Socially Speaking's Blog
The Other Side of the Tracks blog by Word Press

Feb
02
The Other Side of the Tracks

A Socially Speaking Commentary from Perry Redd

As American history goes, the ugly head of racism showing up never surprises me. At this stage of.my life, I wait for it to enter. The 50th Super Bowl is as good a place as any. The old character of these United States are as in play today as it was when I was born 50 years ago. In the words of my dear friend and sportswriter Dave Zirin, sports and politics collide; the dog whistles are blowing loudly. The Carolina Panthers versus the Denver Broncos is synonymous with black versus white.

The sportswriters, like the GOP candidates running in the 2016 race for the White House, make daily reminders of the utter contrasts that are ripe for knife of dividing the American pie. Quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Cam Newton are as opposite as opposite can be. Peyton, the pocket passer versus Newton, the wildcard scrambler set he scene that movies re made of, that advertisers dream of…and that America invests in.

When the term “pocket passer” is bandied about, we know that the speaker is referring to a white quarterback. “Scrambler” is reserved for Black men. Other dog whistle terms pepper the airwaves of America every weekend during football season. Nothing flies “under the radar.” Shamelessly, analysts and commentators refer to pocket passers as “pure,” disciplined” or “smart” weekend after weekend, while adjectives like, wild, “hairy-Carey” or “unpredictable” are reserved for scramblers—black men.

When a white quarterback scrambles in an NFL game, he’s treated as if he’s acquired some horrific temporary insanity; and adversely, when a black man roves out of the pocket, you’ll hear sports commentators advise coaches to “take him aside” and change his style. Over my 40 years of football watching, I’ve seen many a black quarterback’s NFL career squashed by the stereotyping of what his style is supposed to look like.

All of these years later, I see the recurring themes of undercover racists and herd-mentality fans that have collectively subscribed to this compartmentalizing of athlete slaves. As a young man, I that dog-whistling just didn’t sit right with me. I watched Cordell Stewart, Tee Martin,

Even Cam Newton knows that he’s a Black man that white America is opposed to. He referred to himself as a “hybrid player,” meaning that he possesses all of the qualities that many single-talented players had: smarts, quickness, strength, pizzazz…the total package means that he refuses to be pigeon-holed. He mentioned that he was a “Black man first,” which sparked a firestorm in this country. The criticisms of his propensity to animatedly celebrate a touchdown drew the ire of white people across the country. He elected to respond—by dismissing those critics. I only wish more Black men had done likewise in the past.  History dictated that they couldn’t even if they wanted to.

A country that watches racial disparity reign daily—from police shootings, to education test scores, from unemployment rates to Oscar nominations—there is no way any citizen with a heartbeat can say that race isn’t alive and dividing; and for me, I could care less about the divisions. I am resolved that segregation is an acceptable anomaly in America.

Just like the racist divisionists running for the Republican nomination for president (namely, Donald Trump, Chris Christie, Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz), I am wholly convinced that people that hate my existence are not to be considered, validated nor negotiated with. The blatant contradictions with this country’s constitutional promise should have them dismissed from any collective validation, but this country is so infiltrated with divisionists (and separatists) that hope for a homogeneous nation is no more than fiction.

I am acutely reminded of the dog-whistle racism of professional basketball of the 1980’s. The arrival of Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics and Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers tore the emperor’s clothes off. The NBA made us face the reality that hope was lost and racism would forever be with us. I, as a teen, was an anomaly, for I clung to Larry Bird, the slow, methodical white sharpshooter, as my favorite player. My friends ridiculed me and called me “white boy” for my choice,  over the flamboyant, ultra-cool court general, Magic Johnson. It was always a Black versus white cloud hanging over any conversational debate about the two winners. I loved Bird (no matter how racist even he proved to be) as a player that exemplified the style I aspired to play. I prefer Bird over Johnson as a player, even to this day!

America, it’s media, the owners and even the fans, produced and perpetuated the cancer of racial differences in sports, even transitioning into white superiority. The fans in Boston carried their anti-busing racism of the 70’s into the Boston Garden arena of the 80’s. It shows itself with the New England Patriots of today—and their star quarterback Tom Brady. Their hockey fans are shameless in their attacks on Black hockey players who send their teams into defeat. I often lament having to play with white America, but refuse to withdraw, for the promise that America holds, is greater than the fear, hatred and mis-education of racists.

This hedonistic thirst for racial drama is no different from that experienced by Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Althea Gibson, Muhammad Ali or Serena Williams. What I know is that when white men fail to win the game, they attack the man. I saw it with O.J. Simpson, Michael Vick and now Cam Newton. Of course, I pray that Newton gives no reason for attack, but as America goes, a Black man need not give a reason to be attacked by white America…whether on the field or on the street.

Listen to the Super Bowl on Sunday, you’ll hear the dog whistles blowing loud as these equally matched superstars of professional football are racing on the gridiron.

Dec
01
The Other Side of the Tracks

A Socially Speaking Commentary from Perry Redd

In the land of “exceptionalism” where justice and equality are core principles, the question of the hour is, does America play favorites…pick “winners and losers?” In light of the heightened awareness of the country’s racism—and the resistance to accept that as a fact—I’m compelled to highlight the bold-faced contradictions that this country—my country—is spoon-feeding and white-washing you, me and every American within earshot. We’re ignoring it’s racism…yet again.

Another white male, 57-year old Robert Lewis Dear, stepped out of his car and shot up a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado. It’s been credibly reported that the suspect accused of carrying out the shooting spree, made remarks about “baby parts” to investigators after his surrender.

Within the short analysis of this story, there are five key problems that I want answered:

• Are not guns the problem here?
• How does a mass shooter get to shoot police…and live?
• In the aftermath of this shooting, is his mental health an issue?
• Why are Americans even the least bit hesitant to call the attack what it is: terrorism?
• Why isn’t the press zeroing in on the basis for his attack, Christianity?

You might be able to tell that I’m pretty upset by this latest incident. I’m upset that another gun incident has occurred in this country while Blacks are daily vilified in the mainstream media as the “bad guys.” I get equally upset that high-profile Americans are scared shitless by conservatives in this country; so much so that they are mute on issues that might one day bite them in the ass one day.

Whether Wall Street’s theft of Main Street, or police shootings of Black men, white people won’t lift a sorry finger to call wrong wrong, until it smacks them in the face. What am I talking about? Well, it’s been reported that U.S. figure skating icon Nancy Kerrigan says she was “devastated” when she heard former skater-turned-police officer Garrett Swasey had been killed during a shooting rampage at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado. She told the Boston Herald Swasey was like a brother to her growing up and skating together in Stoneham, Mass.

The Nancy Kerrigan twist demonstrates my observation. Of all of the shootings in America—just this year alone!—you ain’t heard a damned thing from a Nancy Kerrigan—or countless other notable names—about senseless gun violence.

Swasey, an officer for the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, was one of three people killed in the shooting spree this past Friday that left several other people wounded. The other victims’ names had not been released early Sunday. (By the way, isn’t it strange that law enforcement immediately released the name of this slain officer after the officer is shot, but they fight like hell not to release the name of an officer when they shoot and kill a Black male?)

Law enforcement officials say they haven’t determined a motive for the shooting, although one official told the Associated Press that suspect Robert Lewis Dear said something about “no more baby parts” after his arrest. AP said the official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the case, but he’s discussing it anyway…why isn’t he in jail? Somebody knows who the leaker is!

And worse, killers like Robert Dear call themselves protecting life…life?  Sure, they argue that God would have their blessing in doing so.  That’s as ludicrous as extreme Islamic Jihadists suicide bombing in the name of Allah.  Christians need to quit it…anti-abortion supporting Christians are worst than rotten, rank garbage.

But back to the problem.  When human beings are shot and killed, guns are the problem.  Mentally ill people (or sane ones for that matter) can’t shoot a soul without a gun; thus guns are the problem.  Those guns create an uneven balance of power that terrorizes unsuspecting people.  Terrorists know this, that’s why the gun is the preferred weapon of choice.  Those that use those guns (or supply shooters with those guns) are no less than terrorists.

And thus, my point: different rules for different folks. White people get to break laws, get breaks when they do, and walk away with their lives still salvageable. This reminds me of James Holmes, the 2011 Colorado theater shooter. The man killed 12 people and injured 70 more, booby-trapped his home with explosives and was holding a gun when the police showed up…how did he get to live? And Michael Brown was shot dead in Ferguson, Missouri?

Yes, you see what I see, but the question is, will you admit what you see? In a land that espouses justice for all and equality under law, there can be only one reason for arguing against this overt disparity: racism.  And if you are among those that agree with a Donald Trump, that there’s too much “political correctness” by apologizing for being racist, then count yourself among the diminishing, gun owning, “angry majority.”

These different—no, disparate—punishments for whites ought to make you ashamed to be an American, but of course, you’re not. You know that you’re as wrong as two right shoes, but as long as you live in denial, just know that your life is now compromised for the sake of a few white bullets.

Aug
25
The Other Side of the Tracks

The Other Side of the Tracks

I’m really amazed to have reached my 51st birthday today. My life has dodged many bullets—and I mean bullets. I was born in Washington, DC and raised in and around DC during some of the years when DC was known as “the murder capital of the United States.” I lived in and through the culture that hosted the homicide-by-gun days of DC. Things have changed for the better, but those murder summer days are here again and those South of the Border are to blame.

I’m not talking about your traditional “South of the Border,” but the south to DC’s border, Virginia. I’ve come to learn that the young gun-toters in DC buy their glocks, 9’s and Berettas from Virginia. The same people who fight against background checks, gun ownership databases and/or tracking gun sales are the same people who make their money—efectively earn their living—selling guns on America’s black market. That living is made on the backs—and lives—of Black people.

Now I don’t want you to think that I’ve joined the Donald Trump Krazy Train on immigrants and immigration policy; to the contrary, I’m focused on a real hole in the fabric of the American Dream: guns. Mexico has it’s own gun problem, as the US does, but what’s not ironic about the two, is that both are caused by the same culprit…America. The Mexican cartels buy their guns from America’s gun manufacturers, indirectly, and from “straw buyers” directly.

Today, DC’s homicide rate rose to 103 for 2015, up 30% or so from this time a year ago. It took the District until December in 2014 to reach this murder count. At this time last year, the city had 72 murders. Gun-induced homicides are caused by bullets coming out of guns held by people who normally wouldn’t be able to get a gun, except by illegal means. The people providing—or selling—these guns are the perpetuators of illegality.

Gun laws did not prevent Dylann Roof in Charleston, James Holmes in Aurora, Jared Loughner in Tucson, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez in Chattanooga, Elliot Rodger in Santa Barbara, and the list goes on, from getting a gun. Nor does it stop the youngsters walking around the inner city of the Distict or from buying a gun for under $100 (which I witnessed last night in northwest DC), but what I know is that, it is immensely more difficult to shoot and kill a person without a gun.

I blame the conservative-minded, Second Amendment zealots who rely on the dollars of disempowered people to earn their living. Guns are solely about power; not hunting, not recreation, just power (and control). Whether a poor boy in the projects or a white male fearing that America is slipping away, guns are a sure means of security (probably false) and power. Men know what I’m talking about. Guns change power dynamics…just ask the Oathkeepers.

Conservatives quickly divert gun violence by law enforcement on Black Americans to Black-on-Black violence whenever they’re confronted on increases of sensible gun laws. Our problem isn’t Mexico—or South of the Border. Our problem is the real South of the Border…in Virginia. Virginia and it’s resistance to strengthen gun laws and Virginians who hate the idea of gun laws are the chief reason our murder rate is up. Cut and dry.

According to a new study by the U.S. Congressional Research Service, mass shootings (an incident in which four or more people are killed with a gun) have increased in frequency. An analysis of FBI data found that between 1999 and 2013, there were 317 mass shootings in which 1,554 people were killed and 441 were wounded. All of those people were killed by people with guns. Some were deemed mentally ill, others were perfectly (and legally) sane—until they shot a bunch of people. For the record, anyone who wants to kill other human beings is mentally ill.

Washington’s count is still comparatively modest. Baltimore’s tally currently rests at 211 homicides as of August 19th, according to the Baltimore Sun. The two cities have nearly identical population sizes, with Baltimore at roughly 620,000 residents, and the District at 650,000, most of them Black, with Virginia to the south.

So if you want to solve the South of the Border problem, start solving it by attacking Virginia. Federally licensed gun dealers, of which there were 139,244 in 2013, are required to run background checks before they make a sale. Gun shows don’t require that, nor do straw purchases. Between 1994 and 2010, the FBI processed more than 118 million applications. The young boys who are arrested for killing people with guns, 9-times-out-of-10, don’t fall into that category. This is why the southern border hurts DC.

Aug
18
The Other Side of the Tracks

The Other Side of the Tracks

He’s made it clear and unambiguous: he doesn’t give a damned about your humanity…”your” refers to Black Americans. This presidential election is pretty much show and tell. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said all I need to know to distance myself from him as another white American male that thinks like a white American male, and if you know anything about American history, white American males weren’t good for—or to—Black people.

On this Sunday’s Meet the Press, Bernie Sanders was asked if he apologizes to the Black Lives Matters movement for his inability to embrace the concept of Black Lives Matter, opting for an “all lives matter” position, he flatly refused. He quickly (and as if scripted) went into “healthcare for all” and a garden variety of other social ills that have afflicted Black Americans along with—and greater than—whites for the longest.

Sanders disavowed an apology…something so simple. He called it “a very, very important issue,” but he placed the apology on a staffer.

Therein lies the problem with white liberals. The status quo is what’s acceptable for them…or at least slow incrementalism. You see, living as a Black man in America means that one lives under daily stress and peril. Neither is the way this problem of unjustified killings of unarmed Black people is going to get solved. For those that can’t understand why I—or Black activists—are so adamant against the “all lives matter” alternative branding of the issue, allow me to help you understand:

Labeling
In America, labels help us cut to the chase. In civil discourse, we don’t have to spend valuable discussion and solution time trying to figure out what position you’re in when we start the discussion. If you’re of the conservative mind on an issue, then a shortcut is drawn to what I’m debating…make it simple.
Saying “Black Lives Matter” means that you had to have forgotten that. This is not 1870, nor is it 1960, this is here and now. I’m getting too old to fight, but never will I be too old to die. I will die for this cause—because white America wants to kill me anyway! If they resist the concept that my life matters, then what makes you think they include me the “all” they’re trying to use as a weapon?

Whose Lives Matter?
It’s absurd that anyone would embrace that response as a to espousing “Black Lives Matter?” White lives have always mattered! That’s why the United States is so dis-united! Why would we need to emphasize that “all lives matter” when white males are not being shot and killed by white male—and the law enforcement community—at an ever-increasing rate. Black Americans should not have to beg, ask, nor demand that they not be killed! If you think that solving the problems of Black people is to solve the problems of all people, then you’re looney…this country hasn’t been doing that?

White people, stop responding this way! If all lives mattered, then we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. White people are still defending this response! Are you kiddin’ me? Bernie Sanders will address what he wants to address, not what he needs to address.

The Reality
White liberals are asking the question, “Will the Black Lives Matter movement confronting the Democratic candidates cost Democrats the presidential election? I think that is such a selfish question to ask and a self-serving proposition. If that were to be the case, then you can’t blame Blacks; that would be the fault of whites. There is no way I’m going to vote Republican—especially since they embrace the law enforcement establishment—right or wrong! They won’t even address the issue genuinely! They blame-shift like nobody’s business…ain’t a ice cube’s chance in hell with them anyway.

Just like Al Gore in 2000, you white liberals allowed Republicans to disenfranchise us in Florida in the years leading up to the election, so when you passivity smacked you in the face, you acted like you didn’t know what the hell happened! You know what happened, you chose to be white first! All lives didn’t matter then, just like they don’t now…that’s why we’re doing this.

The reality is, there is no way we can go the way of Occupy—back to the status quo; that is unacceptable. Democrats have to change or great efforts will be made to have Blacks “sit on their hands”…and if you think that people don’t listen to me, then you just wait and see. I’ll be a chief organizer in that effort if Democrats—and white liberals try to brush this movement off. Politics is that means to obtain real change.

Message to white people: you’re going to stop killing me! Like it or lump it, you’re going to stop it or you will suffer a painful response…period. You are not God-fearing people if you can’t say that other people are as important as you are. That’s the problem the world has with the Jews. We are all important, we all matter and you cannot leave us—Black people behind! As far as a presidential contender, O’Malley blew it first, Clinton stumbled and Bernie Sanders just doesn’t matter now. Vote for your damned self!

Jun
10
Our weekly commentary from Socially Speaking

A Socially Speaking commentary from social change activist and author, Perry Redd

We often think of the term “power grab” when speaking of coups of banana republic countries in the southern hemisphere, but I want to share with you the term in a more intimate context that might change your opinion of yet another racial assault on Black Americans.

You like millions of other Americans have likely bore witness to an assault—and insult—upon Blacks in America in the Dallas suburb of McKinney police officer. The young Black teenaged girl who was forcibly restrained by a McKinney, Texas police officer as he responded to a disturbance at a pool party in a Dallas suburb over the weekend says she was an invited guest and was obeying his orders to leave when he grabbed her. 15-year old Dajerria Becton was manhandled by a law enforcement officer simply because she was the most vulnerable. As a female, Officer Eric Casebolt saw an opportunity to set an example. Grabbing this girl—a child—was simply about exuding power—that no white male in America can imagine anyone challenging.

Becton said, “And I kept walking and then I’m guessing he thought we were saying rude stuff to him.” Becton was then thrown to the ground by Casebolt, one of 12 McKinney Police Department officers who responded to the disturbance call at a private community pool Friday night. Strangely enough, Casebolt showed himself to be a one-man wrecking crew. He enters the videographer’s frame at a zillion miles-an-hour, doing a movie-type of barrel roll, onto his feet and in hot pursuit…of what? He didn’t even know who he was chasing! Watching the video he looked like a cartoonish imp hyped-up on Red Bull!

But that wasn’t the whole of it… In the video of the incident taken by a fellow teen and posted to YouTube, Casebolt, who is white, can be seen shouting obscenities and ordering some black teens to lie on the ground while telling others to disperse. He then pulls his gun on a pair of black teenagers who appear to be coming to Becton’s aid.

Pulling his gun on the Black males is the other half of the power dynamic; you see, he subconsciously knew that he might lose in a hand-to-hand with a Black male, so the equalizer for him—like George Zimmerman in Florida, like Micheal Dunn in Michigan—was a firearm. Now you know why white males so cherish their interpretation of the Second Amendment’s “right to bear arms.”

There are timid and shallow protests taking place in Dallas-Fort Worth, as there should be. But understand that this incident is simply validating the cries of the past 60 years. One of my favorite Malcolm X speeches

The bottom line: I want Officer Casebolt JAILED! This isn’t Casebolt’s first rodeo with insanity. Federal court documents show that Casebolt and other officers were sued in 2008 in federal court for racial profiling, harassment, failure to render aid and sexual assault. Albert E. Brown Jr. accused Casebolt of reaching into his “private area” and pulling his pants “down below ankles” during the traffic stop.

Officer Casebolt knows better. He was named the department’s Officer of the Year in 2008. Now, seven years later, Casebolt is facing outrage from the community, national media scrutiny and an internal investigation. The thing is, he was awarded that honor by his peers—that may be just as looney…and dangerous. That might’ve been called “good policing”—had it not been caught on camera.

I’m not the only American to see it this way. The National Bar Association, a network of predominantly Black attorneys, judges and law professors, called for Casebolt’s immediate firing. “It is insufficient to place him on paid administrative leave, when it is obviously clear that this officer was not enforcing the law, but instead was enforcing his will and power and showing explicit bias towards these African-American teenagers,” the Washington, D.C.-based group said. “The girl is obviously in distress and not in any manner moving or attempting to get away from the officer. She posed no physical threat to the officer.”

That’s the issue at hand: the only threat that Casebolt (‘cause he’s not going to be an officer for long) saw, was the threat to his self-indwelled power. To have anyone—especially Black children—challenge or even question his overreaction to a non-incident, is what threatened him. Even a child could see that this officer escalated the situation far beyond what was necessary. This is how many Black Americans get killed by police, including Oscar Grant in Oakland, Eric Garner in New York or Freddy Gray in Baltimore.

Of course this needs to stop, but it won’t until Black Americans band with white Liberals and diminish the unfettered power of police unions to coddle and protect civil rights violations by police. Yes, this needs to stop, but it won’t until Black Americans change their timid forms of protests that give safe haven to police. For white Americans—especially in this Dallas suburb community—who believe that the police were justified, know that they are in favor of segregated pools, schools and communities—and run afoul of the US Constitution.

Know also that conservative-minded whites in America are on the warpath; they want to “Take Their Country Back!” The only thing stopping them is the law and God…and why would they oppose them? There is a problem here: Problem 1: There’s no reason for this ADULT (who also happens to be an officer) to begin his interactions with these children in such a vile and inhumane manner. Problem 2: only Black teens were accosted and placed on the ground? Problem 3: Man-handling this teen girl is the biggest indication of a coward who wanted control–of SOMEBODY…a black girl is usually the target of white males…then, Problem 4? Pulling a GUN on someone–when your life isn’t threatened?

Why would you NOT fire this officer? Only because the victims were Black, and the terrorist was white. This incident cannot end in a “finding” from that police agency. They’re scrambling for a way to protect another lunatic in uniform—and a way out! They’ll make the “bad apple” claim—when all of the other apples covering him are bad too. If you choose to do nothing, just keep this incident on recall the next time white males with authority confront you and make “The Power Grab.”

Dec
02
Our weekly commentary from Socially Speaking

A Socially Speaking commentary from social change activist and author, Perry Redd

There’s a reason why I just can’t kumbaya with police. They’re bullies. No, I can’t speak for any one police officer, but law enforcement, as an institution, give me reason—time after time—to dislike, distrust and disdain them. The Michael Brown shooting has simply exposed many of the elements of that disdain that most of us already knew.
Now, I know you heard about the show of solidarity by the St. Louis Rams football team. The St. Louis Police Officers Association says it’s infuriated after five St. Louis Rams players raised their hands Sunday in solidarity with protesters upset at Michael Brown’s death. The police association even went as far as to demand an apology. An apology? You’ve GOT to be kiddin’ me? Nobody from the association is apologizing for taking the life of an unarmed Black man!
The sheer arrogance of this over-protected industry of professionals is maddening. I can’t, for the life of me, understand why they don’t even consider enough is enough? People are marching for justice all around the country and they believe that justice was served—their justice. Why can’t they allow the aggrieved party to vent? They’ve gotten away with yet another murder and the only recompense was a few burned buildings and cars and a few hours of stopped traffic. They truly don’t want to—and won’t acquiesce to President Obama’s proposals for reform.
Don’t get me wrong, President Obama punked out on this one, just like every other instance that involved race and the Black American experience. He might talk a good game (like when Trayvon Martin was murdered), but he’s not going to do a damned thing. The president said he wants to ensure the U.S. isn’t building a “militarized culture” within police departments, while maintaining federal programs that provide the type of military-style equipment that were used to dispel racially charged protests in Ferguson, Missouri. He’s going to keep allowing them to play soldier with Black and poor communities.

Then he’s going to ask Congress for funding to buy 50,000 body cameras to record events like the shooting death of an unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown and look for ways to build trust and confidence between police and minority communities nationwide. You know like I know that conservative Republicans—backed by NRA and police union money—will hatchet that effort. All we’ll end up with from him is the kumbaya moment we got in the White House meeting…just another “Beer Summit.”

Look, I was born at night, but it wasn’t last night. As soon as Michael Brown was shot, police—and white America—instantly absolved the former officer Darren Wilson from all guilt. Since it was a Black man, they instantly form the perception that “he had to be doing something wrong.” That’s where the police PR machine takes the baton.

They hunker down and “circle the wagons.” Then they protect the perpetrator; keep him hidden from public view. In the first month, we couldn’t even get the public servant’s name! Then, they formed the moat around the officer (or white male…take your pick); raising money for Wilson’s “defense fund” was absolutely insulting. What were they raising money for? They knew he wasn’t going to be indicted!

Then, the PR team attacks the victim. They “leak” privileged information to the press while simultaneously inflate negatives from the victim’s past. The prosecuting team is working the whole time in perfect accord with the police. The only time they don’t is when the police officer goes off script. It’s all a well-oiled conspiracy.

More importantly, it’s all an insult—and assault—of the Black American’s body and mind. When Michael Brown was shot, we felt that. He was our son, our brother…us. The law enforcement establishment attacks all of us (white people just don’t know it) when they murder another unarmed Black man (or in the case of 12-year old Tamir Rice, boy). I’m thoroughly convinced that since they don’t care about us—as Americans—we should not care about them. No shopping in or at their dear establishments, no voting for their candidates, no watching their television programs, no buying their music.

The four St. Louis Rams players—like the young people who burned down Ferguson—should be commended and supported. The police association say they’re furious with the Rams; then go watch another NFL team from St. Louis…oh, there is no other (you can laugh here). “Vote with your wallet,” like you tell us! The NFL knows what I know: you can protest all you want (The Washington team name), but Americans are wedded to football. Concussions can knock men silly, but Americans will ignore all that is right and good to see Negroes perform on the gridiron.

We’ve got our priorities messed up. Protest, boycott and vote. We must let America know that this result runs contrary to the 14th Amendment (and no, there was no due process). We must boycott because that’s the only thing authority listens to: knuckles and threats to their wealth; and we must vote because we cannot continue to allow people who will never respect us nor live our experience, make decisions on our behalf. If we don’t, then we’re simply surrendering to those who bully our bodies and minds.

Oct
07
Our weekly commentary from Socially Speaking

A Socially Speaking commentary from social change activist and author Perry Redd

When I was a kid, I wasn’t a tattle-tale. That was highly frowned upon in my neighborhood—and in my family. With my family, I think it was because my parents didn’t have time for refereeing disputes and policing misconduct. In my ‘hood, it was because the only people who had ultimate authority to do anything about it was the police, and they were enemies. So we in the hood did the “policing.” So “telling” had to stay “in house.” Well, I’ve got some in-house telling to do.

Many of you know that I am the executive director of a social change non-profit known as Sincere Seven. We educate and advocate for workers and working-class Americans, particularly Black and disadvantaged peoples. We have a history of pissing off authority and netting social results in the societal ills that we elect to confront. With this society, there will always be a place for us.

Well, our latest venture is creating our own media. We’ve done it before; in 2000, S7 created and produced a cable access television program called “Knoxville’s Workplace Talk.” We later created a spin-off, “S7 Live!” and produced “Cop Watch” for another neighboring non-profit. Though we accomplished the task of giving voice to those who were previously voiceless, we also accomplished the task of waking up the giant who was our enemy: damned near everyone in power.

So, here we are, some 15 years later, and we find ourselves creating our own media again. This time, Sincere Seven accomplished the task of securing an FCC license to broadcast over the FM airwaves. The new WOOK will be broadcasting LPFM (low wattage) to give voice to the “non-monied” communities of Washington, DC. You’d think most people would be pleased as punch to have us on the FM dial—especially Black people.

You see, Washington was America’s first city to have a Black majority. It came as a shock to many in 2011 when DC’s black population dropped below 50 percent for the first time in more than 50 years. In the past decade, the district lost nearly 40,000 black residents, many driven out by skyrocketing rents fueled by an influx of mostly white professionals flocking to increasingly gentrified neighborhoods. Even our city’s legislative council has 7 whites of the 13 members on the council (I tried to change that by running for the DC Council, At-Large in 2013).

Back to my “telling”: as we sought the permission from the FCC to broadcast true, non-commercial community radio for DC, no one opposed our effort…no one except my brother, or should I say, my sister, Cathy Hughes. Most of us know that Ms. Hughes founded the media company Radio One and later expanded into TV One. Once the company went public in 1998, it made Hughes the first and only Black woman to head a publicly traded corporation at the time.

You would think with her success, she would prescribe to the adage ingrained in many of us from our elders: “once you make it up the ladder, reach down and lift your brother (or sister) up the ladder.” The more of us on the top, the more of us who can challenge the power structure that keeps us from realizing “The American Dream.” Surely, your brother—or sister—would adhere to that notion, right?

Wrong! Dead wrong…as matter of fact and record, Radio One, not only challenged our effort to exercise a First Amendment right to speech—over the airwaves—but once they lost that battle and the FCC granted S7 the license, Radio One filed a second “petition to deny” us our license (and yes, I claimed it). This time, attacking me…yes, me!

Many of you know, I am a previously convicted American. I also justly add, I was unjustly convicted as I documented in my new book, Perry NoName: A Journal from a Federal Prison-Book One. Well Radio One made sure that the FCC “considered all of the factors” that would make us unworthy of broadcasting beside her conglomerate stations.

Let me say this, I do take this personally. I am a man seeking redemption for my past conduct and relief from the American societal—and justice—system’s conduct toward me. I am keenly aware of who I am and what my capabilities are. I am not bound by my past, and I dare allow anyone else to bind me by my past.

For the record, I had to put on my lawyer’s hat and write a defense to Radio One’s assault on our community-based effort. I am proud to say that, so far, we have fought off Goliath; I am not proud that Goliath is my brother—or sister. If their fear is that we would be “direct competition” to their product or brand, I would respond by saying, “so be it.” That is American capitalism at work. Personally, I don’t subscribe to American capitalism. I’m of the “communitive” ilk. If there’s room on the dial, I say, fill it up! There is never enough opportunity for poor people to be heard.

I have no aims to get rich. I always have said that I will die a poor man, but a happy man. In contrast, my sister Cathy Hughes is earned $1.29 million in personal income in 2013 (according to Forbes) with $6.67 million in stock. Like we say in the ‘hood, “I ain’t mad at ‘cha.” I am mad that she’s standing in the way of other Blacks striving to obtain a piece of the media pie. When it’s all over said and done though, I shall be happy that I accomplished all that I could to uplift my people, even to my detriment. I don’t begrudge that.

I thought I’d share this bit of fact with you since you allow me to share with you every week right here on this platform. Suffice it to say, my brother, Peter Gamble has reached down the ladder and lifted me up…to where I might “tell” on the brother (or sister) who really ain’t. Just remember, everyone Black ain’t always your brother.

Sep
30
Our weekly commentary from Socially Speaking

A Socially Speaking commentary from social change activist and author

Gotta ask yourself: where did these “terrorists” come from? Why is it that every terrorist group you read about in the news has a bullseye on the United States? It seems like every time the national conversation on fairness, justice or equality comes up, another “war on terror” pops up. Are you scared yet?

Look, as a Black man living in America, I have very little fear of terrorists. I have more fear of police in my neighborhood than terrorists in Syria. The face of America is white across the oceans. It appears evident that people of color make up the vast majority of the people our government label as terrorists. I think they know that Black people mean them no harm; I think they know that Black people don’t run the agenda either. With those facts alone, I shouldn’t be scared.

Unfortunately, each evening on the mainstream news, I see bombings and extreme violence in lands that I have to practice to correctly pronounce. These are countries that the United States is consistently de-crying their lack of democracy, or their failure to examine human rights. Every time I see another Black man shot and killed in an urban center of the US, I get conflicted. As a nation, we turn a blind eye to human rights on a daily basis. Just think of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

From the founding of this country, Black people have had to fear terrorism—and not from overseas. Slave catchers in the 1700’s, lynching in the 1800’s, the Klu Klux Klan in the 1900’s and police-induced murder now; I can’t think of a better reason to be scared in than that this country…unless you’re white. Then, you ought to be scared of your “responsible gun-owner” neighbor going on a shooting rampage or a despondent teen at your local high school.

Hell, once Barack Obama got elected to the presidency, the fear of terrorism became heightened just by the language of my fellow Americans: “take our country back” or “I came unarmed, this time,” is the kind of language that implies that there are terrorists among us. When you define the noun, it means a person who uses terrorism in the pursuit of political aims. If that ain’t the Tea Party of 2009, I don’t know what is?

But, back to my original point: I’ve got to get a hold on why I should be scared? It wouldn’t be a question if we were truly united as a nation. We can’t get a woman’s right to choose right, so you know that issues of fear won’t be consolidated by consensus. Whenever there is an incursion of violence in another country, the polls (and no, I don’t’ trust polls) say that the American people are divided. I guess that’s good for the sake of democracy, but half of a yes, isn’t a yes! Just like rape, half a yes, is uncertainty, so don’t’ do it.

I have to think more critically about this terrorist thing. Everytime we react to a terror threat, resources have to be applied. That costs money. Truthout.org said that without designated “bad guys,” corporate war profiteering would wither. Negotiation risks leading to a peace settlement; peace is the enemy of the war industry. The war industry, through lobbying and by financing election campaigns, buys and sells Congressional representatives. These kept men and women, in cahoots with the Pentagon and with the executive branch, keep the war pot boiling—and money flowing. Corporations like Northrup-Grumman, Aegis and Halliburton urge the administration (pick one) along to “neutralize the terrorist threat” year after year. And so, we get scared year after year.

Last year, it was Boca-Haram; before that, it was al-Qeada. Then came ISIS. Now it’s Khorarsan Group…Khorasan Group??? What is that…an investment firm? Get that f#%@ outta here! How is it there’s a group

So I’m back to my point: where do these terrorists comes from? How did I become their enemy? As far as I’m concerned, I’m not. I’d love to see every country in the world practice democracy. Hell, I wish we all on the same page. I’d like to see democracy right here in America for that matter! Conservatives spend great time and money trying to stifle voting rights. I’ve got a terrorism problem right there!

In the end analysis, I think you ought to ask yourself, “why am I scared?” I believe that when you do a mental replay, you’ll realize it’s because someone in the media told you to be afraid…”be very afraid.” But when you examine your role in that fear, you’ll realize that you didn’t even have a role in originating, only perpetuating that fear. Are you scared yet?

Sep
24
A Socially Speaking Commentary from Perry Redd

A Socially Speaking Commentary from Perry Redd

I hate to be fatalistic here, but this will likely be the last social commentary I deliver to the general public. This not because I am dying from some horrid terminal illness, nor is it because I am choosing to take my own life, but because I am herein making the grandest accusation of negativity against a majority, dominant class of the richest society on earth: white people hate us.

I am a Black American—of African descent—born and bred in the United States. I am considered a Baby Boomer by this society’s technical definition. I assert that race is the grandest—and most problematic—ill that America has in its midst. That’s been an unchanged fact since the day I was born. The issue of skin color has been, and will be a stain that this country cannot dissolve any time soon. That’s not because it’s too difficult a problem to solve, but because there are a majority of Americans that don’t want to solve it.

When one is born into the dominant class in any society, one shall not relinquish the honors and perks that come with that social status. Whether the perk is educational opportunities, inherited wealth or simple entry into social settings, the color of one’s skin dictates who gets to enjoy those perks. Racial skin tones affect entry in college, employability or where one might live. My assertions are fully supported, not only anecdotal evidence, but by empirical and statistical data as well.

While people of color make up about 30 percent of the United States’ population, they account for 60 percent of those imprisoned. Blacks are more likely to be unemployed than Whites, a phenomenon exacerbated during economic downturns. Because of reduced access to well-paying jobs, median household income for Blacks is less than two-thirds that of Whites and median weekly earnings for Blacks are also less. Hell, just look at the line at the introduction of the new i-Phone. This is not an accident. They hate us.

The fact that the infant mortality rate for Blacks is more than twice that for Whites, even when controlling for the mother’s socioeconomic status is further evidence that the dominant class wants the status quo to reign. The death rate from heart disease is 25% greater for Black men than White men and 35% greater for Black women than for White women. The gap between the percentage of Blacks who graduate from high school and that of Whites is approximately 25%. That’s not because whites are any smarter than anyone else, just in control of the resources that facilitate education. Net wealth of Blacks is a shocking fraction that of Whites, a fact that remains unchanged since Europeans brought Africans to the North American shores in the 1600’s. They hate us.

Hell, we used to watch big-time college football on Saturday afternoons—where black players get their day in the sun. Nowadays, the major networks run English league soccer, TV previews or even worse, snake oil selling paid programming! They hate us! College football was a poor black boy’s audition for the pros; now they’ve sold that opportunity to the highest bidder.

This hate applies to every aspect of the American existence. The war on drugs, heads of Fortune 500 companies, the long list of late night TV hosts or elected state Governors. Just think about what I’m saying: one of the nation’s most recognized corporations in America, the National Football League, is now implementing responsible, arguably sensible and long overdue punitive policies as a response to outcries against their players who abuse their female spouses. Now, no one could argue against the NFL doing the right thing for the right reasons, but I argue with the timing, targets and the who that’s doing the crying out.

The NFL only elected to rectify this injustice of protecting spousal abusers after one of their superstars got caught—on video! Just like I’ve long advocated against police brutality, the video doesn’t lie. What does lie are the people who hold the video. Those people can release whichever portions of a captured video they choose. I know this to be true because it happened with Nicole Dunson (a Black woman) at the University of Tennessee in 2002. She was accused of assaulting the police. My organization, Sincere Seven, demanded a release of her encounter with police. She denied those allegations—as she was the one who ended up in a cast. They stalled for three days, then released two videos: one with no audio, and the other with misdirected video. They hate us—but they hate the truth even more! They eventually dropped the charges against her.

But back to the NFL…the infamous incident involving former Baltimore Raven’s running back Ray Rice, knocking his now-wife unconscious, received grand attention…after the second video showing the actual punch knocking her out was leaked. Just the fact that he admitted he assaulted her should’ve been enough to not only suspend him, but for law enforcement authorities to bring charges. But of course, we all know that law enforcement prospers best when they protect big corporations (in this case, the NFL), not people. Ohhhh, that’s right—corporations are people, my friend! What kind of people, you think?

More relevant to my point, the outcry from groups like the National Organization of Women (NOW) demanded that the NFL act, and act now, on the issue of domestic abuse. For the record, NOW is an organization of white women, ran by white women, for the interests of white women. I went to their website which substantiates my assertion here. Domestic violence accounts for 85 of the 713 arrests of NFL players since the year 2000.

The NFL responded harshly to their demand in the Ray Rice incident. It took ‘em a while, but they responded. But what about instances of past abuse, like Pittsburgh Steeler’s quarterback, Ben Rothilisberger (disclaimer: I’m a die-hard Steeler fan). Accused of rape in 2008, Big Ben should’ve at least been charged. Big Ben was suspended six games, but came back two games early…but he wasn’t guilty? But in the wake of the Ray Rice revelation, four—yes four—Black men had their careers derailed. Ray McDonald of the 49ers, Greg Hardy of the Panthers, A.J. Jefferson of the Vikings and Robert Reynolds of the Titans

Ray Rice initially received a two-game suspension, a travesty, but punished according to the rules. Former Ravens cornerbacks Cary Williams and Fabian Washington earned two- and one-game suspensions, respectively, for similar first-time offenses of domestic violence, though neither was caught on tape.

Let me take you back…November 2012, Dallas Cowboy receiver Dez Bryant was charged with assaulting his mother! The charge was dismissed in November 2012 on the condition that Bryant undergo anger counseling and that he not be charged with a crime for the next year. On November 25, 2011, Green Bay Packers linebacker Erik Walden was arrested on “suspicion” (what’s that?) of assaulting his live-in girlfriend. The charge was reduced to disorderly conduct and then dismissed after Walden agreed to perform 50 hours of community service and receive counseling. The N.F.L. suspended Walden for one game. Not that there shouldn’t have been, but there was no outcry from NOW. Now that white people have made this their issue, time to crucify people…Black people. I guess white males don’t assault their women. So that explains why Black women are hooking up with more white men. They hate us.

Let me shift gears here…I see things through the lens of race. You may not, and have the right to see things through whatever lens you so choose. Whether economics, education, military or politics, race is always just below that surface. My life’s experiences have allowed me to see and say what true. White men have always responded to me (when they don’t ignore me) that’s “Black” is not written in any legislation, especially The Constitution.

I retort, they’re technically right, but intentionally wrong. The genius of their “founding fathers” was to write a national agreement in race-neutral language that kept their social head start in place for centuries to come. Just look at the slave trade compromise. Whites told me that the humanity of “The Founding Fathers” ended the slave trade. Nothing is further from the truth.

The country was “originated” in 1788. The Slave Trade Compromise said that Congress couldn’t ban the slave trade until 1808. White men had a “traffic humans pass” for 20 years! It was done so that the Constitution would still be accepted by the slave states (that’s another reason why the Confederate flag is unacceptable). If the Constitutional Convention had banned the slave trade, the southern states would not have ratified the Constitution. Evil men held the country hostage! They hate us.

Someone just informed me that in Florida (yes, racist-assed Florida), it assesses you three points on your driving record if you allow your car insurance to lapse—at one month no less! Now, on it’s face, that seems across-the-board fair; it applies to everyone, its race neutral. But if you and I know that wealth disparity is at an all-time high and Blacks are more likely to be stopped—and arrested—especially in Florida, then the vast majority of those affected by these point assessments, which lead to suspended licenses, will be Black.

Oh, did I fail to mention, according to the Florida DHSMV, citations stay on your record for 10 years, suspensions 7 to 11 years, alcohol-related violations for 75 years, and serious CDL violations 55 years. They hate us!

This is yet another example of the disdain for Black people as an extended legacy of slavery. I find it insane that Blacks—and not all—are making ridiculous efforts to “fit in” and assimilate with white America. They hate us! Only if you’re a top grossing athelete or entertainer will white Americans like you. Guess what? Most of us ain’t that! Here in DC, though the majority of the residents are Black 51%, most of people on our DC Council are white. They legislate like they hate us too!

Sep
16
A Socially Speaking Commentary from Perry Redd

A Socially Speaking Commentary from Perry Redd

So it is written, there are two categories of sin: sin by omission and sin by commission. They’re both deplorable. You can debate it until the end of time which is worse, but in the end, sin is still sin. I call it a sin that Americans—especially those born and raised in Washington, DC—the nation’s capitol—allow other Americans to live as second-class citizens. This dichotomy is akin to slavery.

For those who don’t know, The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the rights of citizens. It was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments. White people had to solve “the negro problem” after the Civil War. Reconstruction was a great first step—without saying you’re sorry. The amendment addresses citizenship rights and equal protection under the laws of this land.

It is clear and evident that all Americans have a First Amendment right to petition of grievances. Those petitions are made to elected representatives of the state in which one finds him/herself living in; in turn, those elected representatives then vote in congress in accordance with the wishes of those whom they represent. Well, the residents—and citizens—of Washington, DC are denied that right. It’s serious folks. It’s serious because if you are listening to my show, Socially Speaking, and live in one of the 50 states, you can take advantage of that precious right. I can’t.

You see, I was born and raised in the nation’s capitol. I was no slave, though I am a descendant of slaves. Those slaves couldn’t vote, nor did they have representation. Their slave owners had representation, but they didn’t. That was as late as 1865 at the abolition of legalized slavery. Here we are 150 years later, and I still don’t have that right. What’s wrong with that picture?

I’ll tell you what’s wrong…there are latent racists who want to keep the balance of power in the hands of descendants of slave owners. Those who cherish the glory days of human suffering, white, male domination and self-perceived racial superiority. This is a problem. Since I live in DC, it’s my problem; but in reality, it’s your problem too.

The white, male founders of this country only envisioned black people acting as servants as any significant residential population in Washington, DC, thus the negro would not need—nor be entitled to—representation nor self-determination. That day has played out.

You see, with the knowledge I just gave you, you are now in knowing possession of a truth. The truth you now possess, is knowledge of a crime— aconstitutional crime—that is being committed. Every day that I am robbed of statehood—self determination and full enfranchisement—you are guilty. Every day that goes by where you are not fighting for my right to state sovereign equality, you are a complicit actor in the slave master’s original diabolical plan. Just as white people stood by while black people were made to sit in the back of the bus, just as white people stood by as black people were denied entrance into restaurants, bus facilities or institutions of higher learning, you are as guilty as those white people who did nothing.

Turning a blind eye to the commission of a crime is a crime. Not reporting a known crime is a violation of the laws of this land. You know now…because I told you. If you are not doing something about it, you are as guilty as racist, confederate flag bearers were in 1963. But you don’t have to continue in your bloody-hand, noose-carrying guilt. You can do something.

Write your senators and representatives, tell them to support DC statehood. Tell your brothers, sisters, father, mothers, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, sons and daughters that there are American citizens being robbed of their birthright. Stand for something in this American life you’ve been blessed into. Like abolitionists who found themselves on the right side of history far into the recording of humankind, you too do a grand service to the progression of a band of people who did the right thing for the reason, at the right time in history. Support DC statehood.

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