Ongoing protests, demands for action, only routes to meaningful change

People protest nationwide against police brutality.

People protest nationwide against police brutality.

On Saturday, December 13, various civil rights groups will gather in Washington, D.C, to demand a national response to the spate of murders unleashed on unarmed Black men and boys by White police officers, and the refusal of largely White grand juries, impaneled by White district attorneys, to indict the officers. Some supporters will march to protest against vigilante members of the public who also kill Black and Latino residents  without provocation. While still others will march to highlight members of the Black and Latino communities killing each other in a show of disregard for their lives.

Protesters in New York City march and demand change.

Protesters in New York City march and demand change.

As people of all races and backgrounds continue to take to the street en masse, blocking streets, highways, malls, businesses and municipal buildings, politicians have begun to take notice. Also, supporters in countries as far-flung as India, France and England have held solidarity protests, holding aloft banners with the timeless message: “Black Lives Matter.” There must be no tiring in the quest to elicit meaningful change in how Black and Latino people are routinely targeted and dehumanized by police officers who are sworn to protect them. The dichotomy in police relationships between the White community and Black/Latino communities require a national overall in policing strategies.

Protesters marched in 1936 for the same issue as they are marching today.

Protesters marched in 1936 for the same issue as they are marching today.

President Barack Obama’s recent request to Congress for $75 million to fund body cameras for police officers, while noble, hardly inspires comfort, given the fact that the unholy alliance between district attorneys and police officers rendered two videotapes of Eric Garner’s chokehold murder by Staten Island detective Daniel Pantaleo unpersuasive to a predominantly White grand jury. However, it is a step in the right direction. New York Mayor Bill deBlasio’s joint announcement with his police commissioner Bill Bratton that all 35, 000 New York City police force will immediately undergo re-training is also a good step, despite the cries of hysteria espoused by Petrolmen Benevolent Association( PBA) President Patrick Lynch.

“Re-training the police force on new ways of dealing with the public and better use of force will reduce these tragedies,” deBlasio said over the weekend.

Protesters stage die-in at Grand Central Station in New York City to express outrage that the grand jury failed to indict the officers who used an illegal chokehold to murder Eric Garner.

Protesters stage die-in at Grand Central Station in New York City to express outrage that the grand jury failed to indict the officers who used an illegal chokehold to murder Eric Garner.

But those steps are just the beginning of what will be a long journey towards the type of systemic change that is necessary for Blacks and Latinos to feel safe in their homeland of America, the land of the free. It is unacceptable for Blacks and Latinos to be victimized, harassed, assaulted and murdered with impunity by police officers who run the streets like lawless gangs who answer to no one. This must stop. The anguish that is felt by the families of Garner, Amadou Diallo, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Akai Gurley, Ezell Ford, Oscar Grant, Sean Belll, Anthony Baez, Abmer Louima, Patrick Dorismond, Jordan Davis and countless others across the country needs to be assuaged.

Black and Latino children grow up fearing the police who are sworn to protect them.

Black and Latino children grow up fearing the police who are sworn to protect them.

The trauma experienced by members of the Black and Latino communities when an innocent life is cut down by police officers whose primary responsibility is to protect but whose presence engenders fear, last a lifetime.  Police brutality targeted towards Black and Latino communities need to stop and the protests, marches and acts of civil disobedience are vital actions that must be taken to keep the issues in the public consciousness.–OnPointPress.net.

“The Message” depicts the music and movement of Hip Hop (Part I)

BET's The Message is a 4-part documentary series that airs Wednesday nights at 10pm. The last part airs on June 25, 2014.

BET’s The Message is a 4-part documentary series that airs Wednesday nights at 10pm. The last part airs on June 25, 2014.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

As Black Music Month nears its end, it is important to recognize the impact Hip Hop has made in society. Interestingly, it seems as if the Hip Hop movement and culture have been more accepted than Hip Hop music, itself. Speaking about the music, President Barack Obama said: “Honestly I love the art of Hip Hop but I don’t always love the message.”

The cultural impact made by those who have embraced Hip Hop can be identified through the entertainment, fashion, technology, and business worlds. Hip Hop culture has sparked creations that are worth billions of dollars, yet Hip Hop music still faces challenges in appreciation and acceptance

Public Enemy's Chuck D has used Hip Hop music to bring light to important social issues throughout the years.

Public Enemy’s Chuck D has used Hip Hop music to bring light to important social issues throughout the years, using a logo of a black man caught in the cross hairs as a message of how black men are targeted in society.

In an effort to shift the message of Hip Hop to focus on serious issues, Chuck D of Public Enemy was strategic. He addressed social issues in songs such as “Fight the Power,” which was the title song of Spike Lee’s groundbreaking movie “Do the Right Thing.” Chuck D said that his mindset during his career had been about provoking thought on the black experience so that others can see their worth and value.

“We’re trying to fuel the minds of black people to know about themselves and that’s it in a nutshell,” he said, while Russell Simmons said that “Chuck D was already a person who wanted to change the African-American culture.” That vision inspired others.

Queen Latifah has always championed social causes in her music.

Queen Latifah has always championed social causes in her music and is viewed as a trendsetter .

Rappers like Queen Latifah, MC Lyte and Sista Souljah tackled social injustices in their music and made it clear that using music as a tool to shed light on inequality was important to them. Social issues still constitute a part of Hip Hop today as shown in music by Lupe Fiasco, Common, Lauryn Hill and Mos Def. Hill has fully embraced Hip Hop music, stating: “I’m musical but I was born into Hip Hop.”

Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill has carved a niche as a conscious rapper and has reaped the rewards by snagging five Grammy Awards in 1998, prompting her to say “This is crazy because it’s Hip Hop” as she collected her awards.

The issues that inspired the social aspect of the music, such as black men and boys being targeted by police and society, still exist today. This is evident in the murders of Travyon Martin and Jordan Davis, unarmed teenagers who were gunned down by armed white men who “felt threatened.” Ice Cube voiced his displeasure with police tactics as being influential in N.W.A’s anti-police anthem “F the Police.”  Ice Cube also referenced being inspired to do the music he performed with N.W.A. by the social commentary offered by artists like KRS 1 and Schoolly D.

“To me this gangsta [rap] stuff was already in the air but a group had never did it. It is unapologetically art. Just in your face. We were not looking for acceptance,” Ice Cube said. “We only wanted acceptance from the neighborhood.’

BET President Stephen Hill is proud to be able to help bring The Message to viewers.

BET President Stephen Hill is proud to be able to help bring The Message to viewers.

BET’s 4-part documentary on Hip Hop, The Message, takes viewers on a journey of the evolution of the message in the Hip Hop music and its, social, cultural and economic impact. The Message, narrated by Hip Hop star Joe Budden, gives brief accounts about the early stages of the genre, the eventual spread of the music and many challenges that faced those who supported and/or performed the music.

Hip Hop star Joe Budden narrates The Message.

Hip Hop star Joe Budden narrates The Message.

“Hip Hop is a seed planted and nourished amongst the ‘broken glass everywhere’ of mid-70’s New York. It has grown to be a worldwide phenomenon and dominant culture of at least one generation,” explained current president of music programming and specials at BET, Stephen Hill. He used the words from the original Hip Hop song “The Message,” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five to make his point.

The fourth and final installment of The Message will air on June 25, 2014.

Entrepreneur Steve Stoute (c) developed a similar series that aired on VH1 in February. He is pictured above with Hip Hop royalty Nas (l) and Jay-Z (r).

Entrepreneur Steve Stoute (c) developed a similar series that aired on VH1 in February. He is pictured above with Hip Hop royalty Nas (l) and Jay-Z (r).

Earlier this year, (February 24 – 27) VH1 aired its own 4-part documentary extolling the virtues of Hip Hop culture named “The Tanning of America: One Nation Under Hip Hop.” That series was the brainchild of entrepreneur and advertising executive Steve Stoute, who wrote a similarly titled book on the topic in 2011. Both series discuss similar topics and illustrate how Hip Hip has grown from a local form of enjoyment to a universal method of connecting.

Female Hip Hop stars and radio personalities

Female Hip Hop stars  (from top left) Salt & Pepa, Foxy Brown, MC Lyte, Lil Kim and radio personality Angie Martinez.

As viewers watch The Message, they will be reminded of the positive and negative experiences that pioneers endured. Russell Simmons, LL Cool J, Ice Cube, MC Lyte, Pharrell, Nas, Luther Campbell, Angie Martinez, Snoop Dogg, Queen Latifah, Rick Ross, Salt N Pepper, Kendrick Lamar, Danyel Smith, Lil Kim, Master P, Foxy Brown, Funkmaster Flex, Big Tigger, and Nelson George are some of the many Hip Hop related stars that are interviewed throughout this series. They share their insight and experiences between the many segments that touch on the birth, trials and tribulations experienced during of the evolution of Hip Hop.

The Message features interviews from some the biggest names in Hip Hop history  including (l - r) Kendrick Lamar, Ice Cube, Rick Ross, and Nas.

The Message features interviews from some the biggest names in Hip Hop history including (l – r) Kendrick Lamar, Ice Cube, Rick Ross, and Nas.

The Message is a worthwhile viewing experience, not to receive the total understanding of Hip Hop, but to bring back memories and spark thoughts about the current state of Hip Hop. The music has evolved, yet it continues to face scrutiny from fans and critics alike. Meanwhile the culture continues to flourish and set trends.

One thing that cannot be disputed about Hip Hop though, is it remains relevant and is still growing. The the desire for social acceptance and concern for relevance and respect that inspired the music is as relevant today as it was when the genre was introduced in the 1980s..–OnPointPress.net–

Stay tuned for Part 2 next Monday.

Charles Glover, Jr. is a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

Florida verdict shows siege mentality, broken judicial system

Michael Dunn

Cold-blooded murderer Michael Dunn, being escorted to face justice in the senseless killing of unarmed teenager Jordan Davis in Jacksonville, Florida.

It’s been apparent for quite some time that the system used to select jurors in this country is broken and needs overhauling. In Florida, especially, it seems that whenever it’s time to determine the fate of a non-black person who has murdered a black teenager in cold blood, jurors, who tend to resemble the murderer rather than the victim, are loathe to secure justice for the victim.  One disgusted Florida resident was firm in his assessment:  “Our legal system is now complicated therefore we need people with the intellectual capability to digest that… I think all aspects of our legal system is broken,” he stated.

The latest jury to toe the line and preserve the status quo is the Jacksonville jury which declined to find Michael Dunn guilty of first degree murder in the killing of teenager Jordan Davis this past Saturday. The jury chose instead to find Dunn guilty of three counts of attempted murder and one count of discharging a missile after he fired ten shots into the vehicle carrying the teens as they listened to rap music. Proclaiming themselves “deadlocked” on the top charge, the jury convicted Dunn on the four lesser charges, making him eligible for up to 60 years in jail. The judge declared a mistrial on the murder charge, due to the jury’s failure to do its job and render a verdict for Jordan Davis, who was a 17-year-old teen, out with his friends,when he was mercilessly gunned down by the heartless Dunn.

“We are so happy to have a little bit of closure,” a tearful  Lucia McBath, Davis’ mother, said after the split verdict was delivered, one day before the slain teen would have celebrated his 19th birthday. “We will continue to stand and we will continue to wait for justice for Jordan.”

Jordan Davis

Slain teenager Jordan Davis would have celebrated his 19th birthday on February 16.

The jury was deadlocked on the top count of murder, albeit finding the perpetrator guilty of attempted murder and discharging a missile. So in essence, the jury decided that while Dunn shot and killed Jordan and fired a fusillade of bullets into the jeep carrying his friends, they could not find common ground on the charge that the death was intentional and the teen was unarmed, even though the police found no weapon and the other teens insisted that no one was armed other than the murderer. Naturally, Dunn’s lawyer has been making the media rounds, telling all who will listen that he will appeal the verdict and seek justice for his client.

Black boys are being murdered in record numbers across the country and in Florida, especially, it seems as if their basic existence comes with enormous risks. While the Florida prosecutor has indicated that Dunn will be retried on the top murder charge, its attorney general Angela Corey, leaves a lot to be desired with her selective prosecution and unbalanced enthusiasm when prosecuting cases. Take the unbridled venom she demonstrated in personally going after Marissa Alexander, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot after being assaulted by her abusive husband.

The conviction was overturned on a technicality but Corey was quick to state that she will try Alexander again, determined to lock her up although no murder was committed and no one was harmed. Corey’s prosecution of Alexander was relentless and her planned retrial of the Florida mother is unseemly. But for some reason, Corey did not deem it necessary to personally prosecute George Zimmerman for murdering Trayvon Martin, leaving that up to her inept team. Similarly, in the Dunn case, Corey popped up only after the split verdict to state, with no sense of urgency or passion, that Dunn would be retried on the top count.

Florida Sate Attorney Angela Corey (L) declines to personally prosecute non-blacks who murder unarmed black teens but she relishes personally prosecuting black mothers such as Marissa Alexander (Right) who fired a warning shot at her abusive spouse but did not harm anyone.

Vindictive Florida State Attorney Angela Corey (L) declines to personally prosecute non-blacks who murder unarmed black teens but she relishes personally prosecuting black mothers such as Marissa Alexander (Right) who fired a warning shot at her abusive spouse but did not harm anyone.

For the duration of the Dunn trial, no mention was made of the stark fact that Dunn pre-judged Davis and his friends, shooting up their vehicle in anger because they, black teenagers, whom he described as “thugs,” dared to enjoy the music of their choice. Somehow, the racial motivation was not deemed important to the Florida prosecutors. Dunn and his girlfriend calmly returned to their lodging after the brutal murder, ordering pizza and enjoying themselves, without deigning to call 911.

During his testimony Dunn showed emotion when he talked about his girlfriend and his dog but he was expressionless when he talked about his dastardly execution of Davis. Such heartless disregard for a teenaged life is grossly appalling. It is even more troubling that the trial seemed focused on the prosecutors trying to explain that Davis was a “good boy,” as if Davis was on trial, instead of the murderous Dunn.

After the verdict was announced, Ron Davis, the victim’s father, chose his words carefully. “We were good parents to Jordan. He was a good kid,” he said. By all accounts, the teen certainly was a good adolescent, on the cusp of adulthood. But that did not matter in a society where Stand Your Ground Laws empower bigots to shoot and kill innocent black boys without provocation and then craft what is perceived as a perfect alibi: claiming that they feared for their lives, that they were being threatened or attacked.

Not only does the Stand Your Ground law that exists in Florida and other southern states need to be struck down, it is imperative that jurors, particularly those in Florida who seem to have difficulties getting it right, be better versed on the nuances on examining evidence through the prism of reality instead of being blinded by race. This siege that has enveloped the survival of black boys needs to be fought as aggressively.

Murderers fight to walk free when they kill innocent children and young adults for no other reason than the victims are black. These killers feel that they have a right to kill because black lives, in their minds, lack valueThe fight continues for justice for Davis, and other innocent black boys whose lives were snuffed out too soon. Parents, activists and concerned citizens across the globe need to stand up and say: enough!–OnPointPress.net.

Please follow us on Twitter at OnPointPress_.