Dear Jacksonville, FL’s Black Community: This Is On Us

We Are the First Line of Defense in Protecting Our Children
Since the beginning on 2018, the 5th  child has been shot in Jacksonville, FL.  Unfortunately, a 7 year old boy,  Tashawn Gallon was shot and killed this past Sunday night after 9 pm while playing in a Durkeeville front yard when someone in an SUV stopped and opened fire. According to Jacksonville’s sheriff—several adults many with criminal histories and gang affiliation were also present in this front yard drinking and smoking marijuana—returned fire. Some of these men are actually refusing to cooperate with police even after this child has died.  Sure, this case likely involves illegal guns but I see an even bigger issue.
We must stop insulting the intelligence of the public by pretending these are random events and that nobody truly knows whose shooting at them or why. People know what they are involved in and they know the risks to both themselves and those around them.  Bottom line, allowing the wrong type of company in and around your home puts your life and that of your family’s in danger. Why any relationship is worth your life or that of your child’s life is beyond me. Let’s stop pretending a balance can be struck between a life of crime and raising children in safe, stable environments.
The black community must take responsibility in the following ways:
Distance yourself from people, including relatives whom are involved in illegal, unseemly activities.  End your emotional and financial dependence on these individuals as well.
Stop cloaking for and enabling criminal behavior. If you see something, say something. It doesn’t get much more simple than this. You or someone you love will eventually become a target of the crime you purposely turn a blind eye to. You can no longer use the excuse you are afraid to report crime with anonymous reporting at your fingertips.
Stop subscribing to the belief you and others around you have no choice but to live a life of crime. Others have turned their lives around and so can you.
If you don’t believe in taking these actions, don’t proclaim to care about the black community or black kids. As a people, we must hold ourselves and one another accountable on this issue. At the end of the day, you aren’t hurting cops when you refuse to cooperate with police. You are hurting your own community  and  continuing to wear the blood of dead black children on your hands.

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A Homegirl Rant

DUUUVAL!:  A Crash Course In The True Origin of This Rallying Cry
Late last year, I was petitioning for the Second Chances Amendment initiative at the Jacksonville Beaches  Annual Craft Beer Festival.   I noticed a young gentleman selling t-shirts which featured the “DUUUVAL!” rally cry.   I could be wrong but this gentleman didn’t look as old as me, nor did he appear to have any ties to the local, urban hip-hop community. Bottom line: “DUUUVAL!” was started by people in the local, urban, hip-hop community of Jacksonville, FL in the 1990s. This rally cry was given a higher profile at the time by local disc jockey Easy E of then FM 92.7 The Beat. As an avid lover of rap/hip-hop and R&B, this radio station was the first time I recall hearing “DUUUVAL!” as a teenager in Jacksonville, FL. I’ve lived in the city all my life, 40 years to be exact.
The new marketing of this old rallying cry is a classic example of ignorance and opportunism for folks who cherry pick certain aspects of urban culture which appeals to them yet have little contact with, respect or appreciation for the people who belong to that culture. Be original. If you can’t be original, have enough integrity to recognize the origin of what you are cashing in on and give credit where it’s due. “DUUUVAL!” predates the Jacksonville Jaguars, but I guess many fans missed that memo.20180213_194019

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No Brown Girls

One of my first experiences with racism was in about  the 2nd grade.  While in class, I used to sit next to a white girl named Rachel and a Puerto Rican girl named Denise.  We talked and laughed a lot as little girls do. They both seemed nice enough. One day, Rachel invited Denise and myself to her sleepover and provided her telephone number in case we wanted to call her sometimes. I grew up with a very protective mother who didn’t really do sleepovers even when requested by close friends and family members. I would later find out, she had her reasons. I knew it would be a stretch, but I finally asked my mother if I could go to Rachel’s sleepover. She offered her usual, “I don’t think so” which really meant “Hell no.” I wasn’t happy but I wasn’t surprised.
The following Monday at school, Denise, the more talkative of us three,  informed me that when she phoned Rachel this past Saturday morning, just to chat, a woman, I’m presuming her mother, answered the phone and allegedly told Denise,”I don’t want any brown girls calling this house and hung up”.  Even then, I had no reason to believe a kid that age would make up such a thing. That pathetic woman actually said this. Denise confronted Rachel about this, but she had nothing to offer but awkward silence. With that I knew I wasn’t going to Rachel’s sleepover and I couldn’t wait to tell my mother what happened. Further, from that day forward, I had little or nothing to say to Rachel. I wasn’t an overly dramatic or emotional kid. My feelings weren’t hurt. I just knew she was being groomed to be racist by her own parent and no black kid could compete with that.  I believed in thought and action. I knew my place in this scenario and it was to keep my distance from kids like Rachel.
When I finally told my mother, she let me know the main reason she was uncomfortable with sleepovers. She started by making me aware that knowing people and knowing how they run their households are two different things. Her main concern was the potential for child molestation. Then, Mom asked,  “So what do you think would have happened had I let you go to the house of someone who would say such a thing to a child? She was brown, you’re black?” My silence provided her the confirmation she needed that at least some of what she taught me had soaked in.  I was a young child but I was a bright child. This incident made me aware that racism is a family heirloom passed from generation to generation for far too many. The fact that most people don’t have friends of different races makes me realize that this isn’t just some isolated societal issue. This is widespread, perpetual and done by design. There are those who will always feel racism is a necessary evil which serves to preserve their supremacy and privilege. This is the survival mechanism they’ve chosen.  For the rest of us who refuse to live by fear, if we wish to resolve the issue of race, we must start with our youth. They can change if they learn from the darkness of our past and hopefully, they will.

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Yes We Can and Yes We Did! Florida Will Be Able to Grant Second Chances


Thanks to over a million Florida voters, the Voter Restoration Amendment will be on the ballot in November 2018. Nearly 1.5 million Floridians are permanently excluded from voting because of prior felony conviction. This past week, the Second Chances Campaign received and even bigger boost from a federal judge whom has declared unconstitutional, Florida’s procedure for restoring voting rights to felons who have served their time. United States District Judge Mark Walker, an Obama administration appointee said the disenfranchisement of felons who have served their time is “nonsensical” and a violation of the 1st and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Most of us already knew this but evil prevails when good men do nothing. Sadly, too many of us did nothing here. However, I can’t stress enough how happy I am to have been a part of this petitioning campaign to restore the right to vote to fellow Americans. What I want to know now is when/if these Floridians will be automatically granted the right to vote or will they have to clear another hurdle by hoping others will vote in their favor this fall?

The time to restore the right to vote to those who have completed all terms of their sentences, with exceptions for murder and sex offenses, is now. I urge others to not only support this initiative, but to build on this success and continue grassroots efforts to better the quality of life of their fellow man. We’re not free, until we’re ALL free.

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Rep. Joe Kennedy Jr.’s State of the Union rebuttal: The only portion of this address I’ll be watching


Today, Co-founder of The Beat D.C. Tiffany Cross tells AM JOY she thinks the Democrats have “missed the boat” with their plan to have Rep. Joe Kennedy, III give the State of the Union rebuttal. Is this baby for real? In case she is…

Nah, Boo. You’re wrong. He’s a Kennedy. They have a major civil rights legacy. The Kennedys are why we currently have a Barack Obama, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker.  Ms. Cross clearly isn’t in touch with this history. It was Robert F. Kennedy who shortly before his own assassination, predicted in 1968 that in 40 years we will have a Negro president. Forty years from 1968 was 2008. Barack Obama was elected president of the United States in 2008. Although Senator Ted Kennedy was in frail health, he help ensured this prophecy before he died in 2009 by endorsing then Senator Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton. We can’t forget our white allies, especially those who paid for the struggle for civil rights with their own lives as the Kennedy men have.

The March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial gave rise to John F. Kennedy’s Civil Rights Act of 1964. This comprehensive civil rights bill cleared Congress, winning the endorsement of House and Senate Republican leaders. It was not passed, however, before November 22, 1963, when President Kennedy was assassinated. The bill was bequeathed to Lyndon B. Johnson. Before becoming vice president, Johnson had served more than twenty years in Congress as a congressman and senator from Texas. He used his influence with southern white congressional leaders, with the collaboration of Robert Kennedy’s Justice Department and public outcry after the president’s assassination, the Civil Rights Act was passed as a way to honor President Kennedy.

Provisions of the act included: (1) protecting African Americans against discrimination in voter qualification tests; (2) outlawing discrimination in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters, and all other public accommodations engaged in interstate commerce; (3) authorizing the US Attorney General’s Office to file legal suits to enforce desegregation in public schools; (4) authorizing the withdrawal of federal funds from programs practicing discrimination; and (5) outlawing discrimination in employment in any business exceeding 25 people and creating an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to review complaints.

The Civil Rights Act was passed on July 2, 1964. This is why I vote. This is why I resist. This is why I persist.

I’m confident Rep. Joe Kennedy Jr. will deliver, as historically, the Kennedys always have.




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White Lies: When the fear of being labeled a racist becomes more important than the existence of actual racism


Racists cloaking for racists is as American as apple pie and it’s why racism is still a real issue in our country today. Many in white America have an intense fear of being labeled racist because they know there can be real repercussions. Racists are generally seen as bad people with no credibility or redeeming qualities. Nobody wants to deal with them much less make a deal with them, hence the current “#TrumpShutdown.” If only these folks could get past the label, acknowledge the issue, make changes and move forward. I can’t stress enough racism isn’t just about being mean. People benefit from racism and they want to continue to benefit. Since racism has it’s benefits, there is no real incentive to not be racist or even to end institutional racism.

How many of you are pretty sure Senators Dick Durbin and Lindsay Graham heard Trump’s “shithole countries” comments loud and clear as did Senators Cotton, Perdue and DHS Secretary Neilsen? How many of you know as fellow white men, Senators Durbin and Graham were expected to conceal Trump’s racism because let’s face it, being white and calling out racism can get you uninvited to the country club real quick, among other things. If you’re a white person and you want a crash course in what it’s like to be black, just start calling out the racism of other white people. You’ll be certified. Trust me. I’ve seen a number of white people completely railroaded for speaking out against racism and/or uncovering it. When they do so, they deserve the respect of everyone, especially people of color.

The officials lying on Trump’s behalf are making a choice to continue their benefits and privileges at the expense of people who would be negatively impacted by Trumps’ racist policies. Further, they could also see themselves in Trump. Many people knowingly have racist views yet don’t wish to think of themselves as racist. You can’t have it both ways. But you can get help and you should.

The American immigration is rooted in racism and always has been. That’s not really new, either. What’s new is a modern day president explicity stating he prefers immigrants from Norway not “shithole countries” which house most of the world’s black/brown people. Frankly, I’m not surprised Trump prefers “white immigrants only” to enter the US. His wife is a European immigrant and as she inches towards 50, I’m sure Trump is about ready for her replacement.

I don’t like the idea of any American president purposely allowing DACA protections to near expiration, then calling black/brown countries “shithole countries” while hoping for an influx of “white only” immigrants AND expecting American citizens to trust he will be fair to all people. We cannot stand for this type of government sponsored racist assault on people of color regardless of their immigration status.

Vigilance is imperative. Mobilization is vital. We must, we shall and we will overcome.

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The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., will live on forever, however, this legacy should no longer depend on his relatives


I think we are at a point where we need to stop looking for the King family to be leaders in the civil rights movement going forward as their focus appears to be on elevating themselves and continuing to profit off of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy. Their commitment to the movement other the years has been scattered and schizophrenic at best.

The family’s response to Donald Trump’s comments in an Oval Office meeting about immigration, where he referred to a series of nations as “shithole countries” and questioned why the United States was not welcoming more people from Norway as opposed to Haiti, El Salvador and African countries were pretty pathetic.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s son says his father would be “incensed” by President Trump’s “shithole” comment yet thinks something good can come from this. Sure.  Let’s throw around empty, pious cliches while the future of 800,000 “Dreamers” hang in the balance.

It’s pretty clear from MLK’s niece, Alveda King’s appearance on Fox News, she’s more focused on being a paid political pundit and defending Donald Trump’s overt racism at every stop rather than putting the current civil rights movement into overdrive. King actually said, “I do not believe President Donald John Trump is a racist. The economy’s up. Jobs are up in the black community.” Can someone please tell this woman we are still reaping the benefits of an Obama economy?

Isaac Newton Farris Jr., Martin Luther King Jr.’s nephew, told CNN while he does not believe President Donald Trump is a “racist in the traditional sense,” he does think the President is “racially ignorant and racially uninformed.” What does this even mean?

It’s very disingenuous as it is dangerous for prominent, influential African-Americans to use their position to cloak for and pretend the Trump administration which has been and still is a haven for white supremacist advisors, cares about communities of color or pretend his policies are not a clear and present danger to them. The King family needs to do better or get out of the spotlight and stay out. Or better yet, be clear that they are not about MLK’s legacy, but their own.

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Is Europe A “Shithole” Continent?


It’s only fair to ask since many Americans feel a need to justify Donald Trump’s “shithole” remarks

If Haiti, El Salvador and African countries are “shithole” countries, Trump should at least apply this same logic to the numerous European countries many European immigrants have migrated from. Let’s be honest here. Many people share Donald Trump’s sentiments about countries which house most of the world’s black and brown people. Thus calling Trump the racist he is would force them to confront their own racism. They simply don’t wish to do that. Racism is largely fear based. It’s also a powerful tool and is much too beneficial for many to just lay aside for the comfort of others.

Last I checked the white man is not native to America. Were England, France and Spain “shithole” countries? I mean if we measured a country’s “shitholeness” by the number of people who’ve either left and/or continue to leave, Europe would have to come in first place. Why are so many upset black/brown immigrants are using the immigration system to their benefit as Europeans did? White supremacy has not and does not make America great. However, we do have proof immigrants do. For example, African immigrants are more educated than most, including people born in the United States.

In the 1990s, I recall my hometown being flooded with refugees from Albania, Serbia, Bosnia and even Russia. These people were fleeing civil war, ethnic cleansing and genocide. I don’t recall anyone referring to these countries as a “shithole” countries. These refugees were treated like victims whom deserved respect and needed social services. They weren’t treated like intruders trying to change the sociopolitical landscape of America. Period. Apparently, this is only a privilege which is extended to white immigrants only.

Make no mistake. America’s immigration system has historically been designed to benefit white immigrants. The times have changed but the mentality hasn’t.

Nobody chooses where they are born, nor do they choose the circumstances. I reject the notion of a “shithole” country or continent across the board. To say a country is a “shithole” is to say it’s citizens are such. More help and less judgment of our fellow man is an order here.

Protect Dreamers. Protect Haitians. Protect El Salvadorans. Protect all immigrants. Protect Humanity.

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Oprah Winfrey 2020? Why Not?


Can We Really Pretend There Is A Real Standard For The Presidency After Donald Trump?

Don’t get me wrong. I love Oprah but I have no desire for our government to be run by billionaires. However, I do take issue with the main stream media’s new, sudden, continuous attack on Oprah, from her wealth to her dealings with accused sexual predator Harvey Weinstein, “junk medical providers” Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Phil. As far as I’m concerned, nothing Oprah has ever said or done would ever be worse than what we currently have occupying our White House.

I find it interesting after giving the most mediocre white man in America-Donald Trump-the highest office in the land, we’ve suddenly deployed all this qualifying criteria which wasn’t a deal breaker for Donald Trump. In other words, let’s not get cute now that we think a black woman is running for president.

Bottom line, Oprah is a real billionaire. Oprah is a college educated, self-made woman with pretty good business acumen. Oprah has blessed real people and real charities. Oprah has the ability to bring people together. Oprah has “lived out loud.” There’s no surprises or secrets with her. At the end of the day, I don’t think we would have a quarter of the issues out of Oprah, we currently have out of Trump.

Like most voters, I’d prefer to see a person with an extensive background in public service, legislative, executive experience and accomplishments. In 2016, we had this. Her name was Hillary Clinton, yet an inexperienced, incompetent, racist, bigoted, xenophobic, treasonous con man is our current president. This happened under the watch of the same journalists attacking an Oprah Winfrey run before it even starts. Our democracy is now at stake. Do your damn jobs and stop deflecting from this by talking about who else shouldn’t be president, before they even enter the race.

I’ve seen the opposition research yet, I would gladly vote for Oprah Winfrey in a heartbeat, over Donald Trump in 2020.



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We Must Value, Support and Protect Our Children…All of Them

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Forty percent of the homeless youth served by agencies identify as LGBT

LGBT individuals face social isolation, discrimination, and rejection by their own families, which add to the physical and emotional strains/challenges, which all homeless individuals must wrestle with. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth constitutes approximately 7% of the total youth population. Forty-three percent of clients served by drop-in centers identified as LGBT; 30% of street outreach clients identified as LGBT; 30% of clients utilizing housing programs identified as LGBT.

Homeless LGBT individuals have significant difficulty locating shelters which accept and respect them. LGBT individuals experiencing homelessness are at an increased risk of violence, abuse, and exploitation compared with their heterosexual peers. Transgender individuals are particularly at a heightened risk of physical violence due to a lack of acceptance and are often turned away from shelters. In some cases, signs have been posted excluding them from admittance.

In my teens, being LGBTQ wasn’t really acknowledged and I admit to being ignorant of the plight of a few LGBTQ youth back then. But since when has it been acceptable to subject a child to living on the streets because they are LGBTQ? The thought of this is truly horrifying as it is abusive. The LGBTQ are human beings, created as the rest of us and are of equal status. Their sexual orientation should NEVER be an excuse to rob them of a childhood and human dignity.

A couple of years back, I parted ways with a very dear friend of nearly twenty years because their family image was more important than being a loving parent to their LGBTQ youth. My novella, “Vita’s Boy” was inspired by this series of events. I’m convinced one of the the best things we can do for this community is to validate their importance and celebrate their differences early in life. Hopefully, this will diminish unnecessary lifelong pain and struggle.

In the meantime, we should endorse social organizations which support our LGBTQ youth.

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