Three Years Later. #SayHerName Sandra Bland

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Three years ago today, Sandra Bland died while in police custody in Waller County, Texas. She had been arrested three days earlier for not using her turn signal. Never forget her. Don’t stop fighting for social justice. #SayHerName 

 


Texas woman sentenced to five years in prison for voting while on probation

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Crystal Mason, a 43-year-old, Black mother, was sentenced to five years in prison for illegally voting in the 2016 presidential election. At time time of the election, Mason had served three years in prison for income tax fraud. Her mother insisted she vote. Mason had to complete a provisional ballot since her name was not on the voter roll. Her ballot was not counted after it was discovered she was on probation.

It’s difficult to understand why questions from poll workers at the voting precinct did not lead to advisement to Mason that she is ineligible to vote. Mason said she was never told that voting while on probation is a felony.

Let’s say all that is true. Some might take the position that ignorance of the law is not a viable defense. Sentencing someone to five years in prison is cruel. Ethan Couch, the teen who killed four people while driving under the influence only served two years in jail. Four people dead and he serves two years. In jail. Voting while on probation and Mason receives five years. In prison. Where is the justice?

Both Mason and Couch were tried in the Tarrant County, Texas courts system. Now, Mason says she will never vote again. That is how voter intimidation and voter suppression work.

 

 


To Survive and Thrive, Blacks Need to Live Kwanzaa All-Year-Long

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Today is the first day of the week long celebration of Kwanzaa. It is a Pan-African holiday based on seven principles with seven main symbols that is celebrated for seven days starting December 26. A candle representing each principle is lit daily starting with the black candle in the center which represents umoja [OO-MO-JAH], unity.

Nguzo Saba [IN-GOO-ZO SAH-BAH] - The Seven Principles

Kwanzaa was created to introduce and reinforce seven basic values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing family, community and culture among African American people as well as Africans throughout the world African community. These values are called the Nguzo Saba which in Swahili means the Seven Principles. Developed in 1966, by Dr. Maulana Karenga, the Nguzo Saba stand at the heart of the origin and meaning of Kwanzaa, for it is these values which are not only the building blocks for community but also serve to reinforce and enhance them.

Umoja [OO-MO-JAH] (Unity) - To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, race.
 
Kujichagulia [KOO-JEE-CHA-GOO-LEE-YAH] (Self-Determination) - To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves instead of being defined, named, created for and spoken for by others.
 
Ujima [OO-JEE-MAH] (Collective Work & Responsibility) - To build and maintain our community together and make our sisters' and brothers' problems our problems and solve them together.
 
Ujamaa [OO-JAH-MAH] (Cooperative Economics) - To build and maintain our own stores and other businesses and to profit from them together.
 
Nia [NEE-YAH] (Purpose) - To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
 
Kuumba [KOO-OOM-BAH] (Creativity) - To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
 
Imani [EE-MAH-NEE] (Faith) - To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

The Seven Symbols of Kwanzaa
 
Kwanzaa has seven basic symbols and two supplemental ones. Each represents values and concepts reflective of African culture and contributive to community building and reinforcement. The basic symbols in Swahili and then in English are:

Mazao [MAH-ZAH-O](The Crops)
These are symbolic of African harvest celebrations and of the rewards of productive and collective labor.

Mkeka [EM-KAY-KAH](The Mat)
This is symbolic of our tradition and history and therefore, the foundation on which we build.

Kinara [KEE-NAH-RAH] (The Candle Holder)
This is symbolic of our roots, our parent people -- continental Africans.

Muhindi [MOO-HEEN-DEE] (The Corn)
This is symbolic of our children and our future which they embody.



Mishumaa Saba [MEE-SHOO-MAH-AH SAH-BAH] (The Seven Candles)
These are symbolic of the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles, the matrix and minimum set of values which African people are urged to live by in order to rescue and reconstruct their lives in their own image and according to their own needs.



Kikombe cha Umoja [KEE-KOHM-BAY CHAH OO-MO-JAH] (The Unity Cup)
This is symbolic of the foundational principle and practice of unity which makes all else possible.



Zawadi [ZAH-WAH-DEE] (The Gifts)
These are symbolic of the labor and love of parents and the commitments made and kept by the children. 



The two supplemental symbols are:



Bendera (The Flag)
The colors of the Kwanzaa flag are the colors of the Organization Us, black, red and green; black for the people, red for their struggle, and green for the future and hope that comes from their struggle. It is based on the colors given by the Hon. Marcus Garvey as national colors for African people throughout the world.


Nguzo Saba Poster (Poster of The Seven Principles)

Kwanzaa is not anti-Christmas neither is it the black Christmas or the black Hanukkah. Kwanzaa is a non-religious and non-political holiday. It can be celebrated with family and friends of different religious practices and beliefs. Kwanzaa is celebrated for one week of the year but practiced all year-long.

The current sociological and political atmosphere in the United States makes adopting a Kwanzaa lifestyle a matter of survival for black people. Advocating for black communities, supporting black businesses and supporting black schools is imperative as more and more safety net programs are cut as well as quality public education opportunities. 

 


The Legacy of Donald Trump: Distract, Divide and Destroy

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Stoking the flames of racial hatred and fear. Donald Trump continues to distract and divide Americans while pandering to his base of white voters by verbally attacking well-known blacks. President Barack Obama, Jemele Hill, Colin Kaepernick, Marshawn Lynch, Steph Curry, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and Merck VP Kenneth Frazier. Still no clapback when Eminem skewered him in a vicious rap or when Tom Brady didn’t visit the White House with his teammates. It is what it is and Trump is who he is.

Trump’s latest black target, LaVar Ball. Why? Because Ball won’t bow down and kiss the ring (and posterior) of The Donald. Trump claims responsibility for the release of Ball’s son and two other college basketball players caught shoplifting in China. Ball claims to have folks on the ground in China that worked on the release of the players.

Instead of Trump showing class, he again showed himself to be crass. Really? Behind lack of what he perceived as proper deference to the president? Wow, that’s pathetic.

Donald is going to “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” by putting Negroes in their place. Unbeknownst to his base, Trump needs to keep his base angry with blacks so he can continue to get rich while his base remains poor or must deal with an economically fragile position.

Keep the blacks and whites separate so they don’t realize their power together. Distract, divide and destroy America. That’s the Trump way.

Rest assured, Special Counsel Robert Müeller’s Team is still investigating Russian interference in the U.S. elections in 2016. From various news reports Team Müeller also appears to be getting closer and closer to Donald Trump Sr. Stop the madness. Pay attention. Stay woke.

 


Call (202) 224-3121, Ask your senator to vote NO on Graham-Cassidy

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It’s sinful, shameful and un-American how our Republican-controlled government is trying to force the Graham-Cassidy health care repeal bill on the American people. Without proper vetting and analysis, the Senate will soon vote on this bill. Do they know what they are voting on or are they just toeing the Party line?

Graham-Cassidy is described as more egregious than any of the other previous attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) also known as Obamacare. Graham-Cassidy removes protections for people with pre-existing health conditions; ends protections against lifetime and annual limits on insurance coverage; eliminates tax credits that help working people afford health coverage; and takes away health insurance for 32 million Americans.

Congress could just tweak ACA but no they are hell-bent on destroying the legacy of President Barack Obama because he is black. Donald Trump campaigned on repealing Obamacare on the first day he was in Office. The first day. Obviously that didn’t happen. Reasonable voters knew that was a lie. Republicans continue to lie, this time, about the Graham-Cassidy Bill. 

Call (202) 224-3121. Ask the operator to connect you with your senator. Ask your senator to VOTE NO on Graham-Cassidy. Time is of the essence. This is important. Our lives depend on it.

 


In my Hurricane feelings…

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It had been almost twelve years since I'd waited in line for gasoline. I don't remember if it was late night or early morning but I do recall a man knocking on my car window because I'd fallen asleep and I was holding up the line. Hurricane Wilma had my family without electricity for 14 days. What a horrible time.

Many people in the Miami area remember the devastation of Hurricane Andrew but Wilma was the worst to me. Andrew impacted more people that lived and had businesses on the southern end of Miami-Dade County. I did have family on the southern end that had to escape their home because of Andrew but my immediate family lived in the north so we were not inconvenienced as much. After a few days businesses on the north end came back online so we could get a hot meal and purchase necessities.

Fast forward to 2017. Mother Nature has been showing out. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have been quite deadly, disruptive and destructive closely followed by Maria who is battering Puerto Rico as I write this.

After about nine days of no electricity, still no landline for the phone, it's hard to explain how not in control one feels. Our lives will not be completely back to normal for quite some time.

I most grateful that Irma was a Category 1 by the time her winds came howling through South Florida. She stayed far too long but the death, damage and devastation could have been much worse. Infrastructure. Climate change. We must do better.

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Marlon Peterson shows us why criminal justice reform matters

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"…heroes are waiting to be recognized, and music is waiting to be made." - Marlon Peterson

 

He doesn't say he was innocent of the crime for which he was convicted. He referred to himself as garbage. He cleverly shares with us the beautiful redemptive possibility of "garbage" and people we treat as such. His name is Marlon Peterson. Please watch his Ted Talks video. 

 

 

 

P.S.  Yes, Marlon Peterson really is a hero. Don't forget to acknowledge the heroes in your life. Today. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Honoring our fallen heroes on Memorial Day

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On this day, we celebrate Memorial Day in the United States. While it was designed as a solemn celebration of those who lost their lives in military service to this country, it has evolved into a weekend of parties, vacations, cookouts and shopping. Memorial Day is also frequently confused with Veterans Day which is November 11, and honors everyone who served in the military.

At 3 p.m. Today, I ask you to join me in a nationally-observed moment of silence in appreciation of the ultimate sacrifice made by American soldiers in service to this country. Thank you. And thank you to our fallen heroes.

 

Related Link:
History of Memorial Day

 

 

 


Let's REALLY Start "Draining the Swamp"

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If you live in the 6th Congressional District of Georgia, please get out and vote for Jon Ossoff tomorrow. 

The District consists of many of the northern suburbs of Atlanta and includes portions of eastern Cobb County, northern Fulton County, and northern Dekalb County. 

The District includes all or portions of the cities of Roswell, Johns Creek, Tucker, Alpharetta, Sandy Springs, Brookhaven, Chamblee, Doraville, and Dunwoody.

We already know that voting Republican or not voting at all resulted in an embarrassing, ineffective, unprepared, mafia-like Trump presidency and a shady Trump administration. Enough is enough. Let's take our country back. No excuses. Vote Jon Ossoff for Congress. 

Let's REALLY start draining the swamp.

- vb 

#STAYwoke

 

 


Still Woke: The Media is Not the Enemy of the People

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Wait a minute. You cavalierly give alternative facts, won’t show your income taxes; block news outlets you don’t like, squander the public’s money going home every weekend, blatantly make money off your new elected office and we are supposed to believe you? I think not. 

Some of us are woke and still want to know more about your bromance with Putin too. Some of us know you are really helping your wealthy buddies while you pretend to be for the American people. 

I was born at night but not last night. 

The American public is NOT falling for your attempt to make the media the enemy. This is still America. You are the enemy of the American people. Your inexperience and arrogance are showing. We will resist and destroy your authoritarian regime. Believe that. 

 

P.S.  Dude, just stop already. Govern. Stop complaining. Stop campaigning.