Mike Brown Memorial- One Year later What’s Changed?

Ferguson, Mo 08-09-15 Today was a very sobering occassion as hundreds came out to mark the one year anniversary that 18 year old unarmed Mike Brown was ruthlessly killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

What stands out the most about this tragedy is not just the killing, but the subsequent reign of terror and brutality levied by the police.. This doesn’t always get conveyed on TV news stories, but its clear as day when you talk to folks.. and the sheer brutality directly touched many and should not be forgotten..

In Canfield Gardens, where Mick Brown was killed and his body left to rot for 41/2 hours, is not that big.. When you see the spot, its in plain view of everyone, little kids, adults, the elderly.. He was left for all to see and many are still angry, saddened, hurt and traumaticized by that..

Today’s event should not have had to happen.. What needed to happen on this one year mark was folks marking that justice had been served and those responsible held accountable. That has not happened yet.. That in itself is perhaps the most disturbing aspect of today.

FERG-Mike Brown plague

FERG Mike Brown Memorial 2

FERG Malik Rashaan Canfield

FERG White silence is violence

FERG Racism is a white disease

FERG T-shirt Not Ur Respectable Canfield


FerG Cornel Wesy and Brie Newsom

FERG Cornel West Brie Newsom Canfield

FERG Rosa and Paster Mike

FERG Stop Killing Us Sign

FERG sign on wall


FERG Mike Brown street memorial

FERG Jessica Care More2

FERG Malik Zulu Shabbazz

FERG Crowd shot women

FERG Clergy Mcbride-Cornel-seku

70 Arrested at DOJ in St Louis Seeking Justice for Mike Brown

St Louis (08-10-15 ) During the historic march to the Department of Justice in St Louis one year after the killing of Mike Brown, faith and movement leaders read off a list of demands and attempted to deliver them to the DOJ.. Department of Homeland Security police erected barricades and blocked the entrances. Marchers attempted to get by those barriers.. Over 70 people were arrested…

March to DOJ Arrests

DOJ March St Louis

DOJ March St Louis

DOJ March St Louis Neeeeta

DOJ March St Louis Neeta arrest

DOJ March St Louis arrest

DOJ March St Louis arrest

DOJ March st louis sit

doj March riase

doj March ending

The March to St Louis DOJ to win Justice for Mike Brown

Below are some photos from historic march to the Department of Justice in St Louis. It was led by faith leaders including; Rev Toni Blackman, Rev Sekou, Dr Cornel West, Pastor Mike McBride, Jasiri X and many others who sought to win justice not only for Mike Brown who was killed a year ago, but also for the countless other victims of police brutality…


Faith leaders march to Department of Justice in St Louis to win Justice for Mike Brown... Dr Cornel West, Pastor Mike McBride and Reverend Toni Blackman

Faith leaders march to Department of Justice in St Louis to win Justice for Mike Brown…





March to DOJ drummer

March to DOJ Arch and signs

March to DOJ bullhorn

March to DOJ Carl Dix


Editorial: In Defense of Dr Cornel West


Who am I to defend Dr. West who is a considerably one of the greatest minds God has blessed humanity with in the 21 century. He is a prophetic voice out of the African American Baptist tradition, a scholar, writer, historian and musicologist. He has been critical of President Obama and because of his criticism he and Tavis Smiley, his partner in criticizing the president have both been accused of profiteering and jealousy. Frankly, I cannot say if that is or is not absolutely false.

However, I do welcome Dr. West’s well placed articulation for the poor and disenfranchised. I applaud his truth telling in season and out of season. I encourage his well aimed perspectives on President Obama’s administration and policies. I disregard the claim that our President cannot be the Black President as a ridiculous comment, which seems only African American make about themselves and accept from others. The President is of African American descent, but he is also from other descents, yet we are not to enthusiastically advocate for ourselves to him?

I also have reflected on President Obama’s successes because I don’t want pundits, or the media, or some misinformed colleague to tell me how to think. I have listed President Obama’s first term achievements from my contextual perspective. Everyone has the right to do so;
consequently here are what the President achieved:

He overcame an intransigent Republican Party led by billionaires like the Koch brothers
and the Tea Party, who spent obscene money to defeat him. He had to deal with Sen. McConnell
and Representative John Boehner who stated their number one focus is to stop President
Obama’s initiatives, and deny him a second term.

He inherited an economy in freefall, after being robbed by Wall Street, by initiating a
stimulus that created 5 million jobs.

During his term Wall Street averages went from 6000 to 13000.

CEO’s of major corporations under Obama’s term increased their profits over 230%

He brought the economy out of a hole.

He initiated the Lilly Ledbetter Act giving women equal pay for equal work.

He saved the United States Auto Industry and thereby saving all of the Great Lakes

He wound down the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He eliminated Osama Bin Laden, after he was considered unable to be brought to justice,
and made America safer. Remember President Bush said he doesn’t even think about Osama Bin

He appointed two women to the Supreme Court and has one more selection to make.

He initiated the Health Care Reform that every President tried to do; but could not do for
over 100 years.

He managed that we did not go over the fiscal cliff and stood up to the Republicans when
they tried to hold America hostage on raising the credit limit.

An outstanding set of presidential accomplishments, but have African Americans gotten their usual short end of the stick? Yes, and Dr. West agrees and it is why I see Dr. West serving a necessary purpose. He is critical of the President and his criticism has been on point. Speaking as a Black American I would give President Obama a B+. Why? This is why. During the first term he never spoke of the poor, just the middle class. I assume his handlers and he felt it would be political expedient to do so. However, it is the poor in this country that have been left out of any economic recovery and the poor that took the gravest economic loss. The poor are still waiting for employment, educational opportunities and gun/violence free communities.

Eric Holder

Eric Holder

Secondly, the President’s Justice Department gets a “C”. Attorney General Eric Holder has been lackluster and seemingly unaggressive in his prosecutions in the face of a growing number of rogue cops and bigoted white men killing innocent black boys and men. For example, in Mississippi there has been a rash of car accidents, where running over black men as they walk along the streets and country roads is their cause of death at the hands of white male drivers. Young white southern men have stalked unsuspecting random black males to thrill kill.

Never to forget, the shooting of boys like Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis and others. Very little or to be fair an uninspiring response from the Justice Department has been offered – – no signal or aggressive Federal prosecutions to indicate a perception of safety and protection for people of African American descent.

Also, not one Wall Streeter went to jail for stealing our money and crashing the economy. Yes, we get reports of Wells Fargo, Bank of America and CitiBank paying hundreds of millions in civil case settlements for colluding to foreclose on vulnerable and unsophisticated homeowners. These victim homeowners were predominantly of African American descent, which resulted in the largest transfer of wealth from African Americans. I ponder if the banks are so willing to settle for 100’s of millions in awards, it must mean they stole twice as much.

Thirdly, there are the drone bombings throughout Pakistan that are killing their intended terrorist targets, but the collateral deaths are innocent women and children.

Long Lines at Voting Booths

Long Lines at Voting Booths

Fourthly, where in the jobs program? Black folk voted for our President in record number (92%), in spite of misinformation scams, voter intimidation, rigged voting machines, and the reduction of voting hours. The collusion to defeat the Black vote included the Republican Party and Corporate class, who planned, hired operatives and funded illegal and close to illegal scams to thwart the Black voting strengths. Republican lawyers, legislators, elected governors, state attorney generals and even the son of the Republican candidate all have unclean hands in these unscrupulous efforts.

Valiantly African American common folk, in the spirit of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the year – long protest in Montgomery, Alabama, that galvanized the American Civil Rights Movement and led to a 1956 decision by the Supreme Court of the United States declaring segregated seating on buses unconstitutional, stood in the hot sun and long lines to cast their vote; and, seemingly no earnest effort on developing a jobs program is on the horizon.

Fifthly, I appreciate the president’s effort on the gun violence initiatives. I support his advocacy and bold leadership, but where is the focus on urban youth? Forty percent of the deaths from gun violence occur within urban communities across this nation from Oakland, LA, Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, New Orleans and Miami. Yet, no specific plan to address the violence that has destroyed communities and a generation of young black males. Jobs and hope are the answer to the nihilism affecting these communities.

Dr. West is advocating for the least of these that seemed to again be left out. Gays got “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” repealed and the right to marry, Hispanics got Supreme Court Justice Soto -Meyer and immigration dialog, Jews got Justice Kagan and an assurance of military protection from Iran. Wall Street bankers received no prosecutions for the theft of our surplus. Women got the Lilly Ledbetter Act that ensures equal pay for equal work and the Presidential defense of Roe vs. Wade. They also received the selection of two female Supreme Court Justices and possibly a third.The middle class received Health Care Reform.

So when the President chooses to get sworn in on MLK’s Bible the President is evoking Dr. King’s values that he has fallen short of. I understand he was trying to get to a second term, but if we do not demand in politics we will not receive anything. Lastly, every King David NEEDS a Nathan. It’s is an inoculation against corruption and apathy. Our President needs someone who will call it like it is and speak for the poor and people of color. Dr. West has done a good job at that and I hope he continues, along with others. Otherwise African Americans poor, elderly and Black middle class will not get their needs addressed.

written by Reginald W Lyles

Carl Dix: Connecting NYPD’s Stop and Frisk Policy w/ Trayvon Martin Case (HKR Intv)

It’s always a pleasure chopping it up w/ freedom fighter Carl Dix.. He’s dedicated to the struggle and willing to walk the walk of the things he talks. In recent months Dix along with scholar/activist Cornel West have pushed back hard on the NYPD and their infamous Stop and Frisk policy. They even put the policy on trial with plans to follow-up with similar measures in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

Last year over 680k people have been stopped and searched by police. Over 85% have been Black or Brown men with less than 5% convicted of carrying any weapon or committing crime. Dix noted that currently NYPD is on pace to stop and frisk over 800k. Dix noted the root cause of this disparity is racial profiling.

Currently Dix is down in Sanford, Florida on what is part of a BAsic Bus Tour through the South. Dix reaffirmed what M1 from dead prez had told us a few weeks back, that the spirit of resistance is alive and well and very strong in Sanford which is where the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman saga is unfolding.  This is a story often overlooked by the mainstream media..

During our conversation, Dix makes the connection between the Stop and Frisk policies in NY and the current climate of vigilantism that we saw play itself out in Sanford.. You can peep that interview below..











Immortal Technique Interview on Malcolm X’s birthday May 2006-Harlem

One thing you gotta love about Harlem based rapper Immortal Technique is he walks the walk and talks the talk… Most of us admire him for his political wisdom which manifest itself very forcefully in his songs. That’s a good thing.. many of today’s artist shy away from rocking the boat. Tech doesn’t.

More importantly, Tech speaks his truth no matter what. It doesn’t matter if cameras are on him or not. You can catch him participating in marches, rallies and simply building with the community.  A few years ago, I was in Harlem for what would’ve been Malcolm X‘s 80th birthday. Many had come out for march and right there in the middle of the crowd was Immortal Technique. No fan fare. No album to promote. It was just him being a part of the community.. As I said at a day and time when so many are looking for cheap promotion angles, Immortal Technique’s low-key participation was a breath of fresh hair..Below is our 4 part interview.. Given May 19 2006 in Harlem New York..

written by Davey D

Immortal Technique pt1 speaking on the importance of celebrating his birthday pt1

Immortal Technique pt2 How has Malcolm X’s philosophy influenced the World?

Immortal Technique pt3: we shift our focus to political conversation to political prisoners

Immortal technique pt 4 Black and Brown Unity

Cornel West, Liberal Sellouts and Critiques Agst President Obama

In recent days there’s been a lot of blow up about the criticisms levied at President Obama by Princeton Professor Cornel West.. Many have quickly circled the wagon and attacked West claiming his critique was more personal than principled. The end result has been West being dismissed and Obama being praised as if the critiques about him being a supporter of corporate and foreign policies that are harmful to poor people were not on point..Below are a two articles that excellently address all sides of this issue.. They weigh in on Cornel, look at Obama’s policies and offer up some solid points about Obamites.. Big shout out to Chris Hedges of Truthdig and Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report for these breakdowns..

-Davey D-

Why Liberal Sellouts Attack Prophets Like Cornel West

by Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges

The liberal class, which attempted last week to discredit the words my friend Cornel West spoke about Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, prefers comfort and privilege to justice, truth and confrontation. Its guiding ideological stance is determined by what is most expedient to the careers of its members. It refuses to challenge, in a meaningful way, the decaying structures of democracy or the ascendancy of the corporate state. It glosses over the relentless assault on working men and women and the imperial wars that are bankrupting the nation. It proclaims its adherence to traditional liberal values while defending and promoting systems of power that mock these values.The pillars of the liberal establishment—the press, the church, culture, the university, labor and the Democratic Party—all honor an unwritten quid pro quo with corporations and the power elite, as well as our masters of war, on whom they depend for money, access and positions of influence. Those who expose this moral cowardice and collaboration with corporate power are always ruthlessly thrust aside.

The capitulation of the liberal class to corporate capitalism, as Irving Howe once noted, has “bleached out all political tendencies.” The liberal class has become, Howe wrote, “a loose shelter, a poncho rather than a program; to call oneself a liberal one doesn’t really have to believe in anything.” The decision to subordinate ethics to political expediency has led liberals to steadily surrender their moral autonomy, voice and beliefs to the dictates of the corporate state. As Dwight Macdonald wrote in “The Root Is Man,” those who do not make human beings the center of their concern soon lose the capacity to make any ethical choices, for they willingly sacrifice others in the name of the politically expedient and practical.

By extolling the power of the state as an agent of change, as well as measuring human progress through the advances of science, technology and consumption, liberals abetted the cult of the self and the ascendancy of the corporate state. The liberal class placed its faith in the inevitability of human progress and abandoned the human values that should have remained at the core of its activism. The state, now the repository of the hopes and dreams of the liberal class, should always have been seen as the enemy. The destruction of the old radical and militant movements—the communists, socialists and anarchists—has left liberals without a source of new ideas. The link between an effective liberal class and a more radical left was always essential to the health of the former. The liberal class, by allowing radical movements to be dismembered through Red baiting and by banishing those within its ranks who had moral autonomy, gradually deformed basic liberal tenets to support unfettered capitalism, the national security state, globalization and permanent war. Liberalism, cut off from the radical roots of creative and bold thought, merged completely with the corporate power elite. The liberal class at once was betrayed and betrayed itself. And it now functions like a commercial brand, giving a different flavor, face or spin to the ruthless mechanisms of corporate power. This, indeed, is the primary function of Barack Obama.

continue reading article at Truth Dig

How Cornel West Did the Obamites a Favor

by BAR Executive editor Glen Ford

It is a shame that Princeton professor Cornel West did not stick to a disciplined critique of the corporatist policies that have made Barack Obama richly deserving of the label, a “Black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs.” Instead, the Princeton professor slipped into psycho-babble, musing on the president’s supposed “fear of free Black men” and associated personality deformities. The particularities of Obama’s racial background may, or may not, have contributed to his malignant neglect of the African American condition, but we will not forge a movement to defeat Obama and his Wall Street masters by putting the president on the couch.

There is no need to inject racial psychoanalysis into the (public) conversation when straightforward political analysis is more than sufficient to the task. In two and a half years, the Obama administration has expanded George Bush’s wars and national security infrastructure and budget, added a new theater of combat in North Africa, and proclaimed a presidential prerogative to assassinate and invade at will. He has out-Bushed Bush.

Obama engineered by far the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind, funneling at least $12 trillion to Wall Street. At the height of his popularity, still riding the crests of post-election euphoria, and under no real pressure from a demoralized Republican Party, Obama eagerly placed Social Security and other entitlements “on the table” for chopping. He endorsed the corporate/Republican line that deficits were the nation’s biggest problem, effectively sentencing the unemployed to damnation and inviting the austerity reign of terror that has descended. And these are just the highlights of Obama’s tenure.

The resulting catastrophe in Black America had rendered Black Obamites all but mute on issues of policy; they could not defend the indefensible. In an MSNBC debate with West, Al Sharpton, the administration’s Black pit bull, was reduced to inane sputtering. The rationale for continued Black and progressive support of the Obama administration has been reduced to one factor: a primal fear of the Tea Party boogeyman. Yet, the sheer economic and political devastation wrought under Obama’s brief tenure has made it plausible to make the case – as we do at Black Agenda Report – that the First Black President is not the lesser of two evils, but the more effective evil, having facilitated more of the right-wing agenda at home and abroad than George Bush ever attempted or envisioned. What does it matter that Obama is not a white Republican, if he can tear down the social safety net, privatize education and wage aggressive war more effectively than the GOP?

Of course, Obama is empowered to act as Wall Street’s Trojan Horse by the acquiescence of the Left’s core constituencies – chiefly, Black America, without whose consent and active participation progressive politics is reduced to the fringes. For reasons that have everything to do with race, Black people have clung to Obama even as he has consistently pushed them away. But the agonzing facts of a community in historical free-fall can no longer be denied. The “Black Wall” that the African American mis-leadership class attempts to erect around Obama is cracking, if not crumbling, especially among left activists and intellectuals. Cornel West is a celebrity example.

The First Black President is not the lesser of two evils, but the more effective evil, having facilitated more of the right-wing agenda at home and abroad than George Bush ever attempted or envisioned.”

Melissa Harris-Perry

Unable to mount a coherent defense of Obama’s policy decisions, especially after his further, dramatic lurch to the right following last year’s midterm elections, Obama’s unrepentant Black politicos seethed in relative silence. It had become impossible to speak in policy terms without indicting the presidential icon. Cornel West’s foray into Obamanalysis gave them the opportunity to explode in reams of outraged words that had little or nothing to do with policy. Prof. Melissa Harris-Perry managed to write almost 1,500 words forThe Nation on West’s “personal attack” on Obama, offering only 130 words about her own position on Obama’s tenure at the end of the piece.TheRoot.com, a Black Obamite corporate hangout, gleefully reported that West had “’stepped in it’ with his controversial comments about President Obama,” with “Google News listing more than 100 stories.”

This is the kind of “controversy” in which Obamites revel, precisely because it allows them to avoid confrontation with Obama’s indefensible policies. If they can resurrect another version of the phony, diversionary arguments of 2007 and 2008 about whether Obama is “Black enough” to deserve African American support, then they can hope to coast through the 2012 campaign without having to justify support for the “Black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs.”

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted atGlen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

A Conversation w/ Dr Cornel West: Immigration Reform, Black & Brown Unity, President Obama & the Midterm Elections & Bishop Eddie Long

A Conversation w/ Cornel West pt1

It’s always enlightening to catch up with Princeton Professor and author Dr Cornel West . Many of us know him for his books ‘Race Matters‘, ‘Democracy Matters’ andKeeping Faith: Philosophy and Race in America’ to name a few. He always has some keen insight to loan and he’s good at breaking down complex issue for us to understand. He also comes from a place of love and compassion. He truly wants to see us do better.

We caught up with him the other day and spoke to him about his recent projects. Currently him and long time friend and fellow author/ activist Tavis Smiley are doing a radio show they just launched called Smiley and West.He also finished up his autobiography. He’s also doing some work on an academic book about  Jay-Z

During our interview Dr West spoke to him about his recent trip to Arizona. There he met with leaders in the Chicano & Mexicano community who have been on the front lines fighting the Draconian Law racial profiling, anti-immigrant law SB 1070.

During our convo we spoke about the oppression facing Black & Brown communities and how some have tried to hijack the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement. He noted that some have erroneously asserted the Civil Rights movement was only for Black people when in fact it was a movement for justice that included all oppressed people.


A Conversation w/ Cornel West pt2

We continue our interview w/ Professor Cornel West who goes in on President Obama and his lack of policies toward poor people… Cornel talks about the public spat they had where Obama stepped to him and let him know he didn’t like what he said about him in a Playboy magazine interview..

According to Cornel, Obama was upset that he was being criticized for not being progressive. West felt Obama was out-of-order and wish the two could sit down and discuss the matter behind closed doors.

Cornel talks about the state of poverty in this country and why he’s been critical of Obama who he feels has been too cozy with corporate interests. He says he will not silence himself for Obama and that too many leaders bow down after getting a phone call from the White House.

Cornel also talks about the legacy of Dr Martin Luther King and challenges president Obama to be more King-like with his policies

We ask Cornel if folks should vote in the mid-term elections and whether or not Democrats have been too passive. He gives some keen insight as to how we should see the election and deal with groups like the Tea Party


A Conversation w/ Cornel West pt3

We continue our interview w/ Professor Cornel West.. Here Cornel goes in on the Black church and how its been severely compromised. He also talks about the controversy surrounding Bishop Eddie Long.. Here he explains the difference between Prophetic and liberation theologies and the current wave of Prosperity Gospel teachings. He talks to us about what we as Christians and members of a Black Church should ideally be doing during these times.

Professor West  also talks about the new album he’s been working on with funk legend Bootsy Collins.. He says he’s taking it to the next level..


Below is a link to the full podcast where you can also hear the dope songs Cornel has on his last two albums “Sketches of My Culture”“Never Forget: A Journey of Revelations”. The songs feature everyone from KRS-One to Andre 3000 to M-1 of Dead Prez to name a few.

Here’s the link to the Full Interview…

Full Interview w/ Dr Cornel West

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

In the Wake of Eddie Long-What’s the State of the Black Church? Is it too caught up to fight for justice?

There’s an old saying that goes, you’re only as strong as your weakest link. Hence it should come as no surprise that since the sex scandal surrounding New Birth pastor Bishop Eddie Long has emerged, there’s a whole lot of questions being raised about the current state of the Black Church. ‘What’s wrong with it?’, ‘Why has it failed?‘Where is it headed?’ and of course ‘Will it survive this scandal’?

First of all we have to acknowledge that we’ve seen this movie before. These types of questions come on the heels of every scandal and controversy involving a church leader. It’s happening now with Eddie Long. It happened a couple of years ago when President Obama had his falling out with his long time pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright. We asked these questions when iconic figures like Jesse Jackson, Bishop Thomas Weeks III or even gospel singer BeBe Winans found themselves in hot water.

Should the troubles surrounding Bishop Eddie Long lead to all Black Churches coming under fire?

Are these questions fair? Should the misdeeds of one pastor or one church put the totality of Black churches on front street?

Ideally the accusations levied against Bishop Eddie Long should’ve been an aberration. There was a time when talk of a pastor, who is an outspoken ‘strong’ leader in the community seducing young men would’ve been seen as too far-fetched to entertain. But sadly in 2010 Long’s alleged actions aren’t shocking in far too many circles. They seem to fit an over-riding perception that egregious, sexually abusive contradictory behavior in the church is the norm. His actions fit the narrative of Black churches being over indulged in material wealth coupled with ego driven sermons where the pastors come across as prima donna rock stars. That’s disconcerting and should be a wake up call for anyone who sees themselves as part of the Black church.

Some of the controversies involving Reverend Jesse jackson has led to us questioning the state of the Black Church

It’s disconcerting because a whole lot of good work that goes on in the Black church gets overshadowed. This is not to say bad behavior should be ignored or glossed over, but at the same time when we have exposes like the one recently featured in the Atlanta Post that highlights 10 Black Church Leaders who’ve been involved with Scandals it’s easy to forget that in most of our communities the majority of Black churches work tirelessly to fulfil community needs.

There are numerous Black churches that for years have been doing things like; building homes for senior citizens, setting up food, shelter and clothing programs for the homeless, putting together after school programs for youth and tours through Historically Black colleges for young adults. Many Black churches have established well received prison ministries that include parole to work programs. We could go on and on listing examples of where Black churches have stepped up to walk the walk and back up the talk.

With all that being said,  those of us who are members of a church still have to grapple with the challenging questions before us; ‘Is there a disconnect between the Black church and its aforementioned good works and the community at large?’ ‘If so how and why is that happening?’ ‘What is fueling these nagging negative perceptions?’ ‘Is it because of biased media coverage or are these off-color actions more widespread than we care to admit?’ ‘Do we not have not enough church folks stepping up and letting their light shine so to speak?’  or Is the Black Church dead? as Princeton religious professor Eddie Glaude Jr brazenly declared in his controversial essay earlier this year.

How did we move from a place where the Black church was considered sacred and its leaders highly respected  to a place where it’s routinely lampooned in the mainstream with the Black preacher often depicted as buffoonish ‘Reverend Porkchop’ type caricatures?


Members of the Black Church Have to Let their Light Shine in the Midst of Scandals

When looking at these types of challenges facing pastors like Eddie Long there are several things to keep in mind. To start, his transgressions are going to result in a number of people saying things like; ‘This is why I don’t go to church’, ‘So-called Christianity is a farce’ , There’s a thin line between pimping and preaching and what we saw go down with Eddie Long was pimping’, orthe Church has been an opium for Black people in this country that stirs us away from who we really are’. In short, left unchallenged and uncorrected the Black Church becomes an empty space and place  that turns people away instead of being an inviting place for those who seek healing and solace.

Second, such commentary should inspire us to step forth and take corrective action and show compassion for those victimized and for those in trouble. It should inspire us to do some serious self examination. This should be the case if you’re a member of a congregation and it should be the case for the entire body. Self examination should be a constant endeavor.

One should always be checking to see if one’s actions are aligned with the teachings in the Gospel. Are we Christ-like in our day-to-day behavior? How are we growing in Christ? If Jesus was to show up next week would he be pleased with the things we are doing? Those should be the driving questions of the day.

The proverbial question of ‘What would Jesus do?‘ should be more than just rhetoric for those of us who believe. Many of us look at Christ and see him as the ultimate personification of love. If so, how is love being manifested in our day-to-day lives? How are we showing love for family, friends and ourselves? How do we show love for our community? How are we growing in love?  Do we even have a full understanding of all the definitions of love from Eros to agape to Xenia?

What would Jesus do? This saying has to be more than rhetorical?

As Christians the goal should be for us to strengthen our spiritual relationship with Christ which comes from fellowship, prayer and constant ‘wrestling’ and studying of the word. We need to take these steps and ask those hard questions whether we have an Eddie Long scandal in our midst or not.

Lastly, we as a members of a church whether it’s a 25 thousand mega-church like New Birth or a church by the side of the road in the rural south with 15 people, should be asking how we are serving our community?

If we come from a tradition where feeding the poor and looking after the down trodden is a guiding tenet, how is our respective church fulfilling this mission? What role are we playing in seeing this happens? Do we volunteer to take those bold and much-needed steps or are we waiting on someone else to do it?  Serving our community is a form of love, it’s an everyday thing and its a way in which we serve God.

Being aligned with Christ does not mean playing ‘holier than thou’ games where your beating folks upside the head with a book demanding they see it your way or burn in hell. Nor does it mean pretending to be this flawless person who can do no wrong and showing little compassion for those who are trying to find their way. We’re supposed to be humble and not carry ourselves in such a way that people are hoping for our downfall but instead cheering for our upliftment.

Was It a Wrong Turn to Go from the Prophetic to Prosperity?

When talking with folks about the ‘State of the Black Church‘, many like to point to the hey-days of the Civil Rights Movement and note that the Black church was at its full glory. It was powerful, on point and gave birth to stellar leadership that was rooted in the Black prophetic tradition. Many were praised for fearlessly speaking truth to power and riding hard for social justice causes. As a result the Black church was deemed by many to be the ‘conscience of America‘. It’s leadership was best personified by preachers like Benjamin MaysRalph David AbernathyWyatt Tee Walker, Fred ShuttlesworthGardner C. Taylor and of course Dr Martin Luther King. The Black Church was one of the few, preeminent institutions in the community that we controlled from top to bottom. It was the place where folks gathered, strategized, sought refuge, and drew inspiration for the arduous fights against Jim Crow, the Ku Klux Klan and other forces of white oppression.

Church Leaders Like Fred Shuttesworth pushed forward even in the face of brutal attacks and killings

The Black church was seen as a ‘threat’ to many who opposed the upliftment of Black people. This resulted in quite a few churches being burned and its members attacked.

The KKK while espousing Christian values would eventually come to bomb a Black church. Most of us are aware of the tragic situation that took place at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham , Alabama in 1963. Here 4 young girls were killed.

For those who don’t know  16th Street Baptist church was a key meeting place for Black leaders including Dr King and Pastor Fred Shuttlesworth. As horrific as the bombing was the strength of the Black church shined through. Instead of slinking back, the Black Church leaders stepped up their efforts  with renewed vigor and determination. Folks became more outspoken in their demands for justice.

Today many feel those days are gone. They look at the rise of mega-Churches, TV evangelists and a marked political shift in many pews to the conservative right with the prophetic social justice, liberation theology teachings taking a backseat to what we now call Prosperity Theology . Here Jesus has been transformed from one who prioritized the poor and downtrodden to someone who now is only about the business of  providing material wealth for those he favors.

Initially championed by preachers like Oral Roberts around the time of World War II,  we later saw a few vestiges of this prosperity thinking during the Civil Rights era. One keen example was Reverend Ike who was outspoken in his opposition to Dr King especially when he started working on the Poor People’s Campaign. He claimed King was doing Black folks a disservice by associating ‘poor’ with Blackness.


The prosperity themes really hit full stride and grew in popularity throughout the 90s with iconic church figures like embattled Bishop Eddie Long, Creflo Dollar, TD Jakes and Joel Osteen who even though is white has enjoyed a large African-American following.

is jesus Really about the business of us being rich at the expense of the poor?

The fact that Jesus is depicted as one who emphasizes financially rewarding those he favors makes the prosperity teachings seem not to far removed from the God and Country, American Exceptionalism ideology expressed by  far right evangelicals.

Such thinking has been best exemplified by preachers like Pat Robertson and his Christian Coalition, the late Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority and in books like the recently published American Patriot’s Bible.

Was this turn to prosperity theology a natural evolution for the church because Jesus was directing folks or was the prosperity teachings a reflection of the current state of affairs both in the African-American community and the larger mainstream society? After all, we are in a day and time where we celebrate opulence and literally worship those who have it.

This was a point author and Spelman college history professor Jelani Cobb made during a recent radio interview where he noted that our desire for obscene riches is reflected in our music, our literature and the way we conduct business. Should we be surprised that its reflected in our churches?

When looking at this switch from the prophetic to prosperity, we should not be dismissive of the deliberate pushes made by sinister outside forces? I’m talking specifically about Cointel-Pro-The Counter Insurgency programs championed by then FBI director J Edgar Hoover.

If the Black church was a major cornerstone for the Civil Rights movements in the 60s would it be safe to assume that was infiltrated, compromised, discredited and ultimately redirected or destroyed via Cointel-Pro operations?

FBI director J Edgar Hoover made it pretty clear that organizations like the  Black Panthers, Black Muslims, SNCC, Free Speech and the Anti-War Movements were domestic threats that needed to be contained. We now know through the Freedom of Information Act that Martin Luther King was constantly under surveillance. Hoover’s men went out of their way to employ physiological games including issuing death threats, planting false stories in the media and attempting to play him off other leaders with the intent of causing divisions and tensions with other Civil Rights organizations. At one point FBI agents even tried to get King to take his own life.

It’s hard to imagine that the FBI did not look at the influence of the Black church and try to find ways to cause divisions, soften its impact and ultimately redirect its energies. Malcolm X in his speech ‘Message to the Grassroots talks about how Black  leadership was compromised with money and resources on the days leading up to the 1963 March on Washington where King delivered his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech‘.

Reverend Dr Martin Luther King came from a long line of Black preachers who represented Prophetic Teachings

Many saw Malcolm X’s remarks as what best articulated the violence vs non-violence debates at the time. Others said Malcolm was simply hating on King, but years later when King gave his famous ‘Why I oppose the Vietnam war‘ speech on Aril 30 1967 at Riverside Church in Harlem, he got to really experience hate. Many church leaders at that time stepped away and shunned him. Some feared cuts in their funding and compromised. King points this out in his speech ‘Transforming a Neighborhood into a Brotherhood

“There are those who have said to me, ‘Why are you taking a stand against the war? You’re a civil-rights leader. You shouldn’t be on this. You’re out of your field.’

Long before I was a civil-rights speaker, I was a preacher of the Gospel. When I was ordained to the Christian ministry … I took a commission to bring the insights of our Christian heritage to bear on the evils of our day.

He goes on to add

“There are those who go on to say beyond that, ‘Aren’t you going to hurt your leadership?’ Somebody said to me not long ago, “People have respected you, and don’t you feel you’re going to lose that and, in order to maintain that respect, don’t you think you’ll have to start talking more in terms of the policy of our nation in Vietnam?’

“I looked into his eyes and said, ‘Sir, I’m sorry you don’t know me. I’m not a consensus leader. I don’t determine what is right and wrong by looking at the budget of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. I don’t determine what is wrong by roaming around taking a Gallup poll of the majority opinion.’ …

It was said that after King gave these types of speeches it soured his relationship with then President Lyndon B Johnson who helped usher in important Civil Rights legislation with King at his side. King eventually was cut off and lost access to the White House while being roundly criticized by other leaders who became comfortable with tasting power.

Creflo Dollar represent the new breed of Conservative thinking Prosperity Gospel Preachers within the Black Church

Now contrast King’s willingness to stand up to the Vietnam War and sacrifice his friendship with President Johnson and Black Mega-Church Evangelist Creflo Dollar who reprimanded his congregation for speaking out against George Bush and his call for war.

He demanded that people repent for their criticisms. Professor/ commentator Marc Lamont Hill pointed this out in a October 2006 column title the ‘New Black Church Strikes Again‘ where he shows how he links’ blind patriotism to Christian duty’.Hill points out the letter..

When a nation is on the brink of war, the worst thing its citizens can do is allow themselves to become divided. The Bible says that there is a time for war and a time for peace (Ecclesiastes 3:8). In fact, Jesus said that in the last days there would be wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24:6). When this country was attacked on September 11, 2001, there was a fierce public outcry. America wanted her enemies to pay. Now, two years later, those same Americans are protesting the war against terrorism.

President Bush is worthy of your prayers and support. He is a man who rises early every morning to seek God and His wisdom through prayer and the study of the Word. This is not the time for Christians to picket, carry protest signs or throw their opinions around. The election is over, and the man in the Oval Office is the one we, as Americans, voted in. Numbers 32:7-13 makes it clear how God feels about a nation divided during a time of war.

This country needs unity, and it begins with the church. It is your responsibility as a believer to pray for the president, others in leadership, this nation, the men and women serving in the Armed Forces and our enemies–whoever they may be. Forget about your political affiliation or preference. You are first and foremost a Christian.

Dr Cornel West said there's been alot of manipulation and distortion of Christ and his teachings within prosperity circles

As was mentioned earlier what has taken place over the years is a manipulation and distortion of Christianity and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Professor Dr Cornel West noted in a recent interview “There’s been a whole lot of creativity and imagining to move Christ from helping the poor to being a wealthy individual who embraces greed and dislike people who are different..’

We don’t really know Christ and his basic teachings anymore because he’s been so distorted. Along with this manipulation comes an unwillingness by many to be empathetic toward people who are suffering and in pain.

West concluded now more than ever we have to step up and keep justice on our hearts and minds. The key word here is JUSTICE. This is especially true for those who profess to be Christians. If we don’t speak up who will?

We all know the famous quotes in Matthews where Jesus said its easier to pass through the eye of a camel than for a rich man to get into heaven.  Was he saying folks should be destitute and not have money?  Hardly.

Jesus was letting folks know that its easy to get caught up when you have riches. It’s easy to forget some basic things that he was teaching and believe your own hype. It’s easy to have money  become your master.

Can we let our material possessions go?  I means its hard times right now…so would we let our things go if asked by Jesus?  Can we let the money, fame and power go and be without?  Is this what happened to Bishop Eddie Long? Have we been getting to caught up?   Is this whats been happening in many of our churches? Is this a condition we’re struggling with?

The answer to those questions will require some serious reflection and thought. Our society makes it easy for us to move away off our square or foundation. Lets not get too caught up when we have mouths to feed and hearts to heel.

Something to ponder

Davey D

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Today 1 in 7 Americans Live in Poverty-Let’s Count the Ways this is Impacting You and Me.

Yesterday the Census Bureau presented its annual report that showed how the poverty rate in the US had significantly risen. Today 1 in 7 Americans is living in poverty. Now the report has all sorts of numbers that may be of use to news reporters, but for the average person going about their business day-to-day, whatever numbers the report put out doesn’t even began to tell half the story. To start, we have a number, (1 in 7) that talks about people ‘living in poverty’, that number doesn’t include the folks who are part of the ‘working poor’. That’s where you really likely to hear tales of woe.

Nor does this report reflect those who simply fell off the proverbial grid. In other words, there are folks who been out of work for over a year, who have run out of unemployment benefits, lost their homes and have fallen through the cracks. Many have been led to believe their downfall is their fault and thus they have been too embarrassed to speak out and emerge from the shadows. How they’re making it may be stories onto themselves. I see folks like this everyday.

Many are living in their cars or couch surfing. Many will park their cars in their old neighborhoods where they can no longer afford to live, but know its safe and familiar. They keep their 30 dollar a month gym membership so they can shower and keep themselves up. They take advantage of the free wi-fi at coffee shops where they spend lots of time looking for jobs on trying sell things via E-bay or Craig’s list. Today’s homeless person is not some drunk or crackhead type of ‘undesirable’. He or she may be your next door neighbor trying to put up good appearances so as not to lessen their chances to bounce back.

The sad part is for many there will be no bounce back and thats where we have this major disconnect between the Have and Have Nots. Many who Have  are completely out of touch and hold a fairytale view of what’s going on with folks who are in economic peril. They think this is temporary and with a little more elbow grease things will turn around. Sadly at times this notion seems to be one held by our president.

When this Census Bureau economic report came out, I immediately thought back to a scathing video put out earlier this year by longtime scholar, author and Civil Rights leader Cornel West. On the one year anniversary of President Obama‘s presidency the Princeton professor took him to task for not talking about the plight of poor people. West an early supporter was very pointed in his remarks as he expressed his profound disappointment. He said the President Obama and his cabinet had ‘technocratic’ approaches for dealing with the poor folks and that it was far removed from what is really needed. He noted that the approach much be such where they as political leaders are in the trenches alongside the people, building with them from where they stood and not so detached.


Cornel’s remarks suggested that its one thing to look somberly into a camera and say ‘Many Americans are having a tough time’ as if this is a temporary thing like missing a car payment that could made up next period. It’s another thing to truly understand what its like when a family has run out of options and will be out on the streets with no skill sets on how to navigate and survive. West like many who work on the front lines for change understood that part of this disconnect complicating their challenge to Obama were seemingly high-profile, well to do media pundits and opportunistic politicians who would give lip service to the plight of poor people or use them as political footballs.

We saw this at the start of the summer when GOP Senators held up unemployment benefits for a few weeks as a way to send President Obama a strong message and ‘teach him a lesson’ about spending. It was also a way to get Democrats to cave into lobbying efforts from Wall Street hedge fund managers who wanted to see proposed tax increases included in the spending bill, disappear.

Senator Jim Bunning upheld payment benefits to the unemployed

We saw this play out in the spring when former Major League baseball player turned GOP Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky did some outlandish procedural maneuvering to hold up benefits. He too wanted to send a strong political message to Obama. Sadly it came at the expense of ordinary folks who were just barely getting by. While Bunning and others tossed these political footballs around, many lost homes. Many had their electricity turned off. Many had their cars repossessed. What we saw on TV was Bunning standing firm and shaking his fist at the camera calling for economic restraint. What we didn’t see or hear too much were from those who were seeing the last of their world crumble.

We didn’t hear from the person who lost their job, lost their home and simply didn’t have enough deposit money for an apartment. We didn’t hear from the person who lost their job, fell behind on their bills and suddenly couldn’t get a job because their credit rating was bad. We didn’t hear from the person who was out of work and had been looking for a year only to discover that because he or she had been out for so long was now deemed undesirable in the job market.

When such viewpoints were brought up in public space, you always had news anchor with a million dollar salary be dismissive or some sort of pundit with lucrative speaking dates lined up telling us times are tough but they’ll soon get better.

Here in California we saw how Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger implement ‘furlough Fridays where all state workers would be required to take a certain number of unpaid days off. This was essentially a 10-15% decrease in salaries in a state notorious for having a still increasing high cost of living. The practice was put on hold and declared wrong. Workers were told they could get back pay and it gave thousands a sense of relief. Sadly that wasn’t good enough for the governor who fought the ruling and eventually got it overturned. So as this census Bureau report comes out showing 1 in 7 Americans are in poverty, Furlough Fridays return to places like California.

We’ve also seen this play out locally in the city of Oakland when last year the entire city council voted to raise parking rates and increase strict enforcement. It was later discovered that this enforcement would only apply to the city’s poor neighborhoods. This was taking place in a city with a 20% unemployment rate where its been estimated to be even higher in those poorer districts.

Oakland City Council member Jean Quan

During a recent mayoral debate the issue of aggressive parking enforcement came up and generated more buzz on outlets like twitter than any other topic brought up that night. When this was brought to one of the city council people who favored this plan, mayoral candidate Jean Quan she seemed oblivious to the hardships this was causing.

She went explained to me, how the city shouldn’t have free parking and seemed impervious as to what happens when an unemployed or under employed person in the city gets their car towed for unpaid parking ticket which many argue shouldn’t have been issued in the first place.

Columnist Zennie Abraham broke this down in a column he penned last year about Oakland’s parking sting operation. For those who don’t know, the city of Oakland like many other municipalities invested in a machine  that reads license plates and so late at night or in the wee hours of the morning parking enforcement officers scour the poor neighborhoods looking for cars to boot or tow.

This is a huge set back for those snared, one that has far-reaching consequences not just for the individual , but also for the small neighborhood businesses that person is likely to patronize. In other words if I own a business and customers suddenly has to scramble to pay 500-1000 for a towed car that’s potential revenue lost from businesses that could’ve circulated that dollar a few more times both in hiring and spending. Quan just didn’t get it.. But her view is reflective of that big disconnect. In her world its a fine. In someone else its a huge set back with far-reaching consequences.

The poverty report just gave us numbers but didn’t tell us about all the increased fees and hidden taxes besieging the poor and being explained away and justified by the rich. In other words, pay your parking tickets or credit car on time and avoid getting hit with exorbitant penalties.. that is of course if you can now afford to pay the bill in the first place.

Lastly this Census Bureau report doesn’t reflect those who are not living in poverty because they prematurely have dipped into their 401ks and have depleted their funds out of desperation.

I had a good friend tell me the other day that she had done everything she could to keep her family above water. She had cut backed, downsized, rented rooms and was working two jobs but none of this was enough with rapidly rising costs. Finally in a last-ditch effort she dipped into her retirement money. She explained it was a hard decision to make, but it was either that or be on the streets.  She said “The person in front of you today at age  40 is relieved, but that same person at age 60 will be miserable“. So 20 years from now we may have another economic crises when folks are holding their hands out having spent their life savings 20 years earlier.

My friend was one of the lucky ones because she actually had a 401k to dip into. Many weren’t as fortunate. Many saw their money disappear overnight at the start of the economic downturn hence that 401k was no longer an option. Many never had a 401k to begin with. It was reported the other week a record number of people were raiding their retirement funds just to survive.

The reports showed that many middle aged people were the ones dipping into their retirements, noting that for those over 35 who lost work, it was going to be extremely difficult to get back in the job market. Some of it was due to changing fields and new technology which made old skill sets un-marketable.

The more pervasive but unspoken reality is that many employers don’t wanna pay someone who earned their keep after trolling for 10-15 years at a job. Their logic is ‘Why pay them their worth, when they can dip into a younger work poll of people who were being urged to ‘work for free’ as interns as a way to get their foot in the door or to take considerably less pay under the guise of ‘paying dues’?

The other story not being spoken about was the fact that today many middle-aged folks are in this precarious position of being both caretaker and caregiver. In other words they are taking care of aging parents, many of whom divorced years ago, so they have mom who needs help on one part of town and a father living in another. At the same time they  are taking care of kids. If they’re middle-aged, they may have kids who are 10-14 which can be incredibly expensive. Those who have kids ready to go to college are looking at increased fees, some as much as 38% which was the case in California.

It was scenarios like this we aren’t hearing being addressed by Obama and many other politicians.  Its not being spoken about by those in mainstream media where the reporters and pundits are doing quite well for themselves. It isreality that with each passing day is rearing its ugly head and will in due time impact us all one way or another

Something to ponder

written by Davey D

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