Posted on: 04/28/08:
Posted on: 04/20/08:
Faith coalition to battle gang activity in Newark
by Robert Wiener
by Robert Wiener
Christian, Muslim, and Jewish clergy members are launching an interfaith effort to reduce street violence among Newark gangs.To read the rest of the article, click here.
The Newark Interfaith Coalition for Hope and Peace will seek recognition and financial support for grassroots efforts at crime and violence reduction in both the inner city and its suburbs. Participants envision awareness campaigns, job programs, and support for houses of worship in the line of fire.
Representing the Jewish community in the coalition is Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, a synagogue whose roots are in Newark.
“Why a suburban rabbi? Because we feel we won’t make it out here unless Newark makes it,” said Gewirtz.
He spoke with NJ Jewish News a day before the first public meeting of the coalition April 3 at Newark’s Symphony Hall.
“The problems going on in Newark in many ways are pervasive and permeate our borders,” Gewirtz said. “In the suburbs, there may be different drugs, but there are drugs in the streets. There may be different alcohol, but there are kids drinking here. So, by dealing with these issues on an urban level we will also be able to deal with them on a suburban level.”
The joint city-suburban mission was born in the weeks of pain and outrage after four college-bound black teenagers were shot point-blank last August outside a Newark school.
“Everyone was so appalled by those killings,” said the rabbi. “They were saying, ‘To hell with all our differences.’ We are not converting anyone to Islam, to Christianity, to Judaism. We just want to get these kids off the street. That has been the motivation.”
Posted on: 04/17/08:
From CurlyMo's Blog:
A few years back William C. Rhoden wrote a book titled "40 Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise Fall and Redemption of the Black Athlete". Why I have not read the book yet is a very good question. I like Mr. Rhoden and I think that he offers very poignant and insightful commentary on today's sporting world.To read the rest of the article, click here.
I think the main reason I didn't rush out to get the book was because I'm sure I already knew what the ebb and flow of the book would be without even having to read it. I spent several years as a sportswriter and sports editor at newspapers in North Carolina and like most other blacks who covered sports for a living, there are perspectives and unwritten nuances of sports that we understand even when we don't speak about them.
As U.S. Presidential candidate Barak Obama has our nation on the precipice of a possible historic milestone in the history of our republic, issues of race and racism have been thrust back into the public psyche.
This week there have been dozens of articles and probably thousands of blogs written about NBA commissioner David Stern's inference that he would like to see the NBA's age limit raised to 20 years old. This news, of course, has brought on a slew of opinions and arguments as to whether or not the age limit issue in professional basketball has motivations that include discrimination toward young black males, who make up the majority of the players in the league.
While it's true that NBA players make more money than any ten current readers of my blog combined, Rhoden was insinuating that just because you have money doesn't mean that you've escaped the plantation mentality and you may be forced even more to recognize the pecking order of society than the guy working at McDonald's who can at least up and leave for Burger King if he wants to. Of course the majority of the comments I'll receive will be some variation of 'puh-lease those guys are multimillionaires', but understand this, if your boss is paying you 10 dollars an hour, it's because he's making 20 dollars an hour off of your labor.
While most of white America doesn't view Stern's aspirations as having any bigoted merit, many blacks (quiet as kept) would strongly disagree.
Posted on: 04/10/08:
Hearing (Thinking) Black Death
by Mark Anthony Neal
The very first sentence of Michael Eric Dyson's new book April 4, 1968 reads: "You cannot hear the name Martin Luther King, Jr. and not think of death," to which specifically, I might add, you cannot help but think of Black Death. And perhaps that is as it should be. There's a certain logic to the fact that a culture that has been so obsessed with questions of freedom, subjugation, liberation and incarceration would have an equally striking obsession with death. Perhaps more than any culture in the Americas, Blackness has had to come to terms with the idea of death--the Middle Passage, Lynching, the Underground Railroad to mark just a few historical moments--all framed by acts of movement, resistance, retribution, in which death, Black Death, was tangible and visceral. And indeed it's been in the province of black creative expression--Black Genius more broadly--that Blackness has found the space to think through the idea death, not just as a grieving process, but an act of freedom in its own right.
When the JC White Singers, bravely asked in 1971 "Were You There, When They Crucified My Lord?" it was something more than just another memorial recording marking the passing of the greatest symbol(s) of Black liberation struggle. "Were You There?" was one of those timeless spirituals of Negroes Old, but at the moment that the JC White Singers sang its words, it became a defiant response from a culture that long understood that filling the air with the sound of black grief and black trauma was perhaps the most defiant act possible.
To read the rest of the article, click here.
Posted on: 04/03/08:
Behind Coretta's Veil: Black Women and the Burdens of Loss
By Melissa Harris-Lacewell
Forty years later there are two particularly poignant and enduring images associated with Dr. King's assassination. The first is the circle of men surrounding Martin's body on that Memphis balcony as they point in the direction of the shooter. The second is Coretta Scott King's mournful and resolute face beneath her widow's black veil.
Both images capture the radicalizing power of Dr. King's murder. Together they reveal how responses to racial terrorism are often gendered. Many black men are like TheRoot.com contributor Professor Michael Dawson, who found his authentic political voice emerging from the ashes of his beloved, burning city in the aftermath of King's death. Like the men on the balcony, they became the vocal and visible leaders of the continuing movements against injustice.
Many black women swallow their pain, gird their loins and persist against impossible odds when the men they love are destroyed. They are like Medgar's Myrlie, Malcolm's Betty, and Martin's Coretta. Much less visible and vocal, these women become the symbols of strength and endurance in the aftermath of men's murders.
This does not mean that all brothers or all sisters responded in the same way to Dr. King's death, only that gender is as critical as race in marking the experience. King's assassination was one incident in a long campaign of domestic, racial terrorism aimed in specific ways at black men. Race riots, land theft, agricultural peonage, castration, mutilation, postcards of human sacrifice, and lynching pierced by the smell of burning flesh constitute the terrorism that black communities have known throughout the twentieth century.
Even today, black men die young. They perish from violence and from poor health. They vanish from communities due to joblessness and incarceration. Their absence means that black women are often left alone to raise children, to sustain neighborhoods and to battle for rights.
In their solitude, black women face enormous obstacles. Women heads of households are twice as likely to live in inadequate housing. They earn less than their male counterparts. Fewer than half of black women have bachelor's degrees and the unemployment rate for black women is more than double that for white women. More than 1 in 4 black women live in poverty.
Babies born to black women in the U.S. today are two-and-a-half times more likely to die before their first birthday than white babies. Black women have higher rates of hypertension and diabetes and are more likely to die of breast cancer than are white women. On the whole, black women face lack of education, underemployment, poverty, racism, disease and isolation. Survival itself seems miraculous. It is no wonder that we praise black women by calling them strong.
Despite the significant challenges faced by women, black cultural vocabulary and collective memory have often understood black men as uniquely vulnerable to the violence of American racism. Dr. King's assassination is part of that story. Today, we often speak of endangered black men, point to the challenges facing black boys in public schools and rail against the prison industrial complex as a modern system of slavery.
While we must mobilize around the continued attacks against black men and boys, I worry that this particular formulation leaves little place for black women's brokenness and it can encourage us to silence black women's concerns. The assumption is that the "endangered black man" needs the "strong black woman" to protect the community in his absence. But what are the costs to black women?
The strong black woman must confront all the challenges, persevere against the impossible, provide unlimited encouragement and always be prepared to do what needs to be done for her family and her people. She must be sacrificial and suppress her own emotional needs while anticipating those of others. She must have an irrepressible spirit unbroken by a legacy of oppression, poverty and rejection.
My point is not that black women actually are stronger than any other group of women, but that the idea that black women are strong and that they need to be and should be is an imperative. Strength is a kind of racial rule for black women. To be a real black woman, you have to be a strong black woman.
To read the rest of the article, click here.