Tag Archives: prison

Happy Birthday H. Rap Brown

3In the 1960s, during civil rights movement, there were several leaders of note. Most fell into two very distinct factions; there were the non-violent faction and the more aggressive revolutionary wing of the movement. As we all know, it did not matter which faction the leader participated in “they all were either killed or jailed.” One of the more aggressive and outspoken leaders from the revolutionary side was H. Rap Brown! He is famously known for statements like “Burn Baby Burn.”

His government name was Hubert Gerold Brown before changing it to H. Rap Brown and one of the most outspoken faces of the Black Power Movement. He served as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and as their Minister of Justice during the short-lived alliance between SNCC and the Black Panther Party. He became famous for his proclamations during that period saying “violence is as American as cherry pie,” as well as once stating that “If America don’t come around, we’re gonna burn it down”. He is also the author of his autobiography “Die Nigga Die!”

Brown like most of the so-called black radicals appeared on Hoover’s Ten Most Wanted list and was added after avoiding trial on charges of inciting a riot and of carrying a gun across state lines. Brown disappeared for 18 months and arrested after a reported shootout with officers. The shootout occurred after what was said to be an attempted robbery of a bar in 1971 in New York. His attorneys in the gun violation case were civil rights advocate Murphy Bell of Baton Rouge, and the self-described “radical lawyer” William Kunstler. Brown was scheduled to be tried in Cambridge, but the trial was moved to Bel Air, Maryland on a change of venue.

On March 9, 1970, two SNCC officials, Ralph Featherstone and William (“Che”) Payne, died on U.S. Route 1 south of Bel Air, Maryland, when a bomb on the front floorboard of their car exploded, completely destroying the car and dismembering both occupants. Theories of the origin of the bomb were disputed. Some say it was planted in an assassination attempt, others say it was intentionally carried by Payne to be used at the courthouse where Brown was to be tried. The next night the Cambridge courthouse was bombed.

He spent five years in Attica Prison after a robbery conviction. While in prison, Brown converted to Islam and changed his name from Hubert Gerold Brown to Jamil Abdullah al-Amin. After his release, he opened a grocery store in Atlanta, Georgia. He became a Muslim spiritual leader and community activist preaching against drugs and gambling in Atlanta’s West End neighborhood.

He is currently serving a life sentence for murder following the 2000 shooting of two Fulton County Sheriff’s deputies, both black, who were trying to serve a warrant on him. One deputy, Ricky Kinchen, died in the shooting. On March 9, 2002, nearly two years after the shooting took place, al-Amin was convicted of 13 criminal charges, including the murder of Deputy Kinchen. Four days later, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He was sent to Georgia State Prison, the state’s maximum security facility later transferred to ADX Florence Supermax prison in Colorado.

He believed “there is no in between, you’re either free or you’re a slave”. I agree!!! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Slavery By Another Name

jailThe mass incarceration of black people is not a new phenomenon. It is as old as the nation itself. One could say that slavery was the precursor to taking away the rights of black people. What we see today is just and evolution of that through later added amendments to the constitution that codify it into law, and remember slavery was a law. The prison system is in many ways like slavery because it is a profit making endeavor on the backs of black people and has very little to do with justice. The fact is that there are more black people in prison than there were in slavery.

Everyone has an opinion on the prison system and incarceration. Some view it as the New Jim Crow and others see nothing wrong with the system at all. Regardless of your position, it makes one wonder about the fairness received by some, namely minorities and the poor, and whether it works for those unable to afford justice. America incarcerates, puts more people in jail than any other country on the planet. This alone tells you that it is a huge cash cow. Just as slavery was created and used to oppress Africans in the prison system is “Slavery”, just by another name.

It is reported in news accounts daily that people are released after spending years incarcerated for crimes they did not commit. Then, there is the sad irony of people being put to death that are innocent who fall into this shameful category. In addition to executing the mentally disabled and life sentences for minors are all a fact of American justice. Also, there is the fact that once released the convicts voting rights are taken away in most cases forever. It is just slavery by another name.

There is a long history of lynchings, chain gangs, and the free labor derived from this unholy system of injustice. It is worth noting the original concept of the police derived from slave catchers. It was not until recently that we witnessed the disproportionate sentencing for crimes such as cocaine vs. crack was clearly unfair! There is also the Stand Your Ground Laws and Stop, and such laws as Frisk that I would compare to the Fugitive Slave Laws championed by the government.

To be clear, it is not my position that law and order or punishment is not necessary. What is disparaging is that the justice system disproportionately affects the minority population of the citizenry. Did you know the clothing worn by our soldiers are made by the cheap labor of the incarcerated? What is more horrendous is that the police are out of control and have become an occupying force that is rewarded for feeding the beast that is the prison industrial complex!

Let me suggest that you read Michelle Alexander’s book “The New Jim Crow.” Finally, when you work for free, and someone else receives the profit; it is slavery regardless of the new name given to it. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Why America Refuses To Face Up To Slavery’s Past

260_160Did you ever wonder why white folk can’t face up to slavery and the sins of their fathers. First, let’s understand that they benefited greatly on the backs of slavery. Therefore, we should understand that slavery and racism is all about economics. Not to mention it is as American as apple pie! They, white people, know full well the wretchedness of what they have done; then and now but they can’t teach the truth. It is simply the devil and evil within them that won’t allow it because it is the foundation of White Supremacy!!!

This is an article re-blogged – written by Earl Ofari Hutchinson

This news item shocked some. Two unnamed Academy members said they picked “12 Years a Slave” as their choice for best picture of the year. It subsequently got the award.

The shock, though, was that the unnamed members candidly admitted that they did not see the film. They minced no words why. It was just too painful and disturbing to watch this kind of film. But this really shouldn’t be much of a shock.

Facing the horror of slavery is a tough nut to crack not simply because it entails facing an inconvenient truth about past racial dehumanization, but because it entails facing the real truth that slavery still corrodes in big and little ways American life. This starts with the truth of why and how slavery became a respected and legitimate part of American life in the first place.

The U.S. government encoded slavery in the Constitution and protected and nourished it for a century. Traders, insurance companies, bankers, shippers, and landowners made billions off of it. Their ill-gotten profits fueled America’s industrial and agricultural might. For decades after slavery’s end, white trade unions excluded blacks and confined them to the dirtiest, poorest paying jobs.

While it’s true that many whites and non-white immigrants came to America after the Civil War they were not subjected to the decades of relentless racial terror and legal segregation, as were blacks. Through the decades of slavery and Jim Crow segregation, African-Americans were transformed into the poster group for racial deviancy. The image of blacks as lazy, crime- and violence-prone, irresponsible, and sexual predators has stoked white fears and hostility and served as the standard rationale for more than 4,000 documented lynchings between 1890 and 1945, as well as the countless racial assaults and acts of hate crime violence.

Though some blacks earn more and live better than ever today, and have gotten boosts from, social and education programs, civil rights legislation, and affirmative action programs, the hideous legacy of slavery is still ever present. The National Urban League in its annual State of Black America reports yearly continually finds that young blacks are far likelier than whites to be imprisoned, serve longer terms, and are more likely to receive the death penalty even when their crimes are similar.

Blacks continue to have the highest rates of poverty, infant mortality, violence victimization rates, and health care disparities than any other group in America. They are still more likely to live in segregated neighborhoods and be refused business and home loans. Their children are more likely to attend failed public schools than any other group, and more likely to be racially profiled on America’s urban streets.

The U.S. government admitted it was legally liable in 1997 to pay the black survivors and family members of the two-decade long syphilis experiment begun in the 1930′s by the U.S. Public Health Service that turned black patients into human guinea pigs. The survivors got $10 million from the government and an apology from President Clinton. They were the victims of a blatant medical atrocity conducted with the full knowledge and approval of the U.S. government.

The state legislature in Florida in 1994 agreed to make payments to the survivors and relatives of those who lost their lives and property when a white mob destroyed the all-black town of Rosewood in 1923. This was a specific act of mob carnage that was tacitly condoned by some public officials and law enforcement officers. Florida was liable for the violence and was duty bound to apologize and pay. The Oklahoma state legislature has agreed at least in principle that reparations and apology should be made to the survivors of the dozens of blacks killed, and the hundreds more that had their homes and businesses destroyed by white mobs with the complicity of law enforcement in the Tulsa massacre of 1921.

A bill by Michigan Congressman John Conyers that has been kicked around Congress since 1989 to establish a commission to study the impact of slavery and the feasibility of paying reparations to blacks has gone nowhere in Congress. Reparations is simply too risky, divisive, and distracting for Congress to seriously consider. President Obama, however, has spoken at times about the need to spend more on education, job and housing programs as the best way to deal with the ills of the black poor.

The brutal truth is that a mainstay of America’s continuing racial divide is its harsh and continuing mistreatment of poor blacks. This can be directly traced to the persistent and pernicious legacy of slavery. But from the comments and actions of at least some Academy members even watching a movie about slavery that’s set a century and a half ago is too much too take. And that tells why America still refuses to face up to its slave past.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a frequent MSNBC contributor. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KTYM 1460 AM Radio Los Angeles and KPFK-Radio and the Pacifica Network. Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson


The Man’s Burden

blkThere is no question that black people and black men, in particular, have always had a huge burden to carry. Since the year of our Lord in the Summer of 1619, when people from Africa were first dragged onto the shores of this place they called “merica”; they have always carried a heavy load on their shoulders. They would come to be chastised, criticized, punished, beaten, robbed, murdered, and would always be “less than” – all in the name of freedom.

All while the culprits have enjoyed enormous wealth and prosperity as a result of our never ending allegiance and patriotism, often blindly. Even today when we have ascended to the White House, there are those who castigate the president with vile abuse upon this uniquely qualified man of African heritage.

Just like they stole the land, and African people, I would argue that they stole the minds of black people by imposing a religion that was also stolen and misrepresented for the sake of White Supremacy. Coupled with the fact that they erased our languages and history, and never properly educated black people made the burden of existence almost impossible to survive in this land. They would kill a black person who processed the ability to read. Ok, American values right!

Black people are a unique people, a forgiving people, a steadfast people, and a brave people unlike any known to the world. It was the free labor from slavery that built America and its institutions that are responsible for the great wealth it enjoys to this very today. When you look at the enormous wealth, America has gained, because of slavery, and the power derived from its tremendous control of resources; think about the sacrifices our ancestors made to make all of this possible. We have looked out for this country for hundreds of years and still doing today, which is simply amazing.

Upon our backs, laden with the stripes of punishment for what they believed was for discipline and in spite of our loyalty, diligence, and tenacity – black people loved America. Even when America refused to allow us to walk even in the shadows, we followed, believing that someday we would come to accepted and be treated like human beings. Our strength in the face of adversity is vastly understated.

Our history is one of unbelievable struggle. We’ve been brave on the battlefield, despite being classified as three-fifths a man. This was and is outstanding. Frankly, it’s beyond the call of duty considering that we have lived through slavery and under an Apartheid-like system. We have raised America’s children, attended to its sick, and prepared their meals while those forefathers were occupied with the trappings of the good life.

Even during the times when they found pleasure in our women and enjoyment in seeing our men lynched, maimed and burned – we continued to watch over America’s soul. We labored in the hot sun from “can’t see to can’t see” to assist in realizing the dream of wealth, good fortune, and made America a great world power. We have guarded her and continue today.

We are ungrateful to those who had the audacity to speak out against America’s past transgressions. Yet, it was us who warned about Denmark Vessey, signaled the plans of Gabriel Prosser, and called attention to Nat Turner, Malcolm, and yes Martin too. It was us who sounded the alarm when old John Brown came calling on Harper’s Ferry, and there are still some sounding warnings today.

Black Nationalism has died and, as a result, our community is giving 95 percent of what it earns to other businesses and keeps little for themselves. In spite of the fact that other people controlled at least 90 percent of all the resources and wealth of this nation. In today’s business environment, we do not support each other and just keep doing business with the larger community and, in fact, any other community.

Some say we were very successful supporting our own after slavery ended, by all accounts there was a brief period of empowerment during what they call Reconstruction, which lasted about ten years. There were a few other instances where economic progress spurred little hope, with the last being as recently as the decade of 1960 and nearing the end of the 1990s. But you know what happens when you began to build communities and do business with one another – you’re pitted against one another and destroy ourselves.

This includes our acquiescence to political agendas, abdicating our own economic self-sufficiency, and working so diligently for the economic well-being of other people. Even though the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments were written and many died for the rights described therein. We did not even resist when they changed Black Rights to Civil Rights and Civil Rights to Gay Rights being the new Civil Rights or allowing virtually every other group to take advantage of such for their progress.

We see today the senseless murders of unarmed black men, women, and children on a daily basis by the so-called law. Where is the outrage? This goes beyond the imagination, irrespective of the many promises that have been made and broken. A lass, our savior, in the plagiarized good book that tells us not to worry because when you die you will find a place where there is a mansion waiting for you and streets paved with gold somewhere in the sky.

We resisted the messages of trouble-making Blacks like Washington, Delaney, Garvey, Bethune, Tubman, and Truth for fighting and dying for us. Most have forgotten their names and take no reverence in their sacrifice due to a lack of reciprocity and equity. When you continue to do what you’ve always done; you will get what you always got! This is the black man’s burden! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


The Negro Dilemma

007_1000As a result of recent killing by police in this place slaves called “merica” not much had changed regarding justice. The great comedian Richard Pryor reminded us that what that means for African American’s is “Just Us.” In many places throughout America, there is the belief that “black male teens” are inherently more likely to be criminals. This is also to include black men, the poor and minorities in general. However, it is clear that African American’s are pursued and prosecuted more vigorously.

What is dangerous about this thinking is that it’s ingrained in our society and actually applies to all people of color; whereas, the facts and statistic don’t prove this true. The result is that people of African descent are overrepresented in the prison system. There are the millions trapped in the cycle of probation and other legal aspects of the justice system that makes it look like “Just Us”.

It has been embedded in almost every institution from the beginning. This means it is still with us today in the form of racial profiling, stop and frisk, and all too often unfair judgment by those who are supposed to protect us. There have been thousands of cases that have involved African Americans, whether rightly or wrongly, administered by the system. This brings me to the most significant case of our time – the Trayvon Martin murder and the Michael Brown. These two cases are pivotal moments because the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about is RACE.

Let me quote something, Elijah Anderson, Professor of Sociology at Yale University, said:

In Till’s day, a black person’s “place” was in the field or the back of the bus. If a black man were found “out of his place,” he could be jailed or lynched. In Martin’s day — in our day — a black person’s “place” is in the ghetto. If he is found “out of his place,” he may be treated with suspicion, frisked, arrested — or worse.

We know the facts should state the obvious. The questions were simple, either Micheal Brown and Trayvon Martin or those murdered in cold blood by the police are institutionally sanctioned. I am talking about these two cases because they were the few that received national attention, and we know the media pays no attention to most cases presuming that a black life are insignificant.

For all the unethical tactics, in my view, it was no accident that Zimmerman’s defense attorneys did not want this highly charged, racially tinged cases to leave “Mayberry.” I say this because there were no black people in the town of Mayberry, which I compare to the few in Sanford or that conservative area. In that vein, the same could be said about the decision to use the indictment process to “not bring charges” against the police.

In the Davis case, the man who murdered him did get convicted of murder and convicted of attempted murder of the three other occupants in the car with Davis when he was murdered. Let’s just flip the script; what if the shooters were black and the victims were black? Would there have been any difficulty in convicting the person in this instance. I think not!

Let me make mention of Eric Garner, the twelve-year-old in Ohio, John Crawford, and the list goes on and on! More shocking was the the 12 year old shot in two seconds by the police caught on camera, and they said, no crime! The question then becomes will the result be the same as it was 60 years ago when little Emmitt Till’s killers faced a jury. The world is watching America and sees more of the same.

They kill black people with impunity and charged for the crime – hardly ever! We have seen this before – again and again! I only need to remind you of the case not too long ago in Simi Valley, California, with Rodney King. They tried to convince us that we did not see what we saw, which is happening in the repeated videos of police shootings, and that is the Negro Dilemma. When it comes to justice – it’s “Just Us”! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

 It is your responsibility to teach the young!!!


Prison System: The New Apartheid

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In recent years, we have witnessed torture inflicted upon people supposedly to protect America. Black people are supposed to be American’s but the state, kills about one black person each week. I’m not talking about the wars abroad supposedly to bring freedom, rather right here on American soil where racism was born. In nearly every city in America black people are victims of abuse at the hands of the police, vigilantes, and murdered that seems to most often go unnoticed by the justice system.

For example, there was the assassination of a young black child in Florida, Travon Martin, which was similar to little Emmett Till over a half century ago. Also, let’s not forget Oscar Grant and Jordon Davis, Michael Brown and Eric Gardner, and so many more that have fallen victim having their rights violated to the point of death.

The Klan is on the rise, and most conservative lawmakers are trying to turn back the hands of time. During this month in the year of our Lord 2015, black people still face the evils of those who are sick, like a Bull Connor, with the seemingly incurable disease of racism. The mass incarceration rate of people of color and minorities are at an unprecedented rate; only compared to the captured soul’s once held in the evil system of slavery.

The Constitution and Western jurisprudence, going back to the Magna Carta and before, do not require a person accused of a crime to prove his or her innocence. The burden of proof is on the prosecutors to convince a jury of one’s “peers” to unanimously agree on guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Not if you are black!

The odds were stacked against minorities and African Americans in particular, from the beginning. This is evident today because black men are sentenced to jail in astounding numbers with extremely long sentences compared to people of the other hue for the same crimes.

I was struck by something Hip-hop duo Dead Prez once said, “Behind me on the wall it says this place is a place of hallowed justice, it should say this is a place of hollow justice, there’s no justice. We’re right in front of the injustice department because for over 40 years we’ve seen Mumia Abu Jamal get no justice, we’ve seen Eddy Conway, we’ve seen Mutulu Shakur, we’ve seen Herman Bell, we’ve seen Jalil Muntaqim, and countless other colonial subjects shot down by the police departments inside this country, no justice.”

Some might say this is “Modern Lynching” or as Michelle Alexander calls it “The New Jim Crow”. It could also be called “American Apartheid”! Today, the prison industry is traded on the Stock Exchange. Did you know that the place where the Stock Exchange exists was once a place where slaves were sold? When laws are made to support the interests of an industry that is designed for profit and to benefit its stockholders; there is not much difference in the once profitable slave industry.

Right now, the United States represents five-percent of the world’s population but incarcerate twenty-five percent of the world’s prisoners. And guess which group of people is disproportionately represented in the American criminal injustice system – Just Us. Black people represent a large number of what I call the modern slaves, but the system calls them Felons. Yeah, some kind of “Liberty”!

Lift every voice and demand justice, thereby remove the stigma of “Just Us”. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


To The People Of African Heritage

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The so-called Negro was created by the so-called American patriots has had only one desire since being removed from Africa, and that was to obtain equality and to experience what they call “liberty.” African Americans simply asked America to honor the promise of freedom that they claim comes with liberty.

I’ll quote Dr. King, who said, “We were been given a blank check”, and we would like to cash it – paid in full. Let’s be very clear, people of African descent are the only immigrates to come to this country against their will only to be forced into a life of bondage that was true then and is now immoral. It was not only an American shame but for all that benefited must wear the burden of the “sins of their fathers”.

Let me be clear, “A Negro” was created by the wretched souls that arrived on this land that would become America to lay claim to land that wasn’t even theirs. When I say, created I mean there was no such culture or nationality anywhere on earth before Europeans took the captives from Africa and brought them to America. The result was creating a nation of people placed in a strange land to live without a nationality. This was done specifically through the constitution and legislative laws sanctioned by the government.

From the very beginning, the Africans resisted their captivity and bondage, which was to include the ungodly trip across the Atlantic that history calls the Mid-Passage. Once the captives arrived on land, be it in America or the Caribbean, there was rebellion. There were many movements to obtain the promise of freedom like the Abolitionist Movement and Civil Rights Movements in varying forms and yes, there were many great leaders born to affect change but were killed by the wretched system during slavery and segregation. Or maybe I should say to maintain the system of “White Supremacy”! I won’t say many of these courageous “freedom fighters” all failed, but I will say they did not succeed because equal treatment, particularly under the law and freedom is still absent today.

Many African Americans continue to suffer from the untreated wounds of America’s forefathers and their asymptomatic behaviors. These behaviors were never unlearned and have been passed down from generation to generation. Over my relatively short lifetime, black people have been referred to as Colored, Negro, Afro-American, Black, and an African American, which were all polite terms assigned to make known that people of African descent were not American citizens.

This legacy of dependency, apathy, and entrenchment of the American social order from the beginning provides clear evidence of those with a diabolical intent to bankrupt the souls of a people based on an ideology of supremacy. These stolen souls that exist today are people who bear the burden of a system that perpetrated, in the name of God, the greatest crime known to man.

Even today, the slave catchers, police murder unarmed black men, women, and children with no regard for life the same as they have always done. The result is they black the victim and imply he or she was at fault for the own death. Also, when black people speak up or take a stand the system will destroy the group through death or reputation. For example, they claim the Black Lives Matter Movement was built on a lie and have waged war on police. This is no different than the did with the Black Panther, Martin or Malcolm!

The concept of African Americans being slaves, physically or mentally, is as old as the nation itself, designed to deprive a people of its culture and knowledge through sustained policies of control. To overcome these indignities, we must realize that education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize the forces that breed poverty and despair.

Regardless of how much this race has been and is held down, praying and singing “We Shall Overcome” is NOT the answer. It is our responsibility to find a way to get up; after all it’s been four-hundred years, which has shown us that the system of White Supremacy is designed to protect the system. The great Bob Marley reminded us to “Stand-up – Stand-up for your rights”. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

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