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27/12/14 Black News , Black Politics , featured , Opinion , ybw #

Yvette Carnell: Let’s Turn Our Backs, Just Like Rogue NYPD Cops

Yvette Carnell: Let’s Turn Our Backs, Just Like Rogue NYPD Cops

NYPD de blasio

by Yvette Carnell

Mayor Bill de Blasio called for a moratorium on protests until after the funeral of two slain NYPD officers, but NYPD cops must not have gotten the memo since they turned their backs on de Blasio in protest at the funeral of Officer Rafael Ramos.

As expected, de Blasio heaped praise on NYPD cops during the funeral, calling police officers a “special breed,” but cops in the crowed ignored the mayor’s effusive memorial speech. Instead choosing a sacred moment, a ceremony marking the end of a man’s life, to create a spectacle,  turning their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio as he spoke.

Unlike Obama, de Blasio does have a mixed race son, and even though he doesn’t look like Trayvon, de Blasio has used his brown son and black wife to portray himself as a person empathetic to the needs of the black community. That empathy, however, did not extend to people protesting Eric Garner being choked to death at the hands of police.

“Two families are in deep pain and our NYPD family is in mourning,” he said in a statement. “As I have said, it’s deeply divisive to hold political protests during this period of remembrance.”

Although Rev. Al Sharpton, who asserted himself as a leading voice of protesters, did not call for a moratorium, he did later begin adopting a healing, as opposed to protest, posture. “I talked with Cardinal Dolan yesterday, and after the first of the year we’re talking about doing something big to bring the city together,” Sharpton said, discussing an initiative to unite the city.

The change in tone was expected. Sharpton is a lightening rod for criticism, most of it earned, but even if another protest leader had resisted calls for a moratorium, she too would’ve been lambasted by the mainstream. Saying #BlackLivesMatter on Twitter is one thing, but actually resisting calls to reaffirm that Black lives exist below blue lives in the hierarchy of human value is another thing altogether.

This is not surprising since America routinely engages in the gamification of black life, affording us opportunities to get only symbolic points on the board with race “discussions” and “conversations”, but calling on blacks to abandon our legitimate right to life and freedom when  more important concerns emerge. Black people have served in every war since this country’s inception, but are routinely called on to sit by peacefully and patriotically, putting our rights aside, as the U.S. expands imperialism abroad.

In this case, the more important news, more important than the deaths and systemic brutalization of black men–from Abner Louima to stop-and-frisk to Eric Garner–was the killing of two NYPD cops.

The message is always clear: Black people, stop everything, put your pain aside because white people are hurting. Or police officers are hurting. Or the State is hurting.

Mainstream America, however, is never called upon to extend itself to blacks or to pause their grief in honor of black life. So even though Mayor De Blasio denounced protesters for resisting calls for a moratorium, he probably won’t utter a word about the rogue cops who disrespected him at a slain officer’s funeral.

In the face of rogue cops and a State that allows them to murder with impunity, black people have a decision to make. Will we follow the footsteps of the Misleadership black class and tip our hat, apologizing for things we have no control over, to assuage the pain of others? Or we will do what is best for us? No apologies.

For me, the answer is clear. If police can come out by the thousands to mourn one slain officer, then transform that sacred moment into a protest moment, where they express their collective disdain for the city’s mayor, then so can we. This is especially true since our revocation of rights goes back centuries and isn’t only tied to the actions of one mentally unstable killer.

It is time for us to display a collective force to meet those arms of the State who routinely gun us down, then, with a straight face devoid of any sympathy or humanity, render the kill justifiable on the grounds that unarmed black men can only be rendered non-threatening with a bullet, or 14 bullets, as was the case with Dontre Hamilton.

This is our opportunity to disengage totally from the reflexive coercion we feel to adjust to fit the emotional yearnings of the fractured and racist American psyche. We are not Mammy. We are not The Butler. We are not The Help. We must say, with one voice, that the emotional dark spaces that exist within America’s psyche were earned, not created by us and cannot be healed by us, nor should they be. That is not our cross to bear.

When an officer dies, it is not our responsibility to show up and place a flower near the area where he died, so don’t expect it. As a matter of fact, don’t expect anything from Black America because we have unfinished business in this country, and until those wrongs are made right, we’re turning our collective backs, just like the NYPD.







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17/12/14 Black News , Black Politics , Opinion , ybw #

Oprah Throws Shade at Ferguson Protesters: “Y’all Are Not the First to Do It”

Oprah Throws Shade at Ferguson Protesters: “Y’all Are Not the First to Do It”

oprah selma

by Yvette Carnell

After unarmed teen Michael Brown was gunned down by Officer Darren Wilson, protests erupted in Ferguson. After the Ferguson grand jury refused to indict Wilson, and a Staten Island grand jury followed suit, refusing to indict an NYPD officer who killed Eric Garner by placing him in an illegal chokehold, spontaneous protests erupted nationwide, culminating with thousands of people marching in the street this past weekend.

Oprah Winfrey, producer of the film “Selma”, based on the 1965 marches from Selma to Montgomery, said during an interview that today’s protesters don’t measure up to MLK and his peers because they’re not disciplined, non-violent or purposeful:

“I really think that this film can teach people a lot, because what this film says is it’s been done. It was done. Y’all are not the first to do it … the first to have an idea … the first to want to protest … the first to be upset,” she continued.


“We didn’t even have the right as citizens to vote in this country, and because of that you had Martin Luther King as a leader joining with his band of brothers with disciplined, rigorous, peaceful protests, and they had a goal and intention in mind. You just can’t march and not know what you’re marching for.”

There is nothing new in the patchwork of human evolution that involves resistance to oppression. The Civil Rights movement in this country did not begin or end with King, a fact that seems to escape Ms. Winfrey.

Long before Dr. King, Lucy Parsons made famous the “sit down” strike, which was later tweakedlucy parsons4 and adopted by King. Instead of sitting at white coffee counters begging to be served, Parsons demanded that workers take over the means of production at the factories where they worked:

She told delegates that workers shouldn’t “strike and go out and starve, but to strike and remain in and take possession of the necessary property of production.”

Eventually Lucy Parsons’s principle traveled to the U.S. sit-down strikers of the 1930s, Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, the antiwar movements that followed, and finally to today’s Arab Spring and the Occupy movements.

Parsons is just one example of a leader who predated King, was effective and viewed violence as sometimes inevitable. This notion that all movements should be measured by the standard set by Dr. King is a lazy assessment made far too often by people who aren’t students of history… and, of course, the occasional wealthy celeb who has a movie coming out on Christmas.

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17/12/14 Black News , Black Politics , Opinion , ybw #

Sharpton Visited White House 61 Times But Still Lacks Sway With Obama Administration

Sharpton Visited White House 61 Times But Still Lacks Sway With Obama Administration

by Yvette Carnell

Rev. Al Sharpton, who has transformed himself from rabble rousing street preacher to MSNBC sharpton marchpundit/activist, held a march in Washington over the weekend to protest police violence. This symbolic spectacle, where Sharpton re-imagines himself as MLK, struck me as curious, especially since Rev. Sharpton worked so arduously to elbow his way to the coveted role of Obama’s surrogate to the black community.

Sharpton worked so diligently to maintain his role as pitbull for the White House that he once threatened Obama’s critics, as Fredrick Harris observed in his book, The Price of the Ticket: Barack Obama and Rise and Decline of Black Politics:

… the Reverend Al Sharpton—who has been transformed from a protest activist to an advisor for the Obama administration—has even threatened the president’s black critics with public denunciations. “I’m not telling you to shut up,” Sharpton told listeners during one of his radio talk shows when speaking about the president’s black critics. “I’m telling you don’t make some of us have to speak up.”

Although Sharpton obviously has no problem taking a stand against his own listeners, the MSNBC host, who has visited the White House 61 times according to the White House visitor log, received little in the way of policy concessions on behalf of the black community from the Obama administration. Sharpton’s our appointed surrogate and Obama’s adviser, but when it came time to move collectively against police brutality, Sharpton had no other choice but to put on his marching shoes and call on the president to act from outside the White House, since he has no influence within the corridors of power.

This confirms my initial criticisms of Sharpton: He doesn’t understand how power is wielded or amassed on behalf of groups through movement politics in this country. If you want someone to bring attention to a police beating, then Sharpton will get the victim’s story on the eleven o’clock news. That has value in the initial moments that can potentially mushroom into movement. If, however, your aim is to enact legislation that will reduce the likelihood that habituated brutality will remain ensconced in the American way of life, then Sharpton has to pass the baton because he can’t play the long game. Sharpton never grew beyond the persona of bellicose activist and the black community never demanded that he either grow or be replaced.

As evidenced by the threatening quote from Sharpton to his mostly black listeners, what mattered most for Sharpton was protecting this president, and Sharpton never distinguished between protecting Obama from racist right wing hacks, like Rush Limbaugh, who once told a black caller to take the bone out of her nose, and the legitimate grievances shared by African-Americans who, although they’ve been Obama’s most loyal constituency, have also suffered more than any other demographic during the recession.

Even though Sharpton’s role as activist demanded that he amplify the voice of black people to power, Sharpton subverted that role, opting instead to protect Obama against the clamoring of a demographic demanding to be heard. Given this distortion of what it means to be an activist, it makes perfect sense that Sharpton is no longer being taken seriously, since he has no demonstrated desire or ability to galvanize people on behalf of a long term project. He has long since abdicated that role, preferring instead a cozy proximity to power. If I were a member of Obama’s team, I wouldn’t take Sharpton seriously either.

Perhaps Sharpton never intended to help anyone but himself. Or perhaps the march on Washington was just an occasion for Sharpton to attempt to co-opt a movement out of his control and not under his leadership. There is no way to know for sure. What we do know is that Sharpton never aggressively sought to act on behalf of the African-American community during Obama’s tenure. He told us to shut up and leave Obama alone. A man like this can’t lead a people when he has set himself apart from the people. The White House knows this and so does much of the African-American community. The only person who still doesn’t seem to get it is Al Sharpton.




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28/11/14 Black News , Black Politics , Opinion , ybw #

Obama Never Prosecuted Wall St., But Calls for Prosecution of Ferguson Protesters

Obama Never Prosecuted Wall St., But Calls for Prosecution of Ferguson Protesters
Photo Credit: Reuters

Photo Credit: Reuters

by Yvette Carnell

When the Svengalis on Wall Street engineered the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression, President Obama insulated that elite group from prosecution.  Obama wrongly asserted that no crimes had been committed by the Wall Street executives who oversaw the greatest transfer of wealth from the working class to the rich in a generation. But although Obama couldn’t bring himself to hold Wall St. execs accountable, which should’ve been predicted given that Obama received more Wall Street campaign donations than any other candidate except Romney, he is calling for prosecution of Ferguson protesters who damaged property during the unrest.

On Tuesday President Obama called for prosecution of Ferguson demonstrators who committed “criminal acts” while protesting the slaying of unarmed teen Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson.

“Burning buildings, torching cars, destroying property, putting people at risk — that’s destructive and there’s no excuse for it. Those are criminal acts. And people should be prosecuted if they engage in criminal acts,” Obama said before giving a speech on immigration in Chicago.

As The Guardian pointed out in 2013, many of the Wall Street executives who triggered the economic meltdown were also guilty of criminal acts:

Numerous documents prove that executives at leading banks, credit agencies, and mortgage brokers were falsely touting assets as sound that knew were junk: the very definition of fraud. As former Wall Street analyst Yves Smith wrote in her book ECONned: “What went on at Lehman and AIG, as well as the chicanery in the CDO [collateralized debt obligation] business, by any sensible standard is criminal.” Even lifelong Wall Street defender Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve Chair, said in Congressional testimony that “a lot of that stuff was just plain fraud.”

The Rolling Stone‘s Matt Taibbi noted the same in 2011:

Not a single executive who ran the companies that cooked up and cashed in on the phony financial boom — an industrywide scam that involved the mass sale of mismarked, fraudulent mortgage-backed securities — has ever been convicted. Their names by now are familiar to even the most casual Middle American news consumer: companies like AIG, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley. Most of these firms were directly involved in elaborate fraud and theft. Lehman Brothers hid billions in loans from its investors. Bank of America lied about billions in bonuses. Goldman Sachs failed to tell clients how it put together the born-to-lose toxic mortgage deals it was selling. What’s more, many of these companies had corporate chieftains whose actions cost investors billions — from AIG derivatives chief Joe Cassano, who assured investors they would not lose even “one dollar” just months before his unit imploded, to the $263 million in compensation that former Lehman chief Dick “The Gorilla” Fuld conveniently failed to disclose. Yet not one of them has faced time behind bars.

To add insult to injury, many of Wall Street execs went unpunished after targeting the African-American community with subprime mortgage scams. Although some companies were made to pay fines, a slap on the wrist for these multi-billion dollar corporations, the loss of millions in black wealth was obviously not worth a prosecution in the mind of the first black president or our black AG, Eric Holder.

As Obama edges closer to the end of his tenure, it becomes even more obvious that his legacy won’t be Obamacare, immigration reform, or even gay rights, since the biggest game changer in that regard came from the Supreme Court, not the executive branch. Obama’s most lasting legacy is the strengthening of a system of justice where there is one set a rules for the obscenely wealthy and another set of rules for the rest of us. More change we can believe in.

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13/11/14 Black News , Black Politics , featured , Opinion , ybw #

Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart Openly Voices Contempt for Black People and Black Culture

Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart Openly Voices Contempt for Black People and Black Culture
Jonathan Capehart

Jonathan Capehart

by Yvette Carnell

I don’t celebrate Kwanzaa. Never have. My issues with the holiday’s founder preclude me from wholly embracing the spirit of the celebration. Still, the principles promoted by the Kwanzaa, especially those of unity, resonate with African-Americans, as well they should considering that black unity is an entrenched aspect of the African-American tradition.

Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart, however, wasted space in a premiere U.S. newspaper to mock Kwanzaa. Capehart wrote a narcissistic piece aligning himself with a Tea Party lawmaker who called for an end to the holiday:


I see it as another sincere yet misguided effort by African Americans to forge a connection to an ancestral home they know nothing about. Sure, the principles of “unity,” “self-determination” and “collective work and responsibility” are excellent. But did we really need Kwanzaa to imbue us with these values? Do we really need to light a candle each day and recite a word in a language we’ve never spoken or know anything about to reaffirm a sense of community and resilience?



In his rant, Capehart reveals himself as a person who has lost his anchoring, an uprooted man with no connection to African-American tradition in this country. “So strident were Kwanzaa’s fans then that it became a marker of authentic blackness,” asserts Capehart. Actually, no it’s not. Kwanzaa is not viewed as a “marker” for “authentic” blackness and only a black person who has been missing from discussions originating within the black community for assume so.

Also troubling is how Capehart offhandedly dismisses Africa as a continent black people “know nothing about”, without any polling regarding how many African-Americans have visited Africa or researched the continent (and its many countries). I’ve visited Liberia and I know black people who have visited African nations as well, and cherish their connection to the continent and its traditions. Does Capehart know how many blacks are moving back to Africa, as evidenced by a flurry of recent articles on the subject?

From the Christian Science Monitor:

Whether motivated by love, money, or the desire to rekindle a long-lost connection, black repatriation to Africa remains alive and well, even if it never quite became the high-volume, emotional return to African roots that initially captured the imagination of black intellectuals and celebrities like boxer Mohammad Ali decades ago.


Author Maya Angelou lived in the capital, Accra, shortly after the UK’s Gold Coast colony became Ghana; and Martin Luther King Jr. was a guest at the country’s celebration of independence (as was then-American Vice President Richard Nixon.)

The African Diaspora has always been a part of the African-American tradition. What Capehart has unintentionally revealed about himself is that he holds a severe contempt for the African American tradition of pan-Africanism, espoused by everyone from Marcus Garvey to W.E.B. DuBois to Malcolm X. Capehart spat in the face of this tradition, a tradition embraced by intellectual giants who dwarf Capehart in comparison, because he and his uberific hipster pals just aren’t into it, as if this intellectual tradition requires his approval in order to be considered legitimate.

What Capehart snarkily assumes is that Kwanzaa is a made up holiday practiced only by silly black people who harken for the motherland out of some misplaced yearning. It never occurs to the intellectually lazy writer that this is actually a tradition that began when black Africans arrived on these shores.

The African-American community is beset by disproportionate levels of poverty, over-policing, civil forfeiture (where the government steals your stuff), access to health care and a number of other debilitating ailments that require public policy remedies, but do you know what p*sses Jonathan Capehart off? KWANZAA:

Kwanzaa-themed holiday cards elicited hard eye rolls from me and a few choice words delivered sotto voce. When a well-meaning white friend sent me a Kwanzaa card a few years back, I was enraged for hours. A Christmas card would have done nicely. My disdain for the holiday runs so deep that when Kwanzaa was the answer in the game Heads Up, my clue was “made up black holiday!” My teammate answered the question without a nanosecond’s hesitation. The ensuing laughter can only be described as uncontrollable.

As I’ve said before, there’s no better way to secure yourself a space at the top of the American totem pole than by mocking black folk as somehow obtuse and childlike. Mr. Capehart is in no danger of losing his byline at Washington Post.




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