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Mychal Denzel Smith

Mychal Denzel Smith

All the blackness that's fit to print. And some that isn't. 

Three Ways to Fight Racism in 2014


(Reuters/John Gress)

I like the Colorlines “Racial Justice Bucket List for 2014.” The activists and organizers included provide a good mix of the concrete/practical and more abstract/idealistic steps we should take toward achieving true racial justice. It’s obviously not an exhaustive list, as you’d need books upon books upon books in order to properly lay out a comprehensive plan for eliminating racism in the United States. Put frankly, this shit is complicated. But having goals helps, even if their only real achievement is keeping you sane in the midst of the chaos. I have a few things I’m working toward this year:

1. Reclaiming the definition of “racism.”
Twenty fourteen will be the year this is made clear to everyone: racism is not simply personal prejudice/bigotry that only manifests in the form of being unkind to someone on the basis of their skin color or calling them a derogatory name. Racism is a system of oppression, one that creates a society of first- and second-class citizens by denying rights and access to resources to non-white people. Racism is a system of power created by and maintained through public policy. Racist rhetoric or action is anything that reinforces/upholds that system. So until the day comes when the US government enacts laws aimed specifically and purposefully at ensuring that white people are shut out of education/healthcare/jobs/housing and shuttled into prison and poverty, I don’t want to hear any more about the growing discrimination against white Americans. It is nonexistent. Additionally, I will be more conscious about not using softer, ambiguous phrases when referring to racism. There is no more “race relations” or “conversations about race” or “racial issues/discrimination.” There is racism. We have to name it before we face it.

2. Putting respectability politics on the shelf where they belong. 
I saw entirely too much of this in 2013. At the ugliest times, the politics of respectability—the idea that individuals can defeat systems of oppression by modifying their behavior and/or presentation to be more “acceptable” or “deserving”—reared its head and diverted our attention from real people’s pain and suffering. Children were being shot dead in the streets, and we were debating whether their pants sagged too low. Their schools were being closed, and we talked about whether they had good father figures in their home. They were stopped, frisked and beaten by police, and we somehow managed to chastise them for littering. This is the current state of discussion about racism: one that places the onus on those who are oppressed to comport themselves according to the rules that oppress them rather than eliminating the system. The problem is that there is no escape. You can do everything “right,” obey all of the rules, be exemplary in every way, and racism still does its work. Respectability politics are not rooted in fact or reality, only in a false notion of individualism that upholds structural oppression. By the end of 2014, it will no longer have currency.

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3. Making every politician say the words “mass incarceration.”
It has been several years since Michelle Alexander’s seminal text The New Jim Crow made us all stand up and pay more attention to the issue of mass incarceration in the US. It is past time that this be made an issue that anyone running for elected office should be forced to address and have a plan for ending. It’s arguably the most crucial issue on any racial justice agenda, and we can no longer afford to allow our political class to stand silent on it.


That’s where I’ll start. It won’t be easy. It never is. But the fight is on, and as the Dream Defenders would say, I believe that we will win.

Read Next: Bob Dreyfuss on racism in Israel.














"I'm just trying to make a way out of no way, for my people" -Modejeska Monteith Simpkins









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  Good luck with that!  As I always say first we need to EDUCATE our people regarding their history-since they quietly took it outta of the schools.  And then we have to rebuild our communities....street by street....neighborhood by neighorhood.


I got in a debate with a colleague about this very thing who says in order to eradicate racism, it must start with the community as a whole.  I disagree.  First it must start with "self-love" [teaching our children how to love themselves] within a micro system-  which is the family meso system -which is the interrelationships associated with family, school and  [neighborhood] friends and the connection that link all three together which will give not only social identity but social support.  Once black people grow up in an environment based on these principles they will have the socialization skills to enter the next phase which is exosystem and have the ability to recognize social injustices in the macro system  because they've been exposed to the truth about their identity at an early age-and that's power in that.  


However, if you are in a neighborhood where you can't even WALK down the street without FEAR of being SHOT by someone who looks like YOU...or stand at a bus stop waiting for the transit to come....then it is impossible to reclaim the definition of racism, place respectability politics on the shelf and make politicians say the words mass incarceration.  Cuz why?  You're tooo busy trying to survive in the small world you live in.  That's just fact.  Cuz the only time I ever knew [since the civil rights movement] black people sticking together long enough to vote effectively was during the election of Barack Obama.    And a day after, many black folks turned against him.  Just that quick.  Cuz why?  He couldn't instantly make it better once he came down from the podium.  


So we gotta break it down to bare root.  And that starts at HOME, in the neighborhood and COMMUNITY.  And it has to start with educating our own.  Look.... they used to teach black kids in a one room shack with torn and very used books that massa's kids didn't want anymore.  But!  That one room shack with raggedy books created a "mass" of creative, brave, courteous, brilliant, super intelligent individuals who were limited socially but managed to make huge milestones for our people that got massa's attention which ultimately changed the outcome of blacks today.  We don't HAVE that anymore.  Black people are angry at each other for no reason.  So how are you gonna get them in one room together without a fight?  See?  These beautiful words that black scholars are writing about change sounds soooooo good.  But when you continue to hear the po po killing a youth on one corner while a black thug kills a black homie on the next's kinda hard having vision for a better day....and to make those in power accountable.  Just is.  I haven't seen any change...all I've seen is a rapid decline in our culture.  So if massa is placing our people in a mass type of incarceration....who is responsible for putting most of our youth in their graves?   We can't point the finger and then look the other way when we see our own doing the same.   So justice has to come from within first...what you WON'T except from your own people.... before justice can travel onto the macro level of subculture and society.  


The bottom line?  You have to have vision to accomplish what is suggested in this article.  And although many black people are visual...that it is just a temporary illusion of suspended stupidity[or non movement].  Once visual stops spinning, many black people find themselves back in the same weary circumstance prior to the illusion. Cuz why?  They are not reclaiming anything.  What they are doing is ACCEPTING unless of course the media trucks are there and its time to demonstrate.  Other than that, many of us are exercising an injustice to ourselves on a micro how in the hell are we gonna demand anything on the exo or macro level if we haven't even clean up our mess on the micro and meso levels....first?  Impossible!  So to me?  All this is?  Are words.  Nothing more.    Cuz black folks are STILL dying by the hands of own PEOPLE.  And until we fix this?  Everything else is beside the point.    Just keeping it real yall.     But!   .  

Last edited by Kocolicious
Originally Posted by Yemaya:

I agree with #2... we gotta stop being respectful to those who don't respect us! #1 and #3 are just feel good statements.

I don't agree that their just feel good statements.  As a people we are good at pointing out when language is being used to trick or run head games on us, but are very POOR at understanding how, why framing is so important. 


I'd push #3 further than "mass incarceration" and use the more descriptive phrase that Chomsky and several others use..."The criminalization of Black life"


The framing and use of language determines to what extent people can evade or dismiss issues.  But that also works in the other direction, in that it can also bring extreme clarity to the issue.

Originally Posted by RadioRaheem:

#4. hang around with token White friends, esp. at night and at nightspots.  


#5. put a college sticker in your car window, whether you have a degree or attended a college or not


#6. look for phone apps that allow recording secretly, esp. good for Police interactions (stop and frisk and general harassment from the Pigs)


Hell, I wonder if it's going to get to the point where Black people, particularly Black youth, and especially young Black males are going to have to wear bullet-proof vests as normal attire and have all our cars retro-fitted with panoramic video-audio cameras, while being strapped.  

Originally Posted by sunnubian:
Originally Posted by RadioRaheem:

#4. hang around with token White friends, esp. at night and at nightspots.  


#5. put a college sticker in your car window, whether you have a degree or attended a college or not


#6. look for phone apps that allow recording secretly, esp. good for Police interactions (stop and frisk and general harassment from the Pigs)


Hell, I wonder if it's going to get to the point where Black people, particularly Black youth, and especially young Black males are going to have to wear bullet-proof vests as normal attire and have all our cars retro-fitted with panoramic video-audio cameras, while being strapped.  

+Pretty first!!!  it's a chess game, you need to make moves that matter!!


I use my White friends when I go out.  I let them drive my car, b/c even if they were drunk driving, they'd get more respect from the police than any Black person in America.  



Last edited by RadioRaheem

Sista Sunnubian wrote:  Hell, I wonder if it's going to get to the point where Black people, particularly Black youth, and especially young Black males are going to have to wear bullet-proof vests as normal attire and have all our cars retro-fitted with panoramic video-audio cameras, while being strapped.  


  That's a great idea my sista.  Seriously.  If their parents can spend all this money on iphones, expensive clothing and shoes...surely they can invest in their child's safety if they have issue with the school and community.  I would do it in a hot minute.  Cuz today?  Don't trust teachers, principles or the police.  Its a NEW era.  So you HAVE to think smarter to ensure that nothing goes wrong in this day and age.  And it has gone for so long to too many young black innocent children/youth.  If this is what we have to do?  Then this is what we have to do.  But!.  

Another list....  Beware...they are going in HARD!!!


15 Things Black People Must Do In Order To End Racism


1. It is the responsibility of the Negro to reject any history of America that includes slavery. Reminding the Negro of slavery will cause him to resent all white people, even though slavery ended years ago. Slavery must not be regarded as American history, and must be retroactively deleted from history and removed from any curricula.

2. It is the responsibility of the Negro to stop saying “nigga”, “nigger” or any variation thereof. When Black people use the word nigger, they are responsible for its usage by white people. This is especially true for Black Hip Hop artists, that have given the word mainstream credibility. The Negro cannot complain about other races using this term if they insist upon using it themselves. If Black people stop, it will go away overnight.

3. It is the responsibility of the Negro to never acknowledge the existence of police brutality or racial profiling by law enforcement. The Negro must maintain the correct posture, articulation, appearance and professionalism as determined by whites, in order to avoid abuse and mistreatment by law enforcement. Law enforcement is only performing their assigned duties to keep the rest of us safe. There is no such thing as racial profiling.

4. It is the responsibility of the Negro to always dress in a respectable manner. The Negro must, at all times, dress professionally with impeccably pressed trousers and non-threatening white button down shirts. Ties are preferred. The Negro should try to avoid sneakers, sweats, baggy jeans, hoodies, or any other apparel that may constitute a thuggish, frightening appearance or suggest that he may be concealing a weapon or drugs. These types of clothing, however, are perfectly suitable for whites.

5. It is the responsibility of the Negro to discontinue the use of slang, “Ebonics,” African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) or any regional dialect/vocabulary that is not universally recognized and accepted by American whites. This language is confusing and frightening to white people, and they will not accept this language or respect the Negro if he speaks this way.

6. It is the responsibility of the Negro to uphold the tenets of equality by not supporting Black-only media or enterprises such as BET, The NAACP Image Awards, Essence and Ebony magazine, or any entertainment that directly targets and celebrates Black people or has the word “Black” in it. When the Negro creates his own entertainment and media spaces or participates in them, he is perpetuating the exclusion of white people and enforcing the kind of segregation he is so fond of bemoaning. At the same time, the Negro must not acknowledge any exclusion of Blacks from mainstream media and entertainment enterprises.

7. It is the responsibility of the Negro to maintain hairstyles that are acceptable to American whites. This means discontinuing hairstyles such as Afros, dreadlocks, braids, cornrows, Philly’s, multi-colored hair, and other styles that may directly or indirectly suggest any sort of regional trends or cultural pride. For tips on definitive, acceptable hairstyles, the Negro must consult the expertise of white people and go to great lengths to control the texture of their hair to the extent that it mirrors that of American whites.

8. It is the responsibility of the Negro to never purchase property in white neighborhoods. Black people can only ever be visitors, and may still be subjected to suspicion from white people. The Negro must understand and accept his position in America as a second class citizen and must politely cooperate when his presence is questioned by white people.

9. It is the responsibility of the Negro to name his child appropriately. Names like Ebony, Kenya, Keisha and especially names that are more than two syllables long are unprofessional and difficult to pronounce. Additionally, names like Ahmad, Khalil or Muhammed suggest collusion with terrorists. Names like Sarah, Madison, Amy and Scott are much more acceptable and will ensure that the Negro is able to find a job, but only if spelled correctly.

10. It is the responsibility of the Negro to always maintain a kind, deferential attitude, even when confronted with antagonistic and harassing behavior from American whites. Expressing any sort of discomfort towards a white person, or challenging his views is threatening and unacceptable. The Negro must avoid giving in to provocation by white people, because he may be turned over to law enforcement or lose his job.

11. It is the responsibility of the Negro to abstain from engagement in Black History Month. It is not necessary for the Negro to have the entire month of February to learn about the history of his ancestors or celebrate the historical accomplishments of people that look like him. This, however, may not be a guarantee that any history of African-Americans will be integrated into any teachings or historical accounts year-round, and the Negro must never challenge that.

12. It is the responsibility of the Negro to accept that depictions of Egyptians as fair-skinned is historically sound. It is unrealistic to believe that glamorous, regal and wealthy Egyptians possibly had dark skin, despite Egypt’s location in Africa.

13. It is the responsibility of the Negro to never seek solidarity with other people of color, including but not limited to Asians, Latinos, Arabs and Native Americans. These partnerships are a major threat to white people, and only serve to reinforce reverse-racism.

14. It is the responsibility of the Negro to not express any sort of pride. Terms like “Black Pride” and “Black Love” and “Black Is Beautiful” are threatening to whites, as well as exclusionary. Black Pride is just as dangerous and violent as white pride, and has historically made white Americans justifiably uncomfortable.

15. It is the responsibility of the Negro to acknowledge that racial slurs against white people, such as cracker, honkey, and white devil, perpetuate and reflect the historic disenfranchisement and oppression of white Americans. The power behind these words is very wounding to white people, and they are therefore unacceptable.

If the Negro wants to ensure the end of racism, he must follow these rules to the letter and it is guaranteed that racism will no longer exist. It is not necessary for American whites to make any changes or adjustments to their perception of race, culture or history, since matters of race do not affect them. The Negro must ensure that his behavior, dress, hair, and language meet the strict definitions of acceptability as defined by whites, and he must also be grateful that he is allowed to exist in this country with American whites. The Negro should graciously and quietly accept this as reality.*


nOva Slim is a Washington, D.C. based writer who occasionally writes about music and culture.


1.27.2014, 04:26 PM

West Virginia man kills new neighbor without warning, thinking it's his property: cops  


Police do not know why Rodney Bruce Black, 62, of Barboursville, W.Va., decided to kill the two men he thought was on his land.

A West Virginia man shot and killed his new neighbor and the man's brother without warning as the two inspected their land.

The shooter told police he thought his alleged victims were breaking into a building he mistakenly thought he owned, and police are baffled as to why he chose such a drastic measure to preserve something of no value to him.

The Cabell County Sheriff's Department charged Rodney Bruce Black, 62, of Barboursville, with two counts of first degree murder after he killed Garrick Hopkins, 60, of Milton and his brother, Carl Hopkins Jr., 61, of Oak Hill, at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Sherriff Tom McComas told the Daily News on Monday.



Garrick Hopkins and his wife had just purchased land next door to Black and planned to start building a home in the next few weeks, McComas said. The landowner had invited his brother over to check out the property Saturday afternoon.

Black saw the two men — who were both married with children — looking inside a shed. Then, allegedly without warning or calling the police, he grabbed a rifle and fired once at both men.

They died at the scene.


"He shot first and then called 911," McComas said. "He said they were breaking into his house but it wasn't his property."

The structure did not contain anything of value, McComas said. The building sits on land once owned by Black's family but not anymore, he said.

The sheriff said they are continuing to investigate the incident to determine why Black, who was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, would shoot the two unarmed men.The department believes Black had never met the two men before.


"It's just a terrible, terrible tragedy," he said. "We're still trying to figure all of this out. … Hopefully we'll find out his reasoning as the investigation continues."

Police also seized a large amount of weapons and ammunition from Black's home.

The two victims are black and the shooter is white but McComas said there is no indication race was a factor in the the suspect's motive.

Black is being held at county jail without bail and his next court date will be held Feb. 4. Follow on Twitter @joelzlandau

<dl class="credits"><dt>Author:</dt><dd>JOEL LANDAU</dd></dl>

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