Tell the DOJ: Bring federal charges against Ramarley Graham's killer
Two years ago, plainclothes NYPD Officer Richard Haste racially profiled, stalked, and killed Ramarley Graham, a frightened and unarmed 18-year-old attempting to flush marijuana down the toilet in his Bronx home. Despite the brutality and injustice of Ramarley’s murder, New York courts have failed to hold Officer Haste accountable for his deadly action. Too often, police officers motivated by racial stereotypes kill Black youth and are never held accountable, which sends a dangerous message that condones future violence. We now have an opportunity to change that. The Department of Justice has the power to take over the case and ensure justice for Ramarley and his family. Join us in creating enough public pressure to influence the DOJ and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara to take immediate action, conduct a thorough investigation, and bring federal charges against Officer Haste.
Click to read the original email we sent to members about this campaign. ColorOfChange.org | Justice for
Black Men and Women Rising:Resurrection After Social Death
Written by Dr. Maulana Karenga
We have come again to a beautiful and hopeful time: Spring, the promise of new and renewed life; Easter and conversations, imaginations and initiatives of resurrection, renewal, repeating life, “coming forth by day” and rising in radiance into the heavens and afterlife. The concept of resurrection has a long and rich history in the spirituality, ethics and social teachings of African people. It is both a spiritual and social-ethical concept in the intellectual genealogy and social history of Black thought and offers us lessons on how to live and die and rise up and live again. And as we turn to meditate on the meaning of these concepts, beliefs and teachings, we must ask ourselves how do we use them in contemplating, conceiving and conducting the rising of Black men and women? Especially, how do we talk about, imagine and put into practice our resurrection, our self-uplifting and rising from the social death designed for us as a people first in the Holocaust of enslavement and continued in the structural practices of mass incarceration and unemployment, and inequities in health, care and access and in almost every other thing? For we must, as Gwen Brooks said, “conduct (our) blooming in the noise and whip of the whirlwind”. Its earliest expression appears in the Husia, the sacred text of ancient Egypt. At the heart of this concept of resurrection is the ancient African’s rejection of death as the end of life and the quest for immortality through living a righteous life on earth and being judged worthy of eternal life after death thru that righteousness. This resurrection, rising and living after death is called awakening and arising, lifting oneself up, and “coming forth by day”, i.e., emerging from the sleep, inactiveness and darkness of death and the grave. The breaking of the bonds of death and grave find current use not only thru rising and being rightfully rewarded among the righteous, but also in the social teachings of our people. Maria Stewart began her work and teaching during the Holocaust of enslavement which was a morally monstrous act of physical and cultural genocide and a crime against humanity. And it was designed to ensure the social death of enslaved Africans—i.e., culturally dead to themselves and dead as humans to their enslavers, reduced to objects of labor, sex and entertainment. It is in this context that Maria Stewart calls on us to resurrect ourselves saying, “Let us make a mighty effort and arise, and (even) if no one (else) will promote or respect us, let us promote and respect ourselves”. And again, “O (you) daughters of Africa, Awake! Awake! Arise! No longer sleep nor slumber, but distinguish yourself. Show forth to the world that (you) are endowed with noble and exalted faculties”. And she asks African women and all of us, “O you daughters of Africa! What have you done to immortalize your names beyond the grave? What examples have yet (you) set before the rising generation”? What foundation have (you) laid for generations yet unborn? And indeed, “Where are our union and love”? (emphasis mine) And she wants us to wake up, strengthen ourselves and defeat the designs of the Holocaust makers and oppressors. Especially does she want us, Black women and Black men, to raise up in what she calls “our love and union”. This means striving and struggling together to end ignorance, to bring light to dimmed, self-deceived and narrowed minds, cultivate the love of learning and righteous living; love each other; and emulate David Walker, the freedom fighter and friend who “distinguished himself in these modern days by acting wholly in defense of African rights and liberty”. In his Easter Sermon, April 16, 1922, the Hon. Marcus Garvey, one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century, lectured on the spiritual and social meaning of “The Resurrection of the Negro”. He saw Jesus’ life as instruction in service and sacrifice and as a symbol of hope and inspiration for Black people to triumph over the social death designed for them, to “triumph over the slavishness of the past, intellectually, physically, morally and even religiously”. He wants us to rise “from the slumber of ages”, rise “in thought to higher ideas, to a loftier purpose and a true conception of life”. For him, resurrection of his people is thru the creation of “a risen life, a life of knowing ourselves”, knowing and loving each other and creating the social and cultural basis for our coming into “the fullness of ourselves”. This, he asserts, requires that we be self-determining and become a renewed and strengthened people who are “resurrected not from the will of others to see us rise, but from our own determination to rise irrespective of what the world thinks”. Messenger Elijah Muhammad, founding father of the Nation of Islam, taught the concept of resurrection as a mental, spiritual and social goal for this world. He spoke and taught of our rising from “the grave of ignorance”, the deep ditch of fear and self-doubt. “Resurrection of the dead”, he taught, “means resurrection of people who are mentally dead to knowledge of self and truth”. And “the time is ripe that you rise up and accept your own”. Min. Malcolm, building on the Messenger’s teaching, reaffirmed that resurrection is about rising up from the social and psychological grave in which we were buried in oppression. It is for him, as I read it, rising up from three kinds of deadness, i.e., a grave of unconsciousness, deterioration and inactivity. Thus, he calls on us to “wake up, clean up and stand up”. In a word, we are to achieve and practice “critical consciousness, moral grounding and transformative struggle”.
The central teachings of this spiritual, psychological and social resurrection reside in this: to seek and speak truth of ourselves and the world; to do and demand justice in our relationships, society and the world; to remember and revere our elders and ancestors; to cherish and challenge our children to have and demonstrate ethical and expansive conceptions of themselves; to care for and struggle with the vulnerable in their efforts to raise and liberate themselves; to have a rightful relationship with the environment; to love each other, respect each other and to constantly struggle to bring, increase and sustain good in the world. And if we do this and do it righteously and together as Black men and women, then we can stand up in our own coffin, as survivors of our intended burial and builders of a new world where life and love are cherished in an honored, deeply devoted and daily practice.
Jimmy Carter says his Life Shaped by ‘Black Culture’
Written by George E. Curry NNPA Editor-in-Chief
Although he grew up in a rural farming community in Georgia during an era of rigid racial segregation in the 1920s and 1930s, former President Jimmy Carter said his life was shaped at an early age by “Black culture.” The nation’s 39th president made his comments Tuesday night during a conversation at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, landmark legislation signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson that outlawed discrimination against racial and ethnic minorities as well as women. Former presidents Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush along with President Barack Obama made individual presentations over a 3-day period at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library here on the campus of the University of Texas. Instead of a formal speech, Carter was seated on stage with Mark K. Updegrove, director of the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, for an hour-long a discussion on Carter’s early life and his presidency. “I grew up in a little village, unincorporated named Archery, Ga., just a few miles west of Plains,” Carter recounted. “…We were surrounded by 55 other families who were African American. All of my playmates, all of my companions in the field – the ones I hunted with, fished with, wrestled with, fought with – were Black people.” With no hint or braggadocio or regret, Carter stated mater-of-factly, “My life was really shaped – perhaps as much as any other White American who ever lived – by a Black culture. My daddy was a full-time worker away from home, my mother was a registered nurse and she was on duty 20 hours a day. She got off at night at 10 o’clock and she came home and washed her uniform took a shower and left me and my two sisters instructions for the next day, then she went back on duty at 2 o’clock in the morning. She spent 20 hours [working].” Carter said he and his two sisters weren’t abandoned by their parents. “So, I was left home a lot with African American women who my father had hired to take care of us children,” he recalled. “So I learned to appreciate, you might say, Black culture. When I wrote a book called Hours Before Daylight, at the end of the book, I tried to think of five people other than my parents who had shaped my life and only two of those five [a teacher and his grandmother on his father’s side] were White.” Carter graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1946 and went on active duty, serving mostly on submarines. When he joined the Navy, it was segregated but that changed within two years. “It was during the time I was in the Navy that Harry Truman ordained in 1948 that all the military forces would be free of racial segregation and this was one of the most courageous political acts that I knew about at the time because it was a very unpopular thing for him to do. But I saw first-hand how Blacks and Whites should live and it was better for both of us to live as equals.” Upon his discharge in 1953, Lt. Jimmy Carter returned to Plains, Ga. and in many ways, it remained frozen in time. He and his wife of seven years, Rosalynn, operated Carter’s Warehouse, a seed and farm supply company “I was then emerged in a segregated society more moderate or liberal than my neighbors were,” he stated. “We had a boycott against my business. I remember one time I drove up in front of the only service station in Plains and they refused to put gasoline in my car because they considered us to be – I won’t use the word – lovers of Black people.” That reputation would follow him when he was elected governor of Georgia. Carter was sworn in on Jan. 12, 1971. In an 8-minute speech, he immediately signaled a new era of race relations in Georgia. “I’ve traveled the state more than any other person in history and I say to you quite frankly that the time for racial discrimination is over,” he said at his inaugural address. “Never again should a Black child be deprived of an equal right to health care, education, or the other privileges of society.” While in the governor’s mansion, Carter saw Lyndon B. Johnson as another profile in courage. He was impressed that Johnson, a fellow Southerner, pushed for and signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, knowing it could hurt him politically. “Lyndon Johnson came along with his great insight and political courage and wisdom and tenacity and literally changed my personal life and lives of everyone in America,” the former president said. To get elected, Carter visited every area of the state. It was that same dogged tenacity that paved the way for him to become elected president of the United States in 1976, defeating incumbent Gerald Ford, who had been elevated from vice president to replace Richard M. Nixon follow the Watergate scandal. Carter is the only U.S president who has lived in public housing. He created the Department of Education and the Department of Energy. Unpopular after one term, Carter lost to Ronald Reagan in 1980. When asked has much changed in civil rights in recent decades, Carter responded with a resounding “no,” perhaps his quickest reply to a question all evening. “We kind of accept self-congratulations about the wonderful 50th anniversary. Which is wonderful but we feel like, you know, Lyndon Johnson did it. We don’t have to do anything anymore. I think too many people are at ease with the still existing disparity.”
We Could Be Living in a New Stone Age by 2114 :: A MUST READ
The Pulitzer-winning author explains why he adapted his classic book “The Third Chimpanzee” for kids: because we need them to fix our mistakes. —By Indre Viskontas and Chris Mooney
Jared Diamond didn’t start out as the globe-romping author of massive, best-selling books about the precarious state of our civilization. Rather, after a Cambridge training in physiology, he at first embarked on a career in medical research. By the mid-1980s, he had become recognized as the world’s foremost expert on, of all things, the transport of sodium in the human gall bladder. But then in 1987, something happened: His twin sons were born. “I concluded that gall bladders were not going to save the world,” remembers Diamond on the latest episode of theInquiring Minds podcast. “I realized that the future of my sons was not going to depend upon the wills that my wife and I were drawing up for our sons, but on whether there was going to be a world worth living in in the year 2050.” The result was Diamond’s first popular book, The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal. It’s the book that came before his mega-bestseller Guns, Germs, and Steel, but it very much lays the groundwork for that work, as well as for Diamond’s 2005 ecological jeremiad Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. In a sense, The Third Chimpanzee ties together Diamond’s thinking: It’s a sweeping survey of who we humans are—evolutionarily speaking, that is—and what that says about whether we can solve the “various messes that we’re making now,” in Diamond’s words. And this month, The Third Chimpanzeehas been released in a new, shortened, and illustrated edition for young adults, underscoring Diamond’s view that our entire future now depends on “enabl[ing] young people to make better decisions than their parents.”
In other words, if you want to boil down Diamond’s message these days to its essence, it would be something like this: Go forth, young chimpanzees, and clean up the mess we made. (Or else.) For Diamond, the story of who we are is also the story of what we must do. The younger among us, anyway. Jared Diamond’s new edition of The Third Chimpanzee is directed at all the young chimpanzees out there, who had better be wiser than their parents. GlobalP/Thinkstock So who are we? From the perspective of genetics, we are clearly the third species of chimpanzee. Our DNA is only 1.6 percent different from that of either chimps or pygmy chimpanzees (today more commonly called bonobos). “The reason why you and I are talking, and we’re not locked up in cages—whereas chimpanzees are not talking, and are locked up in cages—all that lies in 2 percent of our DNA,” explained Diamond on Inquiring Minds. In fact, as Diamond emphasizes in his book, we are more genetically similar to chimps than many other closely related species are to one another. Gorillas and chimps, for instance, are 2.3 percent different, which means that chimps are considerably closer to us than to their other nearest primate relatives. Or, consider two very closely related songbird species: thered-eyed and white-eyed vireo. They are 2.9 percent different, notes Diamond. So what makes humans so seemingly special? Until pretty recently, we weren’t. All the way up to 80,000 years ago, we were just “glorified chimpanzees,” in Diamond’s words. But then, something changed. Diamond calls it the “Great Leap Forward.” “The first art appears, necklaces, pierced ostrich shells,” he says. “There’s rapid invention of tools, implying that even though our brains had been big for hundreds of thousands of years, we were not doing much interesting with these big brains—at least nothing that showed up preserved in the fossil record.” We’re still not sure what brought on the Great Leap Forward. There wasn’t any big environmental change that drove us to adapt; all this happened in the middle of an Ice Age. Diamond’s hypothesis is that it was the development and perfection of spoken language that catapulted us forward, making possible teamwork, collaboration, planning, long-distance trade, and much more. Whether for lack of vocal capacity, brain development, or some other reason, chimps never made this leap. “A baby chimpanzee that was brought up in the home of a clinical psychologist couple, along with their baby, by age two, the chimpanzee could pronounce only four consonants and vowels, and it never got better,” says Diamond. “But if all you can say is, bi, ba, di, do, that doesn’t get you Shakespeare, and it also doesn’t let you discuss how to construct atomic bombs and bows and arrows.” 7 Stories. In this view, the downstream consequences of language acquisition are, basically, everything that stands out about human civilization. That ranges from the highly beneficial—the dramatic growth in life expectancy—to the mixed: technologies that have significant benefits but also huge costs (like, say, devices to exploit fossil fuels for energy). And most of all, it includes environmental despoilment and resource depletion. “At present, we, humans, are operating worldwide on a nonsustainable economy,” Diamond says. “We’re exploiting resources, water, energy sources, fisheries, forests at a rate such that most of these resources will get seriously depleted within a few decades.” As a result, Diamond believes that our big brains are now setting us up for a major fall—a Great Leap Backward, if you will. “We are now reversing our progress much more rapidly than we created it,” writes Diamond in the new The Third Chimpanzee. “Our power threatens our own existence.” In our interview, host Indre Viskontas asked Diamond where he thought humanity would be 100 years from now. What’s striking is that he wasn’t positive that the modern world, as we know it, would be around at all. It all depends, he says, on where we are at 2050: Either by the year 2050 we’ve succeeded in developing a sustainable economy, in which case we can then ask your question about 100 years from now, because there will be 100 years from now; or by 2050 we’ve failed to develop a sustainable economy, which means that there will no longer be first world living conditions, and there either won’t be humans 100 years from now, or those humans 100 years from now will have lifestyles similar of those of Cro-Magnons 40,000 years ago, because we’ve already stripped away the surface copper and the surface iron. If we knock ourselves out of the first world, we’re not going to be able to rebuild a first world. In 2005’s Collapse, Diamond provided a great deal more detail on how ecological despoilment led to the collapse of other societies, such as the Easter Islanders, who cut down all their trees. The difference now, however, is that globalization causes our peril to be more widely distributed, kind of like a house of cards. “In this globalized world,” Diamond says, “it’s no longer possible for societies to collapse one by one. A collapse that we face, if there is going to be a collapse, it will be a global collapse.” And yet despite all of this, Diamond says he’s “cautiously optimistic” about the future of humanity. What exactly does that mean? “My estimate for the chances that we will master our problems and have a happy future, I would say the chances are 51 percent,” explains Diamond. “And the chances of a bad ending are only 49 percent.” Not everybody agrees with Diamond that we’re in such a perilous state, of course. But there is perhaps no more celebrated chronicler of why civilizations rise, and why they fall. That is, after all, why we read him. So when Diamond says we’ve got maybe 50 years to turn it around, we should at least consider the possibility that he might actually be right. For if he is, the consequences are so intolerable that anything possible should be done to avert them. Which brings us back to his book for young people—or, perhaps more accurately, for young chimpanzees. “This is the spirit in which I dedicate this book to my young sons and their generation,” writes Diamond in the new edition. “If we learn from the past that I have traced, our future may be brighter than that of the other two chimpanzees.” To listen to the full interview with Jared Diamond, you can stream below: This episode of Inquiring Minds, a podcast hosted by neuroscientist and musician Indre Viskontas and best-selling author Chris Mooney, also features a discussion of the science (and superstition) behind this week’s “blood moon,” and the case of K.C., the late amnesiac patient who taught us so much about the nature of human memory. To catch future shows right when they are released, subscribe to Inquiring Minds via iTunesor RSS. We are also available on Stitcher and on Swell. You can follow the show on Twitter at@inquiringshow and like us on Facebook. Inquiring Minds was also recently singled out as one of the “Best of 2013” on iTunes—you can learn more here.
Equally importantly it asks: what do we miss by obscuring the visibility of stars? As the world’s population becomes increasingly urban, there is a disjunction with the natural world which both Cohen and science posit causes both physical and psychological harm.
Cities that never sleep are made up of millions of individuals breaking natural cycles of work and repose. Cohen’s photographs attempt to restore our vision, and in beautifully crafted prints and images offer the viewer a possibility - to re-connect us to the infinite energy of the stars.
Seeing these cities free of light pollution is just beautifully startling. Cohen brings to life and illustrates a seemingly inconceivable world - one without pollution. The results of his work are breathtaking, to say the least!
“But the point is, if things ever come to a crunch in the United States, this massive part of the population ( Fundamentalist Christians ) - I think it’s something like a third of the adult population by now - could be the basis for some kind of a fascist movement, readily. For example, if the country sinks deeply into a recession, a depoliticized population could very easily be mobilized into thinking that it’s somebody else’s fault: “Why are our lives collapsing? There have to bad guys out there doing something for things to be going so badly” - and the bad guys can be Muslims, or Jews, or homosexuals, or blacks, or Communists, whatever you pick. If you can whip people into irrational frenzies like that, they can be extremely dangerous: that’s what 1930’s fascism came from, and something like that could very easily happen here.”—