Category Archives: Life Article

Commentary: How to Make Change Happen | By Shaun King

 By Shaun King

I am going to switch it up today. Instead of giving you this week’s stories of horrible injustice, which Lord knows there is a long list of those stories to tell this week, I want us to have a serious conversation about how we make change happen in this country.

As I reflect back on the past three years, I think I can squeeze dozens of important lessons that I learned down to one essential lesson — which is this — awareness and action are not the same thing. Making people aware of our problems is important, vital work, but awareness of a problem and solving that problem are not the same.

We’ve mastered awareness, but what I’ve learned is that people in power are willing to be painfully aware of police brutality, painfully aware of white supremacy, painfully aware of a prison industrial complex, abundantly clear about inequality and bigotry and racism — and still do absolutely nothing about it.

Politicians and lawmakers are willing to watch us take us a knee, watch us march, watch us picket and protest — and wait us out. They are willing and prepared to outlast us — and, in most cases, to do absolutely nothing about the problems we highlight and amplify.

Don’t get me wrong. I love social media, and it is an important part of how we make change happen. But we can’t retweet ourselves out of our most serious problems. We can’t Facebook share our way out of our most serious challenges. It’s just not working.

So let me tell you the four things we need to make change happen.

They’re all important, but the first one is essential, and I’ve grown to believe a significant reason why we’re stuck is because we’ve failed at this step.

The first thing we need to make change happen is a well-crafted plan. What’s our plan for change? Do you know it? Where can I find it? Can you share it with me? Do your friends and family members know it?

Here’s what I’ve learned about why we need to craft and communicate careful plans:

Whatever our plans are to combat police brutality and reform the criminal justice system, people sure as hell don’t know them. I just spoke at UC Davis outside of Sacramento this week and when I travel and speak across the country, and ask people if they can tell me what the local plan is to combat injustice and police brutality in their town, they usually have no idea. Sometimes they can tell me a few heartbreaking stories of injustice, but it’s a rare day when I ask people what the plan is that they reply with an informed answer. I’m not criticizing them! I’m criticizing us. If the people aren’t aware of the basic plans for change, we’ve failed.

To be clear, our movement has diagnosed the problems, we’ve even proposed solutions, but we’ve done a bad job at informing people of how we get from where we are to where we need to be. And that’s a problem. Plans are only as effective as the ability for everyday people to repeat them back to you. The people don’t know our plans. They have not adopted them as their own. We won’t have change until we fix this.

Which leads me to the second thing we need — we need people. We need organized people who are on board with our well-crafted plans. What I’m finding is that even some of our most conscious, informed, woke men and women, have a desire for change, but aren’t really clear on what that means for them. We have to get to the point where our people and our plans are fully and completely merged. Too often, we rally people, and make them aware of problems, but fail to get them on board for well-crafted plans.

Yes, the more people you can have on board, the better, but I’m increasingly convinced that 50 organized people who are fully and completely on board for a well-crafted plan can get more done than 50,000 people who want change in an esoteric way, but have no real idea what that means for them.

You need a plan, you need people, and the third thing you need to make change happen is energy. Sometimes I use the word momentum. People have to be motivated and energized and prepared to fight for the change we want to see. People with momentum can get so much done. Momentum is easy to lose and almost impossible to fake. My theory on momentum is that the best way to produce it is through small, hard fought victories that lead to bigger battles, and bigger wins. Winning builds momentum. But here’s the thing — winning takes a well-crafted plan and an organized team. When we fight without those things we lose — which kills our energy and destroys any hopes for momentum.

And I’ll close with my final thought — it’s an important one — this modern movement, call it the Black Lives Matter Movement, or the movement to combat injustice, the movement for true equality in America — is one of the least funded movements in the history of movements. To win, we must be well-resourced. And here’s what I know — those who are mobilizing against us, be it police and prison unions, or prosecutor associations, or Trump and Sessions themselves– they are well funded — and they use that funding to lobby, organize, market, promote, fight laws, and do the hard work to make change happen. It just so happens that what they fight for (or against), quite successfully I must add, goes against the very values and ideas those of us in the justice community hold near and dear.

Let me close with this — we’re being out-organized and out-spent on the issues that matter the most. We’re losing on so many fronts not because losing is inevitable, not because we’re bound to lose, but because those who mean us harm have simply done a better job fighting for what they believe in. That’s a serious simplification of systemic injustice and inequality, but the root of it is true. The machines and mechanisms of injustice are well-crafted, well-oiled machines. To change them, we’ll have to be better — much better.

source: Injustice Today

R.I.P. Prodigy


I just wanted to send my condolences to the legendary hip hop icon Prodigy of Mobb Deep.  This album ‘The Infamous’ is actually partly inspired my moniker, (INfamous 6ixx) but back in ’96 when I got it, it stayed in my walkman for months on end, from riding the Marta to work, to church, to school and back home, I just couldn’t get enough of this music.  P’s stories and verses were so descriptive, it always made me feel like I was there in the story.  Great ability to present vulnerability and grit at the same time, explaining life in Queensbridge, on the 41st side … P’s voice and flow was special; him and Havoc have a integral part of my late teens and early 20s as far understanding song structure, production, how to connect to an audience and the ability to not give a fuck and just say how you feel; I can’t front either, listening to the music connected in such a deep way for the first time I actually pictured a place that made me feel like I was back home in Philly with the aligning of so many heartbreaks, hustles and just grittiness of everyday life.  R.I.P. P, you taught me not be a ‘Shook One’ cause there definitely isn’t anything such Halfway Crooks … Prayers to all in your circle of life … #Love #MobbDeep

News: Terence Crutcher’s killer, Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby found not guilty!!!

A Tulsa police officer has been acquitted after fatally shooting an unarmed black man during a traffic stop. Officer Betty Shelby told CBS News she thought the suspect was reaching for a weapon when she fired. CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman breaks down the verdict on CBSN.

For more info: Read More…

Life Article: The great American whitelash claims new victims every day

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Tuesday 9 May 2017 Last modified on Tuesday 9 May 2017

Lingering in the deepest corners of our national soul is the idea that this is and will always be a white nation. And we pay for this idea with our blood

Odell Edwards
‘Odell Edwards and Charmaine Edwards mourn the death of their son, Jordan Edwards, in a police shooting.’ Photograph: Guy Reynolds/AP

Our times are exceedingly dark. No matter what pundits or politicians – even so-called progressive ones – may say, racism remains a central feature of this society, and this fact isn’t simply about the victimization of black people.

Consider Jordan Edwards, a 15-year-old freshman from the suburbs of Dallas, Texas, who is now dead. A policeman shot him in the head with a rifle and offered an account of the circumstances that was contradicted by video evidence. He now faces murder charges. Jordan’s family grieves in public for the loss of their child. It is an old, haunting ritual in this country.

A few days after Edwards was killed, the justice department announced that it would not charge the police officers who shot and killed Alton Sterling at point-blank range in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on 5 July 2016. They were responding to a report that a man had threatened someone outside a convenience store. Sterling fit the description. The video shows two officers on top of him as he lay on the ground, when one yells: “He’s got a gun.” Louisiana is a concealed carry state. It didn’t matter. They shot him several times. And we saw it.

Michael Slager, the former North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer who killed Walter Scott, pleaded guilty to violating Scott’s civil rights when he shot him in the back during a 2015 traffic stop. As a result of the plea agreement, the federal prosecutors will drop the two remaining charges and state prosecutors will drop the outstanding murder charge. The family awaits the judge’s decision about Slager’s sentence. I am sure the deadlocked state jury lingers in their minds; that jury couldn’t decide if the shooting was even a crime.

Alongside these headlines are the videos of police violence against black people that continue to circulate: in Sacramento, California, we saw a police officer attack a man who was simply crossing the street and in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a police officer violently attacked a young 14-year-old boy at Woodland Hills high school.

And then there are the more mundane events: a professional baseball player was peppered with racial slurs from fans at Boston’s Fenway Park; someone hung bananas with AKA letters (Alpha Kappa Alpha, a black sorority) in nooses on American University’s campus; fliers with racist and antisemitic comments were taped to buildings at Princeton University; and, of course, there are the daily cuts and slashes that lead some to call us “snowflakes”.

I even received a troubling phone call in my office after an appearance on television in which I criticized Donald Trump. “You are a f**ing lowlife, f**ing n**er,” the caller said. “Take that to the bank. Lowlife, f**ing n**er. F** you!”

Incidents like these reflect an adamant reassertion of the value of white people at the expense of all others in a moment of deep economic insecurity. And no amount of sentimentality about how far we have come or bleeding-heart sympathy about the horrors of these so-called isolated incidents can undo that fact.

There are those who walk among us (and they are not caricatures like Richard B Spencer or Ann Coulter; they are neighbors, our fellows), who continue to believe that this is a white nation. And Trump’s presidency has given them license to say as much and to act as if it’s true.

Trump knows this. Of all the things to respond to in the $1.1tn omnibus spending bill, Trump singled out a 25-year-old federal program that aids historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). It helps them build buildings.

For him, the program may be unconstitutional, because it “allocates benefits on the basis of race, ethnicity and gender”, and should be treated “in a manner consistent with the requirement to afford equal protection of the law under the Due Process Clause of the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment”.

This is a far cry from the 28 February meeting with presidents of HBCUs and the executive order he signed, which supposedly made these historic institutions “an absolute priority for this White House”. Tinkling cymbals and sounding brass.

We are in the midst of an intense white backlash. There is no doubt about it, and we can’t ignore that fact. I love some people who happen to be white. But those who see themselves as white people pose a grave danger, as they always have, to any chance of achieving real democracy in this country.

Progressive voices may declare that we need to talk about something more fundamental like class. Conservatives and liberals may agree that we have gone too far and have ignored white working people. And Trump will continue to be Trump.

All the while we have to endure. And bury our children … again. Explain to the ones living why a policeman put a bullet in Jordan Edwards’ head. And ready ourselves to fight, without the comforting illusion of tinkling cymbals and sounding brass, with everything we have.