5 Peaceful Ways to Protest Police Brutality in 2015 and Beyond

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It is no secret that the gap between rich and poor appears to be growing in America. According to a recent blog post from the London School of Economics, the wealthiest one percent went from owning less than 10 percent of the total wealth in 1970 to owning more than 20 percent of the wealth by the end of 2012. Moreover, wealth inequality has also widened across racial lines. In 2014, the median net worth of white families was $141,900 which dwarfed the median net worth of black families and Hispanic families which were $11,000 and $13,700, respectively.

In a country where political power is often associated with economic power, these dire statistics do not bode well with respect to ending police harassment, police brutality and the prison industrial complex that is ravaging poorer communities and communities of color. The book, Our Black Year, by Maggie Anderson [youtube url=”video_url” width=”500″ height=”300″] explains that a dollar circulates in the black community for only 6 hours, which compares very negatively to circulation rates of 30 days, 20 days, and 17 days in Asian-American, Jewish and Anglo Saxon communities. The poverty and political disenfranchisement in African American communities is not necessarily caused by the inability to generate wealth, it is caused by the inability to retain and circulate wealth. I’m sure that the same can be said of certain poorer communities of other hues. The one percent has all the wealth because we collectively give our wealth to the one percent. We can spread our wealth by spreading our wealth to smaller businesses.

Yes, you will need clothes, shoes, body products, and other items, so why not purchase those items from a small business owner who genuinely needs your economic support and whose practices are relatively transparent as opposed to a larger retailer who may in fact be promoting or benefiting from the very harsh police practices that you oppose. That large company could be lobbying in unsavory ways and may be benefiting from cheap prison labor. Supporting small businesses is not easy or convenient in many instances because many small businesses do not have the financial capital, human capital or technology that large businesses possess. Trust me, as the co-owner of Joojos, an artisanal children’s shoe company, and Milestales, an independent publisher and education consulting firm, I understand how challenging it can be it is to attract customers and clients and provide competitive goods and services with a limited budget.

However, that inconvenience is a small sacrifice for freedom. No one is spitting at you or sicing a dog on you. You are not walking or car-pooling for 381 days as they did during the Montgomery boycott. Supporting small and or black owned businesses when you can is a relatively small sacrifice and the act of shopping small allows you to build mutually beneficial relationships with the entrepreneurs that you support. Go to small businesses in your neighborhood instead of driving to the mall. You also can find small or black-owned businesses by using the Around the Way App or purchaseblack.com.

Please also go to my blog http://purchasinglove.wordpress.com and subscribe for a info and a directory of small or black owned businesses that service a national audience. Email me at ama@loveessence.com if you are a small business owner of any color who would like to be featured.

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Police kill 74-year-old vet they were sent to check on

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Not to beat a dead horse, but the year 2014 was a horrifying year for unbridled police violence against black men young and old.

We were shocked when 43-year-old Eric Garner, a father and grandfather, was strangled to death by officer Daniel Pantaleo who continued to choke the unarmed man after he repeatedly insisted: “I can’t breathe.”

We were appalled when an unarmed Michael Brown, who according to many witnesses had his hands up in a gesture of surrender, was shot by officer Darren Wilson, and then puzzled when unarmed John Crawford was shot by police in an Ohio Walmart while carrying a toy rifle that Crawford had bought there.  Puzzled, because police say they shot him because they thought the toy rifle was real, even though Ohio is an open carry state that allows Ohio citizens to carry real rifles in public.

We were angered by the shooing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice who was playing with a toy gun in a Cleveland, Ohio playground, where police had been advised by the 911 caller that the gun was probably fake.  “Shoot first, ask questions later” knows no age limits when the victims of police brutality are black.

The words of the late Michael Jackson still sound loudly in my spirit: I’m Not Going To Spend My Life Being A Color.  And yet the reality is that irrespective of how we personally feel, there is yet a wide line of color that defines and categorizes us and it remains the veil through which our presumptions about each other flow.

For many blacks the fact that we are able to marry whomever we choose to, without regard to color or ethnic background, is a sign of society’s maturing.  But the plain truth is that our bloodlines in this country have always been mixed– but it has not entitled us to equality of economic opportunity or freedom from discriminatory treatment.

I recall watching on television a taped encounter between a motorist and a state trooper.  The officer walked over to the vehicle and asked for the driver’s license and registration, and the driver immediately began screaming at him and cursing him out for stopping him instead of being out catching real criminals.  The officer took the driver’s credentials back to his vehicle and returned with a ticket.  The driver began screaming and cursing him out again.  He then tore up the ticket and threw it at the officer.  The trooper calmly told him that if he didn’t pick up the paper, he would arrest him for littering.  The driver existed his vehicle, picked up all the paper, got back in his car, cursed the office out again, then stormed off heading down the road.

You figure out if the driver, who was never touched, never thrown up against the car, never forced to lie down in the road, was black or white.

We’d like to think that the trooper in question would have responded the same way no matter who or what color the driver was, but the reality in America is that no sane black man would even risk screaming or cursing at or calling a police officer a-holes or m-fs, because we know that we can be gunned down– unarmed– with no fear on the part of the officer of there being any kind of repercussion.

2014 reminded us that black men are simply fair game for any officer of the law with anger management– or bad judgment– issues.  It’s a deeply sickening feeling, because whether by rope or by gun, a lynching is still a lynching.

We had hoped that some sense of sanity would be injected into the equation after the world-wide attention focused on the brutality and by the violent protests that erupted in response.  But 2015 isn’t looking all that great.

Just this week,  a police officer in Gastonia, North Carolina shot and killed 74-year-old James Howard Allen in his home after family members called police and asked them to go to his home to check on him.  The 74-year-old veteran had recently undergone surgery.

An officer stopped by the home and no one answered.  Police then talked with the Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services and a decision was made to enter the house because of concerns that Allen could have been inside and unable to come to the door.  They broke in through the back door, apparently woke Allen up, and he pulled his gun.  Needless to say, he was immediately shot dead.

Police say they identified themselves before going in.  No surprise there.  But Allen was apparently of sound mind. It’s certainly possible, but hard to imagine a rational, 74-year-old recuperating surgery patient intentionally drawing down on people he knew to be the police.

I can’t help wondering if he’d been an elderly white veteran whether or not he’d have been shot down on the spot by his “rescuers.”

Let’s pray that 2015 turns out to be a much better year in the history of black male/police relations.

 

Guinea country profile

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Guinea profile – Overview

  • 12 February 2015
  • From the section Africa
Map of Guinea

Although Guinea’s mineral wealth makes it potentially one of Africa’s richest countries, its people are among the poorest in West Africa.

Ruled by strong-arm leaders for much of the time since independence, Guinea has been seen as a bulwark against instability in neighbouring Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast. However it has also been implicated in the conflicts that have ravaged the region.

After independence in 1958 Guinea severed ties with France and turned to the Soviet Union. The first president, Ahmed Sekou Toure, pursued a revolutionary socialist agenda and crushed political opposition. Tens of thousands of people disappeared, or were tortured and executed, during his 26-year regime.

Economic mismanagement and repression culminated in riots in 1977. These led to some relaxation of state control of the economy.

But it was only after the death in 1984 of Ahmed Sekou Toure, and the seizure of power by Lansana Conte and other officers, that the socialist experiment was abandoned – without reversing poverty.

In 2000 Guinea became home to up to half a million refugees fleeing fighting in Sierra Leone and Liberia. This increased the strain on its economy and generated suspicion and ethnic tension, amid mutual accusations of attempts at destabilisation and border attacks.

A military junta took control in December 2008 at the death of President Conte.

In 2010, civilian rule was ushered in after a transition period and an election also marred by delays and violent ethnic clashes.

Politics in Guinea typically polarises some two dozen ethnic groups who otherwise live in harmony alongside each other – with the Fulani the largest at around 40% of the population followed by the Malinke and Soussou.

Following elections towards the end of 2013, the European Union announced the resumption of development co-operation which it had suspended since the 2008 coup.

Guinea is a major source of bauxite, the ore from which aluminium is derived

Measure of a Man From Auschwitz Survivor to Presidents’ Tailor

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Measure of a Man From Auschwitz Survivor to Presidents’ Tailor

Martin Greenfield With Wynton Hall
Regnery Publishing
A Salem Communications Company
300 New Jersey Avenue, Washington DC, 20001
www.Regnery.com
9781621572664, $27.99 www.amazon.com

70 years ago this year prisoners in the Nazi death camps like Auschwitz were freed by the Allied forces.  “Measure of a Man From Auschwitz Survivor to Presidents’ Tailor” is the first hand account by one of those victims of how he lived through the darkest time of the world’s history to become a world respected tailor of suits and other clothes of some of the most famous people from many walks of life including presidents of The United States.  Greenfield tells about the death camps he was taken to, the loss of his family in them, his coming to America, and how he got into the garment industry that changed his life forever.  He is living proof that out of bad comes good and he shows why, with many different stories of the people he has worked with   “Measure of a Man From Auschwitz Survivor to President’ Tailor” is a well written tale of one of the last remaining survivors of the Holocaust of World War Two that so many disbelieve ever took place. 

 

Malcolm X to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz – The Metamorphosis of a Militant in Mecca

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“You may be shocked by these words coming from me.  But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to rearrange much of my thought-patterns previously held, and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions.  This was not too difficult for me.  Despite my firm convictions, I have always been a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds it.” – Malcolm X, Letter from Mecca, April 1964

Marc H. Morial President and CEO National Urban League
Marc H. Morial
President and CEO
National Urban League

There is perhaps no American civil rights leader who generated as many divergent opinions as Malcolm X.  As we near the 50th anniversary of his assassination on February 21, 1965, our nation will inevitably scrutinize his life, his work and his lasting impact on our country and our continuous struggle to address racial inequality and its heinous consequences.

Developers Plan Senior Living Apartments Near Longwood’s SunRail Station

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Apartment BuildingAltamonte Springs developers are planning to use federal housing tax credits to construct a new senior living apartment community near Longwood’s SunRail station.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the community’s developers hope that its senior residents will take advantage of their close proximity to this public transit service. The apartment complex, called Heritage Village Commons, will be less than a quarter-mile walk from the station.

As the senior population continues to grow across the country, the number of seniors who want to get around via public transportation is also likely to grow. Studies show that the over-65 population numbered about 43.1 million in 2012 — a 21% growth from 10 years prior.

This is true for Hispanic seniors, as well — according to Administration on Aging statistics, it’s expected that 19.8% of the senior population will be Hispanic by the year 2050. Currently, Hispanics account for just 6.8% of the senior population.

But will residents of Heritage Village Commons ultimately take advantage of their close proximity to the SunRail station? According to Kimber Threet Saint-Preux, the executive director of Independent Transportation Network (ITN) Orlando, it could go either way.

“I don’t think it’s an altogether horrible idea,” she told the Orlando Sentinel. However, seniors who aren’t already accustomed to riding public transit could be intimidated by getting on and off the train safely, looking vulnerable to other riders or being unable to carry all their belongings, she explained.

To make seniors more comfortable with the idea of riding the SunRail, demonstrations or assistance with their first few trips may be necessary; but as more of Heritage Village Commons’ residents get older and realize they no longer want to drive, the Longwood SunRail station will likely be a welcomed service.

Construction on Heritage Village Commons began in December, and is scheduled for completion within a year. The community will have 123 apartment units, with rents ranging from $567 to $673 per month for its 55-and-older residents.

Insatiable Appetites

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Insatiable Appetites

Stuart Woods
Putnam
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
www.penguin.com
9780399169151, $27.95, www.amazon.com

While other authors have one novel a year Woods produces at least four books a year and he keeps the quality very high for each one.  “Insatiable Appetites” is one of the best Stone Barrington novels ever.  This time there are several story lines that race the tale along to the end.  He also settles the dilemma Stone has of where to have dinner now that Elaine’s is no longer in business.  One in particular is that there is a new president elected.  On the very day of the election one party says in a secret meeting they will not work with the president elect at all and will do everything they can to stop any legislation from being passed by this new president.  Stone Barrington learns of this plan and is caught up in revealing the members of this covert meeting.  Woods has a page turner in “Insatiable Appetites” that also has a lot to say about the present climate of politics. 

The Christmas Wedding

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The Christmas Wedding

James Patterson & Richard DiLallo
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
www.HatchetteBookGroupUSA.com
9780446571753, $9.00 www.amazon.com

Though geared as a Christmas season novel “The Christmas Wedding” can be read anytime of the year and enjoyed. Patterson and DiLallo tell the story of a woman who has decided she is going to marry on Christmas one of three men she has been very close to through the years after her first husband died.  She sends messages to all of her children that she wants all of them to attend the wedding she is planning.  The novel is also about the lives of her children. When I was reading “The Christmas Wedding” I was reminded of the show “Brothers and Sisters” and how Nora Walker dealt with her children.  “The Christmas Wedding” is another enjoyable Patterson novel.

 

Driven to Matrimony

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Driven to Matrimony

Barbara Barrett
The Wild Rose Press Inc
PO Box 708, Adams Basim, NY  14410-0708
www.thewildrosepress.com
9781628392950, $12.99, www.amazon

“Driven to Matrimony” is a comical romance novel that moves along to its final fun ending.  Dina Maitland has a problem.  Her famous movie star mom has let her know she is engaged to a man who is more than 30 younger.  Dina leaves her job to confront her mother about her engagement.  She meets Ben Cutler the father of the groom at a car rental place.  Through a strange twist of fate they are thrown together but Dina does not let Ben know who she really is.  They both have the same objective of stopping this relationship from going any further.  There are enough twists and turns that stirs  the story along with well defined characters, and an easy writing style makes “Driven to Matrimony” so enjoyable. 

Pre-Med Student Uses Henna to Help Cancer Survivors

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cancer patientCancer is an incredibly prevalent problem in the United States: an estimated one in five Americans will develop skin cancer, the most common form of the disease, over the course of their lives. Whatever type of cancer a person has, however, their sickness can typically be identified by a common sign: baldness. A side effect of many chemotherapy treatments, hair loss not only announces a patient’s condition to the world, but also makes many, especially women, feel unattractive. To restore this cultural sign of beauty and help themselves cope with the change, cancer patients have used everything from wigs, scarves, and hats to sparkly, stick-on decals. Now, a pre-med student is using henna to create intricate, temporary head coverings for patients in Orlando.

Henna is a plant that grows in tropical areas, particularly in Southeast Asia. For centuries, henna has been dried, crushed and made into a paste, which can be used to dye hair, fabrics and skin. Its most visible usage can usually be seen at Indian weddings and other celebrations, where it takes the form of intricate designs spread across the hands, arms and feet. The designs typically last two or three weeks, depending on their exposure to the elements.

Gradually, henna is growing more popular in the U.S., where it is often found at festivals and events. As a result, a few henna artists have begun drawing designs on the heads of cancer patients, called “henna crowns.” One nonprofit group in Canada, called Henna Heals, even connects henna artists with people who have lost their hair. Unfortunately, many healthcare providers in Florida have reportedly been hesitant to suggest or enable this service; henna artists have to touch the patients to create the designs, which could bring up liability issues.

This reluctance was initially problematic for henna artist Jeena Kar, 21. Now a senior pre-med student at the University of Florida currently majoring in religion, Kar began drawing with henna at a young age as a creative and meditative outlet. When a class assignment required her to combine her art with an aspect of healthcare, drawing henna crowns on cancer survivors seemed like a natural choice. However, many care providers she contacted declined her services, citing liability and safety issues. The latter reason was not entirely unfounded: synthetic or “black” henna contains a variety of chemicals that can damage a person’s health. As a result, many henna artists refuse to use it.

After several rejections, Kar reached out to a family friend, Dr. Sarah Katta. Like Kar, Katta is Indian-American and was therefore familiar with henna. Moreover, as an oncologist at the Southwest Cancer Center in Orlando, she had spoken to many women who were concerned about losing their hair during chemotherapy. Because of this, she decided to allow Kar to offer free henna drawings for patients’ heads and hands.

Since that decision, Kar has been to Katta’s practice twice to draw henna crowns. She says she has noticed a beneficial change in many survivors’ self-esteem, which she attributes to the personal, one-on-one experience. For her part, Katta has stated that she hopes more physicians in the future will be open to letting patients express themselves through this service.