murder

demand justice for natasha mckenna

natasha mckennaon april 28, 2014, natasha mckenna was tasered to death by police in fairfax, virginia.  killed while her hands were cuffed and feet shackled, she was found with black eyes, covered in bruises and a finger amputated. her murder is nothing short of torture.

while sandra bland’s death has risen to national attention, fewer people have heard of natasha mckenna and fewer still know about the abuse black women also suffer at the hands of police. part of natasha’s relative anonymity is due to the fairfax police department’s refusal to release video footage of her death. it’s time we know the truth.

demand justice for natasha mckenna by starting or joining actions in your city that raise awareness about her death. also, tweet @fairfaxpolice with hashtag #sayhername to demand the videotape is released.

ferguson solidarity: 10 ways to get involved

hands up
“so we protest and march at rallies…then what? how does that change things?”

these thoughts from my partner about the protests occurring since michael brown’s murder reminded me that many folks may want to join the movement to end police brutality, but aren’t clear on the importance of political organizing or the steps to take.

i’m sending encouragement and love to those new to movement building and share the recommendations below on how to capitalize on this critical moment:

1. know the facts. it’s important that we know the facts surrounding not just mike brown’s murder, but also those of countless other black men and women who have fallen victim to the police.  for quick references, check colorlines, the root, salon and an amazing article titled “this is why we’re mad about the shooting of mike brown” on jezebel.

2. be critical. what do claims of looting and mike brown stealing cigarellos from a convenience store (that didn’t call the police) have to do with his murder? be a critical consumer of information and notice how those in power will criminalize a victim before taking decisive action to pursue justice.

3. go beyond mainstream media.  some of the most comprehensive accounts of what’s happening in ferguson aren’t coming from fox news or cnn, but folks who are on the frontlines and reporting live. these twitter accounts are my favorite sources: @antoniofrench, @felonious_munk, @awkward_duck and @trymainelee.

4.  use social media wisely. hashtags are an invaluable resource. by simply clicking #fergusonsolidarity, #ripmikebrown, #mikebrown, #handsup, #dontshoot and countless others people around the world can get the latest news and stay connected. it’s also a channel to display demands to elected officials.

5. plan an action. but first, pay attention to those in ferguson. take the lead of those on the ground in ferguson when planning a solidarity action in your city and determining your demands. i highly recommend checking out the dream defender’s tips on the subject.

6. remember power concedes nothing without a demand. this brings me to my next point: rallies can galvanize the masses and bond those pursuing justice; however, they should not just be chanting sessions. while you have a microphone and people’s attention, state your demands clearly. here’s a list of the initial demands from community members in ferguson that was shared on twitter: demands

7. brace yourself. if you plan to play a leadership role in a direct action or protest, plan beyond the actual event. those protestors who are inspired to do more will need to know your next steps. don’t lose the momentum.

8. make a financial contribution. reach out to those on the ground in ferguson via your direct connections or social media and find out how you can help fund their movement. there are suggestions going around on twitter if you’d like to learn more.

9. stay woke. there are interlocking systems of oppression facing black and brown communities throughout this country, and your hometown or neighborhood could be the next ferguson, missouri. get involved now with organizations serving youth, pursuing food justice, seeking to end police brutality and other causes to serve as an agent of change.

10. never forget. now that your consciousness has been raised about the plight black people face in american society, never forget. righteous indignation should propel us to pursue social justice by any means necessary. as a voter, consumer and community member, seize your power.

let’s stand in solidarity with the residents of ferguson and force the world to end the system of white supremacy by recognizing the value of black lives.

with solidarity,

t

a little link love 8.6.14

Renisha Mc Bride1. it’s an age-old strategy that defense attorneys attempt to criminalize the victim of a crime. however, in the murders of unarmed black people this strategy has been a ploy to categorize the victims based upon prevailing stereotypes.  clothing, loud music, marijuana, alcohol and “menacing behavior” were all made relevant in the murders of tryavon martin, jordan davis, darius simmons and now renisha mcbride.  syreeta mcfadden writes for the guardian that “renisha mcbride’s killer wants the jury to think that she was the real criminal.” in her piece, she highlights research around implicit bias and society’s perceptions of blackness that make me wonder if justice will ever be served for the senseless murders by black people by whites.

2. as an nfl player, you get a longer suspension for smoking pot than uppercutting your spouse. shocking i know, but ray rice received a mere slap on the wrist after news emerged that he knocked out his wife in an atlantic city elevator. when sportscaster stephen a. smith seemed to condone rice’s actions by stating the need for women to be held accountable for provoking men, domestic violence advocates around the world rolled over in their graves. professor earl smith writes for the huffington post that the problem is a sports industry and society that has allowed a harmful definition of masculinity to run amok.

3. it’s refreshing to see sociopolitical commentary wrapped in humor and comedian aamer rahman is one of the best. you might remember his standup routine critiquing imperialism went viral last year, and he continues to be a conscious entertainer ridiculing NATO, israel, western governments and american pop icons during sold-out shows.  check him out in an interview with ceasefire.

a little link love 2.20.14

1. i’m flabergasted that a florida jury allowed yet another man to murder a black teenager without a murder conviction.  i’m sickened by the constant reminder that the lives of black children are less important than those of their white counterparts.  watch as jessica williams of the daily show does a tongue and cheek run-down of white america’s omnipresent “fear goggles” that can make “four black teenagers taking a calculus test look like a scene from the wire.”

2.  yayadon’t you just love yaya alafia (nee dacosta)? i remember her season of america’s next top model and the way she schooled tyra banks on the origins of kente cloth.  the ivy league grad  is now an actress, wife and mother who was recently interviewed by michel martin on npr’s tell me more.  listen to her thoughts on her role in lee daniels’ the butler, colorism and why she calls herself an african in america.

3. have you heard the teaser to beyonce’s drunk in love remix featuring kanye?!?! it made me jump up and run around my apartment full speed — the only appropriate response when one of your favorite songs from beyonce’s new album gets better.

4.  it’s not every day that you hear an artist reference brandy, bun b, bounce music and kirk franklin as their inspirations.  in a recent interview with npr’s new r&b and hip hop show, microphone check, i fell in love with solange all over again as she rattled off a list of 90’s hip hop and r&b that only a person raised in the south can appreciate.

solange-losing-you

goodbye 2013

2013 was amazing. cliche, i know, but i can’t think of a time in my life when i’ve been happier.  between a new job, living in a great city, an amazing family and friends and falling in (and out) of love, i’ve grown more during the past 12 months than the past few years combined.  thank you to my readers, especially those who have followed since 2011 — your support keeps me motivated to share my random thoughts on life. here’s a review of 2013 captured by politics and fashion:

1. thanks to michael idiokitas for his bomb photography skills and asking me to pose for his forthcoming streetstyle book.

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a little link love 11.19.13

here’s a few links from around the interwebs that made me sad, mad, cry and hit my dougie:

renisha_mcbride_card-620x4121.  i’ve been running from the story of another black teen shot for no other reason than being black — it’s just too hard.  the fact we live in a country where these crimes can happen as a result of such visceral racism makes me sick to my stomach.  for those who don’t know, renisha mcbride was brutally shot in her face when seeking help in a detroit suburb after getting into a car accident.  the white homeowner claims he mistook her for an intruder, despite the fact that he was safely inside his home when he shot her through a screen door with a shotgun.  watch this video produced by writer, activist and filmmaker dream hampton here that chronicles renisha’s senseless killing. her killer, ted wafer was arraigned last friday.

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j.cole’s ‘crooked smile’ short film

i’m not a hip hop head.  with that said, i got lots of side eyes when i told a group of rap scholars that j. cole and big krit are the artists i’m most excited to see at next weekend’s rock the bells concert.  admittedly, i didn’t pay close attention to rap music until these two caught my attention three years ago.  sue me.  while born sinner, j. cole’s new album, hasn’t made its way into my favorites quite yet, i appreciate the message behind “crooked smile,” his latest release featuring tlc.  his short film dedicated to aiyana jones, the 7-year old child who was killed by police during a raid in 2010, brought me to tears.  at the end, j. cole asks that we reconsider the war on drugs — for a mainstream artist to take a stand against one of the biggest injustices since jim crow is a reminder of why i bang so hard with “fayettnam’s finest.”