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Everything that has resulted from the civil rights movement, up to and including the limited efforts

at affirmative action, in actuality is little more than window dressing. Many have benefited

but a huge and growing black and Latino underclass simmers.



Shooting at OPD officers’ funeral goes unreported

By Jean Damu

March 30, 2009


The Oakland Police Department suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the foot when it further racialized the March 28 shootings by rescinding Oakland mayor Ron Dellums’ invitation to speak at the public funeral of the four officers who were gunned down.

Initial reports indicated that at least two of the families of the slain officers requested that Dellums not be allowed to speak at the March 28 public event. One reason given was that The Families didn’t want the funeral to become merely a platform for politicians.

Since the major media outlets, in their rush to canonize the dead officers, have been negligent in following up this story, one is only left to speculate why Dellums was excluded.

But there are other concerns as well.

Casual observers of the Oakland political scene will say that even though mayor Dellums has led the a fight to get more Oakland police hired, relations between he and the department are not good.  This is hardly surprising; especially to those who remember Dellums close relationship with the Black Panther Party decades ago.

Even so, Dellums recently was in the forefront of the struggle to have more police cadets hired and worked closely with wide sectors of the Oakland law and order support community until those good citizens realized their property taxes might go up in order to pay for the increased levels of police protection. Then much of Dellums’ support for that measure seemed to evaporate.

Given all the history and the internal politics that likely exist, the OPD and The Families had every right to rescind Dellums’ invitation. No problem there.

But here is the larger issue.

If Dellums is to be excluded from a public memorial service why not ask another African American elected official to speak? Congresswoman Barbara Lee was in attendance. She wasn’t asked to fill in. State Assembly Member Sandre Swanson was there. He was not asked. Nor was Keith Carson, member of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

Instead, and despite The Families’ disingenuous protests they didn’t want the event to become a political platform; four white politicians, Attorney General Jerry Brown, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer received the blessings of the OPD and The Families. Nor was a Latino or Asian elected official asked to participate.

By excluding elected officials of African American descent, while including whites only, the OPD and The Families racialized the shootings in a way in a way the ultra-left only could have dreamed.

This is not say African Americans didn’t participate in the memorial, but all were members and leaders of the OPD.

Is the OPD so insulated from the communities they attempt to patrol they think they are representative of those communities? Are they that out of touch?

Are the major media outlets so out of touch they think the people who attended the public memorial represent the masses of those with whom the police come into contact?

Here is an instructive story. An on-line journalist from the Bay Area was attending a major Hip Hop conference in Texas. When television news stations there broadcast news of the four OPD members being shot and killed, cheers erupted.

That tells you all you need to know about the great racial divide that exists in this country-a divide apparently unseen by the OPD, The Families, and white America in general.

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Notes from the occupied territories

Black America and the police

By Jean Damu

March 24, 2009


When the full story is finally told, and though not likely freely admitted by many, deep within the spiritual thinking of numerous African Americans, an emotional candle will be lit in the memory of Lovelle Mixon , the man who, in a horrific shootout in which he was finally killed, shot five Oakland police officers, four of whom have died.  They will then say to themselves, “But for the grace of God I could have been he.”

Mixon, whom family and friends say was not a monster, “he didn’t walk up and down the street killing people,” was by many accounts a marginally normal person in African American neighborhoods. But the truth of the matter is, Lovelle Mixon, who, police say, is suspected of an earlier killing and rape, represented the man to whom society had given almost nothing, the man of whom society expected nothing. Lovelle Mixon was America’s worst nightmare—the black man with nothing to lose.

The line between those of us who have something to lose and those of us who don’t is tenuous at best. In many cases the line of separation is almost invisible. Virtually every African American has a family member or knows someone who has been to jail or prison, or remains there today. There are no economic boundaries to this truth. Is there one African American oriented church located in the black communities that doesn’t have a ministry that outreaches to the incarcerated? Likely no.

The day before the East Oakland shootout this writer was on the phone talking to a long time friend whose husband had been released last year from Angola prison after serving 25 years. Louisiana paroled him to California where he landed a job with a CalTrans program for parolees.

Too bad Mixon, who had been trying to get a job, wasn’t guided toward that program. But chances are it wouldn’t have done any good.

Even though African Americans are just 13 percent of the population, we currently comprise 50 percent of the US prison population. Many might say this is because during the 1990’s president Clinton enacted draconian drug laws that unfairly were weighted against blacks. Although this situation has always existed, the criminally lopsided racial disparities of those who are sent to prison were widely existent as far back as the era of slavery. In the early 19th Century in several states that outlawed slavery blacks made up 50 percent of those who were incarcerated.

What this should signal to those who are paying attention is that the US doesn’t have a clue when it comes to creating racial equality.

Everything that has resulted from the civil rights movement, up to and including the limited efforts at affirmative action, in actuality is little more than window dressing. Many have benefited but a huge and growing black and Latino underclass simmers.

Despite the rapid influx of immigrating cultures in recent decades, the US mostly still conforms to the example of the apple. At the apple’s core exists the historic white/black dichotomy. Around the core revolves the more recently arrived or peripheral cultures.

It is for this reason that in America the issue of race is almost always a significant factor in every significant issue, from the destruction of the economy to March Madness.

With all due respect and sympathy to the survivors of the fallen it has to be noted the deceased officers, all white, lived in Tracy, Danville, Concord and Castro Valley. The white officers, who on a daily basis, travel from mostly white America to patrol black and Latino America is not a unique situation. Anyone who has seen the film, the Battle of Algiers, will immediately recognize the situation for what it is: occupation.

It’s the same in most US cities. It’s true in San Francisco, Chicago, New York and most definitely, perhaps especially, given its unwarranted progressive reputation, Berkeley.

Of course in all similar situations it’s never just an issue of color-nor is it just an issue of an occupation force keeping their booted heels on the necks of the oppressed. Because within the dialectics of progressive philosophy it’s a time-honored truism that capitalism tends to turn its opposites into itself.

Thus it has become that in a multitude of circumstances blacks often have become the oppressors of blacks—regardless of whether they belong to the local police agencies or Crips and Bloods type criminal organizations. In some cases, as has been alleged in regards to several elements of the Oakland Police Department, the line between paramilitary and criminal agencies has become vague, perhaps even disappeared.

It is believed in some quarters that an investigation into the possible blurring of distinction between some members of the Oakland Police Department and criminal formations in the city is what led to the assassination of Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey.

All of the media, all the local and state political classes will come together to honor the murdered police officers as heroic defenders of the state. There will be great and emotional public displays of grief. Bagpipes will be ubiquitous as California's paramilitary organizations gather to honor their fallen comrades.

The bagpipes, played at the funeral of all police and fire department funerals in the US indicate it is those agencies through which the Irish were allowed entrance into the US middle class 200 hundred years ago—a privilege not extended to African Americans in any numbers until just one generation ago.

But for those who experience the daily tactics and attitudes of the paramilitary occupation forces, distrust and questions will remain.

The Oscar Grant demonstrations, in protest of his New Years Day shooting by a Bart police officer, should continue.

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Jean Damu is an educator, journalist, trade unionist and political activist. In his capacity as a former member of the National Committee of the Venceremos Brigade and as a private citizen he has traveled to Cuba 18 times (and counting), Africa, Asia and Latin America. He is also a member of NʼCOBRA  (the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America) and serves on the steering committee of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration.   He has written on numerous topics and has a special interest in Africa.   

posted 24 March 2009 

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News Update

Oscar Grant’s killer on trial again for police brutality—23 November, 2011—Former San Francisco BART police officer Johannes Mehserle is on trial this week, and if his name and affiliation rings a bell, there is good reason: Mehserle was found guilty of killing Oscar Grant, an unarmed transit rider, during a 2009 incident. As luck would have it, that wasn’t the first time that Mehserle went a little overboard. Less than two months before he executed Grant at pointblank range in an Oakland, California train station, the ex-officer allegedly used excessive force and violated the constitutional rights of Kenneth Carrethers at a separate Bay Area Rapid Transit hub.

Carrethers’ attorneys say that on November 15 2008, their client was angry over the BART cops’ lack of help in a case of vandalism that targeted his car. Carrethers says that he called the police force “useless,” and from there Mehserle and a handful of other offices became irate. According to court filings, Mehserle used a leg sweep to take Carrethers to the ground, then punched and kicked him while he was on the pavement.

The complaint continues that cops tied up Carrethers’ arms and legs before hauling him away.  "Well, have you learned not to mess with police officers?" Mehserle allegedly asked him. Carrethers was initially charged with resisting arrest, but six weeks later a cell phone camera filmed Mehserle executing Oscar Grant while the unarmed black man man laid face down in a BART station. A civil case was filed by Carrethers a month later, but was put on hold while Merhselrs waited behind bars during his trial for the Grant incident.

A jury went on to find the ex-officer only guilty of involuntary manslaughter and mobs rioted the streets of Oakland, California. Johannes Mehserle only served 11 months for killing Grant. To RT, a family member of Grant said that the sentence demonstrated "just how racist this criminal justice system is." Mehserle, a white man, is once again being charged with using excessive force on an unarmed black man. Five officers in all are on trial for the beating of Carrethers, 43, as well as attacking him for exercising his freedom of speech. Mehserle is expected to testify on his own 

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3 Officers Are Dead After Shootings in Oakland—Tension between police and the community has escalated since the fatal shooting of an unarmed 22-year-old, Oscar Grant III, by a transit police officer on New Year’s Day.  Mr. Grant was shot at close range while lying face down on a train platform. He was among several people who had been removed from the train by police officers investigating a fight. The former Bay Area Rapid Transit officer accused in the shooting, Johannes Mehserle, has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge. Violent protests hit the streets in the weeks after Mr. Grant’s death. On Jan. 7, more than 100 people were arrested after protesters marched through the city breaking store windows and setting cars and trashcans on fire.

Oakland’s black community and law enforcement have had a tense relationship for years, including a corruption case known as the Riders case in which a group of police officers were accused of abusing and falsely accusing suspects. Three of the officers were acquitted, but the case nevertheless damaged the department’s reputation. The Associated Press reported Saturday that people lingered at the scene of the traffic-stop shooting. About 20 bystanders taunted the police.NYTimes

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The Cold-Blooded Murder of Oscar Grant—BART cop Tony Pirone, an ex-Marine, was on the platform and he immediately began targeting Black and Latino youth—although he had no description of anyone in the reported “fight.” When four of Oscar’s friends get off, Pirone let three of them leave but grabbed one. Then, yelling and cursing, Pirone banged on the train window and pointed his taser at two young Black men—Oscar and his friend Michael—and ordered them off the train.

As soon as Michael and Oscar stepped off the train, they were hammered. Pirone lunged at Michael, grabbed him by his dreadlocks, and slammed his head, face down, on the concrete, leaving a large cut on the bridge of his nose. Michael’s friends started to yell, “why are you doing that?” “What did we do?”

Then Pirone grabbed Oscar and hustled him to a wall. Soon other cops came and threatened more youth with their tasers, yelling the “N” word at the young men, calling them “motherfuckers.” When three of Oscar’s other friends got off the train they too were held against the side of the train by Officer Marysol Domenici who thrust a taser at each one, tapping one between the eyes with it. Another video clip, not shown on TV until weeks after the murder, shows Pirone suddenly stride by Michael, who was handcuffed and lying on the cement, across the platform toward Oscar, hitting him hard in the face, causing his head to snap back.BlackAgendaReport

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Thousands Attend Oakland Officers' Funeral—All sworn officers and administrative staff members of the police department were given time off to attend the funeral, with personnel from other departments and local sheriff’s deputies covering their shifts. Police headquarters was closed until late afternoon, with a line of police cars from other jurisdictions parked in front. Nearby, a pile of flowers and handmade tributes covered the sidewalk. One read, “We Support OPD.”

The service was held at the arena, home to the Golden State Warriors basketball team, just two miles from where the four officers were gunned down by a 26-year-old parolee, Lovelle Mixon. The police said Mr. Mixon was a prime suspect in a recent rape. Mr. Mixon was pulled over by two motorcycle police officers, Sgt. Mark Dunakin, 40, and Officer John Hege, 41, shortly after 1 p.m. last Saturday while driving through East Oakland, and soon began shooting. Sergeant Dunakin died at the scene; Officer Hege died later at a hospital.Mr. Mixon fled, only to barricade himself in a building, where he fatally shot two SWAT team members, Sgt. Ervin Romans, 43, and Sgt. Daniel Sakai, 35. A third officer at the scene was injured. Mr. Mixon, who had a warrant out for his arrest, was also killed.NYTimes

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Leading the march down MacArthur Boulevard near the scene of Saturday’s shootout were Lovelle Mixon’s mother (in red) and, beside her, his wife. His brothers and a cousin were also there. – Photo: Dave Id, Indybay

Lovelle Mixon’s cousin spoke passionately at the rally on Wednesday. The photo on the poster is of Lovelle and his wife. – Photo: Dave Id, Indybay

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Kill and be killed: Police murders in Oakland—It’s time to recognize the harsh reality. Police are virtually an occupying military force in Black urban centers. Their presence will neither eliminate the plague of rampant crime nor address the underlying disease of extreme impoverishment.

The historical record amply demonstrates this fact though there remains wide disagreement on the reasons. My view is that police represent the propertied and monied power structure in this country which both exploits and excludes the overwhelming majority of our population, particularly minorities.

The police role, therefore, is consciously limited to containing and minimizing inevitable explosions of violence that periodically burst from the enormous pressures of ghetto existence. Police neither have the resources nor job description to resolve the enormous social problems endemic to these communities.

In that way, police actions are remarkably similar to U.S. failed military strategies abroad. Police units are dispatched from their headquarters’ bunkers on “search and destroy” missions soon to return to the comfort and safety of the “Green Zone.”

Enormous resources are wasted on these failed military strategies, both abroad and at home. The Oakland police budget, for example, consumes an incredible 43 percent of the city’s General Fund. Clearly, despite repeated calls for more cops, ending violence in the Black Community is not a matter of devoting more police resources. In fact, as we shall see from our later examination of Oakland’s sordid police brutality record, police activity often generates its own crime wave. SBayView

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Police officer convicted in California subway shooting— Johannes Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. He shot Oscar Grant in the back in Oakland, California, on 1 January 2009, while attempting to subdue him following a fight.

Mehserle told the Los Angeles court that he had mistaken the pistol for an electric Taser weapon on his belt. . . . The trial was moved to Los Angeles because of the tensions in Oakland. Speaking after the jury's finding, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called on state residents "to remain calm in light of the verdict and not to resort to violence".

Mehserle, 28, faces years in prison.. . . . Mehserle fled to Nevada following the shooting and was arrested about two weeks later. BBC

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The right verdict in Mehserle case—Involuntary manslaughter might seem an unsatisfying outcome for the killing of the unarmed Oscar Grant on Jan. 1, 2009, but it was consistent with the evidence that could be proved beyond a reasonable doubt against former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle. Anything less would have been an injustice. Anything more would have required conclusions about Mehserle's state of mind that were not sufficiently supported in trial. .  .  .  Mehserle, 28, claimed it was an accident, that he thought he was firing a Taser instead of a handgun at the detainee. The explanation stretched the bounds of plausibility, given the difference in weight, feel - and position on his holster - between the nonlethal weapon intended to immobilize and the Sig Sauer P226 pistol that is used to kill. He clearly was negligent. It was a crime, not an accident.

The other two conviction options available to the jurysecond-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter - would have required the jury to find that Mehserle meant to kill Grant. The evidence indicated the officer's state of mind was contradictory at best. His reaction immediately after the shooting suggested disbelief at what he had done. Yet his explanation of having mistaken his gun for a Taser did not emerge for several days. In other words, there was reasonable doubt about his intent, which was the standard the jury needed to overcome, even if that will not fly in the court of public opinion. SFGate 

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Africa Makes Some Noise—Documentary on contemporary music from Africa

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
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#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

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#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
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#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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Hopes and Prospects

By Noam Chomsky

In this urgent new book, Noam Chomsky surveys the dangers and prospects of our early twenty-first century. Exploring challenges such as the growing gap between North and South, American exceptionalism (including under President Barack Obama), the fiascos of Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S.-Israeli assault on Gaza, and the recent financial bailouts, he also sees hope for the future and a way to move forward—in the democratic wave in Latin America and in the global solidarity movements that suggest "real progress toward freedom and justice." Hopes and Prospects is essential reading for anyone who is concerned about the primary challenges still facing the human race. "This is a classic Chomsky work: a bonfire of myths and lies, sophistries and delusions. Noam Chomsky is an enduring inspiration all over the world—to millions, I suspect—for the simple reason that he is a truth-teller on an epic scale. I salute him." —John Pilger

In dissecting the rhetoric and logic of American empire and class domination, at home and abroad, Chomsky continues a longstanding and crucial work of elucidation and activism . . .the writing remains unswervingly rational and principled throughout, and lends bracing impetus to the real alternatives before us.—
Publisher's Weekly

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

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