a repost: A Black Woman-Owned Company That Employs Youth and the Formerly Incarcerated Will Replace Flint’s Corroded Water Pipes

I approve of this story. Big props to this company for stepping up to the plate in not only correcting this intentional, blatant atrocity but employing brothas who would not be able find work under “normal” circumstances.

-The Melanated Man


Article posted on Truthout.org (click link for original)

By Lauren Longo

The Flint water crisis has dragged on for over three years now, leaving residents to rely on bottled water for drinking and cooking while they await clean water. But one black woman and her business may finally end the injustice.

At the end of March, the state of Michigan agreed to pay up to $97 million in combined federal and state funds to replace Flint’s corroded water pipes. The state will have three years to replace any lead or galvanized steel pipes for at least 18,000 homes.

A federal judge approved the agreement, which also entitles residents to have their water tested for lead four times a year, as well as access to free bottled water and filters.

“For the first time, we’ve been able to have a federal court enforce the state to do the right thing,” Flint resident Melissa Mays told All Things Considered, “which is to replace the pipes that their agencies and their administration broke. And now the people can start to see progress.”

WT Stevens Construction, a black woman-owned company, will lead that progress. One of four companies contracted to replace the city’s contaminated pipes, WT Stevens is the only one owned by a black person.

W.T. Stevens founded the family-owned company in the 1990s, and when he died, Rhonda Grayer began running the company with her seven siblings. The company is a state-certified lead-abatement contractor, which started replacing the city’s water lines in 2016.

This will be the biggest project the company has ever undertaken.

“I will tell you that it is really exciting and the most important part of it is the opportunity to employ people who may not have had other opportunities,” Grayer told The Hub Flint.

But replacing the water pipes isn’t WT Stevens’ only contribution to the community of Flint. The company has added 20 employees to handle the project’s workload, including ex-offenders and youth in order to provide training and opportunities to these specific populations.

Flint residents comprise about 60 percent of Grayer’s team, so this project is definitely about more than a paycheck for them.

“They’ve had firsthand experiences with the water crisis,” Grayer told Mic. “This is the community in which they live and when they’re on the job they see that they’re helping residents they know.”

And Grayer thinks her dad would be “very, very proud” of the work that they’re doing.

The crisis in Flint began when city officials wanted to save money by switching the city’s water source from Detroit to the Flint River. The government then failed to treat the water with an anti-corrosive agent, so the water corroded the city’s lead pipes, essentially turning tap water into poison.

The government’s actions have been called an act of environmental racism against the city’s mostly black residents.

Last summer, scientists finally considered the water safe for bathing and hand-washing  — but not for consumption.

And as of March, Flint residents were expected to start paying the full cost of their water, even though it is still unsafe to drink without a filter. More than 8,000 Flint residents now face foreclosure for outstanding bills on water that is still, after over three years, toxic.


a repost: Manipulating the Mass Mind & Attention

Article posted on the Waking Times (click link for original)



By Fred Dodson

In my 30 years as a self-improvement coach, the most important insight is that where you put your attention is where your energy goes. If you find that hard to believe, try this: Walk through a crowd. Put your attention on the people. Then walk through the same crowd again and put your attention on the gaps between the people. More of them will now make way. Try it. It never fails. Here’s another experiment: Stand at the corner of any city street and look upwards for a while. You will notice people around you also look upwards. They want to know what you are looking at, and for that brief period you determined the direction of their attention.

If I tell a group of people to think of a red car, there is a great likelihood that all of them will do it. And if I tell them not to think of a red car… they will also think of a red car! They could have chosen to think of a blue mountain instead. From that you realize how easy it is to steer mass attention.

Rarely will anyone form their own thought or choose different than what they are told. In fact, if you do not make decisions and intentions, someone else will do it for you. You know this from your own life: If your spouse asks you where you want to go for dinner and you don’t really have any specific preference, then they will decide where to go. The same applies on a mass-scale.

Due to a general weakness of will and awareness, most people have their reality decided for them, with merely the illusion of choice given – such as being able to choose whether you will pay your taxes by credit card or bank wire.

In school, children do not learn how to think but what to think. They do not learn how to steer attention but instead various things they are supposed to steer attention to.

It is humbling to realise that most people on the planet do not practice focusing, guiding, re-directing, shifting, retrieving and un-sticking their own attention. Thus the life-experience of most of us is determined by external agendas as given by mass media, schools, our parents and countless other sources that have very little to do with our innermost heart’s truth.

We are lucky that at least some of the direction we get from outside is benign. We are lucky if we have parents who say, “You are highly talented, intelligent and beautiful,” thus directing our attention in the right direction. Have you ever heard a newscaster tell you, “You are safe, talented, intelligent, beautiful, empowered and able”? Not hardly. You’ll hear you are the victim of horrible circumstances that you can do nothing about.

Through directing attention, you become a mini-reality-creator. But the mass media is the grand sorcerer of reality manipulation as it directs the attention of millions. It’s not generally understood to what bizarre extent the news media actively participate in the creation of our reality. It is thought they only “report” what is “happening,” but that’s not the case.

The following are different levels of mass-reality-creation by the news media, sorted by the degree of manipulation:

Level 1: Filtering

When I create a movie for my work, I usually choose an outdoor location. I make sure to set up the camera in nature so the scenery looks really good. By choosing what to point the camera at, I am excluding everything I don’t want viewers to see, anything that does not fit my agenda.

I recently filmed breathtaking natural scenery… or at least that’s what it looked like in the final result. I excluded an adjacent parking place, trashcans, roaming dogs, public signs, ugly houses and anything else that disturbed the illusion of me being in paradise. Any filmmaker understands to which extent the filmmaker distorts reality.

From the millions of events that happen every day, the reporter filters which ones to report. This is a normal process. I do it for my own website by presenting only information relevant to its overall topic. People do it on Facebook by presenting themselves in a certain way and excluding pictures that might put them in a bad light.

News media, however, tend to apply several filters. The first one is the filter of negative bias. Why? Because at Earth’s current level of consciousness, fear, drama and hatred still capture more interest than peace, prosperity and harmony. Desperate to sell ad slots on their news program and their declining newspapers, most reports are filtered by how much upheaval and action they contain. In addition, televised news media follows the creed, “if there is no footage (video), it doesn’t matter.” When I was younger I worked for a well-known news station where I was told exactly that. I tried to get the editor to cover important angles of a story, but if there was no footage of it, it was as if it didn’t exist.

If they were to portray life on a day on Earth accurately, as it is for most people most of the time, it might appear “boring.” So the camera zooms in on places of the most mayhem and tragedy. This extreme filtering gives the audience the false impression that the whole world is mostly in a state of chaos, coupled with the implication there is absolutely nothing you can personally do about it. The sensationalist journalist never adds words of advice on improving your life, moving to peaceful surroundings or words of encouragement. He only cares about the sheer terror of explosions, debris, blood and destruction. If any of your relatives talked like a news anchor, you’d consider them mentally unstable.

A recent movie The Nightcrawler (starring Jake Gyllenhaal) exposes the juvenile and sadistic mindset of some sections of modern “journalism.” No doubt, the last decade has seen a rise in terrorist attacks all over the world. And while these are horrific, they are still actually just localised events, pinpointed at certain buildings with a limited amount of people. They are not nearly as bad as the nation-to-nation all-out-wars we’ve had in decades before that.

I happened to be in the city of Munich on the day of a terrorist attack at the end of July 2016. The shooting of 9 people at the hands of a 19-year-old kid named Ali went around the world. And yet, I learned it from the news, not from being in Munich at the time. On that day I was riding my bike along the river and went for a swim. I received numerous text messages asking whether I’m still alive and sending blessings to me and my family. You see my point…. things are bad, but rarely as bad as the news says they are.

On an odd note: The same journalist who happened to be at the Nice (France) terror attack only a week before, shooting live footage of it, also “coincidentally” happened to be pre-positioned at Munich on location and filming. His name is Richard Gutjahr and he is either magnetically attracted to such events for the sake of “terrortainment” or there is something more sinister going on.

When, if I may ask, is the last time you saw windsurfers in the Palestinian Gaza Territory or a happy family having a barbecue in their Jerusalem garden in the news? These events happen every day, by the hundreds, but they do not automatically come to your mind when I say “Gaza!” or “Israel!” I have been to both Palestine and Israel on numerous visits, both privately and for business, and I’ve always had a great time. Yet when I tell people I am travelling there, they tell me “be careful! That’s dangerous!” They associate these places with the blood and gore the news showed them. They know virtually nothing about the realities of these places than what they have been shown.

I mean no disrespect to the suffering of people in the Middle East or anywhere else for that matter. I am merely using these extreme examples to make the point of filtered-realities. They cause a lack of balance in our perception of the world as well as desensitising us toward violence.

Ideally, news media would have to not only show a nice segment at the end of their show, but more positive and interesting segments throughout. Then we learn that the world is a balance of light and darkness. Where are the news reports of hope, inspiration, everyday-heroes and human accomplishment? They are far and few between. If a proper balance of dark and light were given, the audience would become more involved in the healing of darkness rather than apathetic to it.

Level 2: Distortion

The next level of reality-manipulation is deliberate distortion by the journalists themselves because they wish to see something in a certain manner or are partial to some political, religious or philosophical ideology.

Of course, nobody is completely neutral and unbiased, nor is that expected. But one of the problems of our times is there is virtually no mass media outlet that is not widely known as being affiliated with some political, governmental, anti-governmental or philosophical “side” and a far shot from “neutral.” Latest statistics from my country (USA) show that the Top Ten most successful “news” outlets on the Internet are either “right-wing” or “left-wing” affiliated. The fact that we are able to determine whether an outlet is “left” or “right” is in itself problematic. It is disheartening how almost every story “top news outlets” carry is filtered through political bias. In other words, these are not “news” outlets and their employees are not “journalists,” they are unabashed propaganda outlets for one of the two political parties in the US.

Another form of distortion occurs when a journalist makes something better or worse than it is. He knows the editor will only accept a story if its interesting enough so he adds a few details here and there, knowing nobody will likely ever examine them more closely. From writing my own blog to a fairly large audience, I am somewhat familiar with the problem, but have always resisted the urge to exaggerate reports. I’d rather have some of my reports be understated (“boring”) than to report things that did not happen. Needless to say, I am not only blaming the mass media, as they only reflect the desires of the populace, who favour entertainment and excitement over reason and truth. When that audience goes to the cinema, they rarely pay to see peace, love and harmony, they usually pay to see death and suffering.

Another form of distortion is that most news stories are reported without wrapping them into a wider context. Most things that happen are part of a greater pattern, part of a history, part of a mindset. Yet, the way stories are reported is as separate pieces that have little or no relation to each other.

When I report on my blog, I frequently like to put what I wrote into context and comparison with other things I wrote in order to give a congruent overall big-picture. This is not the case in conventional news media where people think that the presidential elections in the US, the hurricane that happened just before, the resignation of the CIA-boss and the resurgent Israel-Palestine conflict (all having happened within a few weeks a couple of years ago) have nothing whatsoever to do with each other and are separate bits of information. But they are interconnected, not only metaphysically but geopolitically. Because the news reports too much and journalists write too quickly, ignoring context and connections, they breed ignorance of the depth and meaning of things.

Level 3: Deliberate Fabrication

This is the most intense form of reality-manipulation which hopefully does not occur too often. I recently spoke to someone who used to work for the British “Ministry of Defense.” He shared the following story: Some decades ago a group of reporters went to Northern Ireland to capture footage of the conflict. When they arrived everything was peaceful, so they went ahead and created some chaos, just so they could return home with footage. They bribed a local to make and throw molotov cocktails (amateur bombs) off rooftops into the streets, setting cars and trashcans ablaze. In this instance, the journalists literally created the news. They refused to go home saying “the streets of Belfast are peaceful at this time.” The guy who told me the story lamented that this scandal of sorts was never revealed or reported on to this day. It was covered up by the BBC to avoid embarrassment.

For a mature human being it is important to at least be aware of how news media manipulates reality. Mere awareness immunises you. You can then read and watch the news without being dragged down to victim-mentality or desensitised apathy, and if you are interested in a story you can then read different news outlets to view the different viewpoints and versions of it and gain a birds-eye-view.

It’s better not to rely on only one news outlet. In my view, most of these stories are just the world-mind processing garbage, like in some kind of bad dream. None of it needs to have anything to do with you, your reality and the reality of those around you. You experience only what you attract through the contents of your own consciousness and subsequent decisions. In some cases you will have a friend or relative who gets way too caught up in news media, exaggerating the importance of various events.

Back in the 80s some believed AIDS would completely wipe out the entire planet by the year 2000. It didn’t happen. Then they thought “Swine-Flu” would “wipe out civilisation as we know it”: It didn’t happen. Then they thought 2012 would enlighten humanity to a golden era of peace and bliss. Didn’t happen. And they thought 9/11 would mark the beginning of World War III. Didn’t happen. I dare say that for most of us, life went on like it did the 10 years before and progressed or regressed in accordance with our personal level of consciousness.

Those who take the news way too seriously very rarely do anything actively to help the situation. They’d prefer being worried and indignant to taking positive action. For them, daily preoccupation with the news is like an escape from their own lives which may lack movement or excitement. But when the time comes that their own lives pick up, their interest in daily news recedes. This means they have chosen to focus their precious attention to places that really matter in the development of their own spirit.

Attention is the currency of the 21st century and I recommend you use yours wisely. Be conscious of what you give your eyes to see, your ears to hear, your mind to think and your heart to feel.

a repost: SÜPRMARKT: 26-Year-Old Howard Alum Launches Low-Cost Organic Grocery Store In L.A.

Article posted on Atlanta Blackstar (click link for original)



By Tanasia Kenney

Fed up with taking a nearly two-hour bus ride every time she wanted to buy healthy, vegan food, Los Angeles native Olympia Auset decided it was time she took matters into her own hands.

Cue the birth of SÜPRMARKT, a low-cost organic grocery that operates weekly to provide 100-percent organic produce to low-income families and communities in L.A. with limited access to healthy food options. The grocery store has managed to provide an estimated 200 cases of affordable organic fruit, vegetables and seeds to the city’s Southside community since its inception in July 2016, according to its website.

“I think the greatest takeaway about this project is it shows there are things every person can do to tackle societal issues that face their community,” said Auset, who now resides in Inglewood. “It isn’t always about waiting on corporations or governments to get things done.”

While there are a number of organic and vegan grocery stores across the city, many of them aren’t affordable for families and individuals living on a fixed income. That’s why the Howard University alum made it her mission to ensure everyone had access to fresh, organic foods, no matter their income level. In fact, her grocery store’s motto fittingly declares, “Everyone deserves great food.”

Last year, the 26-year-old spoke with Black Vegans Rock about why she decided to become a raw vegan and the benefits of living a vegan lifestyle.

“Raw vegan is the next step in health/awareness,” Auset commented. “We are all evolving collectively, and raw is the next step in us achieving that God-like spiritual state. I know that when you eat living food, you feel alive — there’s a certain high that comes from eating only living things.”

“Veganism, and even more so raw veganism, creates a certain strength within you to be the change” in other areas of your life,” she added.

Auset said the idea for SÜPRMARKT was also borne out an of an effort to show her friends how to make healthier eating choices.

“One of [my friends’] first complaints would be, ‘Oh, it’s to expensive to eat better,’ ” she said. “But it is crazy when you go into stores and [you need] one tomato and they want like a $1.25 for it.”

Auset has since partnered with organic food sellers in the L.A. area to provide “new” produce and produce deemed “unsellable” by grocers to local communities that can still make use of it, BlackBusiness.org reported. This way, the organic grocery helps limit L.A.’s food waste while still providing organic, vegan food options to the communities that need it most.

The market’s subscription service offers low-cost weekly packages of fresh produce and accepts EBT for all of its food sales. Auset’s initiative also has received grants from The Pollination Project and Co-opportunity and gained the support of notable food figures like Robert Egger of LA Kitchen, according to BlackBusiness.org.

Auset has not responded to requests for comment.

To learn more about SÜPRMARKT, click here.


a repost: Does the Bounty of New Television Shows On Racism Keep Audiences Woke or Commodify Black Suffering?

If there is one thing I realized to be true in this day and age, is that nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, is real on TE-LIES-VISION. Anything and everything that is broadcasted on a screen requires a production crew or have a “credits” section.

Thus, ten times out of ten it’s a concoction!

Google definition of concoction: an elaborate story, especially a fabrication.

That includes Black suffering, whether produced, directed, or even distributed by our own.

-The Melanated Man


Article posted on Atlanta Blackstar (click link for original)


By: Gus T. Renegade

Gil Scott-Heron was wrong.

In 2017, you can binge watch the revolution on Netflix.

During a May NPR interview with the stars of ABC’s beloved sitcom “black-ish,” the current Hollywood era was described as “a renaissance of shows featuring, written or produced by people of color.” Beyond spotlighting Black dramatists and filmmakers, countless new series are centrally focused on racism and its erosion of Black life. Conscious content makers hope substantive viewing educates and resonates with the Black Lives Matter generation.

Standup comedian W. Kamau Bell and retired basketball star Charles Barkley both launched prime time series that address dire issues such as police terrorism against Black citizens and the rise of white nationalist politicians like Richard Spencer of “alt-right.” But Bell and Barkley are television personalities, not trained race theorists. After reviewing both shows, Journalist and National Public Radio’s first full-time TV critic Eric Deggans confesses disappointment that both projects spliced gripping subject matter with “jokey asides” but failed to ask “tough, detailed, direct questions.”

The Netflix series “Dear White People” the television series based on Justin Simien’s 2014 independent film was similarly disappointing according to Journalist professor Jason Johnson. He described the 10-episode series as a “comedy that is steeped in the politics of Black life and pain” but unwilling to risk indicting white viewers for being complicit in the dramatized and real-world violence against Black people.

Kenya Burris, the creator of “black-ish,” told NPR that he uses his sitcom to talk “about those things that make us uncomfortable.” Despite relying on an audience that’s 75-percent white, Barris infuses episodes with protests against police shootings, homages to minister Malcolm X and cameos for the 2015 book, “Between the World and Me” and its author, Ta-Nehisi Coates.

It’s easy to assume Barris being employed to produce three seasons of such content represents a modicum of progress and an indicator that many white viewers are receptive to Black perspectives on racism. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily the case.

There’s a robust record of whites adhering to racist convictions while consuming narratives of Black pain. The late historian Vincent Woodard’s book, “The Delectable Negro,” details 19th-century whites who devoured Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” a novel celebrated for and credited with detailing the horrors of Black enslavement and igniting the Civil War. However, Woodard documents that, for some readers, the thought “that one man could possess, sell or whip another, caused … intense excitement.” Stowe’s “romanticized images of slaves” and depictions of Black suffering satisfy a peculiar taste acquired from centuries of dehumanizing Black people.

Professor Amy Louise Wood corroborates Woodard’s analysis with her research on the history of Black mutilation as a form of entertainment. In “Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890-1940,” she explores decades of lynchings and examines how these public mob killings became productions of racist theater. Emphasizing that lynchings were often advertised in advanced for maximum audience attendance and participation, Wood writes that these “rituals … and their subsequent representations imparted powerful messages to whites about their own supposed racial dominance and superiority. These spectacles produced and disseminated images of white power and Black degradation, of white unity and Black criminality, that served to instill and perpetuate a sense of racial supremacy in their white spectators.” Whites affirmed their racial identity and dominion over Black people by witnessing staged slaughters.

In a 2016 interview, Woods acknowledged similar messages of racial dominance are transmitted when footage depicts the final moments of Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner or the most recent victim of the white supremacy police state. Dash cam and cellphone footage captured with hopes of safeguarding citizens’ rights and guaranteeing accountability for police misconduct often become widely viewed confirmation of Black subjugation.

Journalist and author Isabelle Wilkerson also detected a symmetry between antique photos of Black people being hung and the now endless loops of police violence “caught on videotape [that] have reached hundreds of thousands of watchers on YouTube — a form of public witness to brutality beyond anything possible in the age of lynching.”

Even with a virtual crowd, the multitude of onlookers is often insufficient to criminally convict modern-day lynchers.

This viral and vicarious feast on Black suffering suggests a large population of whites have no problem digesting, and perhaps even crave, content that confirms the continued abuse and exploitation of Black people. The enormous social media presence of Black Lives Matter protesters appeals to unscrupulous advertisers willing to use the name of Tamir Rice to hawk toy pistols.

Pepsi’s recent public relations miscalculation demonstrates the shameless commodification of Black life and the years of political protest against white supremacy. The soft drink giant released a commercial depicting a fictionalized rally and the requisite phalanx of enforcement officials. A carbonated beverage establishes racial harmony where years of grassroots activism proved fruitless.

The tacky affair supports Johnson’s critique that, “So long as you can sell it to white audiences,” counterfeit concern for Black issues may be a profitable shtick for peddling merchandise or television shows.

Television star and filmmaker Jordan Peele told The New York Times he crafted the breakout horror flick “Get Out” to confront “the lack of acknowledgment that racism exists.” He deconstructed the symbolic meaning of television in the movie, describing it as a marker for inaction and escapism, similar to “the fact that the entertainment industry is not necessarily inclusive of the African-American experience,” Peele said.

That lens should frame our reception of and response to the sudden marathon of racially focused viewing options.


Gus T. Renegade hosts “The Context of White Supremacy” radio program, a platform designed to dissect and counter racism. For nearly a decade, he has interviewed and studied authors, filmmakers and scholars from around the globe.

a repost: Murder, Forced Labor and the Forgotten Black Boys of Florida’s Dozier School for Boys – Atlanta Black Star

Article posted on Atlanta Blackstar (click link for original)

By D. Amari Jackson

In 1957, 11-year-old Johnny Lee Gaddy started skipping class. Embarrassed by his persistent stutter, Gaddy chose to avoid the relentless teasing from classmates at his Dade City, Fla., elementary school. One evening the police showed up at his house and told his mother they were taking the truant boy to “go see the judge.”

“I told my mother there wasn’t gonna be any judge there at 7:00 in the evening,” recalls the 71-year-old Gaddy, a pastor who still lives in Florida. But they told her the judge was “waiting for me” at the courthouse. “Once I got there,” he says, they “put me in a cell and told me I had to stay there until the judge came.” Tired, the boy eventually went to sleep. “When I woke,” remembers Gaddy, there was no judge and the officer was putting me in a car and saying, “Son, you are on your way to Marianna.”

Five hours later, the dazed 11-year-old arrived at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Fla. He was checked in and given a number of shots before being taken to the Black side of the segregated campus and issued clothing and work boots. A man told me, “Boy, your life is fin’ to change,” says Gaddy, noting “I didn’t understand what he meant by that.”

“But I eventually found out what he meant. And he wasn’t lying.”

Gaddy is currently one of over 500 former students reporting they were severely beaten, sexually abused and used as slave labor at Dozier. Though the school was finally closed in 2011 after a U.S. Department of Justice investigation found ongoing excessive force and a lack of safety and services, what is still being unearthed is the extent of its atrocities over its 111-year existence. A January 2016 report by archaeologists and forensic anthropologists from the University of South Florida revealed 55 on-site graves and 51 sets of remains of which seven DNA identifications and 14 other matches were made. Of the preliminary identifications, several were from bodies hastily thrown into graves or those reported to their families as having “run away” from the institution. Many suspect more bodies are buried without any form of marking, especially on the Black side of campus, given findings that three times as many Black students died than white students.

Four years ago, Gaddy and a number of the victims formed the Black Boys of Dozier, a support group aimed at seeking justice for the atrocities committed against them and those victims no longer living. They were encouraged by the Florida Legislature’s recent adoption of a resolution formally apologizing for the treatment of those sent to Dozier. In it, the state “regrets that the treatment of boys who were sent to the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys and the Okeechobee School was cruel, unjust and a violation of human decency, and acknowledges this shameful part of the State of Florida’s history.”

Still, the story is far from over. Along with a lack of restitution, the acknowledgement by the state does not significantly address the forced labor and large profits generated by “students” like Gaddy on the Black side of Dozier’s campus who worked the fields, harvested crops, drove tractors and cut down timber in gator- and snake-infested swamps.

“There are many different faces of slavery because it disguises itself,” says Antoinette Harrell, a genealogist and peonage specialist who has combed Florida’s state archives for information on forced labor at the institution. Harrell’s research revealed boys as young as 7 working the fields, tending to crops and raising and slaughtering livestock. The school would take the produce away daily on trucks to sell for sizable profits. Harrell uncovered sales reports from Dozier, including a quarterly sheet from October 1958 showing produce revenues of $10,980.36, and a March 1966 report showing Dozier made $118,160 in swine and $156,108 in beef sales over the previous year. “I wanted to know who was picking up the produce, what companies were involved and how much money was being made off of the produce and the livestock,” explains Harrell, who is still digging for more answers.

Such child labor at Dozier was not only forced and profitable, it was treacherous. Gaddy recalls how his first beating was prompted by sticking up for a 7-year-old they’d partnered with him to cut down a tree with a two-man saw. “He was so weak and little that when I pushed the saw, he couldn’t pull it, so I had to push and pull just to keep him from getting a spanking for not doing his job.”

When Gaddy took the blame for the two of them not working fast enough, he was taken to a small white building on campus known as “The White House.” It smelled of vomit and its walls were stained with dried blood. Gaddy was brought to a back room by a large man, put face down on a blood-stained mattress, told to keep his face buried in a vomit-drenched pillow, and to not let go of the cot’s metal rail. “He told me if I let go, he could kill me,” says Gaddy, noting how the force of the blows from the heavy leather belt could rupture a testicle if it missed the buttocks. The man also “told me if I let go, he’d start all over again. When he hit me the first time, I had never been hit so hard in my whole life. I called for Mama, Jesus and everybody, but they didn’t come.”

Once the dozens of lashes stopped, “There was blood everywhere” as the belt had “sucked the skin from my behind.” When “I got off the bed with blood running down my legs, I asked him if I could go see the doctor,” continues Gaddy. “But the man said he wanted me to go straight to the cafeteria where the students were eating “to set an example for the other boys that we are not playin’ with you guys.”

Things got worse. Not long after, Gaddy was driving the tractor while taking trash from the field to burn it in the fire pit. There, says Gaddy, he looked down and saw the severed hand of a child. “I told one of the boys I’d seen a body part” at the pit and he told me, “Johnny, don’t ever repeat that again because you could end up in that pit. They don’t want anybody to know what’s happening here.” 

What many Americans don’t know is that slavery did not cease with the 13th Amendment. Alongside the postbellum system of sharecropping commonly referred to as “neoslavery,” an actual system of forced labor was perpetuated through local courts, draconian codes and ordinances, and outright kidnapping. By the 1880s, most Southern states had enacted vaguely defined laws to criminalize Negroes regardless of conduct and herd them into prison labor camps, chain gangs and other forms of involuntarily servitude. Georgia and Florida were among the states where Black people could be rounded up at any time for “vagrancy,” not yielding a walkway to a white person, carrying a gun, switching employers without permission from their previous employer or selling farm produce to someone other than the white men they rented land from. Countless thousands of Negroes were virtually re-enslaved through this insidious process from the Reconstruction period right up through World War II.

Similarly, by the turn of the 20th century, reform schools for youth found guilty of crimes as minor as profanity, truancy and “incorrigibility” — or for simply being an orphan or ward of the state — had proliferated. In 1900, Florida opened its first juvenile detention center for boys and girls, the Florida State Reform School, on 1200 acres of land near Marianna in Jackson County. Over the years, the institution, demographics and name would change as additional land was purchased and the school rebranded as the single-sex Florida Industrial School for Boys and, ultimately, the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys.

However, what stayed the same was a disturbing pattern of abuse. Between 1903 and 1913, a series of state investigations uncovered significant abuse and neglect including children as young as 5 being beaten, shackled, denied food and clothing, and hired out as free labor. Yet, upon rebranding and administrative promises to improve, the school remained open and reasserted its brutal methods for decades. And it kept concerned parents at bay by preying on mostly poor children like Gaddy who lived hours from the facility and forcing them to write home weekly about how much they were enjoying their stay.

With its 2011 closure, Dozier will prey upon Florida’s children no more. Still, Harrell insists it’s a history that cannot be forgotten as she has helped the Black Boys at Dozier bring their dark past to light. Along with publicizing their story, she helped organize an on-site press conference in August 2013, the first time the group of men had returned to the campus in over a half-century.

“Because the campus was segregated, the white men cannot say what happened on the Black side, and the Black men cannot say what happened on the white side,” says Harrell, noting they “would be beaten if they talked to each other.”

“So, if we don’t talk to these men and tell them to bring their stories out, as Black people, how will we know what happened?”

The Dangers of Using Sunscreen

To all my Black (Melanin-dominant) brother and sisters: if we’re still buying into the notion of rubbing this concoction on our beautiful melanated skin to “protect ourselves” from the Sun, the ultimate source of LIGHT/LIFE, then we have still have a long way to go.

95%? 95%??? WTF.

Source: Sunscreen is KILLING people by blocking vitamin D production which prevents cancer, diabetes, kidney disorders and more – NaturalNews.com With permission from NaturalNews.com by: Russel Davis May 09, 2017 (Natural News) Excessive sunscreen use might be playing a major role in the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and related adverse health conditions, an analysis […]

via Sunscreen is KILLING people by blocking vitamin D production which prevents cancer, diabetes, kidney disorders and more — Tales from the Conspiratum

A repost: Whites Cheer Black Athletes and Loathe Them At the Same Time – We Ask Why? – Atlanta Black Star

Article posted on Atlanta Blackstar (click link for original)

Baltimore Orioles’ outfielder Adam Jones was allegedly subjected to racial abuse while facing the Boston Red Sox on May 1.

By: Gus T. Renegade

In 2016, USA Today asked Baltimore Orioles’ center fielder Adam Jones why no Black baseball players mimicked football player Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the national anthem. Jones declared that Black players “already have two strikes against us.” Compared to basketball and football, Black Major League Baseball players constitute a miniscule number. “They don’t need us,” the Baltimore outfielder said. “Baseball is a white man’s sport.”

One year later and 70 years after World War II veteran Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, Boston, Mass., spectators confirmed Jones’ assessment and wasted a bag of peanuts in the process. During a May 1 contest between the Orioles and the Red Sox, Jones reported being “called the n-word a handful of times” and having a bag of nuts thrown at him.

An assortment of athletes, including Jason Heyward of the Chicago Cubs and Golden State Warriors teammates Draymond Green and Stephen Curry, immediately disclosed that they’ve endured similar abuse from racist sports fans. The fact that the Cubs and Warriors have each hoisted recent championships in their respective leagues suggests the pinnacle of athletic achievement fails to shield Black athletes from anti-Black racism.

During the 1950s and ’60s, Bill Russell secured 11 titles for the Boston Celtics while describing the town as “a flea market of racism.” Chris Yuscavage writes that the hoops legend was conflicted about “how he was supposed to feel when he was routinely cheered by some of those same” white New Englanders who expressed unadulterated contempt for Black life before and after Celtics victories.

It’s likely that Jones’s verbal assailants badgered him while simultaneously reveling in the current playoff run of the overwhelmingly Black Celtics team.

University of Texas professor John Hoberman authored “Darwin’s Athletes: How Sport Has Damaged Black America and Preserved the Myth of Race” in part to explore the contradiction of racist sports fans patronage of Black-dominated athletics. He reminds readers that historically, white culture declared white women and men intellectually and athletically supreme. Hoberman explains how the “emotional stake” in maintaining the lie of white superiority demanded that generations of Jackie Robinsons be barred from competing with white students or athletes.

What began with “Black firsts” like boxing champion Jack Johnson and tennis prodigy Althea Gibson, has, according to Hoberman, swelled to the point that, “A lot of whites, if they’re sports fans, they are going to have to consume a lot of sports entertainment that is going to feature people who do not look like them, who do not have white skins.”

The billion-dollar global sports conglomerate verifies the insatiable appetite — and market — for Black athletes. Hoberman submits that stale racial stereotypes helped a number of whites digest the never ending serving of Black athletic triumph. He writes, “The myth of Black hardiness and supernormal vitality has been the crucible of our thinking about” Black bodies and often a leading justification for their enslavement. The antebellum delusions about Black endurance and pain tolerance that made people with melanin ideal candidates to be shackled conveniently explained the athletic brilliance of Black people. Laboring in white-owned fields with a ball or bail of cotton is our genetically predetermined destiny and limited range of expertise.

However, for multitudes of white sport fans, thinking of Black athletes as mutli-million-dollar slaves has made it no easier to stomach a sports world where Black ballers reign. In “The History of White People Hating LeBron James,” Chris Osterndorf writes that whites “are able to appreciate [Black athletes], to rely on them, but we’re not necessarily able to separate that from the belief that they work for us.” Black athletes aren’t role models or human beings, they’re white folks’ servants. Osterndorf says this mentality explains how racists hail the accomplishments of Black players on their favorite sporting teams, “all while calling him a ‘n—-r’ in the same conversation.”

During a NPR 2014 interview, U.S. Congressman James Clyburn used his daughter’s college homecoming football game to explain how devotion to the system of white supremacy is compartmentalized during heated sporting events. Representative Clyburn’s daughter, Mignon Clyburn, observed a white motorist with a bumper sticker promoting University of South Carolina football player George Rogers’ Heisman trophy campaign. She doubted the driver would sport a bumper sticker endorsing her father for Congress. Ms. Clyburn recalled that during the ballgame, the white fans who jeered and heckled the Black homecoming queen loudest were the most vocal in praising every yard gained by Rogers. She synthesized those events into a succinct conclusion: “It’s all right for us to entertain, but they don’t want us to represent them.”

Many Black people, including athletes like Hall of Fame football player Kellen Winslow, erroneously assumed white consumption of Black sports figures signified the wane of racism and the power of interracial athletics to lessen racial hostilities. Winslow has since publicly acknowledged his error.

When he was a physically gifted star on the gridiron, he was “treated and viewed differently than most African-American men in this country.” His Black life mattered. Racism was not a problem. “Then, reality came calling,” writes Winslow in the forward for the 1996 book In Black and White: Race and Sports in America by Kenneth L. Shropshire “After a nine-year career in the National Football League filled with honors and praises, I stepped into the real world and realized, in the words of Muhammad Ali, that I was ‘just another n—-r.’”

Gus T. Renegade hosts “The Context of White Supremacy” radio program, a platform designed to dissect and counter racism. For nearly a decade, he has interviewed and studied authors, filmmakers and scholars from around the globe.

a repost: Afro-Colombians Face Genocidal Attacks from United States-Backed Death Squads

Article posted on Atlanta Blackstar (click link for original)

By D. Amari Jackson

On December 20, 1996, in the Colombian riverside village of Riosucio, the mass killings of Afro-Colombians began. At the time, though the country’s relentless civil war between the government and rebel groups had raged for decades, much of the violence had spared the rural, mineral-rich region of Choco where 85 percent of residents are Afro-Latino. That would brutally change as paramilitary death squads—backed by powerful government and commercial interests both in Colombia and the United States—murdered hundreds and displaced thousands in response to the establishment of residential land rights by Afro-Colombians in Riosucio and nearby towns. The violence would continue and, despite a November 2016 treaty officially ending the five-decade conflict, consume the region while substantially contributing to the current displacement of 2 million Afro-Colombians.

The killing has not stopped. On April 28—prompted by the “increasing number of murders, death threats and attacks against social leaders and human rights defenders”—congressmen Keith Ellison and Georgia’s Hank Johnson penned an urgent letter to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos encouraging “the Colombian government to investigate and bring to justice the persons responsible for the murders of ethnic activists, leaders and community members. It is imperative that Colombia’s armed forces and police understand it is their responsibility to protect civilians, particularly in areas like the Choco and Tumaco, where reports indicate that paramilitary groups operate in zones where the armed forces are present. Cases of alleged collusion or omission of duty by government forces also demand investigation.”

The genocide—or what some have labeled “ethnocide”—has much to do with both race and land. While constituting a quarter of the country’s population, Afro-Colombians have little to no voice or representation in government, media or industry. Close to 80 percent of Afro-Colombians live below the poverty line despite the coca, gold and other minerals beneath their feet. Their Pacific Basin region is one of the most bio-diverse in the world, yet this natural abundance of resources and beauty has prompted multinational corporations and paramilitaries to force them from their land with campaigns of blood and terror.

“The leaders of these communities have been particularly targeted by these paramilitary groups because they see them as opposing their economic projects and seeking justice in cases where they have illegally appropriated land,” says Gimena Sánchez, a leading Colombia human rights advocate at the Washington Office on Latin America. “And, unfortunately, the situation just does not get visibility.” The Colombian government doesn’t help, continues Sanchez, since they are “denying there are paramilitaries” that still exist.

Unfortunately, Columbia is not alone. In numerous Latin American countries, Afro-Latinos have been subject to disproportionate violence, government neglect and discrimination. In Brazil, the Latin American country with the largest Black population, an estimated 65 percent of Afro-Brazilians live in dire poverty while violence is the leading cause of death for Black men. In a number of countries with smaller Afro-Latino populations, entrenched poverty, racism and a lack of representation commonly plague their group plight.

Still, in Colombia, the level of violence has been historic with civil war death toll estimates as high as a quarter of a million people. Since the 1960s, the US-backed government and powerful commercial interests have battled rebel groups—primarily the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and the National Liberation Army (ELN)—over land, resources, representation and control of the country’s lucrative drug trade. In the mid-1990s, after Law 70 was passed to establish Afro-Colombians’ rights to their own ancestral lands, well-armed paramilitaries began their brutal assault on the region’s dark inhabitants by murdering those involved in passing the law.

As international outrage over the ongoing war and human rights crisis grew, Alvaro Uribe was elected president in 2002 upon his promise to stabilize the country and reduce the violence. Ostensibly, Uribe performed the task by doubling the military, cracking down on rebel groups, promoting a new national image, and claiming to have disarmed paramilitary groups. But while much of the violence ceased in affluent urban areas, mining and agricultural companies continued to employ paramilitaries in the areas dominated by Colombia’s African descendants.

In September 2012, current president Juan Manuel Santos began peace talks with FARC in Havana, Cuba. Four years later, on August 24, 2016, an initial peace agreement was announced. However, a month and a half later, a referendum to ratify the deal was rejected by voters. Instead of holding a second referendum, on November 24, the Colombian government and the FARC signed a revised deal and sent it to Congress where it was ratified a week later. As a result of promoting the Afro-Colombian cause in the US along with similarly-minded advocacy groups in both countries, Marino Cordoba—leader of the Association for Internally Displaced Afro-Colombians (AFRODES)—traveled to Havana and secured text in the final accord aimed at improving the plight of his people. The chapter acknowledges the persecution of Afro-Colombians “as a product of colonialism, slavery, marginalization and dispossession from their land, territory and resources” while confirming their land titles and “their human and collective rights.”

Tragically, this significant feat has yet to stop the violence or the ongoing land grab. Numerous Afro-Colombian leaders have been assassinated during and since the peace agreement including Cordoba’s son and two other family members. And last week’s letter from congressmen Ellison and Johnson identifies ongoing actions by the Santos regime that bring “into question the government’s commitment to protecting the rights of ethnic minorities in the country.”

Sanchez notes, “There’s been a peace process, however there’s been a rise in the targeting and killing of minorities in the past year.”

The US needs to get serious, insists Sanchez, about pressuring Colombia through the enforcement of “human rights conditions on their military aid.” She points out the two countries actually have a “Racial Action Plan” in place aimed at improving the plight of Afro-Colombians, and that a resolution is being developed by the Congressional Black Caucus to push State Department policy to have a more constructive impact upon Afro-descendants in the Diaspora, including Latin America.

Sanchez adds the US should “take the lead” on pushing such initiatives forward to make “a major difference for Latin American countries and signal to them the importance of these issues.”

a repost: To Create True, Lasting Wealth and Power, Black People Must Adopt a ‘Cooperative’ Mindset – Atlanta Black Star

Article posted on Atlanta Blackstar (click link for original)
By : ABS Staff

One of the mistakes the Black “conscious community” keeps making is promoting the concept that we all need to be entrepreneurs and that Black people shouldn’t be relying on government jobs and weekly paychecks.

We are advised by these well-meaning people that we all should be starting businesses instead. While this is a noble aspiration, it is only partly true. Black people are too far behind in the global economic game  — and that is precisely what it is, a ruthless game — to simply have each Black person start a business and have that individualistic act alone solve our collective political-economic problems.

In fact, most of the people in successful ethno-nationalist or racial groups do not own a business at all. Moreover, many of the Black people on the African continent counted as being in business for themselves are simply selling small perishable items such as fruits and vegetables or inconsequential cultural artifacts like wristbands and handicrafts. Often, culturally or politically active Black people promote the aforementioned mindset to encourage and uplift, but rather than alleviating the perceived problems, they quickly become tautologies. The full meanings of these slogans are rarely explained to the degree that widespread understanding accompanies the slogan itself. Examples of such slogans are, “We need unity” or “You can’t pass on a paycheck to your children” and, most notably for the purposes of this article, “We need to start our own businesses!”

Most businesses owned and operated by Black people in the USA are service oriented. We have few to no resource-delivery businesses such as markets, grocery stores, utility services (gas, water, electricity), textiles and manufacturing plants that can control the distribution of goods that ALL people need, want and can’t do without on a daily basis. There is no essential good or product that Black people as a group own and control. No essential resource, good or product that can only be obtained by non-Blacks through dealing with a Black man or woman.

The Chinese control much of the global manufacturing business and the infrastructure development industry in Africa. Koreans and the Japanese control large portions of the electronics industry and have a significant presence in the auto manufacturing industry. Asians generally control the Black hair care business in Africa and the diaspora. White religious minority groups have outsized influence in banking, academia and media. Other white ethnic groups control financial services, shipping, military and government. East Indians have a large representation in hotel management, technology and medicine.

However, there is no major industry that is under the complete control of Black people, and by extension, Black families with whom other races must deal to receive the necessary goods for their survival and life enjoyment. Many people think sports and entertainment are the exceptions to this, but they’re not. Black people don’t control either. Despite all the multimillion-dollar contracts and endorsement deals, when it’s all said and done, we are still just the hired help. If they’re paying us millions, that just means we’re making them billions.

Like so many other sectors of the economy, we look for jobs with other races and ethnicities instead of owning the means of production and primarily employing ourselves.

Solutions can be seen in how others have organized their socio-economic situations. Therefore, I’d like to submit one word for your consideration: “Corporations.” Actually, I would rather submit a variation of the word: “Cooperations!” Yes, Black people need businesses, but what we need more are corporate collectives — cooperations! These business structures would give us the group power to achieve the goals that are often outlined by the Black consciousness movements and they can have ancillary effects that could solve some of the sociopolitical problems we constantly bemoan.

As a thought experiment, I would like to use how Euro-Americans have organized their economy as a model to consider. We can observe that it is not every white person who has a corporation, or business for that matter, but indeed most have a job with white-owned-and-operated corporations. In these corporations, European culture is enforced and promoted. In fact, all people working in these corporations (including Blacks) must conform to the standards, dress, practices and language of European culture in order to not only receive a salary but advance in the corporate structure. If people in the Black Consciousness Movement truly are about the renaissance and revitalization of an authentic African-centered culture, one of the most successful examples of doing so in recent history is to form a corporation.

A corporation is essentially a controlled economy. It is set apart from the larger society, it is protected by laws and it functions through ethical codes and generally accepted practices. This is how economic practices and institutions practically promote and sustain a culture as well as influence and guide behavior. In addition, only those who have the requisite skills are allowed to participate in the daily activities of the corporation. This is otherwise known as having a job. This increases the efficiency of the corporation to attain its goals and limits the direct responsibility that the corporation has within the surrounding community. In order to correct for this lack of responsibility, the corporate officers engage in lobbying political officials so as to bring about the socio-political arrangements it seeks. Think about Bill Gates starting the Gates Foundation in order to promote vaccination in Africa. We may have differing opinions about his foundation’s stated goals, but he is undertaking the mission nonetheless, and the main structure he is using to achieve this aim is the corporation.

As I stated before, we often proclaim the mantra, “We need unity!” However, I think this is an incompletely stated desire. What we need is Functional Unity. This means we have to come to terms with the internal Black class divisions. Now, I don’t mean in the Marxist sense, I mean in the functional sense. Not everyone who is Black has the same skill set, level of understanding and commitment. This is not to admonish people but to state a simple fact. I also don’t intend to promote a classist or elitist view but just to suggest the idea of using our own most talented people instead of having them drained off to other cultures and corporate collectives. Therefore, we must compete by offering compensation, status and privileges that other groups cannot meet. This will serve two purposes: It will give us access to our most promising talent to use for our collective benefit and it will help us build loyalty within our culture and race.

To give an example of what I am proposing, I spent considerable time in several African countries, many of which have tourism as their main industry. The problem with this is that there are many small, independently run tour companies with no interaction or coordination with one another. Hence, they simply survive season to season and are all dependent on European and Asian tourists coming back each year to deposit large fees into their coffers. They don’t coordinate to use their profits collectively and diversify their investments, so in the case of an economic downturn in Western (or Eastern) countries, which would reduce the number of tourists visiting Africa on safari each year, they would still have large revenue streams coming from their other investments, such as private equity funds.

Furthermore, they could employ more of their countrymen and women in sectors besides the menial jobs that are available to a rarity of nationals performing tasks such as being a driver, porter or cook. Not organizing their capital in this manner leaves them open to assault and eventual takeover by corporate interests with larger capital reserves. These larger corporations can use their resources to create a mammoth-sized tour company and then lobby the government to change the laws dictating the operation of tour companies to favor the large one and disadvantage the small, independently owned companies. This happened in the USA in the oil industry, which gave rise to the Rockefeller dynasty and the “Seven Sisters” oil cartel.

So, my proposal is for Black people to create cooperatives. Cooperatives are a variation of the corporation but designed specifically for the interests of Black people who participate in our cooperative business culture. Cooperatives establish the African-centered economic model that we need to fulfill the social, political and educational goals we have as a people. One such model cooperative is Us Lifting Us (ULU). ULU is a fully Black-owned-and-operated cooperative that seeks membership from like-minded Blacks both in the USA and globally. The goal of ULU is to organize the resources of the Black community — human, financial and material — to reengineer a New Black Economy. With a viable and lucrative economic base, Black people can act as a collective with accountability from our leadership to achieve our strategic aims and goals.

ULU has the following 10-point Plan and Appeal to accomplish such. If we attract an initial membership of 1000-3000 member-owners, we can be well on the way to achieving our flagship venture, The ULU Mart. Profits earned from this wholly owned and controlled marketplace can be used to compete for investments and development projects on the African continent. Currently, the Chinese are outperforming Black people in the diaspora in this area. It is incumbent for us, the children of Africa, to shake off the dust of centuries of oppression and marginalization and get into the global economic game to win.

Aaron James is a writer and educator. He has primarily written on the topic of education, but he has interests in both the political-economy and history. Born in the United States, he has been fortunate enough to travel to several countries around the world. Currently, he enjoys a quiet life at home with his family.