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Court Sentences Black College Student To 12 Years In Prison For Kissing a White Girl

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Albert N. Wilson, a former University of Kansas student, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison and faces a lifetime of probation after being convicted by an all-white jury of raping a white teen girl.

But he says that they never had sex, but only kissed.

In September 2016, then 20-year old Wilson went to a bar with a friend. At the bar, he met a girl, who was 17-years old at the time.

The girl was visiting her cousin who attended KU. Both of them were underage, so Wilson used a friend’s ID to get into the bar, while the young woman and her cousin entered without an ID.

A popular college spot called Jayhawk Cafe was the meeting point of both parties. Both parties agreed they met while they were dancing. While kissing the girl Wilson allegedly lifted up her skirt and invited her to his place which was only a walking distance from the bar. Both of them didn’t know each other’s ages.

The young woman claimed Wilson raped her at his place. However, Wilson told a different story. In his testimony, he stated that the girl “didn’t seem intoxicated at all.” He admitted that they kissed and engaged in other sexual acts, but he said they never had sexual intercourse.

Wilson’s DNA was found on the girl’s chest through his saliva when he kissed her there according to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. However, the DNA Test revealed that no DNA from seminal fluid was found at all. Swabs were collected from the girl after she went to a local hospital the day after the incident. There were bruises in the region of her inner thighs in the photos taken.

Wilson initially claimed during the trial he couldn’t remember the details of what happened that night, but he felt that the police were against him at that time because of his race.

“I don’t know how to explain this, but I come from a different background than you, ma’am,” said Wilson to Judge Sally Pokorny, who is white. “…I just felt like the police [were] against me at that point.”

 

 

In his argument Forrest Lowry, Wilson’s court-appointed lawyer, stated that his client is not someone who would do the things that are being made in allegations against him. Wilson, who is now 23-years old, was a former Wichita Southeast High School football player and an associate degree holder with an aspiration to become a sports journalist. He had no criminal record.

“It was a chance meeting. Obviously, my client misread what was going on,” Lowry said in court. “If there was ever a case that deserved a departure of any kind, I think this is it.”

The all-white jury decided to convict Wilson of rape after a 6-hour deliberation. They gave him the reported “lowest end of what’s called for by Kansas sentencing guidelines for rape.”

The verdict has not gone down well with many people. It caused an uproar with many people asking multiple questions about the woman’s story, especially since a surveillance video showed the girl was consenting as they engaged with one another and they were only at Wilson’s place for five minutes before returning to the bar. Some people are also questioning Wilson’s lengthy sentence compared to other convicted rapists.

Wilson’s supporters have created a website at FreeAlbertWilson.com to find out the truth behind the case.

Systemic racism: white boy gets six months for rape!

Lawsuit seeks redress for 1921 massacre of Tulsa’s Black district

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tusla black wall street

A 105-year-old survivor is the lead plaintiff seeking recompense for the ‘public nuisance’ the racist massacre created.

A lawsuit filed in the US state of Oklahoma seeks justice for the 1921 Tulsa Massacre, among the largest racially motivated mass killings in US history.

The suit, filed on behalf of descendants of the carnage and a survivor, 105-year-old Lessie Benningfield Randle, is seeking reparations for the destruction of the city’s previously thriving Black district, Greenwood, that was burned to the ground by an angry white mob.

The area was so financially successful it was known as “the Black Wall Street” in its day. It is estimated that up to 300 people were killed during the massacre

Tulsa lawyer Damario Solomon-Simmons, who filed the lawsuit along with other members of the Justice for Greenwood Advocates, a team of civil and human rights lawyers, told reporters at a news conference last week that no one “to this day, has been held accountable … someone said recently that the folks that committed the massacre almost got away with it. Well, they did get away with it. Until today.”

The massacre, which left hundreds of Black residents dead and thousands homeless, has received renewed attention in recent months. Part of this renewed interest came after a popular television program, The Watchmen, used the events as major plot point.

 

 

The lawsuit seeks repairs in and restoration of Tulsa’s predominantly Black north side and claims the event has a lasting impact on Black residents of the city to this day.

A Red Cross report six months after the incident stated “the consensus opinion” about the underlying causes of the rioting “places the blame upon ‘the lack of law enforcement'”.

“Thirty-five city blocks were looted systematically, then burned to a cinder,” the report stated, ” and the twelve thousand population thereof scattered like chaff before the wind.”

The lawsuit names seven defendants said to have contributed to the “public nuisance and unjustly enriched themselves at the expense of the Black citizens of Tulsa and the survivors and descendants of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre”.

The complaint was filed under the state’s public nuisance law, which the state attorney general used last year to force opioid drug maker Johnson & Johnson to pay the state $465m in damages.

The plaintiffs want the defendants to “abate the public nuisance of racial disparities, economic inequalities, insecurity, and trauma their unlawful actions and omissions caused in 1921 and continue to cause 99 years after the massacre”.

Tulsa Race Massacre

The aftermath of the Tulsa Race Massacre, during which mobs of white residents attacked black residents and businesses of the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma, US, June 1921 [Bettmann Archive/Getty Images]

The lawsuit does not specify a dollar amount sought by the plaintiffs but asks the court to declare that a public nuisance created by the defendants is capable of being abated “through the expenditure of money and labor”.

The suit also seeks a detailed accounting of the property and wealth lost or stolen in the massacre, the construction of a hospital in north Tulsa and the creation of a Tulsa Massacre Victims Compensation Fund, among other things. It also seeks immunity from all city and county taxes and utility expenses for the next 99 years for descendants of those who were killed, injured or lost property in the massacre.

The Red Cross report said the property losses including household goods “will easily reach the four million [dollar] mark”.

Other defendants include the Tulsa Regional Chamber, Board of County Commissioners, Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission, Tulsa County Sheriff and a branch of the Oklahoma Military Department, which is the agency that administers the state’s National Guard.

Tulsa graves

The graves of Reuben Everett, left, and Eddie Lockard, right, believed to be victims of the massacre, are seen at Oaklawn Cemetery in Tulsa [Sue Ogrocki/AP Photo]

“The actions of these Guardsmen substantially reduced the number of deaths in the Greenwood District. In the days following the riots, Oklahoma Guardsmen restored order to the area and prevented further attacks by both black and white Tulsans. Due to pending litigation, the Oklahoma National Guard will offer no further comment on this subject.”

‘Racist’ shampoo advertisement sparks protests in South Africa

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Protesters have gathered outside several pharmacy chain stores in South Africa in reaction to a shampoo advertisement slammed by the critics as “racist”.

The advertisement, commissioned by the TRESemme hair company and carried on the Clicks pharmacies’ website, compared two photos of Black women’s hair with two photos of white women’s hair, labelling the natural hair “dry and damaged” and “frizzy and dull”, while the white women’s hair was “fine and flat” and “normal”.

The opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party on Monday called for demonstrations over the issue and rallied people to protest outside the company’s outlets.

“We will not permit the unrepentant and perverse racism of Clicks to go on in South Africa. #clicksmustfall,” the EFF posted on Twitter.

Local website TimesLive reported that at least one store had been petrol-bombed early in the morning, causing minor damage.

Videos on the EFF’s social media pages and in local media showed small groups of protesters – clad in the party’s red berets – dancing and singing protest songs in several malls.

Many on social media also expressed their outrage over the advertisement, with Black women posting photos of their hair with hashtags #RacismMustFall and #BlackHairIsNormal.

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“Not only is this disrespectful to black lives, it is also evidence of an absence of representation and diversity within the organisation,” tweeted Zozibini Tunzi, who wears short natural hair and was crowned Miss Universe in December.

“And we are talking about a South Africa with a population of about 80 percent black people… No ways.”

Apology

As anger over the advertisement grew, Clicks Pharmacy, one of the two largest retailers in the country with more than 500 stores, issued “an unequivocal apology” and pulled down the images.

“We are strong advocates of natural hair and are deeply sorry we have offended our natural hair community,” it said in a statement on its Twitter account on Friday.

“We have made a mistake and sincerely apologise for letting you down.”

Unilever SA, TRESemme’s parent company, published an apology on its website that read: “We are very sorry that images used in a TRESemme South Africa marketing campaign on the Clicks website promote racist stereotypes about hair.

“The campaign set out to celebrate the beauty of all hair types and the range of solutions that TRESemmé offers, but we got it wrong.”

Hair is a sensitive issue in many parts of Africa.

South African students have had to campaign in the past to be allowed to wear natural hairstyles – like dreadlocks, afros and cornrows – at school.

In 2018, the EFF staged protests, trashing outlets of Swedish clothing giant Hennes and Mauritz (H&M) in Johannesburg over a controversial advertisement featuring a Black boy.

A photo on H&M’s website of the boy wearing a green hoodie with the inscription “coolest monkey in the jungle” had triggered outrage on social media.

H&M and Clicks are not the only major companies to be hit by advertisement scandals in recent years.

Spanish clothing brand Zara in 2014 removed striped pyjamas with a yellow star after facing outrage over its resemblance to clothes worn by Jewish prisoners in concentration camps.

The West’s never ending quest to ‘de-radicalise’ dissent

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The brutal tactics used to contain the Mau Mau uprising in colonial Kenya are now guiding the global war on terror.

An investigation by Declassified UK has revealed that for more than 15 years, US and UK security agencies have been waging a covert war in Kenya, arming and training a secret Kenyan paramilitary team that has committed atrocities against Kenyan civilians and violated Kenyan laws under the guise of fighting terrorism.

While the report does important work in documenting this, the collaboration between Kenya and the West and its brutality is hardly news. Reports of Kenyan agencies working with their Western counterparts to disappear, rendition, torture and murder local terror suspects are legion, and have appeared regularly in Kenyan and international press for decades.

However, the Declassified UK report does bring to mind startling similarities between the way the global war on terror is waged today and the British effort to put down what came to be known as the Mau Mau uprising in colonial Kenya nearly 70 years ago. At the time, a peasant movement, focused mainly in the country’s central highlands, had taken up arms and formed the Kenya Land and Freedom Army with the express aim of kicking out the colonial settlers and recovering the land they had lost.

Their violence, which targeted white Europeans and their African collaborators, reflected the brutality employed by the British in their half-century occupation of the country.

 

Kenyan police vow to 'finish and punish' Westgate Mall terrorists - CNN.com

 

In their response, the British sought to paint the rebellion as a reflection of the innate savagery and primitivity of Black Africans and to deny the fighters in the forests had any legitimate grievances or practical visions of the future. The press, both in Kenya and in Western capitals, was inundated with propaganda generated by the Colonial Office in London.

“All we heard was how savage Mau Mau was,” Caroline Elkins, author of the influential book on colonial atrocities during that period, British Gulag, quotes John Nottingham, then a young colonial officer, as saying.

“Just completely atavistic, and somehow had to be gotten rid of, regardless of how this was done.” As painted by the British, the conflict pitted the peaceful, progressive and enlightened forces of white colonialism against the dark, evil, foul and secretive filth of the degraded Mau Mau. The very name, Mau Mau, was an attempt to associate the movement with the idea of savagery. It did not originate with the fighters. 

In fact, they actively rejected it. In a 1953 Charter, introducing the movement, Dedan Kimathi, the leader, declared: “We reject being called [Mau Mau or] terrorists for demanding our people’s rights. [It is derogatory].

We are the Kenya Land [and] Freedom Army.” Kenyan politician Josiah Mwangi “JM” Kariuki, who was interned in prison camps from 1953 to 1960 for channelling resources to the fighters, and eventually murdered by the state agents of independent Kenya, later wrote: “The world knows [the KLFA] by a title of abuse and ridicule with which it was described by one of its bitterest opponents.”

Compare this with the descriptions of those today fighting against Western domination of Middle Eastern societies as anachronistic, long-bearded, cave-dwelling atavists defined by their brutality rather than by the aims they espouse.

There is an entrenched resistance to the idea that those who espouse a violent overthrow of the current world order can either have legitimate reasons for doing so or espouse rational alternatives to their exploitation. This resistance manifests in the tendency to employ simplistic, binary views of conflict and the zero-sum, with-us-or-against-us rhetoric pioneered by the George W Bush administration.

 

Al-Shabaab attacks Kenyan college: 6 things to know - CNN

 

It is also evident in the idea of “radicalisation” which seeks to paint a resort to violence as a form of mental illness or the result of brainwashing. In the 1950s, the British efforts against the KLFA focused on the secret oathing ceremonies that the fighters used to recruit their members. According to Elkins, the colonial establishment attributed their colonial subjects’ anger to “the so-called spell of the Mau Mau oath rather than an outgrowth of legitimate complaints rooted in individual circumstances”.

Confessing the oath came to be regarded as the sin qua non of effective rehabilitation (or, as we would say today, “de-radicalisation”). To achieve this, the British established a horrendous system of camps referred to as “the Pipeline” where those suspected of taking the oath were interred and subjected to unspeakable tortures to get them to confess.

Tens of thousands died and many more were left scarred and destitute. One and a half million people were forced from their homes and put in concentration camps where many starved. All this was justified by the rubric of fighting Mau Mau terror.

Today, the talk of “de-radicalisation” similarly denies the legitimacy of grievances. The anger many feel at Western policies and aggressions towards their countries and societies are easily dismissed and rather than focus on the oppressive policies, de-radicalisation frames the actions of the victims as the problem.

For example, decades of massacres and brutalities committed by the Kenyan government against the majority Muslim regions of the coast and the northeast of the country are seldom cited as the cause of widespread disaffection in these areas. Rather the blame is easily laid at the feet of “radical” preachers whose words, like those of the Mau Mau, are said to have the effect of casting magical spells on simple-minded populations. 

Kenyan police vow to 'finish and punish' Westgate Mall terrorists - CNN.com

To recognise the legitimacy of grievances is not to defend the tactics of terror (though it will inevitably be portrayed as such by some). Rather, the resort to such violence should be understood within its full context, and that context includes recognition of the violence of oppression that incites it.

Further, while the brutality of the British and their local allies did effectively break the KLFA, the cost of doing so has continued to be paid till today in the suppression of public memory both in Kenya and in the UK, and in the terror the Kenyan state exhibits towards its population and the consequent violence it perpetrates against them.

Similarly, the brutal tactics used by the West and its allies may enjoy short-term success. But this will come at the long-term expense of entrenched instability, hostility, fear and conflict.

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Antisemitism institute halts activities in support of African-Americans

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ISGAP is an institute devoted to scholarly research on the origins, processes, and manifestations of global antisemitism.

The Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP) announced Thursday the suspension of operations for 48 hours in solidarity with African-Americans in light of recent alleged manifestations of racism and police brutality, according to a press release from the organization.

ISGAP is an institute devoted to the academic study and scholarly research on the origins, processes, and manifestations of global antisemitism, in addition to other forms of prejudice.

The press release noted that ISGAP stands in solidarity with African-Americans in their struggle against the continuation of policy brutality in the US, while also noting that it supports the fights for civil and basic human rights, including legal equality.

Natan Sharansky, an Israeli politician, human rights activist and former refusenik in the Soviet Union during the 1970s and 1980s, and the current Chairman of ISGAP, said in conjunction with the announcement that “We must respond to antisemitism and racism from all sectors of society and from all parts of the political spectrum, including the extreme left and right, and from societal institutions.

Black Lives Matter rally in London, June 6, 2020 (photo credit: FLICKR/SOCIALIST APPEAL)

Tolerating hatred of any kind erodes the rights of all citizens and weakens our democratic institutions.”

Similarly, Charles Asher Small, Director of ISGAP, pointed to the connection between antisemitism and racism against African-Americans, saying, “Hatred of any kind, including racism and antisemitism, once unleashed knows no boundaries. At ISGAP we are concerned by recent manifestations of racism and antisemitism and the rise of radical extremism that espouse intolerance to communities that have been targeted by hatred historically.

“In a time of the growing fragmentation of our society, where radicals preaching hate are gaining traction, people of goodwill must build bridges based on respect and understanding, and work to promote human rights and dignity for all citizens,” Small added.

Small further stated that “ISGAP will halt all of its activities for 48 hours, as a gesture to stand in solidarity with the African American community, and with all those of diverse backgrounds standing for civil and rights human rights, including the crucial notion of equality under one legal system.”

UN: Excessive Use of Force in Jacob Blake Shooting May Violate International Law

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Riots broke out in the city of Kenosha in the U.S. state of Wisconsin in the wake of the August 23 police shooting of Jacob Blake, which has left the 29-year-old African American man partially paralyzed.

The U.N. human rights office views the shooting as a painful reminder of the heightened risk African Americans run when engaging with law enforcement in the United States.

Agency spokesman Rupert Colville said the episode reaffirms the need for urgent action to eradicate links between structural racism and policing.

“From the images available that we have seen at this point, the police appears to use force against Jacob Blake that would seem to be excessive and it does not appear the law enforcement officers abided by the international standards of the intentional use of lethal force with a firearm,” Colville said.

The U.S. State Department responded with a statement saying that it consistently condemned acts of excessive use of force by U.S. law enforcement authorities.

“However, there is no comparison between several isolated cases of the use of excessive force, and the systemic use of violence and torture that is regularly practiced by authoritarian regimes in China, Russia, Belarus, Venezuela, and other authoritarian regimes around the world,” the statement said.

“In our democratic society our law enforcement officers and political leaders are held accountable by independent courts, an independent media, and our citizens through elections. In these other authoritarian societies those remedies don’t exist,” the statement concluded.

Police push back protesters outside the Kenosha County Courthouse, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Protesters converged on the courthouse during a second night of clashes after the police shooting of Jacob Blake a day earlier.
Police push back protesters outside the Kenosha County Courthouse, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Protesters converged on the courthouse during a second night of clashes after the police shooting of Jacob Blake a day earlier.

A statement from the Kenosha police union said that based on officers’ inability to gain compliance and control from Blake after using verbal, physical and less lethal means, the officers drew their firearms.

Colville said it seems highly possible the force used against Blake could have been discriminatory in nature.

The human rights spokesman also said he was aghast at the presence of vigilantes at the protests in Kenosha that followed the police shooting of Blake. He said he found the killing of two people and injury of others by a 17-year-old gunman of particular concern.

The teen who took a rifle to the protest of Blake’s shooting told an online news site before going to the demonstration that it was his job “to protect people.” First-degree reckless homicide, first-degree intentional homicide and attempted first-degree intentional homicide are among the criminal charges the young man is now facing.

“We would see this as yet another unfortunate example of the insufficient and lax gun control measures in the United States, which is something we have spoken about several times before,” said Colville. “It should be inconceivable that you have a 17-year-old running around with an automatic rifle in a position to shoot people in this way in such a tense situation.”

Colville added the events of the past few days in Kenosha are not only recurrent, but preventable. He warned against the U.S. government sending federal troops into Kenosha to restore law and order. He said their presence would likely make things worse rather than better.

 

John Thompson: Legendary African American basketball coach dies

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Coach John Thompson, who led the Georgetown University Hoyas basketball team to victory at the 1984 national championship, has died aged 78. Thompson, who was the first black coach to win the title, is credited with boosting minority representation in college  basketball during the 1980s.

He recruited more than 20 players who went on to join the NBA and four who – like him – are in the Hall of Fame. Thompson was also known for protesting against racial injustice as a coach.

Known to fans and players as Big John, Thompson was raised in Washington DC and played professionally for the Boston Celtics when the team won the championship in 1965 and 1966.

He was hired in 1972 to coach Georgetown University, a predominantly white Jesuit university in Washington DC. His appointment led to controversy. University faculty and fans rallied around him after he was met with racial abuse.

He coached Georgetown for 27 seasons, and in 1988 led the US Olympic basketball team to a bronze medal.

In 1989, he walked off the court in protest of a league rule that he said was biased against under-privileged students.

“I’ve done this because, out of frustration, you’re limited in your options of what you can do in response to something I felt was very wrong,” he told the Washington Post at the time.

‘Historic shepherd’

Thompson was famous for the number of athletes he coached who finished with a university degree, and in an interview described once sitting down with a notorious Washington DC drug dealer to tell him to stay away from his players.

His own son later became the coach of Georgetown before being replaced by Patrick Ewing, a former NBA player that Thompson recruited before he led the team to victory in 1984.

A statement from his family released by the university hailed him as “an inspiration to many and [a man who] devoted his life to developing young people not simply on, but most importantly, off the basketball court.

“He is revered as a historic shepherd of the sport, dedicated to the welfare of his community above all else.”

Former Philadelphia 76er and Hall of Famer Allen Iverson was among those paying tribute online, thanking the coach for “saving my life”.

COVID-19, Third Leading Cause Of Death Among Black Americans

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Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, concerns have been repeatedly raised over the disproportionate ways Black Americans have suffered under the constant unaddressed health inequities in our communities.

This month, a new Brookings Institute report titled, “The Hamilton Project, Racial Economic Inequality Amid the COVID-19 Crisis,” states that the coronavirus is now the third leading cause of death among Black Americans, following heart disease and cancer.The report was co-authored by Trevon Logan, professor of economics at the Ohio State University, and Bradley L. Hardy of the American University in Washington D.C.

Research from the study shows that the higher mortality COVID-19 rates found in Black American communities are due to proximity to preexisting health conditions. Black Americans are also more likely to be employed in front-facing or service industries and are more than twice as likely to share their living quarters with more people, increasing chances of exposure.

“If I told you on January 1 that a new virus that we did not even know about would, in August, be the third leading cause of death for Black Americans, our hair should have been set on fire and we would have an extensive public policy response to this unprecedented pandemic,” Logan said.

“The outsized challenges that Black Americans are facing are a reflection of the generally diminished economic position and health status that they faced prior to this crisis,” the Brookings report reads. “Several pre– COVID-19 economic conditions—including lower levels of income and wealth, higher unemployment, and greater levels of food and housing insecurity—leave Black families with fewer buffers to absorb economic shocks and contribute to Black households’ vulnerability to the COVID-19 economic crisis.”

Logan and Hardy also argue that economic disparities are linked to their findings and note that without an action plan rooted in policy, the numbers will remain on the rise in Black communities.

“Ultimately, robust, reliable fiscal policy responses to the crisis will help to reduce the negative impacts of the pandemic on families,” the report states. “If the economic and public health crisis continues at its current pace, many American families will require such assistance, including a disproportionate share of Black families.”

According to The Washington Post, the number of coronavirus cases in the United States is approaching 6 million, while the U.S. death toll is nearing 180,000.

Black Americans Worry About Postal Changes

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Retired postal worker Glenda Morris protests postal cutbacks on Aug. 25, 2020, in New York. African Americans make up 27 percent of the Postal Service, about twice their share of the overall workforce.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s cost-cutting measures have raised concerns about mail-in voting. But critics worry they may also set the stage for privatizing the U.S. Postal Service, something the Trump administration called for in a 2018 plan to reorganize the federal government.

Unions say that could disrupt an important role the Postal Service has played in providing generations of African Americans secure middle class employment.

Retired Philadelphia mail handler Garry Simmons says his 32-year career with the agency provided a good life for his family.

“I was able to raise them, help pay for my son’s college education, provide a good middle-class lifestyle for us,” says Simmons, who retired before turning 60 in 2017.

The postal service has long given African American workers a place to avoid some of the discrimination that exists in the broader employment world. That started just after the Civil War when Congress passed a law that ended the whites-only hiring practice for postal jobs.

“African Americans, starting with Union Army veterans, abolitionists and others, began finding their way into this government job,” says Phil Rubio, a history professor at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University who’s also written several books on African American workers and the Postal Service.

Rubio says the pay wasn’t always good, but the job came with some prestige and it offered security, benefits, and civil service protections that improved over the decades.

Today, African Americans make up 27 percent of the Postal Service, about twice their share of the overall workforce.

Among those who say they benefited from postal careers is actor Danny Glover. In a 2015 video Glover says his parents, a sister and a brother all worked for the Postal Service, and he worked there as a teenager during Christmas breaks.

“Working for the Postal Service enabled my parents to buy their first home,” he says in the video.

Glover’s been a frequent advocate for postal worker unions in recent years. In 2018 he wrote an opinion piece opposing efforts to privatize the agency, saying that would would hit African Americans especially hard.

No longer a “natural monopoly”

Among advocates for privatization is Chris Edwards, an economist with the libertarian think tank CATO Institute.

“The postal industry is no longer any kind of natural monopoly. And when you don’t have natural monopoly I think we ought to let entrepreneurs come into this industry and show us how they can improve it,” says Edwards.

Supporters say Postmaster General DeJoy is just that kind of savvy businessman, with a background in logistics and shipping that will help him fix what’s broken at USPS.

But private sector jobs don’t pay as much. Total compensation for the median postal service employee in 2019 was $96,105, according to an SEC filing. At FedEx the median employee eared $49,059 and at UPS the figure is $74,395.

Privatization likely would bring downward pressure on Postal Service wages and benefits. But Edwards says there’s another issue of fairness at issue here, because “people paying for postal services are paying all those benefits, so it seems to me that the government should be reflective, somewhat, of the private sector.”

Postal worker unions have been among the loudest opposition voices to privatization.

“The Postal Service is not a business. It’s a service. It’s a service to the American people,” says Judy Beard, legislative and political director of the American Postal Workers Union

Beard says she started at the Postal Service more than 50 years ago to pay her way through college. She says these jobs benefit more than black postal workers and their families.

“By shopping in the community, buying gas in the community, going to church in the community,” she says. “All of that just raises the whole community.”

Unions are among those pushing for financial help for the Postal Service now.

Citing the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. House passed a $25 billion aid package earlier this month. But the Senate is not expected to take up the proposal and the White House has threatened a veto.

Meantime, Postmater General DeJoy has suspended budget-cutting measures put in place this summer until after November’s election. But he says the steps are still needed to bolster the agency’s finances.

By, Jeff Brady

Black Christians Play a Crucial Role in Athlete Activism

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A basketball court is shown at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Kissimmee, Fla., Tuesday, July 21, 2020. The NBA's marketing motto for the restart of the season at Walt Disney World is “Whole New Game,” and in many respects, that’s very true. (AP Photo/Tim Reynolds)
Though sports ministries long espoused a “colorblind” approach to race, believers in pro sports are leading the calls for racial justice.

Black Christian athletes, seeing their careers as a platform for the gospel, are speaking out for racial justice following the death of George Floyd and the shooting of Jacob Blake.

It’s a pattern that has been building since 2016. Months before Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protests against police brutality and systematic racism swept through the NFL (and swept Kaepernick out of the league), Christian WNBA star Maya Moore and her Minnesota Lynx teammates wore “Black Lives Matter” shirts during warm-ups. Moore would later step away from professional basketball to focus on racial justice work, announcing her decision with an essay that proclaimed her life’s purpose “is to know Jesus and make Him known.”

By 2017 numerous NFL players, including Anquan Boldin, Eric Reid, and Malcolm Jenkins, were also invoking their Christian faith as a motivating factor for their involvement in protests and reform initiatives. Those numbers have only grown.

While some black Christian athletes have abstained from the recent wave of activism in stadiums and arenas—Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac, for example, cited his understanding of the gospel when declining to fully participate in a pre-game racial justice ceremony—far more have played a leading role.

To name just a few: In the NFL, New Orleans Saint Demario Davis—known for his “Man of God” headband—has championed Black Lives Matter and encouraged athletes to hold the league accountable as it works to address systemic racism. Former player and football analyst Emmanuel Acho launched the viral video series “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man,” informing Sports Spectrum that he recites Matthew 10:20 before recording each episode. And his brother and fellow linebacker, Sam Acho, founded Athletes for Justice.

In the NBA, Harrison Barnes, a lifelong Christian who earned the nickname “The Senator” for his demeanor and activism, has donated $25,000 toward victims of police brutality and gun violence for each of the Sacramento Kings games played during the NBA bubble. Meanwhile the WNBA’s A’ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces has discussed double standards black women face.

Even in Major League Baseball, known for being more conservative and mostly white, the Philadelphia Phillies’ Andrew McCutchen—who has repeatedly shared his testimony of putting God first in his career—initiated and wrote the script for the league’s opening day pre-game ceremony meant to acknowledge racial injustice. And Colorado Rockies outfielder Matt Kemp has been kneeling during the national anthem and chose to sit out a game last week to protest police brutality and racial injustice.

Though professional sports have become a hotbed of political and social activism, each of these black Christian athletes has ties to a realm that’s typically not associated with social justice movements: evangelical sports ministries.

The white evangelicals who have led and shaped these ministries are part of a religious subcommunity that tends to emphasize an individualistic conception of sin and salvation and is often wary of social justice. Since the 1980s, too, a large segment of the white evangelical community has become a reliable voting bloc for the Republican Party, a pattern of support that has continued with Donald Trump, a president who denounces black athlete protests and the Black Lives Matter movement.

No matter. Black Christian athletes are demonstrating, rallying, and protesting against systemic racial injustice anyway, bringing their Christian convictions to bear on an issue that many white evangelicals have been unwilling and unable to address. As these athletes forge ahead, they’re carving out a new path for the evangelical sports movement while also demonstrating some continuity with the past.

The FCA’s ‘Colorblind’ Approach

The last era when sports and racial activism were so closely intertwined was when evangelical sports ministries first emerged. Back on June 8, 1964, one month before the Civil Rights Act was signed into law, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes was holding its first summer conference in the South. Founded in 1954, the FCA was the first of the major evangelical sports ministries, with Athletes in Action (1966) and Pro Athletes Outreach (1971) coming later.

Although rooted in white Protestantism, these organizations were racially integrated from the start. FCA leaders made sure that their first Southern camp—held at the Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, North Carolina—would be integrated too. The event included three black staff members: professional football players Curtis McClinton and Prentice Gautt and college basketball coach John McLendon.

FCA’s insistence on racial integration was not embraced by all who attended. At the event, a college camper from Mississippi State warned about “bloodshed” if a black student dared enroll at his still-segregated school. Gautt kept quiet, and that night when he took the stage as a featured speaker, he did not directly address the comment. Instead, he gave his testimony. Baptized at age five, he had recommitted his life to Christ at a Billy Graham crusade in 1957, his second year as the first black athlete at the University of Oklahoma. His religious zeal waned again as his football star rose, but an injury in 1963 brought him back to earth and back to Christ. During his testimony, Gautt urged campers to be “colorblind” and to recognize that God loved all of humanity equally.

Apparently something in that message resonated with the Mississippi State camper. Three nights later he knocked on Gautt’s cabin door, asking to talk about race. For nearly four hours, late into the night, he and Gautt conversed, joined by a growing crowd. Afterwards, the student called it one of the most enlightening conversations he’d ever had. For Gautt, experiences like this—along with friendships he formed with white teammates—gave him hope. “When Christian athletes—and other people, for that matter—play and live together in close fellowship, they come to know and understand one another,” he later explained.

The assumption held by Gautt and by many Christian athletes in the 1960s was that interracial relationships in sports, built around a shared love for Jesus, would eventually lead to a more just society. It was an idealistic proposition, based on similar principles that led baseball’s Branch Rickey—a founding member of the FCA—to sign Jackie Robison: Make the white sports team more racially inclusive, and you’ll eventually change the country. No protests needed. In this view, simply participating in integrated sports was an act of racial justice.

Jackie Robinson’s Prophetic Stance

But while the gradual integrationist approach modeled by Rickey persisted in the ranks of evangelical sports ministry, the other half of baseball’s “great experiment”—Jackie Robinson—took a different path. Although he was a committed Christian and a lifelong friend of Rickey, Robinson was not involved in sports ministry. His public witness took on a more prophetic stance, frequently challenging and confronting racism at the individual and social levels.

The split between Robinson and Rickey’s approach was made apparent in the 1960s when a cadre of black athletes organized a protest movement within sports. Symbolized by the iconic image of Olympic athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising their fists during the 1968 medal ceremony in Mexico City, the “revolt of the black athlete” movement rejected the notion that sports were a safe harbor from racism or an automatic engine for positive social change. Its leaders sought to challenge and confront white American society with the reality of continued injustice.

Robinson fully endorsed the movement. Few in the emerging evangelical sports community, black or white, did the same. Not all were hostile, but most sided with former football player Dan Towler, a Methodist minister and black FCA leader, who defended the place of sports as a force for racial progress.

This was the stance Prentice Gautt took as well. He was willing to call out racism. Speaking to Sports Illustrated in 1968, he went on the record about the discrimination he witnessed on his football team. But he also affirmed his belief in sports exceptionalism. “The long-range problems will take a long time to solve. But if they can’t be solved in sports, where can they be solved?” he said. “Sports has been following when it’s supposed to lead. The change should start today.”

Gautt went on to have a long career in coaching and athletic administration, all while remaining connected to the FCA. By entering into leadership roles in predominantly white spaces and paving the way for black people to follow, Gautt felt he was advancing the cause of racial justice.

At least one athlete connected to evangelical sports ministry also joined the protest movement, although his story is more a cautionary tale than a triumph. The son of a black Baptist preacher, Calvin Jones re-committed his life to Christ through a campus ministry in 1969, the year before he emerged as a star cornerback for the University of Washington. After the 1970 season, he and three black teammates left the team after releasing a public statement denouncing “the racial practices of the University of Washington coaching staff.”

Jones returned a year later after Washington made changes. But he could not forget the harsh response from fellow Christians. “I guess the thing that bothered me most—and still bothers me,” Jones recalled a few years later, “is that many people who profess to be Christians came down hardest on me. They said I wasn’t being a Christian. But down deep inside me, I actually felt God was leading me to make that move.”

Jones spent four years with the Denver Broncos, where he was involved with Pro Athletes Outreach. He was a popular speaker with white church groups during that time, but when it came to talking about race, Jones felt he had to tread carefully. “I still have to check myself out when I’m speaking to white congregations about the racial problems,” he said at the time, “to make sure I’m together in my thinking.”

Diversity in Sports Ministries

The athlete-led protest movement lost steam by the mid-1970s. Meanwhile, as racial integration in big-time sports accelerated, the Christian communities forged by evangelical sports ministries grew more diverse. Black athletes like Jones may not have always felt comfortable, and sports ministries still tended to center white evangelical perspectives. Even so, in pre-game chapels, team Bible studies, off-season retreats, summer camps, and outreach events, meaningful relationships were formed across the racial divide as players joined together to pray, worship, and share each other’s lives.

These relationships could sometimes lead white Christians to develop greater awareness of the reality of racism. In the 1990s, Colorado football coach Bill McCartney, an active FCA member, made racial reconciliation a central part of his Promise Keepers men’s movement. Athletes in Action chaplains working in the NFL emphasized the same. For Cincinnati Bengals player Leonard Wheeler, a black man, the AIA’s racial reconciliation work carried the potential for lasting social change. “We are opening up to one another, and we are learning to trust one another,” he said in 1996. “After football, it’s going to help us deal with people who haven’t been in sports.”

Building relationships and sharing lives as the key to change—Wheeler’s comments were remarkably similar to those made by Gautt after his Blue Ridge experience three decades before.

In 2020, however, it’s more difficult to make that case. The inclusion of black athletes in big-time sports has been accomplished, but it hasn’t led to equality and justice for black people in America, or even in sports, given the lack of black coaches and executives. The Branch Rickey approach, on its own, has not lived up to its promise.

As a result, many current black Christian athletes have enlarged their focus from “colorblind” individual relationships to the particular social and cultural structures that disproportionally affect black lives. They’ve increasingly taken the approach of Jackie Robinson, who emphasized the continued need for racial justice activism and whose 1972 autobiography included this in the preface: “I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag.”

But noticing what is new should not obscure from the continuities. Even as many black Christian athletes advocate for systemic change, they often emphasize the importance of relationships. This is the whole point of Emmanuel Acho’s “Uncomfortable Conversations” series. This is why Demario Davis was quick to forgive teammate and fellow Christian Drew Brees after the quarterback responded to the death of George Floyd by declaring his opposition to kneeling during the national anthem. “Drew missed the mark, but most of America missed the mark,” Davis explained, while also noting that white athletes and coaches in the NFL have a deeper understanding of black experiences and perspectives than most white Americans.

Change Beyond the Locker Room

Recent responses from prominent white Christian athletes suggests that Davis might have a point. The premiere evangelical sports media company, Sports Spectrum, is a good example. Since 2017, its podcast and website have frequently featured stories and conversations focused on racial justice. And while there are certainly examples like Sam Coonrod, the white baseball player who cited his faith as the reason for his opposition to Black Lives Matter, this year we’ve also witnessed the NBA’s Kyle Korver, the MLB’s Clayton Kershaw, the National Women’s Soccer League’s Julie Ertz, college football’s Trevor Lawrence, and the NFL’s Nick Foles—all outspoken white Christians connected to evangelical sports ministries—express support for the racial justice movement.

At the same time, an increased willingness to listen does not necessarily mean that widespread change will occur. It’s the same issue we could have brought to Prentice Gautt and that Mississippi State student 55 years ago. Did the student leave the FCA camp motivated to help his white friends and family change their segregationist thinking? If so, how was he received?

The wide range of black Christian athletes advocating for racial justice—as well as the growing number of white Christian athletes who are listening and learning—undoubtedly marks a new moment in the history of evangelical sports ministry. But it also puts to the test an old idea: Can change that starts through relationships in sports lead to change in ministries, churches, and communities outside the locker room?

By, PAUL PUTZ