datka Offensive Tackle/ Florida State
5th round 147th selection- Deangelo Peterson Tight End LSU
6th round 178th selection- Travis Lewis outside Linebacker Oklahoma
7th r round 217 selection- Josh LeRibeus Guard SMU
7th round 251 selection- Lavon Brazil Wide Receiver Ohio
If you enjoy talking about the world of sports tune into the number#1 sports show in the nation every Saturday from 12PM-1PM hosted by WUFO Sports Director Patrick Freeman on 1080AM WUFO radio or via the internet at www.wufoam.com. Or catch Sports Update for clbTV (ch.20 Buffalo) and YouTube. Also join us for the number#1 recap show every Monday at 7:25AM with Lee Pettigrew, and The Mighty O’Ba Pat Freeman.
by Alberta Parish
Moments before the fatal shooting death of Trayvon Martin, several witnesses claim they heard the cries of a child. They all claim that when they heard a shot fired, the cries stopped. Yet, there are contradictory stories about George Zimmerman being the one who cried out for help on the night of February 26, 2012. Let’s say that hypothetically Zimmerman did cry out for help, then why does a 911 tape reveal the cries of a child in the background? Those cries belonging to Trayvon Martin as he cried out for help, which witnesses also corroborate. Zimmerman has claimed that he was walking back to his SUV when Martin attacked him. However, Martin’s girlfriend who spoke with him moments before he was shot by Zimmerman, said that she heard Martin asking Zimmerman, “Why are you following me?” Zimmerman asked Martin, “What are you doing around here?” Then moments later, she heard pushing. She thinks it was Martin that was pushed by Zimmerman, because she says that Martin’s “voice changes, like something interrupted his speech.” Then she said that she heard an argument, and shortly after, the call was cut off. She called Martin back but got no answer. Zimmerman has claimed that he and Martin had an altercation, which corroborates the testimony of Martin’s girlfriend. Zimmerman has claimed self-defense, but the 911 tape contradict his self-defense claim.
In the aftermath of Trayvon Martin’s shooting death at the hands of George Zimmerman, race relations in America are at a boiling point.
Are we to tell black children that they cannot walk slowly through a neighborhood, because they may arouse suspicion? When will law-abiding black citizens ever stop being treated as criminal suspects in their own communities or outside their communities?
As a former resident of Miami, who lived in a dilapidated area as a child, I’ve witnessed gun violence, drugs, and death ravage my former community. When I left Miami at the age of 8, I left behind friends, institutionalized racism, and a drug-ridden community only to come to Atlanta and encounter greater institutionalized racism while wasting most of my youth being a good ol’ church girl.
The shooting of Trayvon Martin has sparked a national debate on race relations in a culture that clearly does not value the lives of its black citizens. If you take into consideration the minimal coverage on missing black women and children within the past year, you’ll see that the lives of poor black folk aren’t taken very seriously by the national media, which, in turn, will consistently cover stories on dead black celebrities such as Whitney Houston whose death on February 11, 2012 has been ruled as an accidental drowning due to habitual cocaine use and heart disease, according to the official toxicology report released last week.
According to reports, George Zimmerman’s 911 call implicates that the physical appearance of Trayvon Martin was considered when Zimmerman told the police dispatcher that there had been some break-ins in his neighborhood, and there’s a real suspicious guy, and this guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs. In addition, Zimmerman told the dispatcher that “it’s raining and he’s just walking about, looking about.” The dispatcher asked Zimmerman whether the guy was white, black, or Hispanic. Zimmerman replied that he looks black. Zimmerman’s neighbors have also complained about his aggressive tactics in his duties as neighborhood watch leader. Over the past year, Zimmerman has made numerous 911 calls to report suspicious persons or disturbances in the neighborhood. According to one neighbor, there had been a lot of break-ins committed largely by black males in the gated Sanford community. Therefore, this serves as further indication that Trayvon Martin was regarded as a suspicious person based on the fact that he was a black boy, and according to Zimmerman, was looking about while walking about in the rain.
There are young black males walking about in my neighborhood every day. They hang around outside a lot. Many do not have jobs. Yet, when I come home from work in the late evening, I don’t look about just to spot a young black man, and think he’s going to rob or rape me. However, I’m not naive in thinking that there aren’t any shady characters who live in my neighborhood. Unfortunately, shady characters exist in every corner of the world. To me, I feel that I’d be in more danger if I lived in a predominantly white neighborhood, especially since black women are going missing all over the United States. I don’t believe that all these missing black women are being snatched off the streets by members of their own ethnic community.
Even if George Zimmerman claims to not be a racist, his profiling of young black males due to an increase of break-ins in the neighborhood mostly perpetuated by young black males, according to neighbors, certainly exacerbates the flames of institutionalized racism in America and also reveals the increased profiling of young black males and females in a society that consistently treats them like criminal suspects. The crime wave happening in the Sanford, Florida community is a societal issue and not just a black problem. Besides, Western culture breeds the kind of lawlessness we all have a front row seat to. The crime wave of racially motivated hate crimes and cover-ups of hate crimes by local police officials only shows the internal sickness of a culture built upon disloyalty, economic exploitation, greed, and chaos. This nation began in bloodshed. Therefore, it will probably end upon the same selfish and deadly principles in which it began.
They hear no racism, see no racism
by Chris Stevenson
There’s a growing number of people today who are taking up the challenge to prove the opposite of what has already plainly been proven. They seem to lie in wait for news of a racist attack on generally blacks only, just so they can broadcast their suggestion that it wasn’t a race issue. These people sadly know they’re in the wrong, but could care less, the goal for them is more of a racially selfish nature. If left up only to the Sanford police, the Trayvon Martin shooting wouldn’t even be known. Credit black media and the internet for exposing the efforts of the Sanford FL Police Department’s racist cover-up of suburban-commando George Zimmerman. This week represents roughly a month after the shooting, and news of it has been common knowledge only a couple weeks now.
I mean how in the Hell is it “not about race” when the Dispatcher asks “what was he wearing?” And Zimmerman’s answer was “He looks Black.” But it’s not about race? Really? To Zimmerman he was wearing black skin, which in his mind was illegal and reason enough to call the police. Since racism is devoid of logic, it didn’t matter to him that he knows there are other blacks living in that community. Zimmerman went to a lot of trouble and work to prove it’s about race, so let’s not re-interpret his efforts just because it’s your race that’s in the hot-seat. I think that’s what this is all about when you hear that. Much of this column is really bits and pieces of a Facebook post (in response to a column I wrote) and comments on various pages that I have pasted together regarding my feelings on these mostly self-appointed Race Dialogue Police (RDP).
As an African American with 54 years of experience in this country, I do NOT need and never have needed anyone white or black to tell me what constitutes a race or racist incident, and what doesn’t. But apparently some of you will try your hand with this anyway. Fine. When I write an article, you are fully within your rights, and are in fact invited to disagree with me. But you cannot regulate me or my readers.
Geraldo (Jerry Rivers) says blame the hoodie, Hannity claims it could have been an accident, Beck says Trayvon was a threat, Newt implies Barack’s speculative son is dividing the country (because Barack said he would look like him).
This is what I been noticing on some pages and posts over the last 2-or-3 days now. I’m also wise to those of you who are trying to be slick with it; on my recent column on btweetz.com about the sub-human George Zimmerman one of you made a statement (no need to name names) claiming to support Trayvon but you pretty much made it sound like your support was conditional by stating you don’t want people to view it as a race thing. Here is the exact words:
“I am a resident of [blah blah blah], California and I am forming a day of honoring a day for Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, and RaMarley Graham, I need to say this isn’t a color or race thing it is a human rights thing, this could have easily been one of your babies being use as a target, if they I say they (whoever it may concern) want to practice go to the firing range and practice, our babies are human beings, not targets!! This situation could have been one of mines, yours, or someone you knew who live was losted due to gun battle! So Monday March 26, 2012 all day I will do all that I can to get the word out to have everyone to wear their hoodies in honor of all the families. Let them know that they did not die in vain. I’m asking for your help also please post on your site that I [Ms. blah blah blah] is doing whatever I can do help, last but not least change your facebook profile picture, take a picture with your hoodie on and show your support, the internet is a tool just for reasons like this to help.”
Did any one of you out there understand any of this shit? 1st she expresses a desire to represent Trayvon, Ramarley, and Oscar as if she’s doing them and maybe us poor blacks a favor (after all she lives in Cali, she could be out hanging with the Kar-Assians), hell she’ll even toss a hood over her scalp for good measure, tells us to do the same, even on our profiles. It completely passes her by that the hoodie is pretty much half the reason it’s about race. I feel like I’m talking to either Miss Ann or Wendy Williams. You’ll notice she implies “it’s not a color or race thing it is a human rights thing.” This obviously will shock some of you out there. It doesn’t have to be either/or as she is selling, it can be both color AND human rights, as it has been in many cases.
She is one of those types of whites who must frame a black person or situation to her liking, get you to do it (provided you are gullible enough to accept the slop she is dishing on your plate), before she feels comfortable marching side-by-side with you. People like this will even create false delusional scenario’s implying that it could have been her white son in a hood that Zimmerman was stalking, and eventually shot, only to have the police arrive and take his body away (without contacting his family for several days? Yeah right). It could have been her white son in a hood that ran up in Ramarley’s grandmother’s house with several cops in hot pursuit banging in his door and breaking through without a warrant to blast him in his own bathroom, and detain his grandmother or 6 or 7 hours in order to cook up a plausible story. Miss Ann, I missed the wave of headlines and stories of police shooting white male youths in hoodies. Enlighten us Please!
Listen closely. If you have to verbally or in writing tell people ‘it’s not about race,’ then it’s PROBABLY ABOUT RACE. We’re all adults here, give us the benefit of the doubt, I mean really. And it’s really nothing new, pretty much talk-radio-induced. But it’s some of the dumbest, stupidest, most obtuse thinking that is becoming a by-product in the aftermath of an obvious racial tragedy. It’s becoming too common, and it smacks of a selfish people who want to divert dialogue away from black-specific issues onto a more generalized way of interpreting the incident in order to make white would-be supporters feel more comfortable. There are blacks who push this kind of agenda too. You’ll notice they’ll go from being ghetto to hippy instantly, when they feel they are being called-upon to join some black movement, because they fear offending their white best-friend, work-mate, lover, next-door neighbor etc., who may view them differently. So suddenly you’ll notice them talk about love, peace, forgiveness. Most of them don’t believe in those things at all, they just worry that they’ll become useful on the merits of their own skin color to only their own people. Where’s the thrill in that?
Whites who engage in this RDP nonsense are not going to change the way they look at us. They may be accepting us in NBA and NCAA Basketball, TV sit-comms, and relationships with the opposite sex, these have done nothing but lull us to sleep. When it comes to fear of their personal safety all those other things like March Madness becomes anti-black madness and their selfish relationships get tossed-out the window. You will notice these race-discussion regulators have one glaring weakness, they have no record of confronting or correcting racists, or hard-bitten bigots. They are the only thing that’s worse than the so-called “good people” who stand by and do nothing. The prime reason for this is what you pretty much have guessed the point I’m trying to make; many of them are racist themselves. When they look at situations like the Trayvon shooting and listen to the 911 voice of Zimmerman, coupled with the final result, and the far worse treatment of the Sanford police in the handling and attempted cover-up, they see themselves and the commonality in how they probably would have handled it. They “understand.” Social networks are doing a good job of smoking out racists in some of the simplest situations, and RDP; who only prove to be a weak faction of undercover racists. More information is coming out all the time regarding the comparatively uneducated nature of right wing White America. Only blacks can change this conversation, and the New Black Panthers are the only ones offering a different solution than those that no longer work.
The same people who criticize the NBPP for posting wanted posters and conducting their own independent search for Zimmerman know little or nothing about a group of rich white panthers calling themselves ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) that pushed an adjustable model of the Castle doctrine, i.e. “Stand Your Ground,” “Shoot First,” “Make my Day,” across the country, and 16 states have adopted their own version of this measure. Members of ALEC include representatives of ExxonMobile, Johnson & Johnson, Wal-Mart, NRA, and and the Koch brothers. In my opinion this is a law that took blacks completely by surprise, until it virtually pulled the trigger on a 17-year-old, and inspired inaction on the part of Sanford law enforcement. No rational humans dream up ideas like this, but it proves how tireless and scheming the white right can be. In my opinion “Stand Your Ground” seems to be a law based on the late President Ronald Reagan’s fictional white “rugged individualism;” the right to use deadly force when in imminent danger, as an alternative to, or option to “duty to retreat.” For one thing retreating, just like fighting, are personal choices, human nature, but I digress.
Race could be the only factor in a homicide, or there may be other elements added to it. In this case the more information is leaked, the more racist it looks. The RDP took on quite a challenge when they decided to whitewash the Trayvon incident in the first place. This episode has racism from different classes of whites; 1-Poor burned-out white male loser (Zimmerman), 2-Corrupt Obstructionist Police Chief (Bill Lee), 3-Retired high-powered Judge no-doubt calling in a whole slew of favors on the night of Feb. 26/27 and writing a letter that attempts to declare his son as the victim, to the daily paper (Zimmerman’s father–> } ).
Even though that redneck gun law is the going excuse by Lee, the Seminole County State Attorney Norman Wolfinger, and the City Manager Norton Bonaparte as to why they can’t arrest Zimmerman, I don’t buy it. Activist Dick Gregory recently aired a great idea for some legislation that blacks need to look into with all the tireless energy that the group ALEC did to push their “make my Day” law into reality in 16 states. 1-Push for police to have to require a license to be a cop, subject to be taken away by community if he is proven to have engaged in conduct where he misused it 2-A national Anti-profiling law that also holds cops accountable and punishable if they step out of line.
Recently there have been reports of Trayvon’s girlfriend having been admitted to the hospital. Shortness of breath and fear of police-harassment due to her co-operating with investigators (it’s not as if she didn’t give the police a chance to hear her out). We keep dying, they keep living. We keep going to the hospital, they keep staying healthy. We keep going to funerals, they keep hiding out. Non-violence in the long-run didn’t change a thing about too many white people, either we got to push Gregory’s ideas into law (Obama of course wrote and signed an anti-profiling law years ago as a Senator), or we have got to get in the habit of reversing some of these conditions ourselves.
Chris Stevenson is a regular columnist for blackcommentator, Political Affairs Magazine, and a syndicated columnist. Follow him on Twitter, and Facebook, you don’t have to join any of them. Watch his video commentary Policy & Prejudice and The Network for clbTV. Sign his Petition to permanently Abolish the Death Penalty @ Change.org. Respond to him on the link below.
by CHARLES M. BLOW
“They called him Slimm.”
That is what Sybrina Fulton, the mother of the slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, told me people called her son because he was so thin.
I talked with her Saturday in a restaurant near her home, four weeks to the day after George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in a gated community in Sanford, Fla., shot Trayvon in the chest and killed him. Trayvon was unarmed, carrying nothing more than candy and a drink.
Ms. Fulton brought her own mother with her, Trayvon’s grandmother, and we talked for nearly an hour over iced tea and lukewarm coffee.
His mother lights up when she shows me pictures of Trayvon on her phone, even managing an occasional smile that lifts the shadow of grief and brightens her face. He was a gangly boy, all arms and legs but little weight, nearly six feet three inches tall but only 140 pounds and with the cherubic face of a boy years younger.
She grows distant when she talks about her loss, occasionally, seemingly involuntarily, wrapping her hands gently around her mother’s arm and resting her head on her mother’s shoulder like a young girl in need of comfort. The sorrow seems to come in waves.
She and her mother paint a portrait of an all-American boy, one anyone would be proud to call his or her own. He liked sports — playing and watching — and going to the mall with his friends. The meal his mother made that he liked most was hamburgers and French fries. “And brownies,” his grandmother chimed in, “with lots of nuts.”
He was a smart boy who had taken advanced English and math classes, and he planned to go to college.
He was a hard worker who earned extra money by painting houses, and washing cars and working in the concession of the Pee Wee football league on the weekends. He also baby-sat for his younger cousins, two adorable little girls ages 3 and 7, whom the family called the bunnies, and when he watched the girls he baked them cookies.
The only fight his mother could ever recall his having was with his own brother when Trayvon was about 4 and the brother was 8. They were fighting for her attention, and it wasn’t even a real fight. “They were wrestling. It was so funny,” she said with a smile.
This hardly fits the profile of a menacing teen who would attack a grown man unprovoked, but that is exactly what Zimmerman contends.
Zimmerman’s statement, as related by police, says he was following the boy but “he had lost sight of Trayvon and was returning to his truck to meet the police officer when he says he was attacked by Trayvon.”
Trayvon’s personal account of who initiated the physical encounter is forever lost to the grave, but the initiation is likely to be the central question in the case.
To believe Zimmerman’s scenario, you have to believe that Trayvon, an unarmed boy, a boy so thin that people called him Slimm, a boy whose mother said that he had not had a fight since he was a preschooler, chose that night and that man to attack. You have to believe that Trayvon chose to attack a man who outweighed him by 100 pounds and who, according to the Sanford police, was wearing his gun in a holster. You have to believe that Trayvon chose to attack even though he was less than a hundred yards from the safety of the home where he was staying.
This is possible, but hardly sounds plausible.
The key is to determine who was standing his ground and defending himself: the boy with the candy or the man with the gun. Who was winning the fight is a secondary question.
That said, we’ll have to wait for details of the investigation to be revealed to know for sure. But while we wait, it is important to not let Trayvon the person be lost to Trayvon the symbol. He was a real boy with a real family that really loved him.
And now he is gone from his mother forever, only able to stare out at her as a shining face on a cellphone. She has no home videos of Trayvon. She doesn’t even have voicemail messages from him saved. The only way that she could now hear Trayvon’s voice would be to call his phone and listen to his answering message, but she dare not do it. “If I hear his voice, I think I’m going to scream.”
Every night she says she dreams of him. Every morning she says she thinks he’s going to walk through the door and say, “Mom, I’m here. You were dreaming. It’s not true. I’m not dead. I’m here,” and give her a hug and a kiss.
And the bunnies — they still don’t understand where he is. They’re still asking for Trayvon, the cousin who came over and baked them cookies.
Charles M. Blow is a New York Times Columnist and nationally-known commentator: “I invite you to visit my blog By The Numbers, join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
by Alton H. Maddox, Jr.
On February 26, 2012, George Zimmerman, in Sanford, FL, fatally shot an unarmed Trayvon Martin. There was no probable cause for his seizure. This is a homicide and it requires the prosecuting agency in Florida to immediately empanel a grand jury and vigorously seek an indictment. Any homicide requires a criminal prosecution and a jury verdict.
So far, Zimmerman is offering reasons why he should not be arrested for the homicide. He argues that Florida has a license to kill law which exonerates him from any criminal charges. The point that he is missing, however, is that only a judge or a jury may find a reason for an acquittal.
The condition precedent for an acquittal is an arrest. Zimmerman is not willing to submit himself to the jurisdiction of the court and public officials are not willing to arrest him. In the meantime, no one is willing to effect a citizen’s arrest of him even though probable cause exists for his arrest.
When animal rights activists obtained evidence that Michael Vick had abused some dogs, they demanded swift and certain justice. Both the United States and the Commonwealth of Virginia invoked their criminal laws to successfully initiate criminal actions against Vick who could explain his actions at trial. He could also present character evidence at trial.
Public officials claim that Florida’s “stand your ground law” has actually muddied the waters. This law may muddy a conviction but it does not muddy an arrest. Any claim of self-defense may be invoked after the prosecution has presented its case to a petit jury. It is premature to present this claim of self-defense before trial. The media should back off.
A claim of self-defense is a jury question. It is incumbent on a defendant to make this claim at trial. It should be aired before a judge or petit jury. A defendant may also offer character evidence at trial. Zimmerman, however, chooses to try a murder prosecution in the media while he is in hiding.
It is good for the governor of Florida to appoint a special prosecutor to show a lack of bias in local officials but Zimmerman must be taken into police custody forthwith. This arrest can be achieved by a citizen. The special prosecutor must be unbiased and the grand jury investigation should have started yesterday. Zimmerman has already admitted that he killed Martin.
Instead of making a citizen’s arrest, Rev. Al Sharpton is urging civil disobedience. This advice is wrong-headed and suicidal. Civil disobedience has no place in jumpstarting the arrest process. Persons who engage in civil disobedience to arrest a suspect are engaged in a questionable tactic since those same persons can effect the arrest of Zimmerman without fearing an arrest of themselves.
Given the fact that Rev. Sharpton heads the Madison Avenue Initiative, this idiotic ploy will only help the media and its advertisers. These false arrests will add excitement to evening news program in addition to public affairs programming. Rev. Sharpton is cashing in on a dead body.
Black’s Law Dictionary defines “civil disobedience” as follows:
A deliberate but nonviolent act of lawbreaking to
call attention to a particular law or set of laws
believed by the actor to be of questionable
legitimacy or morality. [Emphasis added]
The protest of the killing of Trayvon Martin also involves the lack of an arrest. The right to arrest Zimmerman is clear. To be sure, some persons do have concerns about the text of Florida’s self-defense laws but the problem is not the failure of anyone to invoke the arrest laws of Florida. Civil disobedience makes no sense in provoking the arrest of Zimmerman. It is civil suicide.
In effecting the arrest of a criminal suspect, an arrest by a law enforcement officer is the second option. There can be a citizen’s arrest and not civil disobedience. Moreover, “wanted posters” should be circulated to encourage Zimmerman to come out of hiding. The arrest of Zimmerman by a citizen is lawful. It is also lawful to circulate “wanted posters”.
A Black person, in hiding, would hope that a Jim Crow sheriff catch him or her before a white mob did. With a white mob, “justice” would be swift and certain. A Jim Crow sheriff may have other options and other concerns. The end game, however, may be the same.
Instinctively, whites always consider self-help. On the other hand, Blacks never consider it. They never consider themselves as playing a meaningful role in the criminal justice system except as suspects. Many white outlaws are roaming the countryside, because Blacks believe that only whites can arrest other whites.
This arises from the three-fifths provision of the U.S. Constitution. Blacks still see themselves as fractions while whites see themselves as whole numbers. This happens because Blacks are still engaged in mythologic and are unable to master the skills of critical thinking. This absence of critical thinking handicaps Black success.
After arriving in New York in 1973, I decided to be a poverty lawyer. This was supposed to be a temporary goal. I was hired by Harlem Assertion of Rights, Inc. [HAR]. This legal services program had no Black nor Latino staff lawyer even though the clientele was Black and Latino. This was of no concern to Black lawyers.
New York has always been in the vanguard of white supremacy in the United States. The “War Between the States” was actually a “War Between Democrats and Republicans”. New York was an exception to the Republican Party in the North. Southern states were in the Democratic Party”. New York sponsored the “Tilden-Hayes Compromise” which allowed for the withdrawal of federal troops from the South.
Whites know how to conduct war. Warfare in the United States started with the landing of Europeans in North America and it continues to this very date by connecting all dots and thinking outside the box. New York had a financial stake in the continued enslavement of Blacks in the South.
Samuel J. Tilden, a Democratic governor and presidential contender, was from New York. Rev. Al Sharpton was a student at Tilden High School in Brooklyn. This was no accident. Sharpton vigorously advocates the disarmament of Blacks. This is a revisit of the “Tilden-Hayes Compromise”.
One of my first cases at HAR was a Black woman who sought to file a well-founded criminal complaint against a white man. The NYPD told her that it would have to urge the white man to file a baseless criminal complaint against her. The white man filed a cross-complaint. The office of Manhattan district attorney decided to prosecute the cross-complaint against her.
This was a standard practice in New York City in 1974. She was later convicted of making an accusation against a white man. Censorship prevents Blacks from learning about the true workings of the criminal justice system in their own urban communities. Blacks favor censorship because it promotes personal agendas which are inspired by self-hatred.
If Blacks in Harlem had favored a policy of self-help, her conviction would have probably been avoided because of the arrest of the white man. At the very least, censorship would have been unable to raise its ugly head. Instead, Blacks have been endorsing and financing their own oppression.
Self-help is an ancient practice and it is sanctioned by the laws of the United States. There had been a spate of anti-lynching legislation before 1950. Congress, however, has refused to make it a crime for whites to lynch Blacks. Self-help is a condition precedent to lynching which also includes judicial lynchings.
Soon after I arrived in New York City, I learned of two legal stalwarts in the law. Both of these men had shaken up the legal profession in either New York or New Jersey. They dominated the headlines for their legal prowess and legal courage. Justice Bruce Wright was situated in Manhattan. Ray Brown was the attorney in New Jersey.
Before I was graduated from high school in Newnan, GA, attorneys like Donald Hollowell, C.B. King, Leroy Johnson and Howard Moore were dominating the headlines. Even before I had met them personally, they were already my role models. It took courage to be a fierce Black lawyer in Georgia in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
To be an effective Black lawyer representing unpopular Blacks, you must not only be knowledgeable but also courageous. The legal profession in the United States is not only adversarial but it is also rooted in the notion of “trial by combat”. It is intended to have casualties like Trayvon Martin and Ramarley Graham.
There are prisoners of war. Each side, on paper, has the power to make an arrest. This is a problem for descendants of enslaved Africans, however Whites enjoyed the right to arrest in the seventeenth century. Three centuries later, some Blacks in law enforcement were given the power to arrest.
When whites observe a Black person commit a felony, they are instinctively inclined, at the very least, to make an arrest. Most whites, however, are also inclined to be judge, jury and executioner. “100 Years of Lynching” contains examples of the white, modus operandi. It starts with a seizure and ends with stretching the neck of a Black person. In the alternative, there is a propaganda campaign followed by a kangaroo trial.
A white police officer murdered an unarmed Ramarley Graham in his Bronx home on February 2, 2012 without a warrant or probable cause. George Zimmerman murdered an unarmed Trayvon Martin in Sanford, FL on February 26, 2012 simply because of the color his skin. Blacks in both venues are outraged. Nonetheless, they are demanding that whites arrest their own.
Both whites and Blacks are entitled to effectuate arrests under self-help laws. Whites have no problem in putting handcuffs on Black wrists. Blacks, on the other hand, wrongfully see themselves as “heathens”. It is not right for a “heathen” to put handcuffs on “Sons of God”. Whites must do the honors. Old habits are hard to break. Slave codes are still in effect.
Joe Oliver appeared on ABC‘s national news program this Sunday morning as a character witness for George Zimmerman. Oliver is a person of African ancestry. In the meantime, the leading Black “lawyer” in the country who has fought for Black children, without fee, for four decades can only be heard this Sunday on City College’s radio station in New York City.
“100 Friends of Like It Is” will also, among other things, discuss self-help laws not only under the criminal justice system but also under real property laws and the Uniform Commercial Code at the Cotton Club, 656 West 125th Street in Harlem on Saturday, March 31 at 9:00 a.m. What you don’t know can kill you.
Too honest for the White Press and too black for much of today’s Black Press; bullet columnist Alton Maddox upsets the same people and status quo as he did as an uncompromising Defense Attorney. He is also a founding member of the Freedom Party. Please sign his Petition to save “Like It Is.” Contact him at c/o UAM P.O. BOX 35 BRONX, NY 10471