The Boston Bombing: A Reader l Rhetoric Race and Religion

 The Boston Bombing: A Reader

On April 15, 2013 around 3:00pm EST, two explosions rocked participants and onlookers at the Boston Marathon. We here at Rhetoric Race and Religion are collecting posts that focus on this horrific event. If you have one to share or would like to write one for our blog, please email us at

1. The Boston Marathon: All My Tears, All My Love
2. Erik Rush, Conservative Columnist, Makes Muslim Joke After Boston Marathon Explosions
3. Prayers for Boston & for an End to Racist Backlash
4. A Prayer for Boston
5. Boston Bombing Is a Tragedy, But Let’s Not Rush to Blame Muslims or People of Arabic Descent
6. God Weeps Over Boston Through Us
7. Responding to Boston With Holy Anger
8. Prayers for Boston and for an End to Racist Backlash
9. Terrorism and Privilege: Understanding the Power of Whiteness
10. Tea Party Nation Blames Boston Bombing On Obama, ‘Radical Islam’
12. Let’s hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American
13.Boston Marathon Editorial Cartoons
14.False comfort of the ‘T’ word: Patience in the aftermath of Boston
15.On gun control, courage in short supply
16. The Boston bombing produces familiar and revealing reactions
17. Separate, Unequal and More Violent
18.Remarks by the President at Interfaith Service in Boston, MA 
19. On Boston bombing, media are wrong – again
20. Jon Stewart Slams Media for Boston Bombing Stories
21. “On Boston & Violence: An Intimate Relationship” 
22. Boston Bombing Suspects’ Muslim Identity Provides Few Clues To Motivation For Bombing
23. The Boston Bombing Suspects Were Reared by Both Chechnya and America
24. Family’ Group Co-Opts Tragedy To Oppose ‘Sexual Liberalism’
25. Robert Robb: Reflections on the Boston Bombing
26. Why Should I Care That No One’s Reading Dzhokhar Tsarnaev His Miranda Rights? 
27. The Media and the ‘Dark-Skinned’ Men from Chechnya
28. Race, Religion and the Boston Marathon Bombing
29. Boston bombing: How Indian student Sunil Tripathi was wrongly identified as suspect
30. Religious Responses to Boston Bombing
31. Race, Religion and Terrorism in the Wake Of Boston
32. Who Bombed the Boston Marathon?
33. Is Boston Like Columbine?
34. Let’s Not Normalize This Thing Called ‘Terrorism’: A Conversation With Sohail Daulatzai
35. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev charged with using ‘weapon of mass destruction’
36. Why is Boston ‘terrorism’ but not Aurora, Sandy Hook, Tucson and Columbine?
37. Are the Tsarnaev brothers white?
38. Boston Bombing Aftermath: If It’s Not About Islam or Foreign Policy, Then What?
39. A Love of Hip-Hop Doesn’t Make a Terrorist
40. The Boston Bombing: Should Cameras Now Be Everywhere?
41. Boston Bombing Shocker: Naturalized Citizens Identify with Home Countries!
42. Hey, White Liberals: A Word On The Boston Bombings, The Suffering Of White Children, And The Erosion of Empathy
43. Why the faith of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects doesn’t matter, but yours does

On Boston & Violence: An Intimate Relationship l Esther Armah

Esther Armah

NYC Radio Host, Playwright, Author

 On Boston & Violence: An Intimate Relationship


 Boston. Remote in hand, I channel surf, pausing from one horror to another. I’ve just heard the president’s message of unity, swift justice for the perpetrators, and recognition that on this day we are all Americans — not members of different parties, but of one nation.

National horrors like Boston, or Newtown, bring us together in our grief, unite us in our condemnation, stun us, and momentarily silence us because we agree on the brutality. We draw on a collective comfort. When the violence is the kind that is collectively mourned, no focus will rest on the shortness of the women’s running shorts. No one will say because the women voluntarily went to Boston and ran in the marathon they were asking to be blown up. Here’s the thing. We have a contradictory and intimate relationship with violence.

There is the type of violence we mourn and are horrified by, there’s also the type we sanction, sanitize, justify — in life, love, work, sports. We separate that violence according to who the victims are and who perpetrates it in specific ways. We unite in our mourning for the victims of some violence, but we tend to be divided, hostile and accusatory in the face of others. For most of us, violence is relative. Who gets to be the victim? Who is accused of being the perpetrator?

Violence occupies an emotional space; it is at once familiar and horrifying and sanguine. It is individual and institutional. We don’t respond to sexual violence the way we do with the violence of Boston or Newtown, for example. We are not all Americans when a woman or girl is raped or sexually assaulted; we are good girls and bad ones. We will not collectively mourn the shock to her body, the distress, the trauma, and its potential legacy. We will engage in insisting on knowing her potential role in that violence, we will defend the individual perpetrator of that violence, and we will be divided. But the act of violence in Boston produces different responses. We won’t question any of the women’s rights to be in that public space dressed in shorts or in any way suggest that their clothing or presence might arguably be interpreted as an invitation for an act of domestic terrorism. We will agree the perpetrator deserves to face consequences, the full weight of the law. We will not defend the perpetrators right of free and peaceful assembly, we will agree that his freedom should be curtailed.

We will defend the 1st Amendment right of a newspaper when it spews emotional violence masquerading as comedy about an Oscar-nominated brown girl reducing her to a “cunt” — a body part as The Onion did with Quvenzhane Wallis. We will not collectively condemn this emotional violence but engage in 140-character defenses of the 1st Amendment and mockingly Tweet to the constituency of the outraged to pipe down and chill — it’s only comedy. We will, in no way, defend the violence that occurred in Boston, however.

We will mourn the black bodies who came from far and wide to take part in a marathon that goes back to 1897 — provincial and global — as part of an institutional space to be celebrated, respected and revered. The humanity of the black marathon runner will be counted, not disregarded. In this moment, those black bodies morph into our national identity; they are momentarily American bodies with shared goals, ambitions, and dreams. Yet, we are never all American when a black man falls victim to the institutional violence of the state; we are prosecutors, interrogators of his behavior, questioning him, his actions, his words, his intentions, defending the institution. We are divided. We are accusatory. We are hostile. We are defensive when the state enacts violence upon black bodies.

Our horror post-Newtown or Boston is tangible; we can taste it, feel it, and relate to it. Our dismissal of the violence suffered by children on the streets of the south side of Chicago and other urban (and mostly black, brown, and working poor) neighborhoods across the country is equally tangible. We are not allAmerican when it comes to the violence of poverty. We measure, judge, label individuals and communities marked by the violence of economic disenfranchisement. We do not collectively raise our voices against the institutions that contribute to maintaining poverty and inequity in our country.

Our relationship with violence is exactly that, a relationship. We are married to our version of violent events; we are divorced from certain folk’s experiences of violent events. We negotiate what we believe, whom we believe, of whom we are skeptical and who is a liar. We have wakes and obits and sadness in 140 characters on Twitter or FB threads. We may be outraged that this piece would even be written, dismissing it as inappropriate. You maybe right. The real tragedy? So am I.

Our relationship with violence needs ’emotional justice’ — the untangling of a societal and generational inheritance of untreated trauma, this space where we are handed the job of teasing out which violence is which and navigating institutions, systems, individuals and society accordingly. This is our world. What are we willing to do to change our relationship with violence?

Esther Armah

NYC Radio Host, Playwright, Author

Follow Esther Armah on Twitter:

We are respectable negroes: “I Thought He was White You Know a Regular American”: The Boston Marathon Bombing Shows Us (Again) How Whiteness and White Skin Privilege Are Not Benign

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND Guest Profiles

OUR COMMON GROUND Omnibus‘s insight:

From OUR COMMON GROUND Voice, Chauncey deVega, a Respectable Negro

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“An Evening with Dr. Ronoko Rashidi: LIFE and WORK” l OUR COMMON GROUND April 20, 2013 l 10 pm ET

See on Scoop.itTruthWorks Network News – The Black Voice Collaborative

“History is a light that illuminates the past, and a key that unlocks the door to the future.” –Runoko Rashidi

“An Evening with Dr. Ronoko Rashidi: LIFE and WORK”  

 April 20, 2013    LIVE   10pm ET

Runoko Rashidi is a renowned historian, research specialist, writer, world traveler, and public lecturer focusing on the African foundations of world civilizations. His work particularly is drawn to the African presence in Asia, Australia, and the Pacific Islands.

OUR COMMON GROUND Omnibus‘s insight:

“An Evening with Dr. Ronoko Rashidi: LIFE and WORK”
April 20, 2013    LIVE AND CALL-IN   10pm ET

OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham

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The Real Story of Baseball’s Integration That You Won’t See in 42 l The Atlantic

The Real Story of Baseball’s Integration That You Won’t See in 42


The new film ignores the broad-based movement that helped make Jackie Robinson’s arrival in baseball possible, as well as the first black major-leaguer’s own activism.
APR 11 2013
42 jackie robinson wb 650.jpg

One of America’s most iconic and inspiring stories—Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color line in 1947—is retold in the film 42, which opens nationally this weekend. Even if you’re not a baseball fan, the film will tug at your heart and have you rooting for Robinson to overcome the racist obstacles put in his way. It is an uplifting tale of courage and determination that is hard to resist, even though you know the outcome before the movie begins.

But despite bravura performances by relatively unknown Chadwick Boseman as Robinson and superstar Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey (the Brooklyn Dodgers’ general manager who recruited Robinson and orchestrated his transition from the Negro Leagues to the all-white Major Leagues), the film strikes out as history, because it ignores the true story of how baseball’s apartheid system was dismantled.

The film portrays baseball’s integration as the tale of two trailblazers—Robinson, the combative athlete and Rickey, the shrewd strategist—battling baseball’s, and society’s, bigotry. But the truth is that it was a political victory brought about by a social protest movement. As an activist himself, Robinson would likely have been disappointed by a film that ignored the centrality of the broader civil rights struggle.

That story has been told in two outstanding books, Jules Tygiel’s Baseball’s Great Experiment (1983) and Chris Lamb’sConspiracy of Silence: Sportswriters and the Long Campaign to Desegregate Baseball (2012). As they recount, Rickey’s plan came after more than a decade of effort by black and left-wing journalists and activists to desegregate the national pastime. Beginning in the 1930s, the Negro press, civil rights groups, the Communist Party, progressive white activists, and radical politicians waged a sustained campaign to integrate baseball. It was part of a broader movement to eliminate discrimination in housing, jobs, and other sectors of society. It included protests against segregation within the military, mobilizing for a federal anti-lynching law, marches to open up defense jobs to blacks during World War II, and boycotts against stores that refused to hire African Americans under the banner “don’t shop where you can’t work.” The movement accelerated after the war, when returning black veterans expected that America would open up opportunities for African Americans.

Robinson broke into baseball when America was a deeply segregated nation. In 1946, at least six African Americans were lynched in the South. Restrictive covenants were still legal, barring blacks (and Jews) from buying homes in many neighborhoods—not just in the South. Only a handful of blacks were enrolled in the nation’s predominantly white colleges and universities. There were only two blacks in Congress. No big city had a black mayor.

Martin Luther King Jr. once told Dodgers star Don Newcombe, another former Negro Leaguer, “You’ll never know what you and Jackie and Roy [Campanella] did to make it possible to do my job.”

It is difficult today to summon the excitement that greeted Robinson’s achievement. The dignity with which Robinson handled his encounters with racism—including verbal and physical abuse on the field and in hotels, restaurants, trains, and elsewhere—drew public attention to the issue, stirred the consciences of many white Americans, and gave black Americans a tremendous boost of pride and self-confidence. Martin Luther King Jr. once told Dodgers star Don Newcombe, another former Negro Leaguer, “You’ll never know what you and Jackie and Roy [Campanella] did to make it possible to do my job.”


Jackie Robinson, right, and Martin Luther King, Jr. (Solipsis)

Robinson, who spent his entire major league career (1947 to 1956) with the Dodgers, was voted Rookie of the Year in 1947 and Most Valuable Player in 1949, when he won the National League batting title with a .342 batting average. An outstanding base runner and base stealer, with a .311 lifetime batting average, he led the Dodgers to six pennants and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1962.
* * *42 is the fourth Hollywood film about Robinson. All of them suffer from what might be called movement myopia. We may prefer our heroes to be rugged individualists, but the reality doesn’t conform to the myth embedded in Hollywood’s version of the Robinson story.

In The Jackie Robinson Story, released in 1950, Robinson played himself and the fabulous Ruby Dee portrayed his wife Rachel. Produced at the height of the Cold War, five years before the Montgomery bus boycott, the film celebrated Robinson’s feat as evidence that America was a land of opportunity where anyone could succeed if he had the talent and will. The movie opens with the narrator saying, “This is a story of a boy and his dream. But more than that, it’s a story of an American boy and a dream that is truly American.”

In 1990 TNT released a made-for-TV movie, The Court Martial of Jackie Robinson, starring Andre Braugher, which focused on Robinson’s battles with racism as a soldier during World War II. In 1944, while assigned to a training camp at Fort Hood in segregated Texas, Robinson, a second lieutenant, refused to move to the back of an army bus when the white driver ordered him to do so, even though buses had been officially desegregated on military bases. He was court martialed for his insubordination, tried, acquitted, transferred to another military base, and honorably discharged four months later. By depicting Robinson as a rebellious figure who chafed at the blatant racism he faced, the film foreshadows the traits he would have to initially suppress once he reached the majors.

HBO’s The Soul of the Game, released in 1996, focused on the hopes and then the frustrations of Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson, the two greatest players in the Negro Leagues, whom Branch Rickey passed up to integrate the majors in favor of Robinson, played by Blair Underwood. Rickey had long wanted to hire black players, both for moral reasons and because he believed it would increase ticket sales among the growing number of African Americans moving to the big cities. He knew that if the experiment failed, the cause of baseball integration would be set back for many years. Rickey’s scouts identified Robinson—who was playing for the Negro League’s Kansas City Monarchs after leaving the army—as a potential barrier-breaker. Rickey could have chosen other Negro League players with greater talent or more name recognition, but he wanted someone who could be, in today’s terms, a role model. Robinson was young, articulate and well educated. His mother moved the family from Georgia to Pasadena, California in 1920 when Robinson was 14 months ago. Pasadena was deeply segregated, but Robinson lived among and formed friendships with whites growing up there and while attending Pasadena Junior College and UCLA. He was UCLA’s first four-sport athlete (football, basketball, track, and baseball), twice led the Pacific Coast League in scoring in basketball, won the NCAA broad jump championship, and was a football All-American. Rickey knew that Robinson had a hot temper and strong political views, but he calculated that Robinson could handle the emotional pressure while helping the Dodgers on the field. Robinson promised Rickey that, for at least his rookie year, he would not respond to the inevitable verbal barbs and even physical abuse he would face on a daily basis.

In 1997, America celebrated Robinson with a proliferation of conferences, museum exhibits, plays, and books. Major League Baseball retired Robinson’s number—42—for all teams. President Bill Clinton appeared with Rachel Robinson at Shea Stadium to venerate her late husband.

But the next Hollywood movie about Robinson didn’t arrive until this year’s 42, written and directed by Brian Helgeland (screenwriter of L.A. Confidential andMystic River), under the auspices of Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures. The real story of baseball’s integration has plenty of drama and could have easily been incorporated into the film.

* * *Starting in the 1930s, reporters for African-American papers (especially Wendell Smith of the Pittsburgh Courier, Fay Young of the Chicago Defender, Joe Bostic of the People’s Voice in New York, and Sam Lacy of the Baltimore Afro-American), and Lester Rodney, sports editor of the Communist paper, the Daily Worker, took the lead in pushing baseball’s establishment to hire black players. They published open letters to owners, polled white managers and players (some of whom were threatened by the prospect of losing their jobs to blacks, but most of whom said that they had no objections to playing with African Americans), brought black players to unscheduled tryouts at spring training centers, and kept the issue before the public. Several white journalists for mainstream papers joined the chorus for baseball integration.

Progressive unions and civil rights groups picketed outside Yankee Stadium the Polo Grounds, and Ebbets Field in New York City, and Comiskey Park and Wrigley Field in Chicago. They gathered more than a million signatures on petitions, demanding that baseball tear down the color barrier erected by team owners and Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis. In July 1940, the Trade Union Athletic Association held an “End Jim Crow in Baseball” demonstration at the New York World’s Fair. The next year, liberal unions sent a delegation to meet with Landis to demand that major league baseball recruit black players. In December 1943, Paul Robeson, the prominent black actor, singer, and activist, addressed baseball’s owners at their annual winter meeting in New York, urging them to integrate their teams. Under orders from Landis, they ignored Robeson and didn’t ask him a single question.


National Endowment for the Humanities

In 1945, Isadore Muchnick, a progressive member of the Boston City Council, threatened to deny the Red Sox a permit to play on Sundays unless the team considered hiring black players. Working with several black sportswriters, Muchnick persuaded the reluctant Red Sox general manager, Eddie Collins, to give three Negro League players—Robinson, Sam Jethroe, and Marvin Williams—a tryout at Fenway Park in April of that year. The Sox had no intention of signing any of the players, nor did the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago White Sox, who orchestrated similar bogus auditions. But the public pressure and media publicity helped raise awareness and furthered the cause.

Other politicians were allies in the crusade. Running for re-election to the New York City Council in 1945, Ben Davis—an African-American former college football star, and a Communist—distributed a leaflet with the photos of two blacks, a dead soldier and a baseball player. “Good enough to die for his country,” it said, “but not good enough for organized baseball.” That year, the New York State legislature passed the Quinn-Ives Act, which banned discrimination in hiring, and soon formed a committee to investigate discriminatory hiring practices, including one that focused on baseball. In short order, New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia’s established a Committee on Baseball to push the Yankees, Giants, and Dodgers to sign black players. Left-wing Congressman Vito Marcantonio, who represented Harlem, called for an investigation of baseball’s racist practices.

This protest movement set the stage for Robinson’s entrance into the major leagues. In October 1945, Rickey announced that Robinson had signed a contract with the Dodgers. He sent Robinson to the Dodgers’ minor-league team in Montreal for the 1946 season, then brought him up to the Brooklyn team on opening day, April 15, 1947.

The Robinson experiment succeeded—on the field and at the box office. Within a few years, the Dodgers had hired other black players—pitchers Don Newcombe and Joe Black, catcher Roy Campanella, infielder Jim Gilliam, and Cuban outfielder Sandy Amoros—who helped turn the 1950s Dodgers into one of the greatest teams in baseball history.

* * *Viewers of 42 will see no evidence of the movement that made Robinson’s—and the Dodgers’—success possible. For example, Andrew Holland plays Pittsburgh Courier reporter Wendell Smith, but he’s depicted as Robinson’s traveling companion and the ghost-writer for Robinson’s newspaper column during his rookie season. The film ignores Smith’s key role as an agitator and leader of the long crusade to integrate baseball before Robinson became a household name.

Robinson recognized that the dismantling of baseball’s color line was a triumph of both a man and a movement. During and after his playing days, he joined the civil rights crusade, speaking out—in speeches, interviews, and his column—against racial injustice. In 1949, testifying before Congress, he said: “I’m not fooled because I’ve had a chance open to very few Negro Americans.”

Robinson viewed his sports celebrity as a platform from which to challenge American racism. Many sportswriters and most other players—including some of his fellow black players, content simply to be playing in the majors—considered Robinson too angry and vocal about racism in baseball and society.

Robinson viewed his sports celebrity as a platform from which to challenge American racism. Many sportswriters and other players—including some of his fellow black players—considered Robinson too angry and vocal about racism.

When Robinson retired from baseball in 1956, no team offered him a position as a coach, manager, or executive. Instead, he became an executive with the Chock Full o’ Nuts restaurant chain and an advocate for integrating corporate America. He lent his name and prestige to several business ventures, including a construction company and a black-owned bank in Harlem. He got involved in these business activities primarily to help address the shortage of affordable housing and the persistent redlining (lending discrimination against blacks) by white-owned banks. Both the construction company and the bank later fell on hard times and dimmed Robinson’s confidence in black capitalism as a strategy for racial integration.

In 1960, Robinson supported Hubert Humphrey, the liberal Senator and civil rights stalwart from Minnesota, in his campaign for president. When John Kennedy won the Democratic nomination, however, Robinson shocked his liberal fans by endorsing Richard Nixon. Robinson believed that Nixon had a better track record than JFK on civil rights issues, but by the end of the campaign—especially after Nixon refused to make an appearance in Harlem—he regretted his choice.

During the 1960s, Robinson was a constant presence at civil rights rallies and picket lines, and chaired the NAACP’s fundraising drive. Angered by the GOP’s opposition to civil rights legislation, he supported Humphrey over Nixon in 1968. But he became increasingly frustrated by the pace of change.

jackie-picket-line3.gif“I cannot possibly believe,” he wrote in his autobiography, I Never Had It Made, published shortly before he died of a heart attack at age 53 in 1972, “that I have it made while so many black brothers and sisters are hungry, inadequately housed, insufficiently clothed, denied their dignity as they live in slums or barely exist on welfare.”

In 1952, five years after Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier, only six of major league baseball’s 16 teams had a black player. It was not until 1959 that the last holdout, the Boston Red Sox, brought an African American onto its roster. The black players who followed Robinson shattered the stereotype—once widespread among many team owners, sportswriters, and white fans—that there weren’t many African Americans “qualified” to play at the major league level. Between 1949 and 1960, black players won 8 out of 12 Rookie of the Year awards, and 9 out of 12 Most Valuable Player awards in the National League, which was much more integrated than the American League. Many former Negro League players, including Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, Don Newcombe, and Ernie Banks, were perennial All-Stars.

But academic studies conducted from the 1960s through the 1990s uncovered persistent discrimination. For example, teams were likely to favor a weak-hitting white player over a weak-hitting black player to be a benchwarmer or a utility man. And even the best black players had fewer and less lucrative commercial endorsements than their white counterparts.

In the 16 years he lived after his retirement in 1956, Robinson pushed baseball to hire blacks as managers and executives and even refused an invitation to participate in the 1969 Old Timers game because he did not yet see “genuine interest in breaking the barriers that deny access to managerial and front office positions.” No major league team had a black manager until Frank Robinson was hired by the Cleveland Indians in 1975. The majors’ first black general manager—the Atlanta Braves’ Bill Lucas—wasn’t hired until 1977.

* * *Last season, players of color represented 38.2 percent of majo- league rosters, according to a report by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida. Black athletes represented only 8.8 percent of major-league players—a dramatic decline from the peak of 27 percent in 1975, and less than half the 19 percent in 1995. One quarter of last season’s African-Americans players were clustered on three teams—the Yankees, Angels, and Dodgers. Their shrinking proportion is due primarily to the growing number of Latino (27.3%) and Asian (1.9%) players, including many foreign-born athletes, now populating major league rosters.

But there are also sociological and economic reasons for the decline of black ballplayers. The semi-pro, sandlot, and industrial teams that once thrived in black communities, serving as feeders to the Negro Leagues and then the major leagues, have disappeared. Basketball and football have replaced baseball as the most popular sports in black communities, where funding for public school baseball teams and neighborhood playgrounds with baseball fields has declined. Major league teams more actively recruit young players from Latin America, who are typically cheaper to hire than black Americans, as Adrian Burgos, inPlaying America’s Game: Baseball, Latinos, and the Color Line (2007) and Rob Ruck, in Raceball: How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latin Game (2012) document.

Among today’s 30 teams, there are only four managers of color—three blacks (the Reds’ Dusty Baker, the Astros’ Bo Porter, and the Rangers’ Ron Washington) and one Latino (the Braves’ Fredi Gonzalez). (Two of last season’s Latino managers—the Indians’ Manny Acta, and Ozzie Guillen of the Marlins—were fired). One Latino (Ruben Amaro Jr. of the Phillies) and one African American (Michael Hill of the Marlins) serve as general managers. (White Sox GM Ken Williams, an African American, was promoted to executive VP during the off-season.) Arturo Moreno, a Latino, has owned the Los Angeles Angels since 2003. Basketball great Earvin “Magic” Johnson, part of the new group that purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers last year, is the first African-American owner of a major league team.

Like baseball, American society—including our workplaces, Congress and other legislative bodies, friendships, and even families—is more integrated than it was in Robinson’s day. But there is still an ongoing debate about the magnitude of racial progress, as measured by persistent residential segregation, a significantly higher poverty rate among blacks than whites, and widespread racism within our criminal justice and prison systems.

As Robinson understood, these inequities cannot be solved by individual effort alone. It also requires grassroots activism and protest to attain changes in government policy and business practices. 42, misses an opportunity to recap this important lesson. Robinson’s legacy is to remind us of the unfinished agenda of the civil rights revolution and of the important role that movements play in moving the country closer to its ideals.

PETER DREIER teaches politics and chairs the Urban and Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. His most recent book is The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame.

“45 Years Later: The Fair Housing Act” with James Perry – April 13, 2013 – 10 pm ET LIVE

OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham

“45 Years Later: The Fair Housing Act”

 Guest: James H. Perry

Executive Director of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC)

04-13 Perry2

April 13, 2013 10pm ET 



Jim PerryJames Perry is the Executive Director of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC). Perry is a housing expert. He founded the Gulf Coast Fair Housing Center in Mississippi when he was 26 years old. He led the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center through two of America’s greatest disasters-Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Under Perry’s leadership, the Center favorably settled an historic class action lawsuit resulting in compensation of more than $500 million for Katrina victims. Perry has testified before congress eight times and was a candidate in the 2010 New Orleans Mayoral election.

Perry serves on the Board of Directors of the National Fair Housing Alliance, the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the Gulf Coast Fair Housing Center and chairs the Louisiana Housing Alliance Board of Directors. He holds a Bachelors in political science from the University of New Orleans and a Juris Doctorate from the Loyola University School of Law.

The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center is a private, non-profit civil rights organization established in the summer of 1995 to eradicate housing discrimination throughout the greater New Orleans area.

America’s poor and middle-class are mired in the fall out of a crumbling economic foundation. Housing discrimination in new forms contribute to the fall out causing massive homelessness, including children, veterans and elderly. A new and vicious kind of resilience to compassionate themes in our politics, lends a hand to this threat. Foreclosures which rise out of predatory lending and greed, plague the well-being of the Black and Brown working class. Housing discrimination has a new and more virulent strain. Join us tonight to take a look with James Perry.

OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham

“Speaking Truth to Power and Ourselves”


Community Forum:
Twitter: @JaniceOCG #TalkthatMatters

Commentaries on the Times Radio: Viva Afro-Americanos!

See on Scoop.itTruthWorks Network News – The Black Voice Collaborative

Praising Saints, Celebrating Heroes, Unmasking Charlatans, Defending the Defenseless and Chastising Scoundrels

OUR COMMON GROUND Omnibus‘s insight:

n  Race, Class and US Policy on Afro- Cubans

I was delighted to hear that the second most popular power couple in the world, international superstars Jay Z and Beyoncé, who rank just below Barack and Michel in world-wide popularity, decided to spend their fifth wedding anniversary in Cuba.  There are many reasons why I rejoiced at the news.  First of all I have always regarded the economic boycott as unjust.  It began because the US Congress, acting as shills for the United Fruit Company, a giant American agri-business corporation who viewed the Island nation of Cuba as it’s private plantation…much as the firestone company viewed the West African nation of Liberia as a little more than their rubber plantation.

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Every 28 Hours: Operation Ghetto Storm: 2012 Annual Report on the Extrajudicial Killings of 313 Black People by Police, Security Guards, and Vigilantes



Monday, April 8, 2013
Contact:  Kali Akuno /  404.567.5938 /

 For Immediate Release: New Annual Report reveals that 313 Black People were killed in 2012, averaging one every 28 hours.  

Every 28 hours in 2012 someone employed or protected by the US government killed a Black man, woman, or child! This startling fact is revealed in Operation Ghetto Storm: 2012 Annual Report on the Extrajudicial Killings of 313 Black People by Police, Security Guards, and Vigilantes.

“When we started this investigation in early 2012, we knew a serious human rights crisis was confronting the Black community”, says Kali Akuno, an organizer with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM). “However, we did not have a clear sense of its true depth until we compiled and examined the annual figures. We have uncovered outrageous rates of extrajudicial killings–rates, that when they are found in countries like Mexico or Brazil, are universally condemned.  The same outrage inside the U.S. also demands immediate action.”

Given recent revelations in the case of Floyd et al v New York City that challenge “stop-and-frisk”, our study demonstrates that NYPD violations of human rights are endemic throughout the U.S. For example, racial profiling that singles Black people for looking, driving or behaving “suspiciously” leads to at least 43% of Black peoples’ fatal encounters with police. Only 13% of those who were killed were involved in allegedly violent criminal activity that physically threatened others’ lives. These and many more of the Report’s findings reveal the deadly impact of systemic racism in the U.S.

Akuno further points out, “Operation Ghetto Storm follows the trail of extrajudicial killings to the rise of militarized police forces and their occupation of Black communities. And explores how systemic racism has led to increased militarization and militarization, in turn has exacerbated the human rights crises devastating Black communities.”

He added, “This Report breaks new ground by going beyond reliance on police department press releases and investigating as fully as possible the context and consequences of each killing. This investigative journalism serves as an example of respect for Black life so often neglected in public conversations.”

Arlene Eisen, member of the Malcolm X Solidarity Committee and the author of the Report, explained, “Any one of these people killed could have been my son or your husband or daughter. Regardless of education, class, behavior or dress, nowhere is a Black person safe from potentially-fatal racial profiling, invasive policing, constant surveillance and overriding suspicion.”

Based on a year of research, Eisen concluded, “police departments and government agencies throughout the United States go to great lengths to hide the data on extrajudicial killings, particularly the race of the murder victims. I am quite sure that there were more than 313 Black people killed by the police in 2012. Social movements in the United States must demand this information and must demand an end to these killings.”

Operation Ghetto Storm is issued by the Every 36 Hours Campaign and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and can be downloaded at


Please share this report with comrades and friends.


Operation Ghetto Storm:

2012 Annual Report on the Extrajudicial Killings of 313 Black People by Police, Security Guards, and Vigilantes


Preface by Kali Akuno

The Context for Operation Ghetto Storm

The facts presented in OperationGhetto Storm: 2012AnnualReport on the Extrajudicial Killing ofBlackPeople present us with a deeper understanding of the utter disregard held for Black life within the United States. Operation Ghetto Storm is a window offering a cold, hard, and fact‐based view into the thinking and practice of a government and a society that will spare no cost to control the lives of Black people. What Operation Ghetto Storm reveals is that the practice of executing Black people without pretense of a trial, jury, or judge is an integral part of the government’s current overall strategy of containing the Black community in a state of perpetual colonial subjugation and exploitation.

In July 2012, in the tradition of “On Lynching” by Ida B. Wells‐Burnet and “We Charge Genocide” by William L. Patterson, the Malcolm XGrassroots Movement released a critical report that exposed the fact that in the first six months of the year a Black man, woman, or child was summarily executed by the police, and a smaller number of security guards and self‐appointed vigilantes, Every 36Hours! But, the July 2012 report did not tell the whole story. Further investigation revealed a more accurate and gruesome number of extrajudicial killings during the first six months of the year. And true to form, the assault on Black life stayed consistent for the last six months of the year, resulting in the extrajudicial killing of at least 313 Black people in 2012, or one Every 28Hours!

Setting the Record Straight
If not for our investigation, this gruesome reality would largely be ignored. The United States government has no interest in revealing these facts and police unions actively suppress them. The corporate media is so permeated with white supremacist and capitalist assumptions and rationalizations that reporters and editors deem these killings unworthy of note. With one important exception: They use the stories of “officer‐involved killings” to reinforce a stereotypical, but strategic depiction of the most dispossessed sectors of the Black working class as criminal commodities, fit for disposal.

This demonization of Black “targets” reinforces the insidious propaganda of the United States government and its supporters, that the United States is the most democratic and socially liberated country on Earth. But, any critical observer and thinker must ask, how can the supposedly “most democratic” country on Earth be the largest jailer on the planet? What types of “legitimate” democratic processes result in nearly half of the countries prison population being Black, while Black people only comprise 13% of the total population of the United States? What types of resources, planning, coordination and programmatic Any critical observer and thinker must ask, how can the supposedly “most democratic” country on Earth be the largest jailer on the planet?

“Operaton Ghetto Storm”, issued by, was last updated on April 4, 2013 3 of 130 Preface: The Context for Operation Ghetto Storm implementation go into arresting, convicting, imprisoning or deporting over 10 million people annually? And what can possibly justify the extrajudicial killing of at least 313 Black people in one year? Genuine and healthy democracies do not spend more than 50% of their budgetary resources on their militaries, domestic “law enforcement” agencies, and prisons.

The fact that the United States government spends this amount demonstrates that the United States is neither a genuine democracy nor a “healthy” society in any form or fashion. The United States is a European settler‐colonial project that has erected a racial state to enforce and maintain a rigid order of white supremacy, colonial occupation, and capitalist exploitation.  As the facts presented herein attest, the United States is one of the most repressive and brutal societies in the world, particularly to oppressed peoples like Blacks, Native Americans, and Latinos. The rates of extrajudicial killings on the US rival only those perpetrated against the Indigenous people of Palestine, Mexico, Guatemala and the Amazonian region, and African‐descendants in Brazil and Colombia.

The Full Report Here

For More Information About the MXGM

Connecting the Dots to a Frightening Future l Dr. Wilmer Leon l Black Agenda Report

Connecting the Dots to a Frightening Future

 Tue, 01/22/2013 – 22:16 — Wilmer J. Leon III

by Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III

Austerity, perpetually high unemployment and other aspects of the New Domestic Order are creating a new “precariat” – a class condemned to permanent precariousness and insecurity.

Connecting the Dots to a Frightening Future

by Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III

They are saddled with debt from school loans, working two and three jobs at subsistence wages with no health care, no pension, and no sense of permanency or security.”

Post Racial America, New Normal, Austerity, and The Precariat Class.

These concepts, when discussed individually, make for interesting dialogue. Moreover, when assessed in a larger context, these same concepts should become a cause for concern.

Right after Senator Obama became President there were many discussions and articles written about a Post Racial America. Had we evolved into an America devoid of racial preference, discrimination, and prejudice?During the 2008 presidential campaign The New York Times published an article by Matt Bai entitled Is Obama the End of Black Politics? The premise of the article was that in 2008, 60 years after Strom Thurmond left the Democratic Party over the issue of integrating the armed forces and 45 years after Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” the Democratic party was poised to deliver its nomination for the nation’s highest office to an African-American. Bai’s article asked if Obama’s nomination somehow signaled the end of Black politics?

The answer to Matt Bai’s question is; of course not. America cannot be closer to being post racial when a candidate for president has to run a deracialized campaign in order to make the masses comfortable with the obvious aesthetic. We are not in a post-racial America when the unemployment rate in the African American community is more than double the national average and the wealth accumulation of the average European American family is 20 times that of the average African American family. The dangerous subtext to that question is that it ignores the struggle for justice and equality that African Americans still face. It also reinforces the conservative view that the government should no longer enact and enforce legislation guaranteeing the rights of minorities.

We are not in a post-racial America when the unemployment rate in the African American community is more than double the national average.”

As the American economy has remained stagnate with 1.3 percent growth, the national unemployment number has stayed close to 8%, 17% in the African American community. Close to 5.4 million people have dropped out of the workforce and now analysts and commentators have started talking about a “New Normal.” Americans are supposed to get used to dismal rates of growth and high unemployment while the stock market soars and American corporations sit on record cash balances. According to CNBC, corporate “cash balances have swelled 14 percent and are on track toward $1.5 trillion for the Standard & Poor’s 500, according to JPMorgan. Both levels would be historic highs.”

These record amounts of cash being stockpiled by corporations are not “trickling down” to the working and middle-classes. The “job creators” are not creating jobs. According to Pimco Investment founder Bill Gross. “It’s time to recognize that things have changed and that they will continue to change for the next—yes, the next 10 years and maybe even the next 20 years.” This is the “new normal” and it’s not good.

The solution being proposed by conservatives and subtly endorsed by President Obama to address the financial crisis is “austerity.” Austerity is the policy of deficit-cutting by lowering spending via a reduction in the amount of benefits and services provided by the government. Instead of focusing on what to save, they are debating what to cut.

The ‘job creators’ are not creating jobs.”

In challenging times such as these the government should be investing in the economy not cutting back.Reductions in government spending tend to increase unemployment which increases demands on social programs or “safety-net” programs. Increased unemployment also reduces tax revenue. As with the Great Depression, short-term government spending, financed by deficits may be required to support economic growth when consumers and businesses are unwilling or unable to do so.

When you start to connect the dots between, New Normal and Austerity, you see a new picture. There is a new class of existence being created in this country. Professor Guy Standing calls this new class the “precariat”. “Millions of workers, mainly young and educated are being habituated to a life of unstable labor and uncertainty, a precarious existence…The precariat is wanted by multinationals and many corporations”…because their precarious existence makes them easy to exploit. They are saddled with debt from school loans, working two and three jobs at subsistence wages with no health care, no pension, and no sense of permanency or security.

As the African American community continues to be plagued by disproportionate rates of unemployment, poverty, hunger, wealth disparities, incarceration rates and other social ills the development of a precariat class will prove to be catastrophic. African Americans and many others would continue as Dr. King said in 1963, to live “…on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity…languishing in the corners of American society and find(ing) (themselves) an exile in (their) own land.”

The development of a precariat class will prove to be catastrophic.”

If the underclass, working class and precariat become dissatisfied with their existence what will they do? Will there be an uprising from the masses? What would the government do? How would the government protect its interests and repel the domestic uprising?

When you assess the implications of a Post Racial America, the New Normal, Austerity and The Precariat Class in a larger context, you begin to see a different America than the one being portrayed in mainstream media. When you connect these dots with a government that is engaging in warrantless wiretapping, calling for the ability to indefinitely detain American citizens, stop and frisk laws, and an American Attorney General who states that the president has the authority to assassinate American citizens any place in the world without judicial review, you get a very frightening picture. The picture reflects a battle between democracy and fascism and the battle for democracy should begin now.

Dr. Wilmer Leon is the Producer/ Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Wilmer Leon,” and a Teaching Associate in the Department of Political Science at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Go to or email:, and Dr. Leon’s Prescription at

© 2013 InfoWave Communications, LLC

OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham l “The State of Black America: A Tale of Two Countries” l Guest: Dr. Wilmer Leon l April 6, 2013


OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham

April 6, 2013       10 pm ET  LIVE

“The State of Black America: A Tale of Two Countries”

Tonight’s Guest: Dr. Wilmer Leon


04-06 Wiler2 Leon


“The State of Black America: A Tale of Two Countries”

Tonight’s Guest: Dr. Wilmer Leon

Dr. Leon comes to OCG once again to weigh in on the issues which face Black America, the politics of our problems and the light of solutions available.

Wilmer J. Leon III, Ph.D. is a Political Scientist whose primary areas of expertise are Black Politics, American Government, and Public Policy. He is a Teaching Associate in the Political Science Department at Howard University in Washington, D.C., a nationally syndicated broadcast radio talk show host, columnist, commentator, political consultant, TV host, lecturer, and much sought after motivational speaker.

Dr. Leon earned a BS degree in Political Science from Hampton Institute, a Masters in…

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