Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

 

New movie FRUITVALE STATION tells the true story of Oscar Grant (played by Michael B Jordan), a 22-year-old Black man, and his tragic interaction with Transport Police on the night of New Year’s Eve 2008.

The story of his tragic and needless death at the hands of law enforcement officers in America, reminded many of the killing of Mark Duggan in the UK.

Mark Duggan, 29, was a passenger in a minicab when on Thursday  August 4th 2011 he was shot dead in the street by police.  The death occurred during an operation where specialist firearm officers and officers from Operation Trident, were  attempting to carry out an arrest.   It was at first announced  that Mr Duggan had been shot after an apparent exchange  of fire. Later the IPCC admitted it may have misled journalists into believing Mr Duggan fired at officers before he was killed.  The circumstances of Duggan’s killing resulted in public protests in Tottenham which, fuelled by poverty and racial tension, led to conflict with police and escalated into riots across London and other English cities. This is widely seen as the  cause of the 2011 England riots.

 

Like Oscar Grant, Duggan had had previous dealings with the police but  was said to be “a good Dad” who “idolised his kids”. He and his fiance were hoping to marry soon and move out of Tottenham to “start a new life together” with their three children.
The main difference between the Duggan and Grant cases, was that in the American example there were many eye witnesses, with the event even being caught on camera phones.  Perhaps this is why the Police in the Grant case were convicted.  Some were disgusted that Grants’ murderer only served 11 months, but the officers who shot Duggan’s here in the UK were not even found guilty.
On Wednesday January 8th 2014, the jury at the High Court in London found the Police officer who shot Mark Duggan dead, not guilty of unlawful killing.
The presumption of the ‘Great-British-Public’ and the ‘Main-Stream-Media’ is that if the Police use force, then that force must be warranted.  If the Police use deadly force, then they must have considered themselves or the public to be in mortal danger.  In this case the deadly force was justified because the Police THOUGHT that Duggan had a gun and was aiming to shoot.  The fact that he didn’t is just a tragic mistake.
But this Duggan shooting is no isolated incident. To put this case in perspective, let’s have a quick review of the Police’s treatment of Black Britons over the last 30 years.

On 12 January 1983, a young black Hackney man, Colin Roach walked into the lobby of the old Stoke Newington police station, and allegedly blew his head off with an old shotgun. Roach had only minor convictions and was not wanted by the police at the time. There was evidence that he feared ‘someone’ was out to get him. Among the black community of Stoke Newington, ‘someone’ was the police. There were sections of the local community which believed he had been shot by the police. Others believed that whilst the police generically might be capable of doing this, they would not be so foolish – unless this was the most amazing double-bluff – to do it literally on their own doorstep.’
A coroner’s jury voted eight-to-two that Mr Roach committed suicide, but Hackney residents staged angry demonstrations and refused to accept the verdict, pointing out that (among other puzzles) no fingerprints had been found on the shotgun; nor had it been forensically linked to the dead man.
In 1985, an independent inquiry into his death on behalf of the dead man’s family was told of police harassment, wrongful arrest, uncivil conduct during home raids, misuse of stop and search and other abuses to Stoke Newington’s residents.

colin roach

In September 1985 the police conducted an armed search of the home of Cherry Groce seeking her son Michael Groce in relation to a suspected firearms offence – they believed Michael was hiding in his mother’s home. Mrs. Groce was in bed when the police began their search and Michael was not there at the time, but Mrs. Groce was hit by a police bullet – an injury which left her paralysed from the waist down.   This event was the spark for the Brixton Riots of 1985. The police officer who shot Mrs. Groce, Inspector Douglas Lovelock, was prosecuted but eventually acquitted of malicious wounding. Mrs. Groce received compensation from the Metropolitan Police.

The very next month a young black man, Floyd Jarrett, was arrested by police, having been stopped in a vehicle with an allegedly suspicious tax disc. Four police officers searched his home. In a disturbance between police and family members, his 49-year-old mother, Cynthia Jarrett, fell over and died of a stroke.  Cynthia Jarrett’s death sparked outrage from members of the black community against the Metropolitan Police, and was the spark for the Broadwater Farm Riot.

Joy Gardner was a 40-year-old Black woman from Jamaica who was killed during a struggle with the police at her home in Crouch End, London. Joy had come to visit her mother, Myrna Simpson, in 1987, but had overstayed her 6 month visa. In 1993 an immigration officer and police officers arrived at her home to serve a deportation notice. When Gardner refused, the police entered her home and struggled and fought with her. Police gagged and restrained Gardner using a body belt and wrapped 13 ft of tape around her head which they later claimed was to prevent her biting them. Gardner suffocated and subsequently fell into a coma. She later died in hospital. These events were witnessed by Gardner’s five year old son. The three police officers involved were found not guilty of manslaughter in 1995.

 

In April 1998Christopher Alder,  a 37-year-old trainee computer programmer and former British Army paratrooper who had served in the Falklands War and Northern Ireland, had been assaulted outside a night club and taken to a local hospital, where he was arrested by officers for an alleged breach of the peace following complaints about his behaviour from nursing staff . While fit enough to get into a police van by himself, CCTV footage shows that upon arrival at the police station, Alder was unconscious when dragged from the van and placed on the floor of the custody suite.  Officers calmly chatted among themselves, one of them suggesting he was faking illness. Eleven minutes later, when officers finally realised he had stopped breathing, attempts to resuscitate him came too late.  Alder died lying face down, handcuffed, with his trousers around his ankles on the floor of a police station in Hull. Following his death, Alder’s sister Janet launched a long struggle for justice. In 2000 a coroner’s jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing, and in 2002 five police officers went on trial accused of manslaughter and misconduct in public office. All were cleared on the orders of the judge. An internal disciplinary inquiry by Humberside Police cleared the officers of any wrongdoing. In 2006, an Independent Police Complaints Commission report concluded that four of the officers present in the custody suite when Alder died were guilty of the “most serious neglect of duty”, but the officers responsible walked free.

 

On January 11, 1999, police arrived outside Roger Sylvester’s house as a result of a 999 emergency call. Two officers came to the house initially and found him naked in his front garden. Within minutes another six officers had arrived. The eight officers put Sylvester to the ground where he was handcuffed.    He was detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act. Police officers told his family that he was restrained “for his own safety.” According to one witness, Sylvester’s body was already limp when it was placed in the police van. He was taken to St Ann’s hospital and carried from the van to a private room where, still restrained, he was put on the floor by upwards of six police officers for nearly 20 minutes before being seen by a doctor. The officers, with the assistance of medical staff, tried to resuscitate him but he had sustained numerous injuries and remained in a coma at the Whittington hospital until his life support machine was switched off seven days later.

 

24 year old Azelle Rodney was a back seat passenger of a Volkswagon Golf travelling the streets of North London in April 2005, when the police performed what they call ‘a hard stop’.  The car had been under surveillance for several hours before officers stopped it in Edgware.  Police believed he was part of an armed gang who were on their way to rob a Columbian drugs gang.  With this suspicion the Police could have arrested Rodney and the other occupants of the car before they even started their journey, but instead chose to allow them to start their drive across London. Alternatively, the officers who had been following Rodney’s car covertly, could have switched on their lights and siren when making the stop so that they could clearly have been identified as officers.  Instead, within seconds of the Police surrounding the car, Rodney was shot six times by an armed officer who offered no verbal warning.  Two other occupants of the car were later convicted for firearms offences, but there was no evidence that Mr Rodney was holding a weapon at the time of the shooting.  True to form an investigation by the IPCC exonerated the Police, and the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was no criminal case for the police to answer. Seven years  later in 2012 a public inquiry was opened instead of an inquest because a coroner would not have been able to see some of the evidence that Police say was behind their actions.  In July 2013, a public inquiry chaired by a retired High Court judge concluded the killing was unlawful.

 

On March 15th 2011 Police conducted a search at the home of David Emmanuel aka reggae artist Smiley Culture.  Whilst Police were at the property Smiley Culture sustained a single stab wound to the chest, from which he later died.  An investigation into the Police operation was conducted by the IPCC and found no evidence that a crime had been committed, and no misconduct by Police officers.   An inquest into Smiley’s death will be held in front of a jury and will not take place before the conclusion of the trials to which Smiley was allegedly linked.

 

Though apologists say that relations between the Police and Black people are much better than they were back in the day, the truth is that little has changed.  Back in the 80’s it was the hated ‘Sus’ law that caused tension between the Police and young Black men – now its Section 60 powers.  Introduced in the 90’s to deal with football hooliganism, now its used to harass those who’ve never been to a football match.

In 2010 there were 70,000 stops and searches in London alone. Analysis by the London School of Economics and the Open Society Justice Initiative shows that during the last 12 months a Black person was nearly 30 times more likely to be stopped and searched that a white person.  And a separate analysis, based on Home Office data reveals that less that 0.5% of section 60 searches led to an arrest for possession of a dangerous weapon, five times fewer than a year ago.  And then they wonder why so many young Black men hate the Police?

How much have things really changed?  The death of Cynthia Jarret at the hands of the police led to the Tottenham Riots in 1985.  The shooting of Cherry Groce by Police the same year led to the Brixton Riots.  The shooting of Mark Duggan by the Police led to the Tottenham Riots of  2011 and the general hostility towards the police by Black people, and feelings of alienation and hopelessness from the underclass took those riots nationwide.

The case of Oscar Grant, like the 1991 case of Black motorist Rodney King(below) shows that often it is only when evidence is caught on camera, that justice will be served.

Lee Pinkerton

 

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Some are complaining that the UK and US governments were too slow to get involved in the abducted school girls crisis in Nigeria. But is their intervention necessarily a good thing?

Media Diversified

by Atane Ofiaja

Calamity befalling Nigeria is now the norm. Who could have envisioned regular bombings in Abuja, the nation’s capital? This is where we are, my Nigeria almost seems unrecognizable. New York City has been where I’ve lived for my entire adult life, but Nigeria is still home. Fond memories as a child in Port Harcourt still bring a smile to my face. Driving through Aba to my mother’s small village in Abia State was always fun. You’d be hard pressed to find clearer nighttime skies than in my father’s small village in Rivers State called Ngo. It was perfect for stargazing. Like most Nigerians in the diaspora, we cling to and yearn for home. We visit when we can afford to.

But the Nigeria we remember didn’t include bombs on city streets.Bring-Back-Our-Girls-590x339 As the attacks from the scourge known as Boko Haram continues to get bloodier and more…

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Legacies of British Slave-ownership

Guest Blog by: Patrick Vernon[1]

 The success of Steve McQueen’s film 12 Years A Slave at the Oscars provides a new opportunity to explore the legacy of enslavement through the lens of family history and mental well being. In his acceptance speech, McQueen stated “I dedicate this award to all the people who have endured slavery and the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today.” Although it may feel coded, the expression ‘endured slavery’ is of major significance when exploring the emotional legacy of the enslaved past; this is because this past still has an impact in terms of behaviour, cultural norms, parenting, relationships, lifestyle choices and in how identity is projected and received, not only for people of African descent, but also for people of European descent. In the United States, academics such as Dr Na’im Akbar and Dr Joy Leary have used the concept of post-traumatic…

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My Hopes for 2014

Posted: January 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

The new year is traditionally a time for making resolutions, and promises to do better and try harder.  Here’s a list of things I’d like to see more of (and less of) in 2014.

Less living in fear – more living the dream

Less waste men – more real men

Less baby daddies – more committed fathers.

Less waiting for a Messiah –  more being the change we want to see.

Less begging the man for handouts –  more doing-for-self

Less criticising the things we don’t like, more promoting  the things we do

Less fake tan, fake nails, and fake hair, –  more celebrating natural beauty.

Nicky Minaj - a living breathing example of Black self hatred.

 

lauryn-hill1

 

 

 

 

Less skin bleaching, more self-love

Less ‘ain’t nobody got time for that’ – more ‘spending quality time’.

Less ‘Talking about it’ – more ‘Being about it’

Less of ‘my nigga’ – more of ‘my brother’.

Less grand tall buildings ­-  More  homes for families

Less Banker’s bonuses – more worker’s pay-rises

Less jobs for the boys – more jobs for the masses. David Cameron and  Boris Johnson - the Eton/Oxbridge mafia just won't loosen their grip.

Less aristocracy – more meritocracy

Less of a stranglehood by the Oxbridge elite – more access for the rest of us

the occupy movement

Less  bedroom tax – more corporation tax.

Less War on terror – more war on want.

Less trolling – more ‘liking’

Less adding friends on facebook – more making time for friends in real life.

Less super-hero franchise sequels

the-avengers-

 

– more character driven dramas.

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Less coverage of the Royal family –  more support for hardworking families

Less Versace, Versace, Versace – more education, education, education

Less fetishisation of youth – more respect for old age.

Less obsessing over celebrity couples – more supporting of struggling parents

kimye

 

 

 

Less Kanye and Kim

 

 

 

– more Barack and Michelle

 

barack-and-michelle1

Here’s looking forward to a better 2014. Let’s make it happen………………..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t watch X-Factor, or Britain’s Got Talent, or The Voice, or any of these TV talent shows.  But such a controversy was caused when X-Factor contestant Hannah Barrett complained of the racist/shadist abuse that she suffered on social media, that it reached even my radar.   According to Barrett, Black people were tweeting saying that she was ‘too dark’ to be a pop star.

Hannah Barret - too dark for showbiz?

Hannah Barret – too dark for showbiz?

For those outside of the Black community, this story may seem strange. If there are two areas that Black people have been allowed to thrive in this country, it is in sports and music. Infact many of the biggest pop stars of the last few decades have been Black. But the sad truth is that when it comes to women in entertainment, you can be Black, just not TOO Black.

All of the many successful Black female performers in the music industry, such as Beyonce, Rihanna, Alicia Keyes, Nicki Minaj etc, have something in common besides their Platinum discs – they are all light-skinned.  The fact is that women in entertainment – be that music, movies, fashion or TV – are judged first and foremost on their appearance.  Regardless of their talent, any woman who wants to succeed in this business must be considered as attractive – an attractiveness defined with very narrow tightly defined parameters.  They must be slim, light-skinned, with European features, and long straight hair. If you are a dark-skinned Black woman, or even a fuller figured white woman you can work in these industries, but you will have to play the background. You can be a backing singer, but you can never be the star upfront.  You can be a supporting actress, but you can never be a screen goddess.

Alicia Keys - just right?

Alicia Keys – just right?

The many Black actresses who’s success we celebrate  – Halle Berry, Thandie Newton, Zoe Saldana, Paula Patton, Naomi Harris etc – all fit within these narrow parameters, and all come in a lighter shade of Black.

I’m not wanting to detract from the undoubted talent of all of these stars, but the sad truth is that they wouldn’t have reached where they are today, were they a few shades darker, or in possession of  more African features. And what’s so worrying about this fact, is that little Black girls growing up today, may NEVER see themselves positively represented on screen. This has been the case for as long as we’ve had cinema.

From Josephine Baker in the 1930s, to Lena Horne in the 40s, and Dorothy Dandridge in the 50s, to Pam Grier in the 70s, to Vanessa Williams and Lisa Bonet in the 80s, to Tyra Banks and Halle Berry in the 90s, to Beyonce today, when it comes to our Black beauties, it seems the lighter the better. In this Eurocentric world in which we live in, mixed race is the acceptable face of Blackness. Those sisters who are dark, try in vain to aspire to these European standards by modifying their appearance with hair weaves, colour contacts, and even toxic skin bleaching creams.

Pam Grier

Pam Grier

josephine baker

Josephine Baker

dorothy dandridge

Dorothy Dandridge

 

Interestingly the same standards don’t seem to apply to men.  Black men can be dark and still considered attractive. Consider old favourite Tyson Beckford, or new favourite Idris Elba – their dark complexion seems to enhance their desirability. Whilst the essence of feminine beauty is slim and pale, the essence of virile masculinity is tall and dark.

But it is an oversimplification to simply blame this phenomenon on the racism of white people imposing their narrow Euro-centric perspectives on the rest of us.  Remember that Hannah Barrett was complaining of racist comments from fellow Black people.

In music videos dark skinned women are conspicuous by their absence.  It has been de-rigueur for some time now that the eye candy in rap promos will be mixed or Latino, and it seems in UK music videos, even lighter sisters can’t get a look-in these days.  Notice recent videos from grime artists Wiley and Dizzie Rascal, that depict their idea of a perfect pool party, as them and a few male friends surrounded by a harem of skinny white girls.

By way of defence Wiley and Dizzie have both stated that they are not responsible for the selection of the models in their videos, but for such outspoken and independently-minded artists, I would expect them to take more of a role in how they are being visually represented. (If the video stylists asked them to wear a dress for the shoot, I’m sure they would have had something to say!)

Wiley - and friends!

Wiley – and friends!

But to me, even worse than the rap videos (who could ever look to Lil Wayne for guidance?) is the fact that the hosts on BET and so many African cable TV channels replicate this trend, having exclusively dark brothers accompanied by mixed or light-skinned sisters in front of the camera. So why are we as a race perpetuating the dissing of our darker skinned sisters? How and why have we inculcated such self-hatred?

It all goes back to the doctrine of white supremacy that was so successfully spread throughout the African diaspora through slavery and colonialism. For centuries white Europeans have drummed into their darker skinned subjects, that Europe was the pinnacle of civilisation, and that the rest of the world were primitive heathens without a culture of any worth. That God was white, Jesus was white, that white women were the epitome of beauty, that Black is ugly, and the closer to white you were, the higher you could rise. A racial hierarchy neatly encapsulated in the catchy phrase ‘If you’re white you’re alright, if you’re brown stick around, but if you’re Black get back.’

White Jesus

White Jesus

Malcolm Gladwell explains the Jamaican plantation experience in his book ‘Outliers’

“whites saw mulattoes – the children of those (mixed) relationships – as potential allies, a buffer between them and the enormous numbers of slaves on the island.  Mulatto women were prized as mistresses, and their children, one shade lighter in turn, moved still further up the social and economic ladder. ”

Gladwell further outlines how the victims of this hierarchy of shade absorbed the racist doctrine that still operates to this day.

 “Mulattoes rarely worked in the fields.  They lived a much easier life of working in the ‘house’.  They were the ones most likely to be freed. It’s not surprising then, that the brown-skinned classes of Jamaica came to fetishize their lightness.  It was their great advantage.  They scrutinized the shade of one another’s skin and played the colour game as ruthlessly in the end as the whites did.”

Sadly today such shadism is not confined to the descendants of slaves.  Skin lightening creams are as popular in Asia as they are in Africa and the Caribbean. But in the 21st century isn’t it time we stopped perpetuating it?  Please be aware, I am not promoting one shade over another.  I am saying we should celebrate Blackness in ALL of its shades, not just the ones that fit in with Eurocentric values. Realise that it’s not possible to be a conscious Black person whilst perpetuating shadism/colourism.  We need to re-programme ourselves, to counteract the centuries of white supremacist brain-washing.  Let’s not pass on these negative messages to another generation. Let’s stop using racially loaded concepts like ‘good hair/bad hair’.  Let’s stop this ‘Team Light-skin vs Team Dark-skin’ foolishness. If you’re buying a doll/action figure or books for Black/Brown children make sure that the heroes/heroines look like they do. Let’s see more music artists including some dark-skinned sisters in their videos. And let’s see a dark skinned sister win X-Factor!

De-programming material

If you’re down for the cause and want to stop the rot, here are some resources you may find useful to share with the children in your life, or less enlightened peers.

Video/film –Beauty Is

Chris Rock’s Good Hair good hair

Dark Girls

Yellow Fever: TRAILER from Ng’endo Mukii on Vimeo.

black beauty bookBooks  Black Beauty by ben arogundade

Greetings cardshttp://personalise.colorblindcards.com/

On-line –  visit www.endcolourism.org

Twitter–  follow @EndColourism

Dolls Rooti Dolls – http://rootidolls.com/new/rooti dolls

Unlike most in the Black community I did not view the peerage of Doreen Lawrence as a cause for celebration. Many of us see the acceptance of Black individuals into the exclusive clubs of the ruling white elite as a sign that we as a race are progressing. I don’t see it like that. Let’s not forget that three of the five killers of Stephen Lawrence still have their liberty. To make matters worse last month it was revealed that instead of pursuing the suspects in the immediate aftermath of the crime, the Metropolitan Police spent their time operating a covert surveillance operation on the Lawrence family and their supporters. In their all-to-familiar style, instead of pursuing the criminals the authorities expended their energies trying to smear the Black victims. Will Doreen’s presence in the House of Lords bring the remaining killers to justice? Will it reveal which members of the establishment knew what of the surveillance operation and when? Somehow I doubt it.

Will Doreen Lawrence's presence in the House Of Lords advance the cause for racial justice?

Will Doreen Lawrence’s presence in the House Of Lords advance the cause for racial justice?

At the same time we are told that the Police officers who shot Mark Duggan dead in the street, and those present when Smiley Culture ended up with a knife in his chest, have no case to answer.  Rather than advancing the cause of racial justice, I see Lawrence’s peerage as hush money – like giving a crying toddler a lollipop in the hope that it will shut them up.  To liken the process to the days of slavery, it’s like the slave masters taking one of their most troublesome field negroes and giving them an easier job in the house, thus both pacifying the gripes of said slave, and at the same time removing a rallying point from those disgruntled comrades still left in the field.

Or as Professor Gus John so eloquently put it in a recent article for the Voice without wanting to diminish in any way Doreen Lawrence’s passion for justice for her son, we must not fight shy of pointing out the cynicism of the British state and particularly of the Labour Party in seeking to hijack and fashion Doreen Lawrence into its own grotesque creation.”

I am not trying to detract from the tireless efforts of the Lawrence family over the last 20 years, but in truth she is not a wiley and seasoned political operator versed in the dark arts of the party politics.  She is merely an ordinary wife and mother who was thrust into the spotlight by the outcry from the community when her son was brutally murdered, and the Justice system seemed not to care. How much impact can she really have?

Barack Obama - has the plight of Black people in America improved under his leadership?

Barack Obama – has the plight of Black people in America improved under his leadership?

But my sense of disquiet is not confined solely to the amateur politics of Doreen Lawrence.  Remember back in 2008 when we were all filled with a similar sense of optimism when Barack Obama became the President Of  The United States, and supposedly the most powerful man on earth? Now in the cold light of day, five years later, we can see that Obama has not had the effect that we hoped he would. He has not been able to reduce Black unemployment, or stop the tide of Black men dying on the streets or joining the conveyor belt of the Prison Industrial Complex.  Despite the softening of the Marijuana laws in many states, he has not ended the War on Drugs that results in the criminalisation of so many Black men, and he was not even able to get his signature policy of Obama-care through Congress without a host of compromises. The most powerful man on earth seemed powerless to change the racist ‘Stop and Frisk’ policy adopted by the New York Police Department, or the Stand Your Ground Law in Florida. In truth, having a Black Commander in Chief does more harm than good to the prospects of the average African-American.  Because of him, whites can claim that we now live in a post-racial society where discrimination no longer exists, and affirmative action is no longer necessary. And the Black activists are muted in their criticism because they do not want to undermine the first Black POTUS and give more ammunition to his opponents. And Obama himself is being less proactive in his own appointments because, unlike all of his white predecessors he does not have to pander to the Black vote, and doesn’t want to be accused by the opposition of favouring African-Americans. (Remember that even the much maligned George W. Bush had a Black Joint Chief of Staff (Colin Powell) and a Black Secretary of State (Condoleeza Rice).  So tell me again how much progress Blacks in America have made by having a Black President. It makes all the more puzzling to me why Black people over here are asking when we will have a British Obama?

Duwayne Brookes - Stephen Lawrence's friend getting involved in party politics.

Duwayne Brookes – Stephen Lawrence’s friend getting involved in party politics.

Back in Britain, in a new twist in the long legacy of the Stephen Lawrence case, Duwayne Brookes, the friend who was with Stephen on the night he was murdered, has announced that he will be standing as the Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate for Lewisham. We also learnt this year that Brooks too had suffered a campaign of covert surveillance, attempted smearing and harassment from the Police.  No doubt Duwayne, like Doreen, feels that if he is part of the Political establishment, he can effect change, and stop such miscarriages of justice from occurring in the future.  It was probably such noble motives that Shaun Bailey had when he became a Tory Prospective Parliamentary Candidate and advisor to David Cameron.

Shaun Bailey with David Cameron - valued advisor or token Black?

Shaun Bailey with David Cameron – valued advisor or token Black?

It took him a while to realise that Cameron’s all white, Eton and Oxbridge      cabinet were ignoring his suggestions and side-lining him – for his appointment, just like that of Doreen Lawrence is merely a token gesture, designed to make us believe that they are listening; that they really care. With Doreen, just like Mandela, whites in power elevate one Black person and deify them, to show us that now everything is alright. Mandela became President and so racial inequality was eradicated in South Africa in one fell swoop? Doreen Lawrence becomes a Baroness and so racial justice has been achieved in the UK?

No doubt the recently retired Police Superintendent Leroy Logan wanted to make a difference when he joined the Metropolitan Police 30 years ago.  His own father had been on the receiving end of rough treatment by the Met, and he nobly wanted to try and influence change from the inside. But despite being a founding member of the Black Police Association and one of the highest ranking Black officers, he could still not stop Azelle Rodney and Mark Duggan from being shot dead in the street, or Roger Sylvester, Frank Ogburo and Sean Rigg from dying whilst in Police restraint. As we discover each new case of Police racism, we have to ask ourselves, despite all of their racial sensitivity training and the efforts of Logan and the BPA, how much has really changed at the MET?

All those who want to be MPs say they do it because they want to help – they want to effect change.  But how much do they really help?  Three well established Black Labour MPs David Lammy (Tottenham) Diane Abbott (Hackney) and Chuka Umunna (Brixton) all preside over boroughs with high levels of deprivation.  Knowing all three areas of London well, I don’t know how much the presence of a Black MP has helped Black residents.  What I do know is that all three areas have undergone a process of gentrification whereby poor people can no longer afford to live there.   And remember that both Lammy and Abbott preside over boroughs where the nationwide riots of 2011 first took hold.

MP David Lammy woefully failed to articulate why so many of his Tottenham constituents were angry in 2011, and simply condemned the violence.

MP David Lammy woefully failed to articulate why so many of his Tottenham constituents were angry and alienated in 2011, and simply condemned the violence, and bashed the Tories.

Lammy has been very quiet about the Mark Duggan shooting which sparked off the riots in the first place, and all he felt able to do at the time, was condemn the violence and respectfully escort deputy PM Nick Clegg  around to inspect the damage.  Abbott showed her hand in 2012 when she withdrew perfectly legitimate comments she made on twitter, about white people playing divide and conquer, after receiving instruction from her massa, (sorry leader) Ed Milliband. Are they really there fighting for our interests or simply trying to further their own careers and feather their own nests?

Real activists are down in the trenches, fighting for civil rights, embarrassing the law-makers and law-enforcers into action: not quaffing champagne with our oppressors in Westminster, and occasionally sharing their privilege with those of us still out in the field, by hosting the odd reception at the big house.

Remember that Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and Marcus Garvey were not members of any political party.  They were leaders of grass-roots movements, and they arguably have had more impact than any Black politician.  The Reverend Al Sharpton did more to draw attention to the Trayvon Martin case than Obama, who seemed afraid to speak about it too strongly for fear of offending. If we really want to change things for the better, the grassroots is where we should be working, not these exclusive private members clubs in Westminster.

I will leave the final word to the always excellent Gary Younge who wrote this regarding Obama.

“The presence of underrepresented people in leadership positions only has any significantly positive meaning if it challenges whatever obstacles created the conditions for that underrepresentation. To believe otherwise is to trade equal opportunities for photo opportunities, whereby a system looks different but acts the same. “

At the start of 2008 a friend of mine predicted that it would be the year of the Black Man, and as the year evolved he was proved to be right.

It was the 40 year anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination, but it was also the year the world had its first year Black F1 racing champion (Lewis Hamilton), the year a Black man captained the England football team (Rio Ferdinand), and the first Black man to manage a premiership football team (Paul Ince).  Most significantly it was the year that Barack Obama became the first Black President of the United States. When Obama won the Presidential election, Black people the world over were filled with pride and new hope.  On the morning after his election victory I like many others received this text message.

Rosa Parks sat,

so that Martin Luther King could walk,

so that Barack Obama could stand,

so that our children can fly.

Does Obama's success mean that racism is no longer a barrier to success?

Does Obama’s success mean that racism is no longer a barrier to success?

But were Black people right to feel such pride?  Barack Obama can be claimed by whites just as much as he is by Blacks.  He is infact of dual racial heritage, as is Lewis Hamilton, and Rio Ferdinand.  And Obama was not part of that American civil rights legacy of struggle.  None of the ancestors on the Black side of his family came to America in slave ships, they were never cotton pickers or share croppers, and they never marched for freedom in the 60’s.   When his African father met his white mother it was as an overseas student at the University of Hawaii. Obama spent only a matter of days with his father and was raised by his white mother and his white grandparents. It occurred to me that maybe it was because of his unique racial heritage that he had the confidence to run for President when no-one gave him a chance.  He didn’t listen to all those people, (particularly Black ones, myself included) that said a Black man could never be President.  Just like those who said that ‘Black men don’t play Golf’ before Tiger Woods came along, or that ‘F1 racing is not a Black man’s sport’ before Lewis Hamilton.   Maybe it was because he wasn’t hampered by those shackles of mental slavery that he was able to succeed so spectacularly.

Lewis Hamilton - another successful Black man breaking down barriers.

Lewis Hamilton – another successful Black man breaking down barriers.

But what about the rest of us? Can the success of Obama, and Hamilton, and Ferdinand inspire Black men throughout the diaspora to new heights?  We sure as hell hope so, because aside from those success stories, most ordinary Black men are struggling.  We are over-represented in all the places that we don’t want to be – the school exclusion figures, the young offenders institutions, the prisons, and the psychiatric units – and under-represented in all the places we should be – university graduation ceremonies, in the boardrooms, at the business breakfasts and business dinners, at the school parents’ evenings, on the schools’ boards of governors, even in the park playing ball with our sons.

In the States 47% of the penal population is African-American, but only 3.5% of the college students. We are 37% of the schools suspensions and have the lowest life expectancy. We have the highest homicide and cancer rates, and over 30% of the African-American males between 18 and 25 are unemployed.

In the introduction to his excellent book Outliers, another high achiever of mixed parentage Malcolm Gladwell argues that when looking at success stories we should not ask ‘what are they like?’ but rather examine the circumstances of their birth for clues to the secrets of their success.  In my examination of the failure of Black men I will do the same thing and argue that when we look at the many areas in which Black men are failing, we should not look at the particular failings of these individuals, but instead look at the circumstances of their birth for clues to the origins of this malaise that blights the Black community.  This is not to let off the hook those Black men who are bad fathers, or gang members, or drug dealers, or prison inmates, but rather to understand the phenomenon.  Once we can understand the causes of the problem we can go about changing it.

Mal;colm Gladwell - his book 'Outliers' examines what it takes to be a success.

Mal;colm Gladwell – his book ‘Outliers’ examines what it takes to be a success.

In The Problem With Black Men I have separated what I see as the Black community’s main problems into five areas and address each problem in turn with its own chapter.  At the end of each chapter I offer solutions – things that can be done on a personal individual level to improve the situation.  For each of these topics there are those that argue that the root cause is institutional racism.  Black boys are excluded from schools in such numbers because of the racism of the teachers.  They enter the penal system in such numbers because of the racism of law enforcement officers, and are misdiagnosed as schizophrenic because of the racism of mental health professionals.  They struggle to find employment because employers are unwilling to employ Black men, and thus contribute to the break-up of the Black family because whilst Black men are denied access to the world of work, Black women are let through, and are thus leaving their Black men behind.  All of these explanations maybe true, but if we just blindly accept them then we are accepting the role of mere victims. We are giving all the power to ‘the other man’, and there is nothing that we can do except to ask very politely if the white man would be so kind as to remove his foot from our necks!  I for one am tired of waiting for a kindly white man to come along and save us.  That is why, whilst acknowledging the role that white racism has to play, I am putting the onus firmly on Black folks, as the causes of and the solutions to our problems.

My book 'The Problem with Black Men' offers  solutions to our problems.

My book ‘The Problem with Black Men’ offers solutions to our problems.

 

The Problem With Black Men is available now on Amazon on both paperback and Kindle formats

Nearly 50 years after his assasination, the harrasment of Malcolm X’s family continues…..

Davey D's Hip Hop Corner

Got a disturbing phone call earlier today noting that the grandson of Malcolm X, Malcolm el Shabazz had been murdered in Mexico. Initially I heard it was Mexico City but published reports are stating it was in Tijuana.. I doubled checked and hear it was actually Mexico City..  In either case the word was he was robbed, shot and tossed off a roof..I’m at a loss for words..I can only imagine what his family is going through.. The father of two was a good man destined to do great things..

Below is a link to give you crucial details as to what went down with Malcolm http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2013/05/malcolm-xs-grandson-killed-in-mexico-city.php

I met Malcolm a few years back when he was attending school here in the Bay Area and would frequent our radio station.. He was pretty open, candid and someone who had grown and was continuing to grow spiritually and politically..He was…

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Its now 26 years since I first heard ‘Public Enemy Number 1’. Wow. I remember it like it was yesterday.

Davey D's Hip Hop Corner

public-enemy benchToday April 18th 2013 is Public Enemy Day… Yep that’s right.. Today we celebrate the landmark group that has been together for almost 30 years.. They are deemed Hip Hop Royalty and tonight they get inducted into the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame.

Last night they performed at House of Blues in LA and absolutely killed.. DJ Terminator X who retired from the group several years ago to do some ostrich farming.. returned to the fold to help celebrate.. Also on hand at HOB was Kool Moe Dee and the Treacherous Three, DMC, Doug E Fresh, Method Man, Whodini, JJ Fad and many more..  It was a testament to the love and respect folks have for Public Enemy..

I first met Chuck D back in summer of ’88 at the New Music Seminar when the group was just starting to make noise.. They had already…

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Rick Ross promotes date rape?? Shaking my head!

Davey D's Hip Hop Corner

Rick Ross brownIn recent days a lot has happened that has kept the issue of rape and rape culture in the forefront.. It ranges from two female social commentators/ bloggers Zerlina Maxwell and Adria Richards being threatened with rape after speaking out against sexual assault and inappropriate sexist jokes to massive rapes in the military to recent fights and resistance that proceeded the passing of the Violence Against Women Act..

Most recently its come in the form of former law enforcement officer turned rapper Rick Ross, kicking lyrics in a new song that advocates date rape…. At a time where one out of three women globally are sexually assaulted and almost half of Black and Brown women in the US being sexually assaulted, Ross’s words are beyond wack. They’re dangerous, irresponsible and reflective of a corporate business culture that has hijacked cultural expression to plant seeds of poison.

The…

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