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?
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.
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?
Roger Stone Found Guilty on All Counts
Roger Stone has been found guilty on all seven counts by a federal jury. After lying about his part in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election conspiracy, the former political consultant could spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Once tied to the likes of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, Roger Stone, 67, was found guilty by a jury of nine women and three men of his involvement in the Russian interference plot. As part of the indictment led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, Roger Stone was charged for one count each of obstruction and witness tampering, along with five counts of false statements. Stone’s guilty verdict aids further proof to the truth millions have known all along — The Trump campaign was heavily invested in obtaining the files hacked by Russia and made public by WikiLeaks to derail the 2016 election in his favor.
While Roger Stone will not be sentenced until February 6th, 2020, he will face steep penalties for his crimes. Witness tampering alone could land the sexagenarian in prison for up to twenty years. However, the other charges he is facing add up to five-year terms. Prosecutors argued that since Stone has been out on bond before and during the proceedings, he should immediately be thrown in jail. Ultimately, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson is allowing Stone to remain free provided he meets the terms of a gag order.
Poor Race Relations Plague Pete Buttigieg, Not Homophobia
Pete Buttigieg is under fire for comments generalizing the Black community for their reluctance to support his campaign. Calling Black voters homophobic, the openly gay candidate has caught the ire of prospective constituents and fellow presidential hopeful, Kamala Harris. Although he maintains the narrative that “socially conservative” party members have been a challenge to navigate, Pete’s claims ignore the past of his poor race relations as mayor of South Bend.
As the first openly gay major Democratic presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg is struggling to gain the positive attention of a base required to secure the nomination — Black voters. The former mayor believes the socially conservative morals of the Black community pose a significant threat to his candidacy. While he is reluctant to outright call the coveted base of supporters homophobic, the language is still there. In a recent interview, Buttigieg was noted as saying “Americans are capable of moving past old habit, moving past old prejudices” but the hurdles he must jump for the support of Black voters are of his own making.
Following the shooting death of Eric Logan at the hands of SBPD Officer O’Neill, Pete Buttigieg met with Black Lives Matter reps in a disastrous closed-door session. “Rushed” and perceived as self-serving, Buttigieg’s meeting with BLM was more of a courtesy than a step toward justice. Speaking of the experience, Los Angeles chapter co-founder Melina Abdullah said, “He seemed to have already taken a side. It did seem that he was prioritizing who he thought was important, and it didn’t seem to be Black people.” The meeting ended with the local chapter of Black Lives Matter calling for Pete Buttigieg’s resignation as mayor. While the details of the discussion have not been made public, criticism of the failed meeting has.
During the July phone call and subsequent meeting, the largest disagreement between BLM and Buttigieg was the termination of South Bend PD’s Chief Scott Ruszkowski. Brought on after Buttigieg demoted Darryl Boykin, the city’s first Black police chief, BLM found Ruszkowski unfit to serve the community. Citing his lack of care for Black citizens, BLM sought to hold the chief accountable for O’Neill’s failure to activate his body cam. Noting his outright refusal to fire the chief because of perceived community support, activist Jordan Giger asked, “When you think about these issues, who is the public that you’re thinking about? The white public or the Black public?” Giger continued, Buttitieg took notes, but did not have an answer.
Unaddressed Income Inequality
Outside of the tense relations Buttigieg faced in South Bend due to mishandling of the fallout from Eric Logan’s death, disenfranchised citizens expressed they felt “left behind” in South Bend’s poorest neighborhoods. A 16-year-old resident commented somberly that nothing had changed in his neighborhood. “This sh*t looks the same, every time I walk through here.” However, housing in downtown South Bend has never looked better. Highlighting the city’s income inequality issues, residents have expressed their concern with his lack of progress while critiquing his presidential campaign. Shawn White, a South Bend local, says “How is he gonna run the whole country if you can’t get your city right first?” With more than 40 percent of South Bend’s population being Black, Brown, and subject to the burdens of housing costs and unemployment, many carry the same doubts of his potential as the commander in chief, never mentioning his sexuality as a reason for his incapability. Still, South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn insists homophobia is what’s preventing Buttigieg from securing the Black vote.
Perpetuating Stereotypes Doesn’t Bridge Gaps
During an interview on CNN with Dana Bash, Jim Clyburn remarked that the reluctance to vote for an openly gay man residing with his husband was a “generational issue.” Clyburn, 79, believes there’s “no question” Buttigieg’s sexuality is hurting his popularity among older Black voters in South Carolina, but Black voters have spoken out en masse on social media. Pointing to Buttigieg’s troubled race relations, many share Kamala’s sentiments that the presidential hopeful is misinformed.
Attacking assertions of homophobic bias, California Senator Kamala Harris has called out the claims as “misinformed, misdirected, and just simply wrong.” On Monday, Senator Harris pointed out that while biases against LGBTQ+ persons exist, they are not limited one community. She continued that statements singling out the Black community for homophobia and transphobia ignore queer Black persons who are loved, supported, and accepted by those who love them dearly.
Beto O’Rourke Admits Ancestors Owned Slaves, Talks Reparations
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?