Monday, September 15, 2008

How to Spot a Criminal--They'll Blame a Black Man

On August 23, 2003 a White dude named Brian Wells walked into the Pittsburgh National Bank in Erie, PA with a real, live bomb locked around his neck. Brian passed a note to tellers saying he was being forced to rob the bank. If they didn’t give him cash, he and they would blow up. Petrified, bank employees gave him $8,700. A pizza deliveryman, Brian claimed that a “group of Black men” had taken him hostage after duping him to make a delivery to a bogus address. These Black men purportedly fitted Brian with a collar bomb, one so intricate, that it could not be removed from Brian’s neck. As Brian fled the bank, police caught up with him and while police watched, the bomb blew Brian to bits.

Five years later the FBI confirmed what Sisterdoc knew then—no Black people were involved in the odd, poorly planned crime whatsoever.

According to law officials, here’s how it really went down. Some guy named Ken Barnes and some woman named Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong met up with another guy named William Rothstein at a gas station. William called Mama Mia’s Pizza asking Brian to deliver a pizza to a fake location. They were all part of the robbery gang. When Brian showed up at the location, he discovered his buddies wanted him to wear a real bomb, not a fake one, to scare the tellers and to rob the bank. That’s how Brian ended up with a bomb around his neck. According to police, the robbery was supposed to finance the hiring of a hitman, for $200,000, to kill Marjorie’s father. Oddly, Ken was the hitman looking to get paid.

Marjorie is in a mental hospital for the criminally insane because, in addition to all of this, she killed her boyfriend James Roden because he was going to tell police about the robbery plot. Oh, and William died of cancer. With Brian dead, that only leaves Ken to go to jail. Wow.

What gets me is how readily and easily the ‘scary Black man’ is invoked by the real criminals. When Charles Stuart shot his pregnant wife in the head, killing her and their baby, he blamed a Black man, claiming the Brother was trying to rob them. Susan Smith strapped her two kids into her Mazda Protégé and rolled the car into a lake, drowning them. She blamed the disappearance of her kids on a carjacking Black man. Then there was Rep. Bob Allen of Florida. He propositioned an undercover Black police officer in a park’s public bathroom, offering $20 for oral sex. Allen’s defense—he was afraid of the “stocky Black guy” and rather than become a “statistic” and get robbed in the park, he offered sex. Yep. That was his story, and he stuck to it.

The problem is, as what occurred in the Stuart and Smith cases, police actually find innocent Black people to arrest. Still, racists keep invoking the scary Black man stereotype because they assume the public will buy in to it. And, sadly the public does…at great risk to Black lives.

(Images: Brian's final moments)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Gentrification Blocks Black Folks' Blessings

Sisterdoc hates gentrification. Here’s why:

I was born and raised in the Homewood section of Pittsburgh. Homewood is one of the ‘Burgh’s predominately Black neighborhoods housing the (hard) working-class. Black influx and White flight began as early as 1860. By the 1950s, any lingering Italians (as well as a few Irish and German immigrants) were packing their bags for all-White communities like Bloomfield and Polish Hill.

Homewood has the best homes (huge and brick with wide porches) and the best streets (wide, many are brick and pothole free) and the best location (easily accessible to all parts of the city). So, I guess it was us Black folks that weren’t liked.

Given its wonderful structural qualities, it is no surprise that Homewood is being transformed again, this time by gentrification. The predominately White, middle-class gentrifiers have done a land-grab and renamed their little slice of Homewood heaven “North Point Breeze”—thereby associating themselves with the neighboring, wealthy, predominately White neighborhood “Point Breeze.” And, disassociating themselves with the poorer, predominately Black “Homewood.”

Of course, home prices have skyrocketed in “North Point Breeze.”

The North Point Breezers don’t interact much with folks who live in Homewood proper. Rather, they like to call the cops on Homewood denizens to complain of drugs and drunkenness.

Interestingly, these gentrifiers did nothing when a 22,000 square-foot Beer World (rather than a desperately needed grocery store) opened up on the border between Homewood and the newly defined North Point Breeze. Instead, they made Beer World their one-stop shop for booze and snacks. Oh, and they called the cops even more to complain of (Black) drunkenness.

With Homewood light on medical/social services to improve the lives of Black folks, and subsequently to improve the neighborhood, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center decided to take over the Beer World building. In it, they want to open up a health and mental health crisis center. Yeah! Homewood is finally getting some help! Or are they….

The North Point Breeze folks are protesting, picketing, and suing to stop the deal. They don’t want their “property values jeopardized.” They don’t want their kids who are enrolled in the pricey Shady Lane private preschool to have to see—what, Black folks getting care and treatment??? Perhaps they don’t want 135 to 150 jobs being made available to the Homewood community.

For their part, UPMC is trying to convince these gentrifiers to stop thinking about Homewooders as “thems” and start thinking about Homewood/North Point Breeze as a community of “us.”

Sisterdoc can only hope.

(Image: Gentrifiers' beloved Beer World)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Racist Murder Goes Free

BBC News is reporting that a US appeals court has overturned the conviction of a former Ku Klux Klansman jailed last year over the deaths of two black teenagers in Mississippi in 1964. Here is a synopsis of the BBC's report:

Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee were both aged 19 when they were killed.

They were said to have been kidnapped and forced into a vehicle owned by James Ford Seale before being tied up and drowned in the Mississippi river.

Their bodies were found months later during a search for three well-known civil rights activists - Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney - who had disappeared in the area.

Seale, 72, was serving three life terms on charges of kidnapping and conspiracy over the deaths. The court agreed with arguments by Seale's lawyer that a legal time limit for prosecuting the case had lapsed.

The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the lower court had failed to recognize a statute of limitations applied to the case.

Seale was first arrested in 1964 but authorities freed him, citing lack of evidence.

The charges were dropped at the time because local police were colluding with the Ku Klux Klan, federal prosecutors have said.

He was rearrested in January 2007 after he was found to be very much alive - despite his relatives' claims that he had died.

The key witness in his trial, confessed Klansman Charles Marcus Edwards, said during the trial that Seale attached heavy weights to the teenagers and dumped them alive into the river.


(Image: That Murdering *#@^# Seale)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Who is Ben Jealous?

The NAACP has chosen its 17th president--Benjamin Jealous. He hadn't come up on my radar before (not like Bruce Gordon, Kweisi Mfume, Myrlie Evers-Williams, or Ben Chavis), and perhaps he is unknown to you. So, here is what the NAACP is circulating:

Dear Sisterdoc,

Next week a new chapter will begin at the NAACP when Benjamin Todd
Jealous, 35, becomes only the 17th President of the NAACP in its 99-year
history. Mr. Jealous has spent his professional life working for the
very social justice concerns for which the NAACP advocates. We believe
that he is a perfect match, and I think you will agree.

A life-long community activist, Mr. Jealous organized his first voter
registration drive at age 14, with a determination that stemmed from
being raised in a family that has actively supported the NAACP for five

He began his career as a community organizer with the NAACP Legal
Defense Fund working on issues of healthcare access in Harlem. At age
21, Jealous moved to Mississippi to work as a field organizer as part of
a successful campaign to stop the state's plan to close two of its three
public historically black universities, and convert one of them into a

During that time, he took a job at Mississippi's Jackson Advocate
newspaper investigating human rights abuses. His reporting for the
frequently firebombed weekly paper was credited with exposing corruption
amongst high-ranking officials at notorious Parchman State Prison. His
investigations also helped to acquit a black small farmer who had been
wrongfully and maliciously accused of arson.

He soon became Managing Editor at the Advocate, and eventually went on
to serve as Executive Director of the National Newspaper Publishers
Association (NNPA), a federation of more than 200 black community
newspapers. While at the NNPA, he rebuilt its 90-year old national news
service and launched a web-based initiative that more than doubled the
number of black newspapers publishing online.

His career path has also included leadership positions at Amnesty
International, where he directed the U.S. Domestic Human Rights Program
and published their widely acclaimed 2004 report, Threat and
Humiliation: Racial Profiling, Domestic Security, and Human Rights in
the United States, leading efforts to rebuild public support against
racial profiling post 9/11.

Most recently, Mr. Jealous served as President of the Rosenberg
Foundation, an independent institution that supports civil and human
rights advocacy related to the economic interests of working people.

A Rhodes Scholar as well as an accomplished activist, Mr. Jealous is one
of the best and brightest of his generation; and he represents a new
generation for the NAACP. To learn more about him, visit the NAACP

I hope you will join me in welcoming Benjamin Todd Jealous to our
organization. I know we can expect great things from his leadership.


Julian Bond
Chairman of the Board, NAACP

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Apology for Slavery and Jim Crow

Sisterdoc spied this on the NAACP website. It is interesting because the call is for an apology for slavery AND for Jim Crow practices. The Jim Crow part is key because is serves as a reminder of how Jim Crow was a legalized, modern form of slavery-era rules and practices. Think: Black codes, Sunset Laws, Segregation, Bans on interracial marriage... So, for those folks who often say that slavery was long ago, and why don't Blacks leave the past in the past. This call for an apology serves as a reminder that racist practices did not end a century and a half ago. Jim Crow was of our and our parents' generation and its effects still remain (Jena 6 anybody?).

On Tuesday, July 29 2008 the United States House of Representatives passed,
by a unanimous vote, H. Res. 194, a resolution apologizing for the enslavement
and racial segregation of African Americans. This resolution was significant for
several reasons, including the fact that it addressed not only slavery but the
“separate but equal” Jim Crow era as well.

This legislation is an important first step in recognizing a very important aspect
of American’s history and recommitting ourselves to bringing about an end to
the disparities and injustices that continue to plague our Nation as a result of
the dehumanization of an entire race. In passing this resolution, the House of
Representatives has sent a message to all of the American people and others
that the most powerful nation in the world is willing to look honestly at some of
the most shameful parts of its history, accept responsibility, and apologize for its actions.

The NAACP Washington Bureau has been in negotiations with Senator Tom
Harkin (Iowa) to author a companion resolution in the Senate; we are hoping it
will be introduced in the near future. The NAACP also strongly supports H.R.
40, legislation introduced by Congressman John Conyers (MI) to take the next
step toward healing our Nation by addressing and seeking remedy for the
lingering effects if this deplorable institution.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Peace and Blessings Imam W.D. Mohammed-R.I.P.

Imam W. D. Mohammed passed away yesterday. He cared deeply about the spiritual and political health of African-Americans. His vision of cross-cultural cooperation was unmatched. Rest in Peace Imam.

From the Detroit Free Press by NIRAJ WARIKOO

Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, a major Islamic leader in the U.S. who led thousands of African-American Muslims to orthodox Islam, died today [Sept. 9] at his Illinois home, his family said in a statement confirming earlier reports. He was 74.

Born and raised in Hamtramck, Mohammed, also known as Imam W.D. Mohammed, was the son of Nation of Islam leader and Michigan native Elijah Muhammad. After his father’s death, Mohammed transformed the Nation from a black nationalist organization into a group that embraced a more mainstream Islam that rejected racial and ethnic divisions.

He was considered to be the biggest Muslim leader in the U.S. among African-Americans and probably had more followers than any other Muslim leader in the U.S., say Muslims. 

In metro Detroit, Muslims were stunned to hear of his death. He had spoken 10 days ago at a Detroit convention of his followers. During his Friday sermon, he repeatedly praised Jesus and stressed the importance of living a moral life.

“To us, he was more than just an imam and a teacher. He was a father figure for us,” said Dawud Walid, an assistant imam at Masjid Wali Muhammad, which was named by Mohammed after he left the Nation of Islam. “History will show that he has been thus far the greatest Muslim leader in the history of America.”

Walid was a student of Mohammed and was shocked to hear of his death. 

“From God we come, and to him we return,” said Mohammed’s nephew, Sultan Muhammad. “Imam W.D. Mohammed’s passing is a great loss not only to Muslims in America and around the world, but in particular to his family. We would ask for prayers for him.”

“He was a reviver of the religion,” said Imam Abdullah El-Amin, head of the Muslim Center in Detroit. “He saved a lot of lives, including mine…He brought a whole lot of people to the correct worship of Islam, almost with just a wave of his hand.”

Kyle Ismail, 35, a Muslim leader from Chicago, said he spoke today with Mohammed’s daughter, Laila Mohammed, who told him that her father had died.

“He gave us everything,” said Ismail, who just saw Mohammed on Saturday.

 After Mohammed broke from the racial teachings of the Nation of Islam, Minister Louis Farrakhan then later broke away from Mohammed and formed his own separate group. While Farrakhan often got more media attention, Mohammed attracted a greater number followers, according to his supporters.

On Aug. 29, Mohammed spoke to thousands inside a hall in Cobo Center.

“He's a superb leader," said Nadir Ahmad, 58, of Detroit, before his lecture. "He has a sober message of good morals, but also a commonsense approach to life and religion." 

In his talk, Mohammed urged personal responsibility and praised Jesus and Muhammad, Islam's founder, saying both were great teachers.

 He stood on the podium slightly hunched over, a compact man with glasses and a modest brown suit who spoke in measured tones.


We all ... should be trying to be Christlike," he said.

Ahmad said Mohammed "has always called for cooperation between faiths."

Image: David P. Gilkey/Detroit Free Press

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Post-Kwame Drama in Detroit

Now that the (‘Yalls Boy)King Kwame has resigned and is going off to jail, Sisterdoc is realizing just how sadly entertaining Detroit drama has been. Not since The Wire have I been so riveted by television. However, Detroit politicians are like a gift that keeps on giving.

For example, I will be watching the nightly news for Councilwoman Barbara Rose Collins. She is worth a few laughs thanks to her affinity to show up for work in “Miss America” tiaras...there she is in the photo.

Then there is Martha Reeves, Councilwoman (see photo). Yep, she is the scratchy-voiced lead singer of the Vandellas. You can count on her to have little idea what is going on in the “D.” Like when she didn’t notice Tiger Stadium was largely a big pile of rubble. Reeves might be living her anthem “no where to run, no where to hide” if the FBI get her on some Synagro bribery mess.

And lets not forget about Monica Conyers (that's her in the center). She gets to lead City Council because the current Council president Ken Cockrel moves up to acting-Mayor. Monica called Cockrel “Shrek” in a laughable outburst during a Council meeting…and later got schooled by a 13-year old for her immaturity. Ms. Moni in the Middle may also be in the FBI’s crosshairs for Synagro payoffs. When things get hot for Monica she has a habit of disappearing for weeks at a time. When she reemerges, she always brings mess…like when she had the cops called on her at the Democratic National Convention because she tried to jump bad over a hotel room.

Still, we aren’t done with Kwame yet. Let’s not forget funds purportedly funneled to him via his father thanks to his daddy’s 10K per month “consulting” fee…he charges it to those who want to do business in the D. And, let’s not forget the women: Carmen Slowsky- mystery woman he had an affair with. Strawberry- was she killed on the Mayors orders? Christine Beatty- lost her job, husband, and soon, her freedom. Sharon McPhail and Ella Bully-Cummings- both lost their jobs. I have a feeling there is more to come from these sistahs.

Oh, and hardly funny…but the Detroit school system is 45 MILLION dollars in debt.


Saturday, September 06, 2008

Sarah Palin...That's Nasty! (A Hoax)

UPDATE: Apparently the journalists got this one wrong, and the bikini photo is a fake. As for my feeling about this pick...well, that is still really, real.

Ick... I just threw up in my mouth.

Palin continues to set women-- and just about anybody else with a lick of sense-- back.