Wednesday, August 28, 2013
I still have a dream -that was my first thought today upon reflecting on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech 50 years ago.
I’m still dreaming. Yes, it’s easier to envision the end of the journey, but we’re not there yet.
With all the talk about this being a post-racial America, it’s easy to relegate the celebration of King’s speech as ratification that racial preference, discrimination, and prejudice have faded since the march. Many are quick to point to the election of Barack Obama as President and the acceptance of interracial marriage as proof that King’s dream has arrived.
The notion of a post-racial America rose after the Pew Research Center conducted a poll in collaboration with National Public Radio that indicated that 39% of blacks felt they were better off than five years ago. The poll, conducted in 2010, revealed an increase of 19% from the previous poll taken in 2008.
The Pew poll led to a fury of research on the subject of a post-racial America. Roy H Kaplan wrote The Myth of Post-Racial America: Searching for Equality in the Age of Materialism In 2011. The Obamas and a (Post) Racial America?, by Gregory Parks and Matthew Hughley, Walter Rodgers’ A year into Obama’s presidency, is America post racial?, and Michael Tesler and David O. Sears wrote Obama's Race: The 2008 Election and the Dream of a Post-Racial America.
For many, the election of Barack Obama proves the United States in no longer hindered by institutionalized racism. Blacks fighting for their fair share of the American Dream can no longer blame their inferior state on structural racism, but can only blame themselves for the massive dysfunction that prevents their advancement.
Can you feel the spirit of post-race in the air?
The view of a post-racial America is reflected in radical shifts in public policy. The conception of post-race justifies recent setbacks in voting rights and affirmative action by the US. Supreme Court. It has consequences related to numerous actions by the North Carolina General Assembly. Is it possible for the election of a black man to undo all the hate and institutionalized bigotry that has haunted America in only five years?
Its clear most Americans don’t know how to feel about race. We want to believe we are living in a post-race era; however, is there enough evidence to suggest we are past the assumptions we all make because of race?
Or, is it possible that issues facing black Americans have been pushed aside as America deals with a load of other isms. Have Americans grown tired of the talk related to black inclusion, placed it all on the backburner and given attention to other concerns?
That’s the argument made by Bob Woodson, head of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise. Hood, speaking before the Republican National Committee celebration of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, says he’s unhappy that gay, immigrant, women, and environmental issues have moved to "the front of the bus" ahead of issues facing poor black Americans.
“You never hear any talk about the conditions confronting poor blacks and poor people in general,” Woodson says.
Woodson’s views seemed out of place until he took issue with Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson for their criticism of George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin, while failing to speak on the murder of Chris Lane in Oklahoma. He called them "moral traitors,"
“We should pray for the families of these people just as we do the family of Trayvon Martin,” Woodson says. “We should not wait for a white face before we get outraged. Evil is evil, whether it wears a white face or not. I’m sorry to be the skunk at the garden party, but I think if Dr. King were alive today, he would step on some of these sacred issues.”
Woodson received a standing ovation for his speech.
Is anyone surprised by the response of the GOP? Isn’t Woodson endorsing the concept of post-race? Woodson’s rhetoric exposes the difficulty of discussing race while assuming a post-race culture. The presupposition of post-race is easily refuted by the claims made by those advocating for its usage.
Woodson argues that black issues are placed on the backburner and then challenges others who have placed them on the forefront. He attacks those fighting for the rights of other groups while questioning the moral integrity of those engaged in dialogue to keep people focused on the needs and concerns of black people.
Woodson isn’t alone in communicating an inconsistent message. It’s all the result of wishing for and craving the fulfillment of that dream. We all want it.
As much as I want it, I’m still waiting for the dream
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
I was just getting over George Zimmerman’s acquittal. I was ready to move on. After a long inhale, followed by a short exhale, I had released.
Now I’m mad again.
After lengthy diatribe regarding faults with Florida’s “stand your ground” law, I was willing to concede the jury’s verdict had more to do with the reading of the law versus embedded racism. My attention slowly shifted to the law versus the players. I began to see the acquittal of Zimmerman as a way to expose a wide range of problems with the criminal justice system.
I’m mad again. I‘m outraged. Yes, the wound just reopened.
After the turbulent aftermath of the jury’s decision to let Zimmerman walk after shooting Trayvon Martin, you would expect humility. You would expect Zimmerman and his star studded defense team to respect how the case dealt a deep blow to the nation’s communal consciousness.
Get this. Zimmerman is about to ask the state of Florida to reimburse him for as much as $300,000 in expenses he racked up to pay for his defense. Zimmerman and his attorney’s claim he deserves to be reimbursed because he was acquitted of second-degree murder.
Zimmerman's request is based on a Florida law that says a defendant who's acquitted isn't liable for costs associated with his or her case. It must be approved by a judge or a clerk. Attorney fees for the defense team wouldn't be part of the motion.
The request is troubling for multiple reasons. To begin, the amount of the request reveals the price tag to win a murder case. Zimmerman’s attorneys are seeking refunds for money spent on fees for expert witnesses and court reporters for depositions, travel and other expenses.
One is left pondering how much it took to defend Zimmerman. What is the actual cost after considering the legal team’s pro bono work in the case? How much does it cost to win when the odds are against you?
The Zimmerman case disturbs me due to how it unearths the influence economics plays in the court of law. The scale of justice s weighed not by the evidence, but by the cash placed on the scale.
But, it’s the request that troubles me in this situation. Zimmerman’s legal team has the right to demand reimbursement for expenses. It’s common practice in cases involving second-degree murder.
Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s attorney, told the Orlando Sentinel he's been paid nothing by Zimmerman but has kept billing records. O’Mara took the case on a pro bono basis, and now wants to be paid for he expenses he incurred to defend his client.
Can’t blame him for that.
With that being said, wouldn’t the wise move be to not push for the reimbursement? Wouldn’t it serve the purpose of national healing for Zimmerman and his attorneys to concede enough damage has been done? Couldn’t they simply walk away rather than forcing the state to pay for the trail?
Can’t we let this rest? Just because you can doesn’t make it right.
Finally, should state taxpayers reimburse attorneys for expenses related to those cases that the prosecutors can’t prove? Is this a form of punishment for bringing the case to trial? How are expenses applied when the accused is forced, due to economic restrictions, to use a public defender?
Conclusion? The system is designed to support those with massive resources.
Monday, August 26, 2013
Dorian Bolden, owner of the Beyu Café, has offered his space for a farewell party. Join Carl W. Kenney II to celebrate his time in Durham on Sunday, September 22 from 4:30-8:00 pm. Beyu Café is located at 335 W. Main Street. Due to limited seating, please Email: Malachi@Beyucaffe.com
36 days and counting.
The clock is ticking down on my time in Durham. I’m leaving the place that has been home for 25 years. Yes, it’s hard to say goodbye. No, I didn’t want to leave. I have no option but to leave.
I’m headed to Columbia, Missouri to take care of my dad, work on getting my recent novel published, finish writing the next novel and think seriously about what will be next. I consider this a time away from the chaos to listen to the wind after moving too fast to hear my own heartbeat.
My decision to leave comes out of a deep obligation to take care of both of my parents. Aging has not been good on my father, and he needs the love and support of his son. Going home may not be best for me, but it is the only option given the variables facing me.
My departure comes after 11 years of attempting to recreate myself. I came to Durham to attend divinity school, establish myself as the pastor of a local church and to build long term relationships with the people in that church. Things didn’t quite work out the way I hoped.
I’m glad they didn’t.
What happened was transformative. I could blame a few key people for introducing me to the real work of social justice. My studies at Duke University and the Princeton Theological Seminary forced me to connect my theology to the work of faith. Oftentimes, I was left troubled at the activity of the Church. That work seemed maligned by a need to maintain the influence of the Church as a corporate entity. I became more politician and businessman, and attempted to find a way to be genuine in the exercise of my faith.
Yes, it came with a price.
My release from the inner battle came when Bob Wilson asked me to write a column for the Durham Herald-Sun. Ironically, my first column was printed on my birthday, July 20, 1997. My column appeared every Sunday on the editorial page until I decided to leave in 2005 to work for the Independent Weekly and the News & Observer-Durham News.
My columns have shaped my identity. The combination of ministry and column writing has forced me to ponder questions and topics that mandate the pondering of accountability. Much deeper than the desire to keep others accountable, the real issue has been in maintaining my own accountability to what I preach, teach and write about.
This has been a mission of learning. It has also been one of sacrifice. The hardest part has been fighting the urge to remain silent. That combined with my commitment to never take a side, to stand on the outside as much as possible and to fight the temptation to refrain from writing due to the possible negative consequences that come with alienating people, has been a constant scuffle.
I’ve grappled long and hard with the assumptions people make. My ministries – writing and pulpit – have attempted to expose the implications that come with standing in privilege. I have refused to be defined by what others imagine due to what they see. I am more than a black person. I am more than a man. I am much more than a Christians. I’ve fought to maneuver a place of security by establishing a home within a community obligated to endorsing the agenda of a group.
We all have positions of privilege that require being checked from time to time. This truth has taught me a lesson about political systems. They are, at the root, formed to negotiate positions of power and privilege. Most are designed to promote and protect group and self-interest, and, more often than not, others are left demoralized by their agenda.
My work has forced me to maintain a level of personal accountability. I’ve evolved over the years, often coming back to apologize for a misguided opinion. Growth demands a willingness to separate oneself from their thought process. We all should create space to rise above words rooted in limited information.
I’ve learned the difference between a person’s opinion and that person. I’ve discovered a community of hurting people. Many serve as key leaders. Some are hurting for reasons beyond their control. Others suffer because of their mistakes. All of them need a place to heal. Healing is often preceded by a willingness to change.
Accountability. That is the word that has molded my life and work. The shift for me came after pondering the real significance of that word. Accountability is about making decisions consistent with your personal mission statement. It means being willing to stand and speak, even when doing so causes serious harm due to the people impacted by those words and actions.
My move back to Missouri is for a season. I’m not sure how long I will stay. I do know the desire to Pastor is bubbling within. As I wait for congregations to decide on my worthiness to serve, I continue to write. I continue to fight for those unwilling or unable to speak.
I may return to Durham someday. I’ve learned that it’s best to walk in faith. Doing so means allowing the energy of the universe to lead the way. I do know that leaving Durham is not a farewell. Love has kept me here this long. To all I love, distance will not change that.
I like to think of this as the continuation of a journey. Each step is a lesson in life. The blessing is in walking with those I call friends. It’s not where you walk; it’s the people who hold your hand along the way.
Thanks for holding mine.
Friday, August 23, 2013
Hey North Carolina, It’s time for a reality check.
What are you thinking, the rest of the nation is asking. Most fail to understand the justification behind numerous actions. Why is it all necessary? Why change things when nothing needed to be fixed?
Former U.S. Secretary of State and retired General Colin Powell is the most recent person to offer state leaders an old fashioned spank down. Speaking on Thursday at a gathering of top state business leaders in Raleigh, Powell attacked legislators for radical changes in the states voting system.
Powell said the state had a “fine system” before the passage of the photo identification law signed by the governor.
Powell said he was speaking as a Republican. He said the party is turning off a block of voters that they need, and the states who forced voter restrictions witness an outpouring of black and Hispanic turn out at the polls.
Powell isn’t the first from outside the state to blast North Carolina’s Governor and state legislators. Bill Mahr challenged Jay Z to use his considerable wealth to buy the state during the August 4 episode of Real Time.
Comedy Central’s comedian Stephen Colbert took stabs at North Carolina during the July 30 episode of The Colbert Report. He discussed the General Assembly passing a bill that removes the requirement that charter school teachers have a college degree.
“Great move,” Colbert says. “Who better to teach fifth grade than a sixth grader? It’s still fresh in his mind!”
Colbert even discussed the state’s barbeque sauce.
“Who makes barbecue sauce with vinegar?” Colbert says. “That’s what you use to clean a toilet, and when I say toilet, I mean Charlotte.”
Feeding on the ridiculous, Colbert mentioned a bill that would make it a felony to expose one’s nipple for the purposes of arousal.
“So, North Carolina strippers: be sure to wear a sign on your chest that reads, ‘For Educational Purposes Only,’” he says.
Colbert’s called those bills foreplay in comparison to a bill allowing those with concealed guns to bring them into bars and onto playgrounds.
“Guns will make the whole playground experience much more fun,” Colbert says. “Instead of ‘duck, duck, goose,’ you can just play ‘duck, duck, duck!’”
North Carolina’s General Assembly and Governor have become common fodder in the New York Times. The editorial board at the Times wrote The Decline of North Carolina on July 9. The editorial criticized state leaders on a wide-range of decisions.
“Republicans repealed the Racial Justice Act, a 2009 law that was the first in the country to give death-row inmates a chance to prove they were victims of discrimination,” the editorial states. “They have refused to expand Medicaid and want to cut income taxes for the rich while raising sales taxes on everyone else. The Senate passed a bill that would close most of the state’s abortion clinics.”
On August 18, Albert R. Hunt’s A Sharp Turn to the Right in North Carolina was published in the New York Times. Hunts perspective was presented as the Bloomberg View.
“For more than half a century, North Carolina has been progressive on education and public investments, and pro-business — witness the celebrated Research Triangle between Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill and the financial center in Charlotte — with less racial strife than other Southern states,” Hunt began.
“As Republicans took full control of the state government in Raleigh, there has been a shift to the right. Taxes for the wealthy have been slashed, and spending for education and programs that benefit the poor has been cut. Abortion has been restricted, and guns rights expanded,” Hunt says.
“We’re turning back everything that made us different from other Southern states,” Hunt quotes Jim Goodmon, the chairman of CBC New Media Group and owner of the Durham Bulls Minor League baseball team. “With this shift, economic development is broken.”
Hunt cites other North Carolina business leaders regarding the state’s radical shift.
“Ronnie Bryant, the chief executive of the Charlotte Regional Partnership, the area’s top economic development recruiter, recently complained to The Charlotte Observer that all the efforts of recent years to promote Charlotte as a business center ‘have been negated in the last few weeks’,” Hunt says.
Everyone seems to agree that North Carolina is headed in the wrong direction. Despite the massive attention that has the nation believing the state wants to resurrect Mayberry, the Governor and those legislators are too bullheaded to shout uncle.
Look for more national embarrassment for the next three years.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
The Rev-elution welcomes to the stage James Blackwell, Jr. Blackwell is a Master of History candidate at North Carolina Central University where he is the Co-Chair of the African Diaspora Studies Symposium and Treasure of the E.E. Thorpe Historians Society. In his spare time, Blackwell makes mochas and other caffine pleasures at the Market Street Coffeehouse on Ninth Street. In between serving coffee and offering the shop great old school R&B music, Blackwell indulges in profound conversations related to race relations in America.
When Sen. Barack Obama was elected and became President Barack Obama, a sense of joy swept over the nation. Americans felt as if they had climbed the mountain top, and that the injustice which had defined the nation would be swept away. This feeling, this sense was labeled post racialism. It did not come to past. The following morning many realized that this was still America. For those who still were blinded the rise of the tea party sealed the deal. Still, the reality which we live in has not stop Hollywood from attempting to market the dream.
Since President Obama has been in office many films have attempted to convince Americans that things are better now. That racism is dead, that we are all equal, that capitalism is there...even for the poor. 42, attempted to do this as and was successful in the box office. The biopic of Jackie Robinsons life is complicated, why? Primarily, because it is a nice story which did happen. But the film is filled with notions that success for African Americans can only come through white acceptance. That when one of us arrives, we all arrive. This is dangerous because it allows people to ignore their own oppressive situations.
The latest film which is filled with we made it propaganda, is The Butler. The film looks visually appealing, so did 42. But just like 42, it going to make people feel that things were bad then but they are better now. This is not the case, and it has never been the case. The film is loosely based on the actual life of Eugene Allen. The movie is marketed as piece which addresses the Civil Rights movements and ends with election of President Obama. However, this was not the directors first intention.
Director Lee Daniels stated "It wasn't until we started shooting some of the atrocities that happened in the south that I realized it was on another level." Seriously, this is in the same vain as Django. Quentin Tarantino never knew what the movie was going to be about until they started shooting. He pitched his film with no script. Daniels, had no intention of basing his film on the Civil Right movement until they shot atrocities. Seriously.
I am not recommending that people do not see this film. I am recommending that people watch it with an open mind. Under no circumstance should people watch this film and feel that we have arrived in a post racial. In the past year there have been numerous cases which rival that of Trayvon Martin. States across the south have enacted voter suppression laws which put their predecessors to shame. We must ask ourselves, if we have made it, what have we made it to.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
It’s been a bad month for pastors. Instead of headlines about tackling black on black crime, a growing academic achievement gap and members facing less cash in their wallets, the talk about the church has been minimized to hip-hop and weaves.
Really. Come on, it can’t be true. You would think people of faith would have more important business than to get caught up in such foolish dialogue.
The most recent move to madness involves Pastor A.J. Aamir of Resurrecting Faith in Waco, Texas. Aamir informed a group that he has instructed members of his female staff to chop off the weave. He has banned them from wearing them.
“Our black women are getting weaves trying to be something and someone they are not. Be real with yourself is all I’m saying,” Aamir said on AmericanPreacher.com. “Long hair don’t care. What kind of mess is that? I don’t want my members so focused on what’s on their heads and not in their heads. I lead a church where our members are struggling financially. I mean really struggling. “Yet, a 26 year old mother in my church has a $300 weave on her head. No. I will not be quiet about this.”
Aamir went on to say that he told his congregation that weaves is unacceptable in the eyes of God. I wonder how that will play out on Sunday morning.
Next up in the lets make the Church look bad game is the firing of Rodney Willis. Willis got the boot by the deacons at the Mt. Salem Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina after serving as their pastor for four years.
Willis committed the unpardonable sin. He went to a Rick Ross concert. Scandalous I say.
The vote wasn’t even close. The deacons gathered on Saturday evening after Pastor was spotted at the concert. It wasn’t the first time. Pastor Hip-Hop was spotted nine months earlier at a Little Wayne concert and was given a tongue lashing.
As the guru of hip-hop ministry (if you don’t know, ask somebody) I understand Willis’ desire to hang out with his peeps. Did I mention he’s only 26 years-old? There are a couple of things that come to mind upon pondering his situation.
First, he deserved to be fired. I say that as a fan of hip-hop who would attend one of those concerts. The problem isn’t that it was wrong for Willis to attend. The issue is that Willis failed to engage in dialogue with his church to pave the way for him to attend after he got caught the first time.
Second, I have issues with the person who saw him at the concert. Not because that person is a low down dirty snitch. I believe in snitching within reason. But shouldn’t the snitch be held accountable for being in a place that he or she considered out of bounds for the pastor.
I’m just saying. Isn’t that hypocrisy? I’m reminded of a message about big logs in a person’s eye while looking at the speck in their pastor’s eye. Well, I embellish a bit, but you know the story.
Third, isn’t there a Biblical precedent for Pastor’s hanging with the heathens? Jesus spent most of his time with drug dealers, pimps, bookies, prostitutes and crack addicts. Well, he didn’t, but I’m sure he would have given the types of pariah’s that kept him in trouble with the deacons of his day.
There’s more on that, but first, let’s go back to Pastor can’t stand the weave.
The truth is Aamir makes a valid point. Churches are packed with people attempting to portray something they’re not. The biggest obstacle related to the development of an authentic spirituality is the bags of stuff used to cover all of that low self-esteem and misplaced identity.
The problem with Aamir’s contention is that it is rooted in the type of patriarchy that continues to subjugate women who attend church. If that was too deep for you, let me put it another way. The brother has no right in telling women what to do with their hair while refusing to call the brothers out for doing the same thing.
All of it is an illusion. The fancy cars, the big homes they can’t afford, the wardrobes used to set them apart from “those people”, the overemphasis on bull to the stank that has nothing to do with who they are in relationship with God. All of it covers the truth. All of it does the same thing he claims the weaves do – create an impression that isn’t real.
So, what do these stories have in common? They both expose the root of what ails the Church. Both reflect power struggles aimed at forcing others to dance to their type of music. Be it hip-hop versus Gospel, or natural hair versus relaxed hair and weaves, what does any of that have to do with what is glaring us in the face?
Black folks have too much to contend with to be locked in battles over hair and hip-hop. Something tells me there were countless young people at the Rick Ross concert looking for a place to worship on Sunday. Who knows, maybe the pastor’s presence at the concert would have led them there. There is no way of knowing, but one thing is clear – it’s a bunch of talk about matters that keep us from finding the more excellent way.
Rick Ross says it best in his song Pray for Us.
Please forgive us for all the sins we have brought upon us
And look down upon us with forgiveness for all the sins we will have in the future
I know you understand that niggas ain't perfect
But we try, Lord
We try to keep our heads up in bad times
This is a bad time
Show us the way
And if you can't show us the way
Then forgive us for being lost
Sounds like a brother in need of prayer. The pastor hears the prayer and gets fired for showing up at the hip-hop alter.
I wonder, what would Jesus really do?
Monday, August 19, 2013
Folks will soon begin preparation for the trip to Washington DC to remember the march led by Martin Luther King, Jr. 50 years ago. It will be a great day filled with messages about hope and overcoming. Lost in the mix is the story that alters my perception of the movement.
There is little controversy headed into Saturday’s gathering. There was the news of gospel singer Donnie McClurkin being uninvited due the “potential controversy” his presence might have. McClurkin believes God has delivered him from the “curse” of homosexuality. He was set to perform during Saturday’s Reflection on Peace: From Gandhi to King, a concert to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the march.
Mayor Vincent C. Gray requested that McClurkin stay home to avoid protestors not so happy with his claim of having his feelings for men removed by God. A big problem was avoided by requesting McClurkin not to perform. That doesn’t address the big fat elephant hanging in the middle of the Capitol Mall.
Reflection of Peace: From Gandhi to King is mired by the mention of the man known for crafting nonviolent protest. My views of Gandhi have radically shifted since the release of Joseph Lelyveld’s book Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India. There are a few points that force us to rethink the life and work of Gandhi.
Gandhi is herald as an icon to the American civil-rights movement. Despite his appeal to the work of Dr. King, Lelyveld’s book reveals Gandhi’s racism toward blacks of South Africa.
"We were then marched off to a prison intended for Kaffirs," Gandhi complained during one of his campaigns for the rights of Indians settled South Africa. "We could understand not being classed with whites, but to be placed on the same level as the Natives seemed too much to put up with. Kaffirs are as a rule uncivilized—the convicts even more so. They are troublesome, very dirty and live like animals."
Regarding Afrikaaners and Indians, he wrote: "We believe as much in the purity of races as we think they do." That was possibly why he refused to allow his son Manilal to marry Fatima Gool, a Muslim, despite publicly promoting Muslim-Hindu unity.
Then there’s the matter of Gandhi’s relation with Manu, his 17-year-old great niece. When he was in his 70s, he encouraged Manu to be naked during her nightly cuddles with him. Gandhi began sleeping naked with Manu and other young women. He told a woman on one occasion: "Despite my best efforts, the organ remained aroused. It was an altogether strange and shameful experience."
On one occasion, Gandhi forced Manu to walk through a thick jungle were sexual assaults had occurred to retrieve a pumice stone he used on his feet. When she returned hysterical, Gandhi laughed at her and said: "If some ruffian had carried you off and you had met your death courageously, my heart would have danced with joy."
Jad Adam’s book Gandhi: Naked Ambition claims Gandhi enslaved his followers with such bizarre sexual demands that it became difficult for many people to take him seriously, even during his own lifetime.
In his own autobiography, Gandhi was candid about abusing his wife. He shared the story of beating her for failing to clean a toilet.
Lelyveld claims the real love of Gandhi’s life was a German-Jewish architect and bodybuilder, Hermann Kallenbach. Gandhi left his wife in 1908 to be with him.
"How completely you have taken possession of my body. This is slavery with a vengeance." Gandhi wrote to Kallenbach.
Gandhi nicknamed himself "Upper House" and Kallenbach "Lower House," and he made Lower House promise not to "look lustfully upon any woman." The two then pledged "more love, and yet more love . . . such love as they hope the world has not yet seen."
‘I cannot imagine a thing as ugly as the intercourse of men and women,’ Gandhi told Kallenbach.
If alive today, and living in America, Gandhi would be charged with spousal abuse, sexual misconduct with minors and torture. Does any of that negate the work Gandhi did to promote world peace? He did write a letter to Hitler asking him not to start a world war.
As cruel as it is to bring to the surface Gandhi’s dirty laundry, isn’t it important that the rest be told when we use his name to raise the banner for all types of human rights?
Can we realistically talk about women’s rights when using Gandhi’s name? Can we talk about protecting our youth given Gandhi’s relationship with his great-niece?
We can summons the memory of Gandhi to discuss gay rights. He has that in common with McClurkin.
Like most people, I love the Gandhi of the movie. Sadly, there is more to that story. It’s a past I hate mentioning, but, as always, it’s important to tell the rest of the story.
Reflection of Peace: From Gandhi to King. What does that mean given the rest of the story?
Thursday, August 15, 2013
I get a little tetchy when I hear of efforts to limit sex. My views related to human sexuality are rooted in a theology that contends sex is created to be enjoyed and serves the purpose of more than just making babies. There are days when I feel like pimp slapping Augustine for writing The Confessions. He started this mess.
I also believe in individual freedoms. What happens between two people in the bedroom should not be limited by law. Besides, we have a Constitution that protects the freedoms of all citizens.
Not according to the lemon suckers hell bent on redefining the Constitution. Ken Cuccinelli is captain of the lemon sucker party and Attorney General in Virginia. Cuccinelli, a Republican candidate for governor, went to battle against a court’s decision that struck down a Virginia law involving sodomy and oral sex.
The case involved William MacDonald, a 47-year-old man who solicited oral sex from a 17-year-old woman. Given 15 is the legal age of consent in Virginia, MacDonald couldn’t be charged for statutory rape. Officials charged him with soliciting a minor by inducing her to commit sodomy. He served a year in prison and was forced to register as a sex offender.
In March, the Virginia sodomy law was struck down by the federal court. MacDonald’s conviction was thrown out based on Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 Supreme Court decision that ruled anti-sodomy statues can’t be used by states to regulate private consensual sex among adults.
Lemon suckers rarely take no as an answer. Cuccinelli decided to appeal the case to the Supreme Court, arguing the court should interpret the sodomy law to apply only to sex involving 16-17-year-olds. Cuccinelli wanted the court to ignore the meaning and intent of the law to advance his goals.
The Supreme Court didn’t bite the lemon. It didn’t help Cuccinelli’s cause that the Virginia sodomy statute fails to mention age. Proof is in the pudding, they say. In this case “they” are right. The Virginia legislature attempted to rewrite the law to include the age limits. Cuccinelli killed the bill proving he had other plans with the law.
Cuccinelli’s trick would have carried a boat load of hypocrisy. In asking a federal court to convert a state anti-sodomy law into an anti-statutory rape law, MacDonald could have intercourse with a 17-year-old girl without facing a felony conviction, but would be charged as a felon and forced to register as a sex offender for merely asking for oral sex.
Young people between the age of 16 and 17 would face felony charges for choosing oral or anal sex over vagina sex. That prospect should alarm all parents in Virginia with gay teens. Old lemon sucker says the law was intended to protect youth, but its real intent is to punish kids who are gay.
I’m certain that Cuccinelli’s fellow lemon suckers affirm the Attorney General’s position with a resounding amen and thank ya Jesus. But hold on before the Holy Ghost sends you to dancing. What is asserted in this attack against sodomy?
Virginia’s law describes sodomy as "crimes against nature," which include all oral as well as anal sex, even between consenting adults. That dude running to become the Governor of the state wanted to make it a felony. He wanted to criminalize activity that is considered normal between consenting adults. That includes married couples.
You have to be careful when you start playing with laws. A few changed words could be the difference between getting the old freak on and being sent to prison. If interpreted a certain way, a sodomy law could lead to married couples being sent to prison for having oral sex.
Gulp. Did that one hurt? Did I just hear someone cry, “Arrest me officer?”
Of course that’s a farfetched possibility, but shouldn’t we ponder the consequences of all presuppositions? Shouldn’t we be apprehensive of laws that view anal and oral sex as illegitimate activity deserving punishment even when performed by married couples? Shouldn’t we be careful in pressing laws that call into question the way heterosexual couples choose to celebrate their bond of love?
Based on the Virginia law, aren’t most of us guilty of sodomy? Given it’s defined as "crimes against nature," and includes all oral as well as anal sex, even between consenting adults, shouldn’t most of us be concerned?
Are you a criminal?
If not, pick up a copy of Alex Comfort’s book The Joy of Sex. There’s much more to life than the missionary position. God forbid if everything else is made unlawful.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
The Rev-elution welcomes Crystal M. Hayes as a guest blogger. Hayes is the Associate Executive Director at NC Peace Action and Clinical Assistant Professor at NC State University. I met her years ago over a cup of coffee, and soon learned that she has a passion for justice rooted in a bond with her father. In today’s blog, Hayes introduces her Father. This post first appeared on Kulture Kritic on July 9, 2013. Please note the plea for support and spread the word about Seth and Crystal's journey.
My father, Robert Seth Hayes, is a former Black Panther Party Member and Political Prisoner. He has been incarcerated for 40 years, but this isn’t a message about the politics of mass-incarceration. This is a message about a father who deserves to be home.
My father is one of the most gentle, caring, loving individuals you’ll ever know. Prison hasn’t hardened his heart or his resolve for freedom. He remains committed to social justice and building safe communities. If you’ve ever loved someone in prison, you know that prison is a place where love goes to die. It’s designed to destroy families and to turn people into monsters. My father fought to make sure that didn’t happen to us, and even when I didn’t have the courage or strength to hold on with him and wanted to give up, he held on for all of us. He continues to do so today.
Below is an open letter, written by my father, regarding his most recent legal battles and struggle for freedom. Please share his story far and wide and help his legal team in whatever way that you can.
Thanks for your support.
Greetings Gentle Folk, Supporters, Workers, Interested Individuals, Elders, Young Ones, and All People Struggling.
This is my 40th Year of incarceration and it even gives me pause when I think about it because it turns towards the obvious question, WHY?
By law and legal application, there is no answer for why. But if we pondered about hidden motivations or descent into the mire that distinguishes itself as human value and concerns, then the answer is quite clear. But in any case, ours is the desire to educate and be educated through enlightenment. A means, a way, to seize the time and force real consideration towards my release.
The law in the beginning, said, “you will serve a minimum of 25 years of incarceration with the maximum term of life if it is so deemed that criminal activities remain an aspect of your incarceration.”
Well, I have records dating from 1998, the first time I came up for parole. These documents stated that “you have an exemplary incarceration record of work and program completions. As well as a strong, complimentary discipline history. However. Due to the serious nature of your crime, release is not recommended at this time.”
Thereafter, from the year 2000 to 2012 I have been remanded, denied release, each and every time I appeared in spite of my continued accomplishments of program and outside accredited achievements. The statement of “exemplary and distinguished good discipline” resounds throughout each and every one of my parole appearances.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?
It is for us to distinguish when and where officials deviate from guidelines and implement their own personal agendas. The authority they are claiming in keeping me incarcerated was never granted to them, but belongs to the Courts, Judges and Legislators. It is not the Parole Board’s to appropriate.
Next we should ask ourselves. If it were so blatantly obvious that they are doing this to you Seth, what are the chances it might occur to someone close to me? A loved one, a friend, or a friend of a friend. Shouldn’t we all come under the dictates of the law as equal representatives of society?
If you are in agreement, lend a hand. Donate a small portion of your earnings that we might take the fight to the courts loud and clear. We are a society of workers, parents, students, and teachers. Members of communities in need of honest laborers and socially conscious members. Let us say NO to those who would usurp and take possession without legal claim or authority of your God-given rights.
Stand up, stand firm and lets correct a continued case of criminal activities within the state. We do not surrender our rights to be heard, seen and understood. We must come together and struggle for what is right. Prisoners who have done their time should be released so that they can go home to their families and contribute to making this world a better place.
Love and Support in yours and my endeavors.
Robert Seth Hayes
Please send contributions for the Legal Defense Fund for Robert Seth Hayes to Nate Buckley, 438 Massachusetts avenue, Buffalo, NY 14213. Please send an e-mail confirmation to email@example.com to make sure that it was received.
If you wish to send a letter to the parole commissioners requesting my release and asking them to bring closure to our communities as a whole, send your letters c/o Cheryl L. Kates, P.C., Attorney At Law, PO Box 734, Victor NY 14564.
Your efforts are honored and appreciated. Stay Strong.
Know that your love and support provides support and strengthens Seth’s and others determined to prevail.
Monday, August 12, 2013
“You printed lies Carl Kenney,” Victoria Peterson blurted with a rage that forced everyone to take notice. “I didn’t say what you wrote, and you used my picture.”
I wasn’t surprised by the emotions that led Peterson to that moment of fury.
“I have him Jackie. Carl Kenney is here,” she continued while placing Jackie Wagstaff on the speaker phone.
Wagstaff remained silent as Peterson lashed out for the blog that exposed a recorded conversation she had with an informant. She named a person believed to be behind the recording. I never mentioned the person’s name.
I offered her space to rebuttal. She shouted. She barked loudly as customers at the Market Street Coffeehouse attempted to focus on work. I asked her to discuss the matter outside. She refused to listen.
Anger ruled the moment.
Then I walked away.
Before departing, I attempted to share why I decided to post the blog. I told her the conversation was taped. I told her there is no disputing it’s her voice. I told her I had an obligation to report the story.
Then came the storm.
It began with a few dark clouds and intermittent rain. The drops of rain became heavier as the day passed until the madness of it all felt like a hurricane blended with the shaking of the earth.
The hardest part is determining the place to start. There is no perfect place. One simply has to dive in and fight to get back to the shore after the sharks in the water come to gobble your soul. The lessons learned after sharing Peterson’s recorded conversation are deep and painful. The aftermath of it all exposes internal wars within the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People. It’s harrowing to watch it all unfold.
It’s out of control. It’s hard to move forward when so many people are throwing stones.
The Rev-elution comment from that blog reflects a culture that justifies ceaseless stone throwing. It’s hard to imagine that progress can be made when so much energy goes into launching big rocks at the integrity of those fighting the same battle. How can you fight the enemies that hinder progress while invested in fighting those in the same camp?
“How can someone who has no car, no home, owns no property and has NO JOB be the freaking POLITICAL CHAIR of an organization with the National Clout as The Durham Committee? I blame the idiots that voted Wagstaff in for this nonsense,” an anonymous reader posted.
“Ask Jackie Wagstaff for her resume. She has not had a pay check from an employer since leaving the school board. As for the post regarding no home, she lives with Donald who supports both his mother and brother since they are both unemployed and did not finish their degrees at Central. The Durham Committee needs membership dues!!!!,” another anonymous reader posted.
The attacks intensified as time passed.
“Ask Danita Johnson about Jackie's wheeling and dealing. The poor lady tried to give Jackie a work opportunity with her nonprofit (feeding homeless ppl over off of Main St) and got stabbed in the back. Or ask Stella Adams about Jackie's loyalty. Jackie calls Danielle her daughter, but was out pushing Republican Kelly Smoke over Danielle Adams. Why does Jackie always meet new friends for about a year and then they always become enemies? Is everyone wrong except Jackie Wagstaff. Flee this woman like a plague!” an anonymous reader posted.
Things then shifted to an attack on the person or persons posting as anonymous.
“Mr. Anonymous commenter (we all know who you are) -- let's get some things straight: The Durham Committee is a nonpartisan organization. For years the organization has had Republican members and has endorsed Republicans at all levels. Your attempt to make this a Democratic vs. Republican partisan issue shows how limited your view and history of the organization is and, furthermore, is indicative of the type of divisive political posturing that our community no longer needs,” the anonymous reader attacking the comments of an anonymous readers post responds. “You should go focus on your numerous legal issues (fraud, illegal practice of law, identity theft and more) instead of focusing your energies on the business of the Durham Committee.”
Are members of the Durham Committee using the Rev-elution to bicker among themselves?
“I was going to stay out of this until the last poster attempted to bring my fellow church member and his past into this discussion (a young man that I have witnessed doing more good than a lot of self-proclaimed leaders in Durham). I could personally care less about anyone's old charges (that even includes Ms. Wagstaff, who has committed multiple felonies and fraud while in elected office, as a seasoned adult, not as a college student),” an anonymous reader writes in response to an anonymous reader’s attack of an anonymous reader.
"My fellow church member"...give it up...we know you're talking about yourself. The real issue is that you have a felon, convicted of obtaining property by false pretenses and 8 larceny (theft) and worthless check convictions, in charge of the Durham Committee's biggest fundraiser,” an anonymous reader claims that Mr. Anonymous is Darius Little, The Durham Committee’s Vice-Chair of the Civic Committee. “I'd be concerned for all the folks giving checks to someone who has a record spanning more than 10 years of stealing and other crimes related to money and fraud.”
There’s more, but I’ll leave it up to you to decide if it’s worth reading.
So, what’s the point behind the mudslinging and ditch digging with anonymous as a signature to hide the rest? Is this the type of antics that illustrates the work of the Durham Committee? Are we to assume that those making comments are Durham Committee members and that this type of bombast is normative among those gathering to uplift Durham’s black community?
If so, we are in serious trouble.
If so, all players should be disciplined for behaving like children.
There are a few strong leaders in the room that can call a truce. Send the children to the corner and let’s get back to the business at hand.
Stated another way, go back to kindergarten and learn what you should have been taught before going to the first grade.