Uncommon Valor from the Mississippi Mud

If there ever was an unsung symbol of courage, bravery–valor–then Lawrence Guyot is just such a symbol, who deserves the accolades and praise of an entire generation. He’s just that special.

It’s not often that you will hear these words together in a sentence: “I am a native of the Mississippi Delta who grew up in South Central Los Angeles, and I lived in the best of both worlds.”

I came to learn two things about my home state that pertain to our honoree, Lawrence Guyot, both of which make me admire him that much more.

The first is that Mississippi is really three states, not one. There are the lush hills of Central Mississippi. There is the Tropical Paradise of the Mississippi Gulf. And there is the flat, hot agricultural Delta region in the north of the state.

But truth be told, everywhere in Mississippi is still Mississippi. There are ghosts of martyred Black men and boys in every pond, in every creek. Continue reading

It takes a thug to know a thug

I can fully understand anyone’s frustration with the inaction of the police most anywhere to solve petty thefts. I had a bicycle stolen more than a year ago, and called the police to report it. The bike has not been seen or heard from since.

But the police did give me a difficult bit of advice to follow. “If you see your bicycle, don’t try to confiscate it yourself. Call the police,” the officer who took my report told me. Good advice.

Still, for months, until I bought a new bicycle, I looked at every bike I saw, straining to see an identifying mark or sign that it was mine. I carried a copy of my police report and two locks with me as I rode around town, thinking that if I saw my bike parked somewhere, I could put a lock on it so it could not be removed while I waited on the slow-as-molasses police response.

I never saw it. Eventually the compelling need to get my old bike back left me.

If that is good advice for me, a civilian, then a 22-year-veteran police officer should know that lesson better than me. In particular to Officer James Haskel.

But I suspect that Officer Haskel and a buddy of his, another veteran officer and instructor at the Police Academy, had something else in mind, when they went patrolling his neighborhood in Southeast D.C. on Sept. 17. I suspect they intended to “roll out” in his big SUV, not just to find the mini-bike which had been stolen from his garage in a gated community, but to also teach some neighborhood thugs a lesson. Continue reading

Race hatred’s ugly head

Funny thing about racial perceptions: Black folks perceive the ongoing insult of racial bigotry within the American Criminal Just-Us System instantly, and will often be quick to excuse guilty perpetrators, just because they are Black. O.J. Simpson, Michael Vick, Clarence Thomas are classic examples of scoundrels who had a lot of un-deserved sympathy in the Black community, simply because they are members of what the Hon. Marcus Garvey called our “co-fraternity of race.”

But that goes both ways. Just look at the Duke lacrosse players. You’d think they were the Rutgers women’s basketball players for all the sympathy they’ve got in the land of the Blue Devils. Excuse me.

They are not choirboys who should be given the keys to the city. These White “Good Old Boys” who are dyed-in-the-wool beneficiaries of the Jesse Helms White Supremacy System down there…those racist hypocrites hired two Black female exotic dancers for a team party of debauchery, and more than likely under-age alcohol consumption, and yet the prevailing White gentry down there want them to be paid millions of dollars because the now disgraced District Attorney unjustly prosecuted these young White lads when the exotic dancer falsely accused them of rape. Excuse me.

For crying out loud! More than 200 inmates have been freed FROM DEATH ROW after DNA evidence confirmed their innocence, and they haven’t been compensated that much altogether for all their hundreds of collective years spent on death row! And these debauched, young White lechers, should get millions of dollars because they did not rape the Black stripper they hired for a bacchanal! Hey, mister. I may have been born at night, but it was not last night. Continue reading

The Sad, Anti-Semitic Truth

“The canard that a powerful Jewish lobby controls the media is a well known anti-Semitic staple,” writes Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Colbert I. King in The Washington Post. But.

The canard that a powerful Jewish lobby controls the media…is true!

First, the Mea Culpa. I regret having to repeat this out loud, but I must say what has been on my heart for a long time. I am not a hater of Jewish people. I know that I may have already crossed a line. But I am not a hater of Jewish people.

Good column Colby.

Colbert King’s column takes Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) to task for telling the September-October issue of Tikkun, an interfaith, progressive Jewish magazine, “…If you cross AIPAC, AIPAC is unforgiving and will destroy you politically. Their means of communication, their ties to certain newspapers and magazines, and to individuals in the media are substantial and intimidating.”

That’s a mouthful, also true. Continue reading

No ‘Thanks, ‘till you’re better paid’

My mother, Nola Mae Canteberry, was a dear woman. She was hard of hearing, but she was full of charming sayings, which were always just right for every occasion.

“Thanks, ‘till you’re better paid.” she’d respond to a special kindness. The kind person would always smile. “Thanks, ‘till you’re better paid.”

The hint that the reward might even be better than the payment. Sometimes, that’s all we have to hope for, and it’s rarely negotiable.

But it shouldn’t be like that in the workplace. If you’re being underpaid, you’re being ripped-off…and unfortunately, most of us are.

Face it. “Living Wage,” “Living Stage,” it doesn’t matter: if you are being paid less than $12.87 per hour, you are being way, way, underpaid, and that is in “Y2K Dollars.” This year is Y2K-7. Continue reading

Free The Cuban 5! Why?

Free “The Cuban Five!”

Why?

Because they are innocent!

I for one, plan to join in solidarity Sept. 12-Oct. 8, 2007, for “International Days of Solidarity with the Cuban 5.”

Los Hermanos—The Brothers. The five men—Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, Antonio Guerrero, Rene Gonzalez, and Fernando Gonzalez—were convicted in a “kangaroo court” trial in Miami in June 2001, accused of being part of a spy ring called the Wasp Network, which infiltrated Brothers to the Rescue and other militant anti-Cuban exile groups.

The “Five Heroes,” as they are called in Cuba, were not even spying against the United States government (which has committed open war crimes and attempted assassinations of Cuban President Fidel Castro by the way, a good reason for any country to want to “keep an eye” on what’s going on here), they were merely trying to uncover right-wing anti-Cuban terrorists based in the U.S., anti-Cuban terrorist groups with the blood of both Cubans and innocent U.S. citizens on their hands.

That’s why they are in jail, with more time than a man with 700 top-secret U.S. government military documents when caught. There’s snooping, and there’s spying. Continue reading

Pardon Marcus Garvey! Leave John Conyers Alone!

I reserve a healthy amount of respect for Cindy Sheehan and members of Code Pink, women against the war. But I think they went a little bit over the top when they staged a sit-in at the offices of Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

They and many anti-war activists are angry the Chairman Conyers has gone along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and taken impeachment of Pres. George W. (For worst in history) Bush officially “off the table.”

With 17 months and four days until Jan. 20, 2009, when I will be able to finally exhale, I am counting the days until the next President is inaugurated, whoever that might be. In the meantime I don’t put the possibility of martial law and a suspension of the entire Constitution and a postponement of the 2008 election, off the table. I don’t put any dirty trick past these scoundrels now in office. Continue reading

Freedom Now! For Imam Jamil Al-Amin

I see nothing wrong with the unreconstructed goals I embraced in the 1960s. I pray to see the day when the descendants of slaves in America are truly free, justified and equal. I salute those who’ve gone before, paving a way for others to follow. I salute those who fell in our struggle, from David Walker and Denmark Vessey, to George Jackson. I embrace their struggle as my own, without qualification.

As the calls go out in this country over the criminal injustice-system mistreatment of the Jena 6, Troy Davis, Genarlow Wilson, and Mumia Abu Jamal, I raise my voice in solidarity. I say all that to say, I enthusiastically embrace the declaration of innocence by Imam Jamil Al Amin, a wrongly persecuted man, and I plead for justice, a fair trial, a new trial for this innocent man.

With all that said, the sad reality is that Imam Al Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, former leader of the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee, is at this very moment on 23 ½ hour lockdown in the Super-Max, maximum security underground prison in remote Colorado, where the “Una-bomber,” and all of this country’s most notorious convicts are locked up.

Another militant Black Muslim, former Civil Rights leader in jail. Why is that not surprising? Convicted of killing a police officer, almost as if the scenario had been scripted somewhere or another. Continue reading

Michael Vick, Barry Bonds & Cal Ripken Jr.

Astronauts getting high in space. An NBA referee betting on games he officiated. Who knew? It’s said that sports are a metaphor for life.

I can truthfully say with an open heart: There is nothing that I know about Cal Ripken Jr. that I don’t like. Which is not to say that there isn’t anything about him I don’t like. Only to say, there is nothing that I do know about Junior that I don’t like.

I don’t dislike his team’s name. In fact, there is an oft-recorded Jazz song called “Baltimore Oriole,” and I am very fond of that really “hep” song. I learned about the Tangipahoa River listening to that song, a river where many true believers were baptized, a river that even figures into America’s Slave Narratives.

I liked his father and namesake, who doubtless worked with my John Muir Junior High schoolmate Paul Blair from Los Angeles. Paul’s name is not in Cooperstown, but he is a member of the Orioles Hall of Fame.

I liked that when he officially became baseball’s “Iron Man,” shattering the decades-old consecutive games record, the first person Junior saluted was Eddie Murray, a Black player, his role model when he joined the team. His critics say that he was honored just for coming to work every day…every day for 19 years! He is my ideal of an epic American sports hero, definitely not Black, but not White either. A lucky guy with some great baseball genes, who lived every day for the game and its Glory. It’s still 90 feet from home plate to first base. Continue reading

The Petey Greene, Jerry Washington, James Brown-Gene

I am very happy to know that I possess the Petey Greene, Jerry Washington, Gaston Neal, Nap Turner, Jamal Muhammad, James Brown, Chuck Brown-Gene.

My foot is genetically pre-disposed to pat whenever James Brown music is played. Whether I pat it or not. I’ve got the James Brown Gene.

The same for Chuck Brown who is still in our midst. He is the Grandfather-Godfather of Go-Go. One year on my birthday, I went to see Chuck Brown at the now defunct Club Ibex on Georgia Ave. For some reason, I was grateful they had a metal detector at the door. I’ve bought three or four of his CDs. I’ve got the Chuck Brown-Gene, and I’m proud of it.

It’s a Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner, John Brown, Marcus Garvey, George Jackson-kind-of-feeling expressed in haunting melody, hypnotic rhythm. It’s the James Brown-Gene.

Petey Greene was that kind of a guy. They recently made a movie about him, the icon, the live and kicking D.C. Will Rogers. The movie: One Flew Over. Dewey’s Big Break! Ma, he was a M-F contender. Write that down. Original Rapper. With the schoolyard ‘Yo Mama’ training. Continue reading