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By Cheo Tyehimba

Can you do the Reflection Dance?


You’re walking down a crowded New York street, say Fifth Avenue. You turn left on Lexington and nearly bump into an attractive woman. You smile, she smiles, and the awkward dance begins.



You step to the right, hoping to clear the way for her but within the same instant, she steps to the right. You are both right back where you started. There’s a bit of embarrassed laughter. You dance again.



She steps to the left, and even though you want to get out of her way so she can pass, something compels you step to the left too. You are nose to nose again. How did that happen? You share a brief conversation and then, finally, you just stand still and with a knowing twinkle in your eye you let the fair lady pass. She smiles and walks on by. And you smile too. Because in addition to asking her on a date later, you realize you’ve just done it again…. The Reflection Dance.



After years of living and working in New York, I’ve done the dance countless times. But so have you. regardless of who you are and where you live. It happens everyday on crowded city streets, in bus stations, in suburban malls, during professional sporting matches, during a natural disaster like the recent tsunami in Japan, on rural dirt roads and in tiny villages. It happens and has happened everywhere human beings have lived for all ages. I believe it even happens to spirit after we’ve departed these bodily vessels. Of course, its no news flash that we are all reflections of each other. But sometimes, it takes a simple observation, like a impromptu “dance” to remind us that we are all both mirrors and windows to the world.



I’ve though a lot about this simple observation for years but only recently coined the phrase “The Reflection Dance.” Nothing especially profound about it, really.



Except a little reminder about “who” we really are. And perhaps a question:



“Who and what are you reflecting?”

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By President Davis

Oscar Grant’s shooting sparked a wave of controversy, leading to a political clash amongst racial and social class lines. The division was ever more present in the labeling of his death. Those critical of the police handling of the matter consider it an execution; police supporters dubbed it accidental or involuntary manslaughter.

Many blacks, like myself, who have experienced mistreatment by Oakland police firsthand, believed we could have been in Grant’s shoes. Many likened the shooting to the treatment poor blacks received from a notorious group of 90’s rogue cops known as the Oakland Riders, or even the police brutality that lead to the formation of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. Officer Johannes Mehserle stated he believed he thought Oscar Grant had a gun, a common quote amongst police who use force when the victim is found to be unarmed. What is it about the image of young black men that inspire this phrase to be used so frequently?

Protests in Arizona against US Immigration policies

Recently I was granted the opportunity to help film a documentary in Arizona about the anti-immigrant movement, sponsored by Center for New Community. Like the Oscar Grant situation, Arizona ignited a national outcry when the controversial law SB 1070 was passed, a law viewed by many as a legalization of racial profiling.

The unchecked policing and threat to people of color that come up through the US/Mexico border is a travesty. As Dr. King’s once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” America has long been valued and championed as a land of justice and equality, yet has a racially disparaging closet.

Danger lurks along the US/Mexico border in the form of vigilante border patrol groups. Apparently, the border patrol allows them to do the ugly job. The state of Arizona does not require a license to purchase guns and white supremacist and neo-nazi groups are taking matters into their own hands about the immigration issue.

While most use the opportunity for good publicity and self-righteous patriotism, a few groups have used the wide-open desert as an unregulated killing zone, hunting down Mexicans who cross the border and justifying their actions as a means of protecting our country from so-called “illegals”.

When we met with the notorious Sheriff Arpaio, I asked him about his views of the vigilante groups who patrol the border. He answered by saying they “are a part of his posse.” Whether that is true or not, he condoned the deaths and terror that vigilante groups are perpetrating along the border.

When I walked along the migrant trails in Arizona, I spotted discarded clothing with bloodstains scattered along with liquid bottles that appeared to have been left behind not long ago. I wondered how many of the migrants who cross were aware of the dangers that lay ahead even if they reached America. Some of them would have crossed in vain, only to be detained by I.C.E. agents within a couple years of crossing. Too many times we turn a blind eye when a wrong is committed. To hear reports of Latinos being hunted down and killed by self-appointed renegade border vigilantes is inexcusable.

Bumper stickers on cars pronouncing “If it’s Brown, Flush it Down” are equally as hurtful and ignorant as the blogs I read that labeled Oscar Grant guilty of inviting his own death by dressing like a “thug.” Clearly, we have an issue of people dressed in police uniforms appearing to uphold civil justice. I plead with people to find the peace in their heart to ask themselves a core question when conflicts arise…’Is this a fair and just act?’

Let’s keep America, America. But to keep America, we need to keep it accountable to the founding principles and creeds that helped America form. It may not be commonly viewed as such right now, but one day this story will be likened to the historical Underground Railroad, famed by Harriet Tubman.
Justice for Oscar Grant. Justice for Sean Bell. Justice for migrants who cross the US border to meet their death at the hands of unchecked vigilante groups, Justice for you, and justice for me. A true cry from someone who doesn’t fit the description… yet. This is an injustice that threatens us all.

President Davis is a student activist at Howard University. Contact him at bsudavis@yahoo.com

By Osei

Two years ago the spiral demise of AIG, Lehman, Merrill Lynch and other financial institutions was inevitable. Shortly thereafter financial institutions received bailouts from the U.S. government. Unfortunately, the financial institutions then created a credit crunch for consumers and small businesses instead of easing credit. Two years after the financial crisis, the African-American community is now disproportionately saddled with a higher unemployment rate from the after-shocks.

“The transfer of wealth “ that President Obama talked during his campaign is definitely here. However, not quite the way we ever imagined.

Mr. President: What have you done for me lately?

It’s time to stop giving the current administration a pass.

The Obama Administration instituted a $787 billion stimulus package that looked good on paper but has not worked. The president can talk a good game, however, it is now way past the “2-minute warning” for all his fans, including me, to be quiet.

Somebody, please ask him to throw a game winning touchdown our way! With all the talk about how small businesses are the lifeblood of America and the jobs they create, virtually nothing has been thrown their way.

Of the $787 billion, less than a $1 billion ($700 million to be exact) was allocated for small business in the form of business loans. Tell me, how does anyone or business in America get a personal or business loan shortly after your credit scores have been tarnished by the credit crunch? Supposedly another $50 billion is being printed for more small business loans as we speak. Undoubtedly, this is not going to work.

Of the $787 billion, $17 billion was allocated for health care information technology (this includes electronic medical records, etc.). Small businesses were squeezed out of this space by the likes of GE Health, Walmart Health and Google Health. Sadly, these large corporations have zero incentive to subcontract any of their $17 billion government work to smaller minority-owned businesses, you know, the ones that actually create jobs within African American communities.

On a slightly different note, the definition of “minority-owned” businesses DOES NOT EXIST anymore for federal contracting. How did this happen on the Congressional Black Caucus’ watch? It’s obvious they are not watching. According to the CBC website, they do not even have an economic agenda for black folks. Now, that is another conversation altogether.

We DO NOT want a handout

What happened to the hard work, ingenuity, creativity, innovation, the free-market concepts that this great nation espoused. Today, even large corporations are cutting in front of the line for their welfare check. What signal are we sending to our next generation. Sort of like taking your child to see Barry Bonds hit a home-run in the ballpark.

It appears President Obama seems to have a government/Obama solution for everything. Whether it’s the Beer Summit, BP gulf oil spill or New York City mosque. It’s like like watching your best buddy, who is an only child, ball-hogging on the field. They are everywhere and our score has not moved!

Somebody, Tell the brother to quit talking all that smack, pass the ball and score for his greatest fans (black-folk) to feel!

I love me some Obama though 🙂

Osei is a business consultant and blogger for Whatchusay. You can reach him at osei@consultant.com

By James Morgan

Min. Louis Farrakhan, Nation of Islam


On February 26th, 2010 the Nation of Islam celebrated its annual Saviors Day convention and holiday.

The Islamic Black nationalist organization was founded by Wallace “Master” Fard Muhammad in on July 4th, 1930 and has inspired millions of Blacks in America and beyond. After the mysterious disappearance of the organizations founder, Minister Elijah Karreim (Born Elijah Poole, later Muhammad) took the reigns of the organization and would later be known as “The Honorable Elijah Muhammad”, last Messenger of Allah by his followers. With such historical luminaries as Malcolm X, Louis Farrakahn, Muhammad Ali, Khalid Muhammad and many others being touched by this organization it is no wonder why this event has garnered considerable attention from the entire Black world, Muslim and non-Muslim.

This years’ Saviors Day lecture by Minister Louis Farrakhan touched on a variety of topics, one of which was the political atmosphere around the Haitian earthquake. In his lecture Minister Farrakahan questioned why the United States sent armed troops into the island nation when by nearly all accounts the Haitian people have been very cooperative with aid workers. Farrakhan applauded a great many of President Obama’s efforts while at the same time criticizing the right wing push against him and his initiatives, like healthcare reform.

The side of the Saviors Day Convention that is often left out in writings outside of the Nation of Islam’s own Final Call Newspaper is the family-oriented spirit of the convention. Many people do not realize that this event serves as a springboard for the organization’s subordinate Mosques, initiatives, and members on which direction to go in, not just organizationally but spiritually in their own personal lives.

I was shocked to hear a close personal friend of mine who is a Fruit of Islam ( FOI, male member of the NOI) to say that after attending this year’s conference for single men and women he is seriously considering marriage preparation and looking for a Muslim woman in the Nation to start a new life with. With such presentation titles as “The Hip Hop Detoxx” led by recording artist Rakim and others it is no secret why this event is looked as a highlight of Black history month and beyond.

By Pendarvis Harshaw

She looked dead in the camera and asked: “if these guys are going around the country talking about manhood…why aren’t any of them married?”

I was in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood. It was muggy summer night, June 14, 2007 to be exact. It was the day before Tupac’s birthday, and father’s day… I wonder which one is more readily celebrated in the Black community?…but, I digress…

I was in New York; a trip sponsored by the 21st Century Foundation’s initiative to alter the image of Black men in the media, “The 2025 Campaign for Black Men and Boys“. We sat in conferences and workshops, we networked and cracked jokes, and above all…I documented the entire experience.

The conference was full of males: elder men with stories longer than their grey locks,young boys cut from a cloth that was newer than their suites, and I was there with a camera.

I met Kevin Powell. He was the figurehead, leader, and prime speaker for the conference. I was fortunate enough to be invited to a small dinner party with him and a handful of others. During the dinner party- I got antsy and decided to go outside. While outside, I good piece of advice from my mentor Cheo Tyehimba Taylor kicked in: this conference is all male- why not get some female perspective on manhood?

I saw this group of ladies. funny enough, when I initially accosted them, they brushed me completely. They thought I was trying to “holler” at them. But once they saw my approach was genuinely for journalism reasons, the conversation rolled…

And after all of the insightful input, they still inquired about attending the dinner party- trying to meet Kevin Powell…

But, the points made were thought provoking…how can you speak on the topic of manhood when you are not fully experienced in all manhood has to offer?

I think about this when I look at male leaders- namely politicians, business men, and members of the religious realm.

I almost always notice if a man has a ring on his left hand or not. Maybe a judgement on my part, but I cant help but thinking there is a correlation between a man who can uphold a solid union between he and his female counterpart, and a man upholding his position in society. After all, the family is the microcosm of society. family is the first society. If you cannot govern a family, how will you govern a people?

I bring this all to a forefront today, February 21st, 2010…45 years after the assassination of Malcolm X. The man.

In “man-hood circles”, Malcolm’s constant growth and development signified a man who was forever becoming greater. forever growing.They say manhood is a journey, and Malcolm X’s trials and tribulations symbolize that journey to a tee.

But a part that is often overlooked, and the part that inspires me to write this piece, was his relationship with his wife, the late Mrs. Betty Shabazz.

She was in his corner. She was his inspiration to move forward, comfortably; for he knew she would have his back. While Malcolm toured the Nation speaking and leading, and later toured the world reading and thinking, she did much of the rearing of the children.

All day, my mind has been with Malcolm X; I have been watching youtube clips of Malcolm X, I have been posting quotes from Malcolm X on twitter, I have been reading random excerpts from his Autobiography.

And even with all of my research, the most profound quote from, about, or having anything to do with Malcolm X is this….

“I loved him, he loved his people” – Betty Shabazz.

Rest in Peace Malcolm X

Rest in Peace Betty Shabazz

…this is just my train of thought…

Peace.


By James Morgan

For some reason in today’s society people have forgotten about Black love. Fortunately President and First Lady Obama are keeping the image of a positive, successful Black marriage in the forefront of today’s media. However, to remove the stigma that has become attached to Black marriages, what needs to occur is a rethinking about how Black parents educate their children about love, sex and relationships.

One thing that I have found increasingly shocking as I have gotten older is the amount of neglect a topic such as sex receives in modern-day Black American households. Far too often young people like myself find ourselves without proper guidance and education about matters of the heart. Oftentimes parents leave the onus to the child or the school to educate children on sex and relationships and this, I believe is partly to blame for the high rates of both the unmarried and divorced in the Black community.

I believe that the responsibility should fall on parents to educate their children about their own beliefs about sex so that the young person is clear on the parents stance but also able to ask questions for the purpose of education. In my own teenage years many of the questions I had about intimacy were forced to be answered through osmosis, and although society has normalized this I do not believe it is the best method of education for young people.

In 2008 there was nearly a double-digit increase in all STD’s, except for gonorrhea according to Avert.Org, a non-profit HIV/AIDS charity. I wonder how many of these cases could have been prevented with simple education? I realized the importance of sexual education when I was a student at Marist High School, located in Bayonne, New Jersey. Being a Catholic school, the school supports a pro-abstinence policy which in and of itself does no harm in my view. However, being the optimist that I am, I believe that educated people will ultimately make the best decisions for themselves and for the broader society, at least in most instances.

As I go on some of my old high school friends Facebook profiles, I am in shock at how many of them are now parents or expecting a new child. Again I ask, how many of those pregnancies could have been prevented with simple education of the person? This writing is in no way intended to demean the teaching method of my alma mater’s teaching philosophy, I am just asking the question. In episode 507 of the popular Comedy Central series “South Park” the small, fictitious Colorado town is once again up in arms because the question of sexual education is being literally fought over by the parents, teachers and of course the children of the town. Ultimately it is decided that schools and the broader community should play a secondary role in the sexual education of the young people and I believe that this is what would be best for Black America.

As uncomfortable as it may be for some parents and children I believe that having candid, open conversations about sex and matters of the heart would lead to less unplanned pregnancies as well as the restoration of marriage as a cornerstone, normative institution in Black America, and not just a spectacle when successful.


By James Morgan

December 9, 1981 is a day that is fresh in the memory of former Black Panther and famed journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal. It was on that day that Abu-Jamal was sentenced to death by the state of Pennsylvania. Ever since his incarceration there has been a tremendous international outcry for his case to be retried and even for the ruling to be overturned. In 2008, a federal appeals court ruled that his death penalty ruling should be set aside, paving the way for a potential retrial. However, on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 the Supreme Court overturned that ruling, once again setting in motion the original ruling made against Jamal.

“The trial of Mumia Abu Jamal in reality should be a trial of America’s criminal justice system,” said Dr. Greg Carr, Professor and Chair of Howard University’s African-American Studies Department. “The evidence of injustice has been made apparent and it is clear that Mumia Abu Jamal does not deserve the death penalty.”

It’s been argued by many activists and commentators that Mumia Abu-Jamal’s case is one example of the direct or indirect aftermath of the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program (famously known as COINTELPRO). This program was a covert initiative by then FBI director J. Edgar Hoover to disrupt and dismantle left-wing activism in America. One of the main groups targeted by the COINTELPRO program was the Black Panther Party For Self Defense and in 1968 he joined this Black revolutionary organization, working as a propagandist.

In 1981, Abu-Jamal was apprehended and eventually convicted of the shooting death of Officer Daniel Faulkner. During his trial, which eventually led to a unanimous verdict of guilty, Abu-Jamal stated that his rights had been “deceitfully stolen” from him by acting Judge Albert F. Sabo. Ever since that ruling Abu-Jamal has become a symbol of the fight to not only end the death penalty in America but also to declassify more documents regarding the case of political prisoners and exiles all across the country.

The fight to “free Mumia” is not without it’s opposition however, commenting in the Philidelphia Inquirer, radio host Michael J. Smerconish stated that “It’s 2010 and we haven’t gotten closure of a 1981 murder, or a cop no less.” Mr. Smerconish has worked with Officer Faulkner’s widow Maureen on a book detailing her side of the trial and litigation regarding Mumia Abu-Jamal. Nevertheless this recent ruling is years away from actually showing a tangible effect, be it good or bad. What is apparent is that if there is not increased pressure put on President Obama, than an innocent man may have his days on Death Row numbered, for all of the wrong reasons.