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Politics

Looking back at Black Lives Matter and Parkland

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While I am happy the students of the Parkland Massacre have been so well received, I must admit I feel cheated.

The many calls to action for gun control and reform by the Black community seemed to fall on deaf ears. We organized, marched in the streets, protested on social media, but support was limited to thoughts and prayers. The ability to donate to Black Lives Matter passively through our Amazon purchases is nice, but nothing compared to the large donations of $500,000 each by Oprah, The Clooneys, and countless others. The outpouring of public support, rallying of officials to openly commit to making changes, and then implementing them is unprecedented. BLM never received more than the utterance of three words during opportune moments in the political spotlight where it would only serve to benefit politicians who paid our community dust. Through all of this, the media continues to paint these young activists as the new bastion of civil rights leaders and that leaves an ugly stain on my heart. I am not angry with their success, just curious — Where was the support for Black Americans struggling to make sense of our nation in the aftermath of countless deaths? 

Black tears that fall in America add color to the pages of our past, present, and future, telling a painful story about the value of African-American lives in this nation. Click To Tweet 

Uphill Battle

In 2013, African-Americans stood by in horror, grief, and rage as George Zimmerman was acquitted of the heinous shooting death of Trayvon Martin. This event prompted the use of #BlackLivesMatter across all social media platforms but the group would not take center stage until the demonstrations surrounding the events of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson. After countless hashtags to raise awareness about the massacre of unarmed Black citizens that followed, Black Lives Matter has struggled to gain ground in their good fight to unite our community to crush the systems of oppression that guard privileged White Americans. To their detriment and our own, we have been out-organized and the truth of this is laid bare when evaluating the progress high school students with proper support are making. BLM lacks the political representation, wealth, and notable endorsements of other movements which continues to cripple our progress, but there’s room for growth.

This is in no way a means to discredit or detract from past, current, or future actions taken by BLM. This is also not meant to direct any negativity toward the hundreds of students and families affected by the Parkland tragedy. I am simply using them as examples of community efforts seeking change for the sake of comparison. Having visited BLM’s website as recently as Feb. 27th, 2018, it remains out of date with no posts since January 30th. Their ‘Channel Black’ programming initiative hasn’t had new content since 2017. Even the official BLM shop has yet to launch. The three queer black women who formed BLM are not enough and should not be expected to be enough to support the weight of an entire revolution. This is where community involvement comes in. This is where local politicians and leaders are expected to stand in the gap as representatives for their respective communities to rally for political change. While this process is arduous, it’s where we lacked the representation. However, the opportunity to break the wheel has come in the form of mid-term elections.

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Time for Change

Politics are an avenue where Black Americans across the country need support. Motivated by the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election, more people of color are running for office in 2018 than in previous years. Although not all represent our values or have our best interests at heart (looking at you Stacey Dash), we owe it to them to do our due diligence and take into consideration that as a culture we are attempting to navigate a system that is not invested in our success. While I anticipate positive results from these mid-term elections, I say this with the utmost affection and respect for my people—We need to do a better job of holding each other accountable. We must be as fervently involved in our communities as our Caucasian counterparts. We have to respect and participate in the political process regardless of whether we believe it is manipulated or that results are pre-determined. 503 Black women are running for federal, state, and local seats in the US government. 285 of them are running in red states. We owe it to ourselves not to fail these or any other person of color candidate that means to truly serve the people.

What do you think we can do as a community to continue marching toward success? Will you be voting this year?

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Politics

Beto O’Rourke Admits Ancestors Owned Slaves, Talks Reparations

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Sunday, Beto O’ Rourke shared the discovery of he and his wife’s descendants from slave owners. Acknowledging their benefit from institutionalized chattel slavery, the Presidential hopeful owned his painful legacy while outlining several policies, which include reparations.

“We all need to know our own story as it relates to the national story, much as I am learning mine.”

Beto O’Rourke

In a post written for Medium, O’Rourke stated he was provided with documents showing his paternal and maternal great-great-great grandfather’s owned, slaves. Rose and Eliza, whose names were found listed in a property log, were enslaved by O’Rourke’s paternal ancestor, Andrew Cowan Jasper. But the discovery would uncover that not only did he descend from slave owners, but his wife also had as well. Discussing their personal connection to the legacy of slavery in the US, O’Rourke lamented what Rose, Eliza, and other enslaved Africans endured, were denied, and what repercussions their ancestors suffered.

“I benefit from a system that my ancestors built to favor themselves at the expense of others. That only increases the urgency I feel to help change this country so that it works for those who have been locked-out of or — locked-up in — this system.”

Beto O’Rourke

You cannot navigate life in the America of today without first acknowledging its racist foundations. From the moment the first nineteen enslaved Africans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619, the institution of slavery threaded them through a needle of cruelty and stitched them into the fabric of American society. Generations of Africans were denied their freedom, civil rights, and ability to amass wealth through a practice that forced them to push their White counterparts ahead. This advantage, hesitantly understood by O’Rourke, benefits him, his spouse, and his children while continuing to suppress the growth of Black families to this day. Still, Beto admits the wrongs of his ancestors while contemplating how he, as President, could enact policies to tip the scales.

“I will do everything I can”

Touching on the wealth disparity, Beto discussed the imbalanced incarceration rate and infant mortality rates between Black and White Americans. Seeing the nation as two Americas to be bridged, O’Rourke wants to rectify the economic, educational, criminal justice, and even technological biases that pervade our nation. Detailing his plan, Beto began with educational changes, providing $23 billion immediately to address underfunding in minority-majority public schools. With attention to economic biases, he plans to ensure equal pay and dispense capital to minority and women-owned businesses. With criminal justice being at the forefront of the conversation for many candidates and prospective voters, O’Rourke moves to end the drug war and expunging arrest records for nonviolent drug crimes. However, his stance on reparations, while he does support it, rests on Americans understanding of the country’s history before pursuing cash payouts.

The overall reception of Beto O’Rourke’s admission has been positive as he is being lauded for confronting his problematic legacy head-on. However, he is still being accused of performative activism. Detractors are labeling his recent discovery as a pandering attempt to garner votes from Black constituents.

Do you think this is a step in the right direction for Beto? Would you like to see this sort of genealogical research become a requirement for Presidential candidates?

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Federal Watchdog Agency Claims Kellyanne Conway Violated Hatch Act

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It has been recommended that Kellyanne Conway be removed from federal office for a violation of the Hatch Act. Defined as engaging in political activity in the course of one’s work, Conway’s continuous tv appearances and social media presence have gotten her called out by a federal watchdog organization.

The Office of Special Counsel made the recommendation that Kellyanne Conway be immediately removed from her position as the senior-most advisor to Donald Trump Thursday. In a lengthy report provided to Trump, the investigation described Conway as a repeat offender, violating the Hatch Act on numerous occasions. Through disparaging remarks to Democratic presidential candidates, to speaking in her official capacity in television appearance and on social media, Conway has crossed several boundaries. The implications that her actions violate the Hatch Act have been deemed “unprecedented.”

Special Counsel Henry Kerner noted that his suggestion to fire Conway was unheard of. However, the basis for his decision rests on the example set by Conway’s behavior. Discussing the recommendation in an interview, Kerner said, “In interview after interview, she uses her official capacity to disparage announced candidates, which is not allowed. What kind of example does that send to the federal workforce? If you’re high enough up in the White House, you break the law, but if you’re a postal carrier or a regular federal worker, you lose your job?” While many have called for Conway’s termination of employment since she assumed the role as his advisor in 2017, the decision rests solely upon Donald Trump.

In predictable fashion, the White House is refusing to accept the Special Counsel’s recommendation. Instead, they have issued a letter calling for the federal watchdog agency to withdraw the suggestion of Conway’s removal. However, the Office of Special Counsel immediately declined. They are choosing not to overlook Conway’s unethical behavior but cannot force the President to take action in their favor.

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Taraji Saving Black Lives

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UPI

Taraji P. Henson has been a leader in our community by shedding light on the reality of mental health for black youth. On June 7th, 2019, Henson testified on Capitol Hill during the Congressional Black Caucus Taskforce forum on suicide among black youth. Specifically, Henson brought the room into deep thought when she reflected on her own experiences.

Henson’s father Boris Lawrence Henson passed away in 2006. Prior to that, Henson’s son’s father was murdered in Washington D.C. Now, these two traumatic events have affected her but it has also fostered a wealth of issues for her son. As a result, things get worse when young people are not able to vocalize their hurt and pain.

In her statement, Henson stated, “We’ve been taught to pray our problems away.” Henson is making it known that in the African-American community we do not discuss mental health. Instead, we let our emotions build up. If the problem is not addressed it will always be there. There will be strings attached if one doesn’t confront what is holding them back from prospering in life.

Lastly, a few years ago, Henson launched the Boris Lawrence Henson foundation with a goal to eliminate any stigmas associated with mental health. Mental health should be normalized and it should be taught in schools just like Henson stated in her statement.

I recommend everyone to watch her statement.

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