President Obama’s Surprise Press Conference Addresses the issue of Race & Trayvon Martin

President ObamaThis morning at a press conference, President Obama addressed the issues surrounding Trayvon Martin… Many seemed to be happy that he went more into depth about his feelings around this and he acknowledged that this case was about racial profiling.. He also noted that work must be done so trust in the system can be regained… He raised the question as to how the outcome would’ve been different if Trayvon Martin was white..Obama noted that he would’ve been Trayvon 35 years ago..

He wants to figure out ways young African-American men can made to feel as if they a part of society. He wants us all to do some soul searching.. He doesn’t think its productive when politicians try to lead conversations on race..He feels it leads to stilted conversations..He also thinks race relations are getting better

Your thoughts on Obama’s remarks? How do those remarks square away with the fact that he is praising NYPD commissioner Raymond Kelly for his work in New York.. Kelly who is main proponent for Stop and Frisk is now being considered to lead Homeland Security. One has to wonder if Obama spoke to this issue because this Saturday there are protests scheduled in over 100 cities..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdPX2z_dDjY

Below is the full text of Obama’s remarks

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I wanted to come out here, first of all, to tell you that Jay is prepared for all your questions, and is very much looking forward to the session.

Second thing is, I want to let you know that over the next couple of weeks, there are going to obviously be a whole range of issues – immigration, economics, et cetera. We’ll try to arrange a fuller press conference to address your questions.

The reason I actually wanted to come out today is not to take questions, but to speak to an issue that’s obviously gotten a lot of attention over the course of the last week, the issue of the Trayvon Martin ruling.

I gave a preliminary statement right after the ruling on Sunday, but watching the debate over the course of the last week, I thought it might be useful for me to expand on my thoughts a little bit.

First of all, I want to make sure that once again I send my thought and prayers, as well as Michelle’s, to the family of Trayvon Martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they’ve dealt with the entire situation. I can only imagine what they’re going through and it’s remarkable how they’ve handled it.

The second thing I want to say is to reiterate what I said on Sunday, which is there are going to be a lot of arguments about the legal – the legal issues in the case. I’ll let all the legal analysts and talking heads address those issues.

The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner. The prosecution and the defense made their arguments. The juries (sic) were properly instructed that in a – in a case such as this, reasonable doubt was relevant. And they rendered a verdict.

And once the jury’s spoken, that’s how our system works.

But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling.

You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me, 35 years ago.

And when you think about why, in the African-American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a – and a history that – that doesn’t go away.

There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.

There are probably very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me – at least before I was a senator.

There are very few African-Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off.
That happens often.

And, you know, I – I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida.

And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear.

The African-American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws, everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

Now, this isn’t to say that the African-American community is naive about the fact that African-American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system, that they’re disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence. It’s not to make excuses for that fact.

Although, black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context. They understand that, some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country. And that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.

And so, the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration. And the fact that a lot of Africa-American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuses given, “Well, there are these statistics out there that show that African-American boys are more violent,” using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.

I think the African-American community is also not naive in understanding that, statistically, somebody like Trayvon Martin was probably, statistically, more likely to be shot by a peer than he was
by somebody else.

So – so folks understand the challenges that exist for African-American boys. But they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it, or – and that context is being denied. And – and that all contributes, I think, to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.

Now, the question, for me, at least, and – and I think for a lot of folks is, “Where do we take this? How – how do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction?”

You know, I think it’s understandable that there have been demonstrations and vigils and protests and some of that is just going to have to work its way through as long as it remains nonviolent. If I see any violence, then I will remind folks that that dishonors what happened to Trayvon Martin and his family.

But beyond protests or vigils, the question is: Are there some concrete things that we might be able to do? I know that Eric Holder is reviewing what happened down there, but I think it’s important for people to have some clear expectations here. Traditionally, these are issues of state and local government. The criminal code and law enforcement is traditionally done at the state and local levels, not at the federal levels.

That doesn’t mean, though, that as a nation, we can’t do some things that I think would be productive. So let me just give a couple of specifics that I’m still bouncing around with my staff, you know, so we’re not rolling out some five-point plan, but some areas where I think all of us could potentially focus.

Number one, precisely because law enforcement is often determined at the state and local level, I think it would be productive for the Justice Department, governors, mayors to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists.

You know, when I was in Illinois, I passed racial profiling legislation, and it actually did just two simple things. One, it collected data on traffic stops and the race of the person who was stopped, but the other things was it resourced us training police departments across the state on how to think about potential racial bias, and ways to further professionalize what they were doing.

And, initially, the police departments across the state were resistant, but actually they came to recognize that if it was done in a fair, straightforward way that, it would allow them to do their jobs better and communities would have more confidence in them, and in turn be more helpful in – in applying the law. And, obviously, law enforcement’s got a very tough job.

So that’s one area where I think there are a lot of resources and best practices that could be brought to bear, if state and local governments are receptive, and I think a lot of them would be. And let’s figure out, are there ways for us to push out that kind of training.

Along the same lines, I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and – and local laws to see if it – if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations.

I know that there’s been commentary about the fact that the “Stand Your Ground” laws in Florida were not used as a defense in the case.

On the other hand, if we’re sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms, even if there’s a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like to see?

And for those who – who resist that idea, that we should think about something like these Stand Your Ground laws, I just ask people to consider, if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened? And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.

Number three – and this is a long-term project – we need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys? And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about. There are a lot of kids out there who need help, who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement. And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them, and values them, and is willing to invest in them?

You know, I’m not naive about the prospects of some grand new federal program. I’m not sure that that’s what we’re talking about here. But I – I do recognize that, as president, I’ve got some convening power. And there are a lot of good programs that are being done across the country on this front. And for us to be able to gather together business leaders and local elected officials and clergy and celebrities and athletes and figure out, how are we doing a better job helping young African-American men feel that they’re a full part of this society and that – and that they’ve got pathways and avenues to succeed? You know, I think that would be a pretty good outcome from what was, obviously, a tragic situation. And we’re going to spend some time working on that and thinking about that.

And then, finally, I think it’s going to be important for all of us to do some soul-searching. You know, there’s been talk about, should we convene a conversation on race? I haven’t seen that be particularly productive when, you know, politicians try to organize conversations. They end up being stilted and politicized, and folks are locked into the positions they already have.

On the other hand, in families and churches and workplaces, there’s a possibility that people are a little bit more honest and at least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can? Am I judging people as much as I can based on not the color of their skin, but the content of their character? That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy.

And let me just leave you with – with the final thought that, as difficult and challenging as this whole episode has been for a lot of people, I don’t want us to lose sight that things are getting better. Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race. It doesn’t mean we’re in a post-racial society. It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated.

But, you know, when I talk to Malia and Sasha and I listen to their friends and I see them interact, they’re better than we are. They’re better than we were on these issues. And that’s true in every community that I’ve visited all across the country. And so, you know, we have to be vigilant. And we have to work on these issues. And those of us in authority should be doing everything we can to encourage the better angels of our – nature as opposed to using these episodes to heighten divisions.

But we should also have confidence that kids these days, I think, have more sense than we did back then and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did, and that along this long and difficult journey, you know, we’re becoming a more perfect union, not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.

All right?

Thank you, guys

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Mountain Dew Drops Lil Wayne Over Offensive Emmet Till Lyrics

Lil WayneI was on the phone with a friend of mine, Roger Suggs, AKA Vigalantee, a rapper out of Kansas City.  I respect Roger as much or more than nearly any other artist on earth because he understands that being a “hip-hop head” is not inconsistent with showing a sincere love for black people. Hip-hop was established as a voice for the people to liberate themselves, not as an avenue to accentuate our continued oppression.That’s when I heard the news: Mountain Dew and Pepsico are cutting their deal with Lil Wayne (aka Dwayne Carter).

The decision was likely due to Wayne’s unfortunate decision to compare the battered face of Emmett Till to a woman’s vagina.  This doesn’t include the fact that he has rapped about killing old ladies, little babies and women (Here’s a verse from the song “We Be Steady Mobbin,” where Wayne first says that he’ll steal your girl and make her “Nutt for me, then slutt or me, then Steal for me, then kill for me, and of course it’ll be your cash……And then I’ll murder that b*tch and send her body back to yo ass”).  The decision just had to be made to cut the relationship, and it was one that says that boundaries have to be set on the corporate sponsored, modern day minstrel show otherwise known as commercialized hip-hop.

When I heard the announcement, a thunderbolt of joy shot through my body, similar to the way I felt when that girl said “yes” to my request for a first date in the 8th grade.  My happiness came from finally realizing that progressive and conscientious activism has finally pierced through the wall of the hip-hop industrial complex, which has often lived on top of a mountain of arrogance fully funded and protected by a slew of corporate dollar bills.  Lil Wayne could have easily humbled himself to the family from the beginning and apologized for desecrating the memory of one of the most important civil rights figures in history, but artists have long felt that they can readily disrespect black people and not even utter so much as an explanation.

These record labels don’t give a damn about the fallout of their music on black communities, where the genocide of black families is being celebrated and glorified on the radio every single day.  They don’t have to see all the bodies piling up, as otherwise productive husbands, fathers, sons and daughters are being left dead in the streets or hauled off to private prisons that have turned young black children into profitable commodities.   Universal Records is not with me when I go into high schools and see how many young boys have been taught to embrace anti-intellectualism, since it’s become cool to be “ignant.”  Hip-hop didn’t cause all of the urban decay that initially created these conditions, but it doesn’t help that this music reinforces  the mindset that sustains them.

Lil Wayne pleads guilty may have to do 12-14 months

There was another part of me that felt sad about the announcement by Mountain Dew.  I felt bad that it had to come this far.  I felt bad that Dwayne Carter, a man with as much brilliance as any college professor I’ve ever seen, had been convinced to use his powers for evil rather than good.  Lil Wayne and I should be working side-by-side to keep black men out of prison, to exalt black women and to protect black children and communities, but structural racism turned him into the kind of man who tends to hate people like me.  I hated the fact that I had to fight another black man in order to save and protect black kids, and it is because I love these kids that I knew I could not stop.  I would fight for these children as hard as Lil Wayne fights for money; in fact, I would give my life.

Today is a new day and time for a new paradigm in black America.  It is the day that the black community will stop being used as the whipping boy of the commercialized hip-hop industry, which left true hip-hop behind in exchange for a dog and pony show.   Black women are not b*tches and hoes, even if some of them have come to accept that label.  Black boys are meant to be brilliant, hard-working leaders of their communities, and we won’t allow them to be brainwashed into becoming blunt-blowing, “tatted up” serial baby daddies or thugged out urban terrorists.  Law-abiding black people will no longer stand idly by as our children have their brains bombarded with lyrics that remind them to stay high and drunk, to kill one another and to talk about the women we love as if they are less than human.

Today is the day we stand UP and let the world know that true black leadership has arrived, and it’s not afraid to “get gangsta” with corporate America.

by Dr Boyce Watkins

The NRA Says Blacks Need Guns for Protection in a New Ad

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDjp66NdiNY

Davey-D-brown-frameI found this latest ad from the NRA (National Rifle Association) featuring a Black man named Colion Noir stating that African-Americans needs guns to protect themselves to be intriguing on a number of levels.  He talks about how the government  which has a history of racism will not be there for us, hence protecting one’s family is on us..

A couple of things to think about..In the ad Colion mentions the racist government but then tells us how the proverbial hood thugs ‘Ray Ray‘ and ‘Pookie‘ got guns and that President Obama and the govt wont be there to protect us hence.. He says its best we get our guns..

To a degree some of that may be true, but lets look at the sleight of hand Noir and the NRA pulls..While many African-Americans need protection from inner city crime, they also need protection from the government that also terrorizes Black folks..

Colion Noir

Colion Noir

In the ad Noir omits and redirects an important part of history, by inferring that the racist US government allowed white supremacist groups like the KKK to come after us.. Let’s keep it real many of those folks in wearing those hoods were police and government officials.  In their height during the 1920s when Black folks were being lynched left and right, the Klan was a major force in politics..

Black folks if they were to use guns to defend themselves as suggested in the ad, would have to do so against the police and many within local and national government.. That would include mayors and governors who referred to us as ‘niggers‘ while standing before us with state troopers preventing us from attending segregated schools or voting.

When civil rights advocates like Fannie Lou Hammer spoke about being dragged off buses and beaten for trying to register folks to vote in Mississippi, it wasn’t hooded KKK members doing the beatings.. It was the state troopers.. If guns were needed for protection it was against those troopers.. What was the NRA’s take on incidents like that in the 1960s?

What was the NRA really saying with this Noir ad and how does it stack up with their historic actions in the past when gun laws were passed by the government to disarm militant Black groups like the Black Panthers Party for Self Defense?  In 1967 after the Black Panthers following the letter of the law, armed themselves and began patrolling their neighborhoods to make sure the police would cease brutalizing  law-abiding citizens, the Mulford Act of 1967 was passed in California to disarm them..

ronald reagan-225

The person who pushed for that law the hardest was lifetime NRA member then Governor Ronald Reagan who is quoted as saying We will never disarm any American who seeks to protect his or her family from fear and harm.” ..Well a big middle finger to Reagan and the NRA who stood silent when the disarming of Panthers, SNCC and other groups happened. Having a slick ad with an African-American talking about Black history and racism while neglecting the racism of the NRA and its most visible members when it was needed most is the height of disingenuousness..

Over the past 40+ years since the Mulford Act was passed where we’ve seen a sordid legacy of police in Cali shooting, killing and brutalizing, African-Americans, the NRA has been nowhere around to offer comfort, resources or solutions.. Where was this nice NRA ad with Colion Noir when unarmed Oscar Grant was shot point blank in the back  by an out of control BART cop?  Where was the NRA when the infamous Riders scandal and the Rampart scandal were jumping off in Oakland and LA? How was the NRA helping citizens who needed to protect themselves from a tyrannical government represented by the police?

where was the NRA when John Burge was torturing Black folks as a Chicago Police commander?

Where was the NRA when John Burge was torturing Black folks as a Chicago Police commander?

In Chicago, a city with one of the strictest gun control laws in the country, where was the NRA during the reign of terror of Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge? Between the years 1972 and 1991 over 130 African-Americans some as young as 13 were tortured.. (note not beaten.. tortured) by this Burge and his men.. You can read about that HERE ..The 135 cases is what’s been documented, many believe its was hundreds more.. When Chicagoans made their plight known, where was the NRA? Where was ads like the one with Noir? Nowhere to be seen..

We can go on and on citing police brutality incidents on unarmed citizens and the NRA being ghost.. So why are they visible now? Did they have a change of heart or are they walking a razor thin line in terms of how they describe the enemies African-Americans neeed to protect themselves against? Yes many folks in the community have to deal with crime.. Pookie and Ray Ray do cause problems.. I’m not sure if shooting them is the answer, but if it is as the NRA suggests, then we have some other enemies to get at as well.. Will the NRA be standing with us the next time an unarmed Black youth is shot and killed by police? Will they have an ad advocating we protect ourselves or will they remain silent like they did in the past?

written by Davey D

Black Panthers