Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"Dumb Nigger" Receipt from Journeys

A young, college-attending Brother named Keith Slater purchased a pair of shoes at a store called “Journeys” in Overland Park, Kansas (Oak Park Mall). After doing some additional comparison-shopping, he found the shoes for a much cheaper price at another store. So Brother Keith went back to Journeys to return his shoes. He got his money back, and with it a receipt that identified him as “Dumb Nigger.”

Here is video of KMBC-TV’s new report.

It seems that the store programmed in the option “Dumb Nigger” into its computer and that employees must select that option to appear on receipts. As you can see, employee #355 made that selection by scrolling through a number of other codes to opt for this hateful statement to be printed on Keith’s receipt.

Sisterdoc says start a campaign to SHUT ‘EM DOWN!!!!

Oak Park Mall
11683 West 95th #126
Overland Park, KS 66214
(913) 859-9418

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Blame a Black Man: Ashley “the mugger/carver hoax” Todd

Charles Stuart (Boston), Susan Smith (South Carolina), Bob Allen (Florida), Brian Wells (Erie)…they all blamed a big Black man for their nasty, criminal deeds. Add to this list the bizarre case of Ashley Todd.

Taking the hate-mongering coming out of the McCain-Palin campaign to its race-bating, expected end, Todd (a McCain campaign volunteer) claimed last week that a big Black man (bBm) rolled up on her at an ATM in my beloved Pittsburgh to rob her: “a six foot four African American of medium build, dressed in dark clothes wearing shiny shoes." [Shiny shoes? WTF?] She said that the bBm was just about to run off with her coin when he noticed her John McCain bumper sticker on her hooptie. The bBm, Todd claimed, return to beat her up and carve a “B” on her cheek—as in “B” for Barack.

It was all a lie (the backward “B” was a clue). The ‘blame a big Black man’ fiction strikes again. Most are writing Todd off as mentally ill. But that didn’t keep her, like so many others, from exploiting the brutal buck stereotype. The danger is that it sets up innocent Black men for a modern-day public and/or prison system “lynching.”

Thanks to Todd, we came THIS close to seeing real violence. She riled up all sorts of hate…far right-wingers Andy McCarthy, Dan Riehl, Noel Sheppard, Josh Painter all stirred up the venom, as did FOX News.

Police Chief Maurita Bryant has placed Todd under arrest and is charging her, for now, with filing a false police report. Bryant said, "We don't feel she should be able to walk out onto the street….We wouldn't want any further harm to come to her."

And…I don’t want to see her out on the street perpetuating stereotypes and thereby bringing harm to those in my community.

(Image: Keith Srakocic/AP)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Songs of Change (A List)- What are your favorites?

Without exception, “change” has been accompanied by soundtrack. While snatching control of the White House from the Republicans, Bill Clinton paraded in to Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow.” And, on his inauguration day, Clinton was serenaded by Aretha “The Queen of Soul” Franklin with a rousing rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream.”

Barack Obama took Stevie Wonder with him on the campaign trail to get folks rallying ‘round to the funky change anthem “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”

Social and political protests and movements can’t get started until the music is settled on: “We Shall Overcome”…. “Say it Loud [I’m Black and I’m Proud]”… “War [What is it Good For].”

So, let’s get the conversation started. When Obama takes the White House, what should his song be? And, what are some of your favorite songs of change? Here are a few classic songs of change (in no particular order) to get you thinking:

Black Am I (Junior Kelly)
War (Edwin Starr)
War (Bob Marley)
Free Nelson Mandela (Special AKA)
The Message (Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five)
Sign ‘O’ the Times (Prince)
We are the World (USA for Africa)
Strange Fruit (Billie Holiday)
Mississippi Goddamn (Nina Simone)
Fight the Power Pts. 1 & 2 (The Isley Brothers)
Fight the Power (Public Enemy)
Say it Loud-I’m Black and I’m Proud (James Brown)
A Change is Gonna Come (Sam Cooke)
We Shall Overcome (Rev. Charles Tindley)
To Be Young, Gifted, and Black (Nina Simone)
Happy Birthday [Martin Luther King, Jr.] (Stevie Wonder)
Lift Every Voice and Sing (James Weldon Johnson)
911 is a Joke (Public Enemy)
Fuck the Police (NWA)
You Must Learn (KRS-One)

Honorable mention: X-Clan

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pittsburgh's Slavery Shame

I saw this incredible story in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by Anya Sostek. Note how slave-holding Pittsburghers "got around" laws which would free Black slaves.

The year was 1825, and though a 6-year-old girl named Sally couldn't sign her name, she could sign away the next 22 years of her life.

With the mark of an "X," Sally promised to serve Pittsburgh attorney John McKee in exchange for food, clothing and lessons in the "art and mystery of a house Servant and Cook." At age 28, she'd be granted her freedom, as well as "two suits of women's apparel ... one of which shall be new."

Sally's story -- and the stories of dozens of other slaves, indentured servants and free blacks in the earliest days of Western Pennsylvania -- was unknown until last year, when an employee in the Allegheny County Recorder of Deeds office stumbled upon the word "Negro" in an 1816 property record.

Upon further investigation, the office found 56 records involving the status of blacks in Pittsburgh prior to 1865, all detailed in scrolling handwriting along with mundane matters of land ownership and property transfer.

The records -- fleshed out in the context of other newly discovered and little known historical information -- are the focus of an exhibit, "Free At Last? Slavery in Pittsburgh in the 18th and 19th Centuries" that opens Saturday at the Sen. John Heinz History Center. The exhibit, created by the University of Pittsburgh, runs through April 5.

"When we talk about the existence of slavery here, people are surprised," said Laurence Glasco, an associate professor of history at Pitt and history director for the exhibit. "We usually think of Pennsylvania as the land of the Quakers and the Liberty Bell, and it doesn't quite go with that image. Bringing the original documents close to a visitor has a powerful effect of really, emotionally, transporting the person back to that era and making it real."

Visitors to the exhibit can learn about Robert Mason, who traveled to Virginia in 1851 to buy and free his wife, Julia, for the sum of $600. Or about 24-year-old William Johnston, who filed a paper certifying that he was born of free parents because he was "about to descend the Ohio River in the capacity of a fireman on a Steamboat."

Robert Hill, vice chancellor for public affairs at Pitt and an amateur history buff, first read about the discovery of the documents in a Post-Gazette article last November. He requested copies of them and started to read through their cryptic cursive script, only to find the documents raising far more questions than they answered.

How widespread was slavery in Pittsburgh, he wondered, and how long did it last? What were all these references to Negro "indentures" in the documents? And how many of Pittsburgh's most prominent citizens -- those with names such as Neville, Craig and McKee that today adorn city streets -- were slaveholders?

After months of digging, he and his team turned up answers that "are rewriting history," said Mr. Hill, who is also executive-in-charge of the exhibit. "We've pulled together little known and unknown facts to tell the story of this town as it relates to slavery in a way that had not been done before."

The overarching theme, he said, was that despite Pennsylvania's much-celebrated 1780 Gradual Abolition of Slavery Act -- the first legislative action by any state to end slavery -- the process of actually moving from slavery to freedom was slow, murky and convoluted.

What the 1780 law did was to mandate that no one born in Pennsylvania after March 1 of that year would be born a slave.

But because slaveholders had balked at the cost of feeding, clothing and caring for the children of slaves in their possession, the law allowed for a 28-year period of indentured servitude for the children of slaves -- under the logic that a slave owner essentially loses money feeding and clothing slave children until they become sufficiently productive around age 14, and the owners need an equal amount of time to recoup their investment.

"I thought either you were a slave or you were free," said Mr. Hill, remarking on the indentured status of children like 6-year-old Sally, who signed legal contracts binding themselves to their owners.

Because Sally had no parents in the state of Pennsylvania, two attorneys -- one of whom, Magnus M. Murray, would go on to become mayor of Pittsburgh -- also approved the contract on her behalf.

Initially, at least, some slaveholders also skirted the law by taking their pregnant slaves to Virginia to give birth (thus, getting to keep the children as slaves), not registering slaves under the law and illegally indenturing the children of indentures.

"What we're seeing is this transition period where it's changing, but it isn't there yet," said Dr. Glasco, noting that indentured blacks did not exist in other states in significant numbers during that time period. "It's a shocking combination of freedom and un-freedom side by side."

That combination included blacks who enjoyed freedom and even prosperity from the very inception of the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Free blacks accompanied Gens. Edward Braddock, John Forbes and George Washington on their initial forays into Pittsburgh.

Several of those blacks become wealthy business owners, living side by side with whites in Downtown Pittsburgh. Benjamin "Big Daddy" Richards, a butcher who became rich selling to military posts, and his son, Charles, were two of four blacks who signed the Petition of 1787 that resulted in the creation of Allegheny County.

One of Pittsburgh's early wealthy blacks was a doctor, Martin Delany, who also went on to edit Frederick Douglass' North Star newspaper. Another, George Vashon, became the first black graduate at Oberlin College, the first black lawyer in New York State and the first black professor at Howard University.

At the same time, many -- though by no means all -- of Pittsburgh's most prominent white citizens owned slaves. Of the 21 original trustees of the University of Pittsburgh at its founding in 1787, eight were slave owners, said Mr. Hill.

The names of those slave owners read like an Oakland street map -- from Presley Neville to John McKee to Isaac Craig, said Mr. Hill from his fourth-floor office in Craig Hall on Craig Street.

The exhibit also includes a display of an early 19th century George Beck painting of Pittsburgh, a simulated slave ship and wax figures dramatizing slave escapes.

"When you read biographies, history books, autobiographies -- there are millions of words, and this stuff isn't in there," said Mr. Hill. "We fill in the puzzle of what early life in Pittsburgh was like related to slavery and racial matters."

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Will Obama Lose Because of the "Bradley Effect"

100,000 people of all races and hues showed up to see (soon to be POTUS) Obama in St. Louis this weekend…But, will they all actually VOTE for him?

With just over two weeks until the election, some are beginning to fret over the “Bradley Effect.” The Bradley Effect is a theory which describes when White voters tells pollsters that they will vote for a Black candidate—to appear liberal, progressive, and non-racist—but really, they are going to vote White.

Obama is five to six points ahead in the polls, however it is unknown how many of those “points” reflect the reports of, well, liars.

In 1982, Tom Bradley (for whom the theory is named) was thought to be a run-away favorite, but on election day he lost to his trailing White, Republican opponent George Deukmejian. In 1989, Douglas Wilder went in with a nine-point lead, but scraped a win by less than one percentage point. David Dinkins secured a helluva big 18-point lead in 1989’s mayoral race, but just narrowly won over Rudy Giuliani.

Obama supporters cannot be complacent at this important time. The election isn’t won. Obama could fall victim to another cheat in Florida…or in Ohio…or, still yet, the Bradley Effect. VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!!!

(Images: Tom Bradley [Time]; St. Louis [NYT])