US Opinion and Commentary

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Counting My Blessings at Age 75

Posted October 4th, 2016 at 12:07 pm (UTC-4)
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Our progress has always come from struggle and sacrifice. The powerful do not dispense change; the people must demand it….In my lifetime, the civil rights movement has made America better. Our diversity is now our strength….At 75, I celebrate my blessings.

America’s Racial Divide

Posted July 14th, 2016 at 5:20 pm (UTC-4)
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A horse-drawn carriage carried the body of Philandro Castile through the streets of St. Paul, Minnesota.

More than a thousand miles to the south on Interstate 35, processions of hearses and police cars wound through the streets of Dallas, Texas and its suburbs, carrying the bodies of Officer Brent Thompson, Sgt. Michael Smith and Sr. Cpl. Lorne Ahrens. The scene will be repeated Friday and Saturday for the funerals of Officers Michael Krol and Patrick Zamarripa, all killed by a man seemingly bent on revenge for the death of Castille and others.

President Barack Obama convened a summit of sorts Wednesday. Black activists and law enforcement representatives exchanged ideas of how to bridge the divide between the police and people of color.

Obama said “we’re not even close to being where we want to be.” And from what’s being written and said, getting close will take many more conversations and understanding by both sides of the divide.

America: Black and Blue

Posted July 8th, 2016 at 2:37 pm (UTC-4)
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“A viscous, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement.”

That’s how President Obama described the ambush of police by at least one sniper in Dallas. The officers were doing their jobs, enabling and protecting a group of people peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights to protest the latest killings of black men at the hands of police officers under questionable circumstances.

37-year old Alton Sterling was shot several times in the chest as he was pinned by two white police officers on Tuesday night — graphically chronicled on video from several angles

Wednesday, 32-year old Philando Castille was shot in his car after being stopped by police for a broken tail light in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. His girlfriend broadcast the aftermath live on Facebook, demonstrating an out-of-body composure while interacting with the officer who still had his gun drawn. Her four-year old daughter was in the backseat.

Also caught on video was 25-year old Micah Xavier Johnson, the sniper in Dallas. Before he was killed in a standoff with police, Johnson said he was upset with the police shootings and wanted to kill white people.

Dallas was already infamous from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. But, according to the Washington Post, Dallas is progressively implementing police reform.

No doubt Black Lives Matter will again intersect with the Thin Blue Line this summer. Cooler heads must prevail.

Why Freddie Gray Is Still a Thing One Year On

Posted April 22nd, 2016 at 1:16 pm (UTC-4)
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The outrage that erupted and spilled into the streets of Baltimore in the days after 25-year-old African-American Freddie Gray died in police custody harkened back to another painful and ugly moment in American history. Heavily armed police on the streets, clouds of tea gas, protesters being dragged away against their will: it could have been Baltimore 48 years ago—1968—after the assassination of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

But it was April 2015. The city burned with anger, outrage and grief for days. Several months later, six Maryland police officers—not all were white—were charged in connection with Gray’s death. The state prosecutor cited the cops for improperly arresting and shackling Freddie Gray in violation of police rules by loading him into a van without the required safety restraints, and also ignoring his pleas for help.

Freddie Gray, the riots and the sudden shattering of business as usual in Baltimore morphed into a symbol of all the other recent violence between police and the black community, some recorded on smart phones and uploaded to social media websites. A year later, things are quiet, at least on the surface. But much remains unresolved, prime to erupt again as law enforcement grapples with a crisis that until recently had been swept under the carpet.

A Year After Freddie Gray’s Death, Two Baltimores

Posted April 20th, 2016 at 4:15 pm (UTC-4)
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Have massive protests and an ongoing trial caused police in Baltimore to change? It depends on who you ask.

Still Reaching for MLK Jr.’s Dream

Posted January 18th, 2016 at 1:41 pm (UTC-4)
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Despite electing a black president – Barack Obama – not only once, but twice, racism in America persists. With a slew of smartphone videos showing policemen reaching for their guns during confrontations with African-Americans, who end up dead, it is undeniable that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision of equality remains unrealized. Has there been progress? Yes. There’s an African-American man in the Oval Office. There are laws in place. There is Jay Z, Cornel West, Toni Morrison and Oprah, just a few of countless prominent and celebrated black Americans who are thriving economically, who are influential and adored. There is also Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland. There is the chilling Dash-Cam video of Laquan McDonald being shot 16 times by a Chicago cop, a video that was only released by authorities long after the event. In response, the “Black Lives Matter” movement sprung to life, controversial and criticized just as Dr. King was so many years ago.

The Other Obama Legacy

Posted January 14th, 2016 at 2:09 pm (UTC-4)
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Obama is the first black president — and may well be the last, who knows — and that alone has a historical weight and impact on this generation that will play out for generations to come.

Tearing at the Seams

Posted September 14th, 2015 at 11:38 am (UTC-4)
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Against the back­drop of the ac­cel­er­at­ing pres­id­en­tial race, the strains of ad­apt­ing to the na­tion’s hurt­ling demo­graph­ic and cul­tur­al change are grow­ing in­creas­ingly vis­ible. For all of the eco­nom­ic anxi­et­ies many Amer­ic­ans still ex­press, the most po­lar­iz­ing con­flicts this year are di­vid­ing the na­tion along lines of race, eth­ni­city, and cul­ture, not class.

60 Years Later, Echoes of Emmett Till’s Killing

Posted August 31st, 2015 at 9:20 am (UTC-4)
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“Before Trayvon Martin, before Michael Brown, before Tamir Rice, there was Emmett Till. This was the first ‘Black Lives Matter’ story.

How Ferguson and #BlackLivesMatter Taught Us Not to Look Away

Posted August 10th, 2015 at 8:53 am (UTC-4)
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One year ago, on August 9 2014, then-police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri…. From that minute has grown a movement, reinforced on a seemingly daily basis by new violence.