Looking Beyond the Hoodie, even as Bobby Rush is Booted off the House Floor

Today Congressman Bobby Rush from Chicago got kicked off the House Floor for wearing a Hoodie. He like many others had dawned the attire to bring attention to the case surrounding Trayvon Martin. It was a noble gesture. It helps keep the case in the spotlight, but this has got to go beyond Hoodies. Too many of us are focusing on that and not some of the larger issues at hand.

For example, all of us should be asking; ‘whats the story behind Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee?’ Most of us protesting around Trayvon don’t  know his name. All we know is the police chief stepped down and very few of us are bringing him up in conversation and demanding he be brought to task? He’s just as guilty as George Zimmerman.

Sandford Florida Police Chief Bill Lee

Why was Chief Sanders and his department so sloppy with the initial investigation? Why didn’t they follow standard police procedure of collecting evidence like; keeping Zimmerman’s  gun and running ballistic tests or checking to make sure Zimmerman wasn’t high or drunk? We need to know why Standford police didn’t notify Trayvon’s family for after he was killed and his body was in the morgue.. Martin’s father found out after he filed a missing person’s report. We are just finding out that one of the early investigators wanted to charge Zimmerman with manslaughter. Why wasn’t that allowed to happen?

We need to know what’s the deal with State Attorney Norman R. Wolfinger, why didn’t he press charges? We need to know if there’s a connection with George Zimmerman’s dad Robert Zimmerman a former magistrate and the lawmakers here in Florida?

All of us should be asking those questions and when we see a Congressman like Bobby Rush wearing a hoodie on the house floor, he is not only asking those questions but ideally if he’s being escorted off  the floor it’s because he’s attempting to hold hearings where many of those questions can get answered.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ougHdwR8PhI

We need to see Rush and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus hold more briefings and hearings like they did with yesterday’s  Protecting a “Suspect” Community: Racial Profiling & Hate Crimes. We need to see hearings on police misconduct. We can start with the frequent leaks coming from the police departments designed to smear Trayvon’s name. In many states, including Florida, they have in place a Policeman’s Bill of Rights. In many places those Policeman’s Bill of Rights make it difficult to get a hold of personnel files to review complaints against an officer  (I’m not sure if Florida has the same provisions as California where officers are shielded).

In any case all of us need to continuously connect the dots.. Trayvon’s killing can’t be seen in isolation to last week’s brutal vigilante killing of Shaima Alawadi in Lakeside California or the ‘drive by’ shooting death of Rekia Boyd by an off duty Chicago cop who claims he saw a man standing next to Boyd draw gun. Boyd was an innocent bystander yet her shooting was deemed justified even though the police found no weapons on the scene.

These incidents and scores of others need to be investigated. We need to make sure that these incidents are not connected to a larger more sinister plan of action. Are we experiencing co-ordinated and deleibarte terrorist attacks or are people just angry and acting out? Hopefully Rush and the CBC can lead the charge on Capitol Hill and start to really dig into those questions while we start looking into this amongst ourselves in our communities.

Lastly, lets not get caught up in the hoodie thing as if Black people are only suspicious when wearing them.. Try driving a nice car and your suspicious… Try walking around a nice department store and your suspicious.. Try cashing a large check and your suspicious..

Racist People are suspicious of President Obama, with or without a hoodie

This suspiciousness is rooted in racist people holding on to the notion that Black people not being in ‘their place‘ when they do something that defies stereotypes. This is why we see the racial attacks on President Barack Obama who is constantly under suspicion..We already seen the disrespect directed to him by business mogul Donald Trump, who demanded to see the President’s birth certificate. Even after it was shown, we now have Arizona sheriff Joe Arpiao conducting an investigation to make sure it’s not fake..

Sadly we are suspicious of each other..Long after this Trayvon/ Zimmerman thing dies down, even if he’s arrested and convicted, many of us are still gonna be running around not trusting the Black repairman, the Black lawyer, the Black accountant.. Black men will claim they can’t trust ‘skeezing, gold digging sistas and sistas will say they can’t trust these ‘trifling scheming azz’ men..and nobody trusts the kids..How do we intend to change that?.

Not to digress too much… Again we must be clear and push forward with justice and the dismantling of institutionalized racism and oppression as a goal. Our hoodies have got to be connected larger political agenda or understanding. Are we wearing a hoodie to show solidarity?  If so, who or  what are we in solidarity with? Are we wearing the hoodies as an act of defiance? If so what exactly are we defying?   All of us should learned the lesson of what happened after Obama got elected. His historic victory was quickly erased by this onslaught of racist killings all over the country. From Oscar Grant to Trayvon and beyond. If we’re not mindful of this, we will quickly find ourselves back at square one even if Zimmerman is carted off to jail for life or given a death sentence. Bottom line: What good is a symbol if its not connected to a larger politic and plan of action?

written by Davey D

Should We Feel Bad for Charles Rangel? Immortal Technique, Rosa Clemente & Rep Barbara Lee Weigh In

Charles Rangel

Yesterday many of us saw how long time Congressman Charles Rangel and former chair of the powerful Ways and Means Committee stand on the floor of Congress and get censured. This came on the heels of him recently being found in violation of 11 house ethic rules in a 9-1 vote by the House ethics committee members. Being censured was the strongest punishment aside from expulsion that could be applied a man who served Harlem for over 40 years.

In recent years especially after President Obama got elected many have  seen, felt and experienced the effects of what is often described as a highly racially charged climate. Hence  to see a Black man who was arguably one of the most powerful men in the country and definitely congress be reduced in such a public way was more than bothersome. Adding to Rangel’s censuring is the fact that 8 other members of the Congressional Black Caucus including long time congresswoman Maxine Waters are being investigated or also facing a hearings on ethic violations. One can’t help but think that Black elected officials are being targeted and hence the wagons must be circled.

Many of us including myself immediately thought of elected officials who have done far worse and haven’t gotten as much as a slap on the wrist. The violations range from Congressman Joe Wilson shouting at the president during the state of the union to former vice president Dick Cheney shooting his  friend Harry Whittington in the face and then being accused of trying to cover things up.  Years later we come to find out that Cheney didn’t even apologize. We think about those elected officials who were negligence behind the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe or those who deliberately misled  us into to war and one can only ask why aren’t the people behind those transgressions being censured?

Long time Harlem resident Immortal Technique said we should not feel bad for Charles Rangel

I’ll be the first to say a guy like Rangel has been no angel and his tenure as Congressman has drawn mixed response.One thing that can’t be denied is the fact that his 40 years of services means enough people from what was known as the Black Mecca liked him enough to keep sending him back.

However longtime Harlem residents like rapper Immortal Technique have publicly stated that one should not feel bad for Rangel and the punishment he’ll be getting because he sold Harlem out a long time ago. It’s not the first time we’ve heard this critique from residents who feel like as Harlem has been massively gentrified with lots of poor folks having been literally kicked out withRangel leading the charge.

Just as word came down that there would be no leniency as requested shown for Congressman Rangel. I posed the question on my twitter feed and Face book Page as to how Harlem residents felt?  Did they think it was unfair Congressman Rangel was being censured?

I made the comparison between his ethic violations and the transgressions of others.. Very few came to his aid on my often overtly opinionated timeline which includes many people from my former uptown stomping grounds of Harlem.

Rosa Clemente goes in on Charles Rangel

Long time activist, journalist and former Green Party Vice presidential candidate Rosa Clemente weighed in and gave us all serious food for thought …It was in response to this statement I made..

Dick Cheney can shoot a man in the face and not apologize and he’s good but Charles Rangel misuses some stationary-gets censored

Rosa responded:

Well Charles Rengal did not just do that..the man has three rent stabilized apartments in Harlem, where half the population is poverty poor. You can’t use Dick Cheney as an excuse. Rengal deserves to be censured, as most of those cats do.. The problem is particularly black men in politics think they can act like white men.. History shows that never works, but being from NYC him and 90% of all Black and Brown politicians need to go. They are rich ass millionaires pimping our communities….You do not get a pass cause your Black.  How many brothers right now living in Rangel’s district are being stopped, frisked and arrested for a nickel bag or for other petty crime. I bet they  wish all they were getting was a tongue lashing

Rosa’s sentiments resonated with a lot of folks who feel that far too many officials are disconnected from the communities they serve and that when they get into office they start catering to big money interests and not the people who voted them in.. After 40 years did Rengal lose his way? Should he have been extra careful in such a hostile climate or was he unfairly being made an example? The fact that all he is getting is censured versus jail time is something we might also keep in mind, but does that reflect badly on Harlem or us as Black folks?

Here’s what Oakland Congresswoman Barbara Lee who heads up the Congressional Black Caucus had to say on the matter.She issued a statement that read as follows..

“Today’s vote by the House of Representatives to censure Congressman Rangel was an overly harsh sanction, especially considering that after a 2-year investigation the Committee found no evidence of corruption or personal financial gain. Under House precedents, a reprimand would have been a fairer sanction for the lapses that he has long since admitted and corrected.

“The censure sanction is a departure from the customary sanctions in other cases that have been adjudicated over the years. According to the Committee’s counsel, Congressman Rangel’s misconduct resulted from overzealousness and sloppiness, not corruption.

“Today’s action in no way diminishes Congressman Rangel’s distinguished 50-year history of service to his country and constituents who again overwhelmingly returned him to office in November. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are proud to call Congressman Rangel our colleague and friend.”

Something to Ponder

Davey D

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The AT&Tea Party: We’re in the Business of Silencing People & Net Neutrality

These are indeed strange times we live in where even when we’re repeatedly told we should not be surprised as to what goes down, especially in the world of politics-goes down. It was surprising to learn that AT&T is one of the biggest backers of the Tea Party and together they are working overtime to try to get rid of the Democratizing concept that has made the Internet so powerful called ‘Net Neutrality‘.

I guess one shouldn’t be shocked at the hypocrisy of the Tea Party which claims it takes issue with big corporation but then generously supports their agenda. I’m more upset with Apple which uses AT&T and upset that my hard-earned money which pays for this Iphone is going to uplift a political party that many of feel are racist and in opposition to many of our concerns.

As for Net Neutrality, for those who don’t know about this concept, it essentially says all data is to be treated equal. This means the little blog in the middle of Iowa can be accessed just as easily as the NY Times in NY. All websites are essentially one click away metaphorically speaking.

What telecoms have been doing to the tune of over 100 million dollars in lobbying money in 2009 alone with AT&T leading the way is try to change the basic structure of the internet and re-create the very conditions that drove us away from traditional media to the internet in the first place.  Instead of everyone being ‘one click away’ they want to create a tiered system where websites and companies who pay top dollars are one click away while everyone else could be 2, 3, 4 or not even on the system at all.

This means if I am living in Oakland, California and wish to present additional information to the rest of the country about some important event like the tragic Oscar Grant shooting from 2009 I would no longer be on par with the mainstream outlets.  My information could be slowed down or even blocked.

Hence, someone in NY might click on the Oakland Tribune site and get the information immediately, but it might take a couple of hours or maybe even a day or two to be visible to on my website DaveyD.com or the websites Indy media SF, ColorlinesYouth Radio or the SF Bayview. The sad part is that person in NY might not even know this additional information had been slowed down or suspended by AT&T, Comcast or some other ISP that may have a political agenda that they want to carry out that is in stark contrast with your content.

The person on the receiving end of the information will do as they’ve always done since the internet been around and click on a link expecting to move seamlessly from one site to the next. When one site is slowed down or not accessible they move onto another. So again what AT&T wants to do is make sure the NY Times loads up quickly while the small blogger comes up slowly.

When one considers how so many people have been able to come up, challenge traditional media with other facts and various narratives to a story, net neutrality has leveled the playing field.  Unfortunately the big telecoms do not want this..and apprently neither do the Tea Party and several prominent gatekeeping civil rights orgs and politicians they have spent money on.

AT&T sponsored National Urban League Centennial Celebration. Was that part of their strategy to reach out to Civil Right orgs and get them to echo GOP talking points on Net Neutrality?

Initially the Net Neutrality debate was partisan with mostly conservative folks against it. AT&T decided that one of their strategies would be to use their money and influence to get key civil rights leaders to come on board. This may have included generous sponsorships they’ve given folks over the years with everyone from Jesse Jackson of Rainbow Push to Marc Morial of the National Urban League whose centennial celebration they recently sponsored.  Their defection and non-commital responses to supporting net neutrality was even welcomed and celebrated by top conservative bloggers like Andrew Breibart the man behind the Shirley Sherrod controversy .

Jackson has noted both in his statement to the FCC and publicly that he and Rainbow Push give ‘voice to the voiceless’. How does one have a voice without Net Neutrality protections?

Even more troubling is seeing members of the Congressional Black Caucus standing alongside the AT&T/Tea Party. How does this happen in 2010 where CBC members were just a couple of months ago complaining about racism where they were called ‘Nigger’ and being spat upon by the Tea Party members, are walking now hand in hand? Oh yeah that happens when big time lobbying money enters the picture. I guess folks can afford  to buy a clean handkerchiefs to wipe away the spit and ‘let bygones be bygones’ as far as the racial insults are concerned as they all stand under the money tree-lined umbrella of AT&T. Peep this article called ‘Hey, Capitol Hill: Who’s Your Daddy ? AT&T‘ to get a better understanding the pervasiveness of this telecom giant.

NAACP head Ben Jealous

AT&T and the telecoms even got Ben Jealous and the NAACP which relied heavily on the freedoms of the internet to launch a campaign to try to save Troy Davis from being executed to take a ‘neutral position on Net Neutrality. Remind me to let Ben know they spelled the word ‘endorse’ wrong in their clarification statement.

In recent days an online petition was put together by Color of Change pushing CBC members to step up and get on the right side of this issue. That would be away from the position of the huge telecoms.

It’s our hope that all of us stop and take a long hard look at what’s going on with Net Neutrality and not allow this important issue to get away from us the way it did when it came to media consolidation.  If you recall, back in the days leading up to that landmark telecommunications bill of ’96 we heard similar arguments from the big media corps on how giving them all this power would be a good thing for consumers. We also saw there were handfuls of Black and Brown folks who tried to jump in bed with the Clear Channels of the world. They were told they would have better opportunities. Have things gotten better since  the Consolidation? Turn on your local radio station and the answer is more than obvious-‘Hell Naw’.

The ‘Clear Channeling of media has been horrific. Again, its the main reason so many of us fled to the Internet. We wanted something better. We wanted our individual voices to be heard.  If we allow the telecoms to gut Net Neutrality with the help of the Tea Party and a handful of civil rights leaders leading the charge we will be talking about what a big mistake this was 15 years from now. Don’t let history repeat itself.

written by Davey D

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