South Carolina hospitals are using a loophole in state law to scoop millions of dollars a year from the pockets of the poorest of patients. It mostly takes place outside the courts and the public eye.
A law originally written to help state and local governments collect debts is being used to seize tax refunds from people with past-due medical bills. The S.C. Department of Revenue does the legwork, and the cash flows straight into the coffers of some of the region’s largest health care companies.
The payoff is huge.
The Washington Post
“Hate movements really rely on symbolism to carry their ideologies and signal their belief systems to other members of their tribe,” said Carrie Sloan, research director for the Action Center on Race & the Economy. “It’s so easy to go to Amazon and get a backpack to signal that your kid is somehow connected to neo-Nazi and white-nationalist ideology.”
Shoppers can purchase Amazon.com merchandise displaying symbols of white supremacy, such as a swastika necklace, a baby onesie with a burning cross, and a child’s backpack featuring a neo-Nazi meme, all in contradiction of the retail giant’s policy against selling products that promote hatred, according to a new report from two watchdog groups.
Amazon’s policy says that “prohibited listings” on its website include “products that promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual or religious intolerance or promote organizations with such views.” But the report, to be released Friday by the Action Center on Race & the Economy and the Partnership for Working Families, argues that Amazon is failing to adhere to its own policy by allowing the sale of dozens of products in its online store as well as its publishing and music platforms that facilitate the spread of racist ideology.
“It’s clear that Amazon is bringing in money by propping up these hate organizations and allowing them to spread these messages in a moment of rising white nationalism and violence,” said Mariah Montgomery, campaign director for the Partnership for Working Families. The Action Center on Race & the Economy and the Partnership for Working Families are national nonprofit organizations that say they are focused on advancing racial and economic justice.
“Just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real. Thank you.”
Watch the full speech below:
“Let’s get a couple of things straight. The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander — that’s not our job so let’s stop with all that. If you have a critique for our resistance then you’d better have an established record, a critique of our oppression.“If you have no interest in equal rights for black people then do not make suggestions to those who do: sit down.“We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries, and we’re done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us, burying black people out of sight and out of mind while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil — black gold! — ghettoizing and demeaning our creations and stealing them, gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit.“Just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real. Thank you.”
- Jesse Williams
Jesse Williams accepts the Humanitarian Award onstage during the 2016 BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater on June 26, 2016 in Los Angeles.
KEVIN WINTER/BET/GETTY IMAGES FOR BET
It’s safe to say that 34-year-old Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams stole the BET Awards on Sunday night with a wildly inspirational, confrontational speech that is bound to become a cornerstone of the Black Lives Matter movement. Later in the show, Samuel L. Jackson said he hadn’t heard a speech like it since the 1960s.
Williams has appeared in multiple films, but he was honored with BET’s Humanitarian Award for his activism. In October 2014, he joined protests in Ferguson, Missouri to protest the shooting of Michael Brown. He was also an actor and executive producer of Stay Woke, a documentary about the movement that premiered in May. He has written extensively on Black Lives Matter and met with President Obama earlier this year to discuss his humanitarian work.
Watch All the Prince Tributes at the 2016 BET Awards
BET CEO Debra Lee presented his award “for his continued efforts and steadfast commitment to furthering social change.”
He began by thanking BET and all involved in the video that preceded his appearance, his wife and his parents “for teaching me to focus on comprehension over career, they made sure I learned what the schools are afraid to teach us.
“This award is not for me,” he continued. “This is for the real organizers all over the country, the activist, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers, the students that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do. It’s kinda basic mathematics: the more we learn about who we are and how we got here the more we will mobilize.
“This award is also for the black women in particular who have spent their lives nurturing everyone before themselves — we can and will do better for you.
Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar Open the 2016 BET Awards
“Now, what we’ve been doing is looking at the data and we know that police somehow manage to de-escalate, disarm and not kill white people every day. So what’s going to happen is we’re going to have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function and ours. [Standing ovation.]
“I got more, y’all. Yesterday would have been young Tamir Rice’s 14th birthday so I don’t want to hear any more about how far we’ve come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on a 12-year-old playing alone in a park in broad daylight, killing him on television, and then going home to make a sandwich.
“Tell Rekia Boyd how it’s so much better to live in 2012 than 1612 or 1712. Tell that to Eric Garner, Sandra Bland.
“The thing is though, all of us here are getting money, that alone isn’t going to stop this. Dedicating our lives to getting money just to give it right back to put someone’s brand on our body — when we spent centuries praying with brands on our bodies, and now we pray to get paid for brands on our bodies?
BET Awards Week: See All the Photos
“There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There is no job we haven’t done, there is no tax they haven’t levied against us, and we have paid all of them.
“But freedom is always conditional here. ‘You’re free!’ they keeping telling us. ‘But she would be alive if she hadn’t acted so… free.’ Now, freedom is always coming in the hereafter, but the hereafter is a hustle: We want it now.
“Let’s get a couple of things straight. The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander — that’s not our job so let’s stop with all that. If you have a critique for our resistance then you’d better have an established record, a critique of our oppression.
“If you have no interest in equal rights for black people then do not make suggestions to those who do: sit down.
“We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries, and we’re done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us, burying black people out of sight and out of mind while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil — black gold! — ghettoizing and demeaning our creations and stealing them, gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit.
“Just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real. Thank you.”
Watch the full speech from the link below:
OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham
“Uprising: Resistance and Rebellion”
Depraved INDIFFERENCE – Beyond Baltimore
Saturday, May 2, 2015 LIVE 10 pm ET
Guests: Ajamu Baraka and Efia Nwangaza
Call In – Listen Line: 347-838-9852
Join us LIVE http://bit.ly/1KCu4aR
Tonight we look back at this week’s uprising in Baltimore MD and explore where we go from here. How do we prepare a generation of people for a new, more militarized war on Black people? How do we get our people to see, “we are the Gaza?” Looking at the Freddie Gray murder charges and the overall fracture and failure of the Amerikkan judicial and government systems.
ABOUT OUR GUESTS
Ajamu Baraka,Human Rights Leader and Contributor, Black Agenda Report
Ajamu Baraka is a human rights defender whose experience spans three decades of domestic and international education and activism, Ajamu Baraka is a veteran grassroots organizer whose roots are in the Black Liberation Movement and anti-apartheid and Central American solidarity struggles.
Baraka is an internationally recognized leader of the emerging human rights movement in the U.S. and has been at the forefront of efforts to apply the international human rights framework to social justice advocacy in the U.S. for more than 25 years. As such, he has provided human rights trainings for grassroots activists across the country, briefings on human rights to the U.S. Congress, and appeared before and provided statements to various United Nations agencies, including the UN Human Rights Commission (precursor to the current UN Human Rights Council).
As a co-convener with Jaribu Hill of the Mississippi Worker Center for Human Rights, Baraka played an instrumental role in developing the series of bi-annual Southern Human Rights Organizers’ conferences (SHROC) that began in 1996. These gatherings represented some of the first post-Cold War human rights training opportunities for grassroots activists in the country.
He writes for the Black Agenda Report and is Editor of “A Voice from the Margins” http://www.ajamubaraka.com/
Efia Nwanga, Human Rights Attorney and Liberation Broadcaster, WMXP Greenville South Carolina
Sister Nwangaza, current director of the Malcolm X Center for Self Determination, is a former Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) organizer. The Malcolm X Center for Self Determination (http://wmxp955.webs.com/aboutus.htm ), is a volunteer grassroots, community based, volunteer staffed, owned and operated human rights action center, since 1991. It serves as a non-profit, public space for developing, testing, training and implementation of approaches to popular education, strategic planning, problem solving, and communications skill enhancement, with wide ranging performing and organizing skill development, using human rights frameworks and mechanisms for self-determination, community and self-advocacy. WMXP-LP 95.5 FM – The Voice of the People, http://wmxp955.webs.com/, is a community based, volunteer programmed, listener and local business supported non-commercial educational radio station. It’s mission is to give voice to the voiceless with local music, local talk, local news, local people doing local programming.
She clerked in the SNCC national office, worked the Julian Bond Special Election Campaign, and was a member of the Atlanta Project which drafted the Black Power, Anti-Vietnam War, and Pro-Palestinian Human Rights position papers popularized by SNCC,http://www.crmvet.org/vet/nwangaza.htm . At the behest of Malcolm X, SNCC worked and moved the 1960s U.S. Civil Rights movement to founding today’s U.S. Human Rights Movement. SNCC’s modern day call for Black Power/Self Determination united, elevated and invigorated resistance movements here and around the world. For fifty years of work as a human rights activist, her early career as a staff attorney for the Greenville Legal Services Program, and her contributions to numerous civic and human rights organizations . Nwangaza is an affiliate member of the Pacifica Radio Board of Directors as a representative of WMXP.
BROADCASTING BOLD BRAVE & BLACK
Twitter: @JaniceOCG #TalkthatMatters
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“Silence from the Desert”
The SpiritHouse Project, under the direction of Ruby Sales, has been investigating the deaths of black people at the hands of white police, vigilantes and security guards since 2007. The deaths have been shocking and reports of them have been scarce; Sales is determined to get the word out that young black people, male and female, are being brutalized with alarming frequency, with the murderers seldom being held accountable. A recent recurring phenomenon with these deaths is missing organs. The following story involves the case of a Black young man who, like Kendrick Johnson, (who was also black) was found murdered and organs missing. Sales is calling for a national movement to bring awareness to these murders and to stop them.
It has been six months – 74 days, to be precise – since Ryan Singleton’s body was found in a California desert, his organs missing, 74 days without having gotten a single bit of information about how he actually died.
Joggers found his body in a Death Valley desert near Baker, California, more than 70 days after he went missing. Though police say they searched for his body within a five-mile radius of a convenience store from which he disappeared, he was found a little over one mile from that same store. His body had no eyes, no heart, no liver, no lungs and no kidneys.
He disappeared in early July; his body was found September 21. Iris Flowers, his mother, speaks slowly and deliberately. The pain of having lost her son in such a horrific way comes through as she speaks. To date, she knows little about what really happened to her son. “When I have called, I get nothing,” she says, her voice heavy. “I have not gotten an autopsy report. I don’t know how long he was out in the desert.” “I don’t even have a death certificate yet.”
Ryan, 24, was a handsome, young African American man who had gone to California chasing his dream of becoming a model and film producer. His career had begun in New York and had taken off. He had appeared in major magazines, had appeared on Fashion Television, and was featured in a film that was seen by delegates at the United Nations. He moved to California where he met and mingled with people who saw his talent and opened even more doors for him. His star was rising; he was in the first chapter of what promised to be a life most could only dream of.
He was a good kid, folks would say. Not perfect, but a “good kid.”
He hadn’t been in California long before he decided he wanted to take a vacation. He rented a car and, en route to his vacation spot, ended up in the desert. His car, according to reports had broken down. White police officers found him walking in the desert, presumably trying to get help. They stopped when they saw him, did a check to make sure he had no record – which he didn’t – and then took him to a nearby convenience store so that he could call for help. He made a phone call to a friend to come pick him up …and then, suddenly, he was no longer in the store. Nobody saw him leave; nobody saw anybody pick him up – but it was clear that Ryan was gone.
Twenty-four hours later, law enforcement officers in Atlanta visited Mrs. Flowers at her home to tell her that Ryan was missing, after having been notified by California authorities.
Authorities told Flowers that perhaps coyotes had taken Ryan’s organs – they sometimes do that, police told her – but Ryan’s body was not mutilated. “Were his remains strewn all over the desert, near where he was found?” she asked them when they gave her the coyote story. No, as a matter of fact that had not been the case. Neither were any of his limbs missing. If coyotes had taken his organs, Flowers mused, they had taken them with surgical precision, leaving the rest of his body relatively intact.
Though Ryan had gone missing in July, his body was not badly decomposed, certainly not to the degree a body left in the hot desert sun might have been expected to. Authorities told Flowers the same; “his body is remarkably intact.”
Pictures of Ryan showed his hands curled, as though he were scratching or writhing in pain. He had perfect teeth, but pictures showed his five lower teeth missing. His mouth was open, lips still pretty much intact, but his mouth was open as though he were screaming. There was hole in the back of his head, low, near where the head meets the neck.
Flowers has been trying to get information, but nobody will tell her anything because Ryan’s case is a “death investigation,” she has been told. Police still have Ryan’s cell phones and his back pack. Flowers has called not only police, but the rental car company from which Ryan had gotten his car. Nobody will tell her anything. Ryan had two cell phones, Flowers says. One, they found in the back seat of the rental car, the other on his remains. She has not been able to get either one of them. “I call his cell phone every now and then, just to hear his voice,” Flowers says. It goes straight to voice mail…Flowers is understandably exasperated, annoyed. “Surely by now, the forensic records should have come back; surely somebody has to know something.”
Flowers holds the pain in so that she can move, breathe, talk. She recalls the last time she heard her son’s voice. “He had called me the day, the morning (I later learned) he disappeared, asking me to wire him some emergency money. I did …and then later I called him to make sure he had gotten it. He never answered the phone. He never picked up the money.” Twenty-four hours later, she got the news that he was missing.
In the early days of her son’s disappearance, and even after his lifeless body was found, Flowers called California authorities regularly, in spite of never getting any answers. After he was found and she could not get information, she called the FBI. They advised her to get an attorney. She has not as yet gotten one; attorneys cost money and her resources are limited.
Flowers recalls going to look at Ryan’s body after it was flown from California to Georgia for a funeral.
“Yes, I saw his body,” she says softly, heavily, in response to being asked if she saw him. “I went in to make sure the remains were my son, Ryan Singleton. It looked like road kill; they said it looked like that due to the autopsy. There was only a certain amount of torso left…there was not recognizable as a young man.” Her voice trembling some, she continued. “I had to make sure it was my son. I couldn’t do like Kendrick Johnson’s parents did. They had an autopsy and then he was buried and then they had him exhumed. That’s when they found his organs were missing. I learned from them. I couldn’t have gone through that. Before they buried him, we knew he had no organs.” Flowers said she also learned from a woman whose son had died in an equally horrible way years ago, when asked how she had endured seeing her son so mutilated and violated. “There were stronger women who went before me,” she said. “I thought of Emmett Till’s mother. I thought of how horrible that was …to show her son mutilated by hate. When I saw my son, I thought that what I felt was what Mrs. Till felt. I didn’t feel it was racial…but I don’t know what it was that killed him. I was thinking of her – looking at her healthy, beautiful child – and she showed her son to the world, to let the world know. I just wanted to go in and see …see if there was anything I recognized as part of my child.”
Ryan was unarmed. He had no record. He was young and vibrant, with his whole life ahead of him.
That life snuffed out, Flowers now just wants to know what happened…and get justice.
The silence from the desert is unacceptable, she says. Her son was a person, her baby. She cries slightly as she looks at a videotape showing Ryan shortly before his death …saying he was on his way and that he would be known all over the world in five years. He is confident and filled with hope; he is smiling and his eyes dance with a freshness that only comes with youth. Nothing was going to stop him; mom was not to worry.“That was my son,” Flowers says. “I miss him so much.”
The “Bury the Ratchet” campaign specifically targets Black women who live in Atlanta, Ga., because of reality shows such as “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.” According to Davis, when people encounter African-American women from Atlanta, “the first image that comes to mind is mean, gold-digging women. It has become completely evident that there has been a brand of women from Atlanta that are adverse to what most of these women are like.
Which is why Davis is starting this campaign, “The goal is to get the spotlight off the ratchetness and on the successful women in Atlanta.”
Consequently, Davis will launch a symposium at Spelman College in March 2013, where she will engage other African-American leaders in analyzing how reality television is harming Black culture. Bury the Ratchet will then pool its resources into creating a public service announcement showing how young Black women feel about their depictions in the media.
But can this really help change what women think of these reality programs without removing them from the air? Davis seems confident it can.
“We want to change the mind of young women who absorb these images,” she said. “The first thing we are doing is giving them a voice.”