Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Letter to My Younger Brother

The following letter was written by a young Black millennial to his younger brother. Their generation is experiencing life in America quite different than those of past generations. But, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Past generations had Emmett Till (1955) and Medgar Evers (1963). This generation has Trayvon Martin (2013) and Michael Brown (2014).

After reading this letter written to his younger brother my hopes for the current and following generations of Black men and women in this county has been uplifted. He demonstrates in this letter that he has a good understanding of the problems. More importantly, he shows that he has the intellect, determination and desire to help seek equal justice for all Black People in this nation.

We need this young man to continue on his quest to gain equality and justice for all. After all, it will be HIS GENERATION who has the mission to recover all of the progress that we had accomplished, as a race of people, during the last 60+ years. Some would say that the nation is backsliding on those accomplishments and that progress ... but, after reading this letter, I'm encouraged more than discouraged!

NOTE: This letter was written on July 13, 2013 ... just moments after Trayvon Martin's killer was declared 'Not Guilty' in Florida.

Dear Brother,

I have included family on this email. I want them to know that I have done my best to adequately arm you for the war taking place outside our doors on you and young men that look like you.

You are a wonderful, strong Black man, and I love you. I love you so very much. I love us, all of us.

Dear brother, I would fight for you at every opportunity. I would die for you. There is nothing that you could ever do, or that anybody could ever accuse you of, which would change just how much I love you. I am so proud of the young man you are, and the man that I can see you becoming. You are an honor student who loves to solve Rubik’s cubes. Not just the basic Rubik’s cubes, but the 5x5 and 6x6. You are learning both Mandarin and French. You excel in math and science, and have ambitions of attending Stanford University and becoming and neurosurgeon, satisfying your curiosity of the workings of the brain. You are a phenomenal athlete and a physical specimen who works hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle, abstaining from drugs, alcohol, coffee, fast food, and overindulgence of sweets. You love your mom and your family.

You are everything that this country has asked you to be; everything that qualifies as success. But you are Black. You are a young, Black, man. And you are a threat.

Your voice is deep, like your father and your grandfathers, commanding attention and respect. You are tall and will grow taller. You are strong, and will only become stronger because it is in your genes. Your family has tried to protect you from the realities of the world by professing the equality of all men in the United States of America. We have convinced you that despite a history of racism and a plethora of contemporary examples, with hard work and dedication you can achieve anything hear, and you’ve believed us.

However, tonight I am convinced otherwise. It is possible for you to reach the lofty goals you have set for yourself. But it is incredibly likely that the brightness of your star will intimidate others. And if not the brightness of your star, then the complexion of your skin most certainly will. For that, you can be shot dead in the streets. Not just by police. By anybody.

Please believe that you, and I, your cousins ... we are all Trayvon. We are Black men. Anything in your powerful hands can be construed and depicted as a weapon. The concrete beneath your feet for example, is a weapon. Your two Black hands themselves are weapons. The base in your voice is like the vicious bark of a rabid dog to so many who could never imagine that you were an amazing human being. Far too many people out there don’t see you as a human being to begin with, let alone amazing.

Brother, you have asked to get your ears pierced. You feel this is an expression of your identity. To this, I say no. I cannot and will not allow it. I wish I could. You should have the right to express yourself as you see fit. After all, you’ve earned it. You’ve worked hard, and I have no doubt that you will continue. You are incredibly polite and respectful of both elders and peers. If your complexion was lighter, and your hair straighter, and you could pass for something other than the Black young man that you are, then maybe, just maybe, you’d be safe.

But you are a strong Black man in the United States, and I am not willing to lose you, so you can express your right to make a fashion statement. I pray others continue to show that you can’t judge a book by its cover. I hope that men of color, men with tattoos and piercings, men of all backgrounds continue to do amazing things and show the world that their assumptions about people are incredibly ignorant. I hope people of all colors around the country will dawn hoodies as a symbol of solidarity with all those who have been unfairly judged by a court of law, or a court of public or individual opinion. But you will not. Such actions will draw visibility to the issue and eventually bring about a real conversation about race, fear, and the legal system in America.

But I will not sacrifice my brother to this battle. The cards are already stacked against you. They have been since birth. Tonight, we were reminded the degree to which this is true. One move too quickly or one glance too long is all it takes. To lose you would be more than I could bear. But to lose you and to watch your killer walk free from punishment ... that would absolutely break me. You will not willingly provide another reason for them to take you out. You and your powerful blackness have provided enough already. I am sorry that I cannot always be there to protect you.

This letter brought to mind a video of famous Black actors that was shared during the height of the Trayvon Martin tragedy. I think it is appropriate to share it with you now:

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Is the Black Vote Hillary Clinton's for the Taking?

The 2016 presidential race hasn’t officially started yet, but we all know the presumptive contenders for party nominee. One political brand name stands above the rest: Hillary Clinton. It can’t get any better once they make TV dramas that are a spin-off of your life.

But just like in 2008, when that brother with the other name jumped into one of the most heated primaries in recent political history, doubts abound. Is the second time Clinton’s charm? If it’s a crowded Democratic-primary pack, will she catch as much black-voter share as assumed? Is there someone else, post-Obama, who can make a big play for black votes versus the Clinton machine? And once their primary is over, who on the Republican side could actually make a dent in the Democrats’ edge on African-American votes?

The Take turned to political strategist Tara Dowdell and political scientist Andra Gillespie for some perspective. Dowdell regularly appears on MSNBC, Al-Jazeera and Fox Business as a contributor. Gillespie is not only an associate professor at Emory University but also author of The New Black Politician: Cory Booker, Newark, and Post-Racial America. (The Root)

Read the full article on The Root.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz Recognizes National Voter Registration Day

DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz released the following statement recognizing National Voter Registration Day:
Fifty years ago, hundreds of young volunteers descended on Mississippi for Freedom Summer to register Black Mississippians to vote. Despite being met with hatred and violence, the effort was an important milestone in the Civil Rights movement.

“Half a century after Freedom Summer, voter registration remains among the most effective methods by which to empower a community. Today, on National Voter Registration Day, and all days, we encourage every American to be sure they are able to exercise their right to vote.

“The Democratic Party believes that our nation and our democracy are stronger when more people participate. That is why our Voter Expansion Project is committed to more than just protecting the vote, but to expanding the vote as well. Registering new voters is one of the DNC’s top priorities in 2014 and beyond, and we have used our data and technology advantage to develop tools that allow voter registration efforts to use their finite resources most efficiently.

“Unfortunately, Republicans have made the cynical calculation that their path to victory is a smaller electorate. Obstacles to registering to vote – such as elimination of same-day registration and refusal to adopt online registration – disproportionately affect young people, women, and communities of color. These are the same groups that are fueling the growth of the Democratic Party and the key to victory for Democratic candidates – and also comprise a majority of all Americans.

“The DNC is fighting to make sure that every eligible voter can register, every registered voter can vote, and every vote cast is counted. This National Voter Registration Day, everyone should take a few minutes to visit or to find out how to register to vote if they haven’t already. And if you are registered to vote, sign the pledge to vote this November at

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Ohio: Voting Early? Choose Your Date and Time!

Did you hear? Thanks to the ACLU’s lawsuit against unfair voter restrictions, Ohioans will have the following opportunities to vote early:

Early voting lasts from September 30 through November 3.
  • Golden Week: Weekdays starting September 30 and running through October 6, you can register and vote in-person on the same day. Boards of election are open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. these days, except October 6, where boards will be open until 9 p.m.
  • Weekend voting: Two weekends are available: October 25-26 and November 1-2. Boards of election will be open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays and 1-5 p.m. on Sundays. Early voting will also be available from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. on Monday, November 3.
  • Evening voting: On weekdays from October 20-31, there will be evening hours for early in-person voting. Boards of election will be open from 8 a.m.-7 p.m.
Counties may offer additional early in-person voting hours. For more information, go to the ACLU-Ohio Vote Center.

Want to let others know? Order new early voting cards for free by emailing or call (216) 472-2200.   You can follow ACLU-Ohio on Twitter: @acluohio

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hispanic, Black Groups Worry About Low Voter Turnout for Midterm Elections

The Hispanic and Black caucuses in Congress are concerned about a growing lack of interest in the midterm elections within their communities, a problem they say could complicate Democrats’ hopes of maintaining control of the Senate. [SOURCE]

The White House has not offered either caucus direct assistance in getting Black and Hispanic voters to the polls in November, even though those groups were crucial to President Obama’s victories in 2008 and 2012.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus said the White House has made engaging with Latino voters more difficult by delaying action on immigration legislation until after the election.

Read the rest of the Washington Post article.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Ferguson The Aftermath: Why Voting and Voter Registration is a Non-Solution

By Rev. Dr. Earl Trent,

The fires are now out. The looting has stopped. Michael Brown has been buried. The militarized occupation forces have been withdrawn, the media storm has begun to subside and the investigations have begun. Media pundits are scrambling to deliver lessons learned and strategies are being offered and promoted to insure justice and “not let this moment pass.” The widely embraced strategy is to embark on a massive voter registration drive and get out the vote campaign. Chiefly this is in response to the fact that the largely black town of Ferguson has a virtually all white local government and police force. The idea is voting can remove the bad folks from office and help to ensure justice is done.

Conducting voter registration drives and turning out the vote on an election day is like using a wrench, pliers or rock to hammer a nail. It will "make do" but voting alone will not make the kind of systemic changes in Ferguson, MO or anywhere else in Black America if we want justice and a better way of life. I know this goes against what many of our civil rights leaders and politicians tell us but the numbers tell a different story.

In the 2008 election 96% of African Americans voted for Barack Obama. In 2012 election analysis by the Pew Research Center discovered that not only did President Obama garner more than 90% of the Black vote. Blacks voted at a greater percentage of their population than any other group including for the first time whites. In other words not only did we register and turn out in a hostile environment, we aggregated our vote and the result - not one piece of legislation specifically targeted to the economic well being of Black Americans was passed.

Read the rest of this KineticsLive article.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

DNC Ad Uses President Obama to Rally Black Voters

President Obama is featured in a new ad for the Democratic National Committee, the first in a $1 million campaign to turn out young, minority and female voters in the midterm elections.

The radio ad titled “Obstruction” released Monday laments the opposition Obama has faced from congressional Republicans. It is aimed at black voters and will run on African American radio stations nationwide.

No Democratic President in U.S history has faced the level of obstruction from the Republicans that Barack Obama has. It’s critical that we continue to fight for change and vote on Nov. 4,” the narrator says.

Obama then outlines his vision for an economy where “hard work pays off.” The radio spot features excerpts from a speech, where the president touts higher wages, affordable health insurance and decent health benefits.

Read full article on TheHill.