Category Archives: change

Black Olympic First: Ice skating duo to make history

During this year’s winter Olympics, French ice skating duo Yannick Bonheur and Vanessa James will be the first Black duo to compete in the event.

From AFP – “It’s destiny and I’m very happy about it,” said 27-year-old Bonheur.

“There’s the grace and beauty of Vanessa and then my athleticism. And the fact that we’re both black brings a pleasing visual harmony.”

James previously competed internationally for Britain as a single’s skater. She was the 2006 British national champion and 2007 silver medallist.

The pair moved to Indianapolis in the United States in August 2009 to train with Russian coach Sergei Zaitsev.

And last December they booked their ticket to Vancouver by winning the French nationals, a victory which enabled James to receive French citizenship.

Bonheur said they were determined that their Olympic experience will lay the groundwork for future successes, after they finished seventh at Europeans.

“This is just the beginning. We want to make a name for ourselves so that they’ll remember us for next season,” he said.

Being tagged the first black pairs skaters is not a disadvantage, they insist.

“It’s often been remarked that we look different on the ice. So we want to highlight that,” said Bonheur.

I remember watching Surya Bonaly doing that one foot backflip.  I don’t think she ever got a medal, and I also recall a great deal of controversy and jokes at her expense.  That was the 90s.  I’m not sure the sport has grown that much, however I’m encouraged by these talented athletes.

Perhaps more diversity in the ice skating world will prevent incidents like this.

Really?  Brown body suits, faux body paint and eucalyptus leaves = Aboriginal. Sad.  Racial and cultural insensitivity.

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My President Is Black

I’ve seen that phrase on a T-shirt and there’s even a song about it, but those words have been ringing in my head since even before I noticed these things. I was excited on election night when Obama officially won (did cartwheels in the street to prove it), but admittedly, it didn’t fully sink in that we had just elected the first Black President (unless you count Lincoln and we’re not discussing that in this particular post…lol). Those words are the reason that I was willing to make an almost three hour trip, that normally takes 20 minutes, to the mall to witness the swearing in of our 44th President. Yes, he is the President of the United States of America which includes people of all races, religions, and preferences. However, I need to have my moment as a black person to scream so loud that the ancestors hear and feel me, “My President is Black“!!!! (pause for a cartwheel in my office)  Leading up to the Inauguration, I could feel something in my soul rising. I look in the eyes of my black male relatives and friends and I now notice a real pride and ease that I’d never seen previously. I watch them mark his every move , scrutinize every word, and even admire his cool stroll and see themselves and know that they’re alright, more than that even. I listen at myself and female family and friends marvel at Michelle for being the bad woman that she is without apology . Us single girls joke that we’re just a Michelle waiting to meet our Barack. To quote 107 year old Mrs. Ann Nixon Cooper, I feel more like a real person. It’s a validation that I tried not to need, but obviously can’t deny. Before the eyes of the world is a story of struggle, ambitions, black love, family, and hope with a happy beginning and expectations for a great ending. I can tell my children (or at least my niece) of a real story of possibility where the characters look like them. That’s a hard concept to sell to people who don’t have that issue. All these feelings overflowed during yesterday’s ceremony. Rick Warren, Dianne Feinstein, and President Obama himself all spoke of the significance of his presidency in light of America’s racist past. I enjoyed Aretha taking My Country Tis of Thee to church, but in my heart I wanted to sing the black national anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing, at the top of my lungs and wouldn’t have even frowned on a praise break…lol. Rev. Joseph Lowery gave me a little of what I needed and while concluding his benediction let out a little ‘My President is Black’ pride of his own at the end of his speech. I understand Rev…  I think there may be quite a few similar expressions of irrepressible pride as time goes on.  All those that feel me scream, “My President is Black!!!!” (I hear you Jay-Z!)

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Oscar Grant is the third man murdered by BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) police in the past 17 years.

ColorofChange.org sent out this very informative information on the Murder of Oscar Grant that we thought was important to share.

On New Year’s Eve, Oscar Grant was shot execution-style by a transit police officer in Oakland, California. He was shot in the back while face-down on a subway platform, unarmed and posing no threat.

Twelve days later–despite several videos showing what happened–the officer who killed Grant hasn’t been arrested, charged, or even questioned. He quit the force and has refused to speak. The District Attorney has done nothing.

It’s time to demand that California Attorney General Jerry Brown take over the case and arrest Grant’s killer, and to ask that the US Department of Justice launch an independent investigation into the conduct of the local authorities. Please join us and ask your friends and family to do the same: http://www.colorofchange.org/oscar/?id=2347-520201

Oscar Grant is the third man murdered by BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) police in the past 17 years. All three victims were Black and none posed a serious threat. In each case, BART and county authorities have failed to hold the officers accountable.3

In the previous cases, BART’s internal investigations concluded that the officers felt threatened by the victims and were justified in pulling the trigger. It’s unbelievable given the circumstances of the killings:

  • In 1992, 19-year-old Jerrold Hall was shot in the back by a BART officer as he tried to leave the parking lot of a station. The officer was responding to reports of an armed robbery and said he suspected that Hall and a friend were involved. The officer tried to detain the two, Hall ran and then the officer shot him in the back and killed him. Hall was unarmed, but the officer said he thought Hall was on his way to get a gun and return for a showdown.4
  • In 2001, a mentally ill man named Bruce Seward was the next victim of the rogue force. Seward, 42, was naked and had been sleeping on a bench outside the BART station when an officer approached him. Seward did grab the officer’s nightstick at one point, but there were several options for subduing him. Instead, the officer shot and killed him.5

In addition to BART’s internal investigation, Alameda County’s District Attorney is also investigating Oscar Grant’s murder–but the office’s record on investigating police killings is horrible too. In both cases just described, the District Attorney bought BART’s argument that the officers felt threatened. As a result, the cops were cleared of any wrongdoing. Continue reading

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Talent Line-up Released for Lincoln Memorial Inauguration Event

I am so excited that I live in DC!  I will be at the Lincoln memorial front and center.  Oh my goodness, Stevie Wonder, Mary J Blige, John Legend, Beyonce, Herbie Hancock, Usher, Will.i.am, Jamie Foxx, and good Lord…Denzel Washington.  I will be there.  If it was just Stevie Wonder, it would be a treat, but with the line up they have planned it’s going to be a Celebration.  Here are the details.

Be there Sunday, January 18th!  The event will be free and open to the public.

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Obama: Dag, the brother can’t smoke, too??

I was reading this article this morning that basically tries to make the case that Obama should stop smoking.

Mercury News Editorial – “Quit smoking. Now. Really. For good.We know it’s hard. If it weren’t, nobody would smoke anymore. And we know quitting just as you’re taking on one of the most stressful jobs in the world — well, it’s not great timing in that sense.

But it is in another: Everybody’s watching. Especially kids.

Perhaps more than any of his predecessors, Barack Obama, the first African-American president, will be held up as a role model, his triumphs and failures magnified as a consequence. Obama clearly relishes this opportunity to defeat bigotry and reframe the expectations of young people, especially African-Americans. And yet, he smokes.”

Well, Damn! When have we begged any of the Presidents to stop their bad habits, let alone smoking. I mean…maybe the whore-mongering or womanizing, sure.  I know that the man is a role model and all, but there are a whole lot of existing influences out there that can lead kids to smoke.  Parents, maybe?  Um…ads in every local corner store?  Oh, and lets not talk about the overall glorification of drug culture in music and media.  Are you telling McDonalds and Coke to stop advertising on shows where people smoke, drink, snort, etc?

Given the current sad economic state that the country is in, I don’t want a stressed out President who’s trying to get by on Nicorette gum.  I’ll by you a pack of Newports, Mr President. I got you, man.

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LA Obama campaign worker Kaylon Johnson beaten, he says for wearing an Obama shirt

This is ridiculous. Please pass this story around and blog about it so this man can get justice (not Just Us, ya dig)!!! We send love out to this brother and hope for his speedy recovery.

This is Kaylon Johnson.

SBC360.blogspot.com has the full story on this man’s horrific beating this Saturday at a gas station.

“And the injuries showing in this picture are the result of an assault on Kaylon by three White men early Sunday morning … all because he was wearing an Obama shirt.

Kaylon was a key coordinator in the Shreveport [LA] for Obama campaign. His tireless efforts helped Caddo Parish go BLUE. He was probably wearing one of the t-shirts he was selling when he was attacked.”

Looks like a hate crime to me. Other reports note that his attackers were incensed by the Obama bumper stickers on Kaylon’s car and the Obama t-shirt Kaylon was wearing“.

Other Links
Man badly beaten in Shreveport, LA for wearing Obama t-shirt – Daily Kos

Brutal beating may be race related

Police Investigate Possible Hate Crime

Man says he was beaten for wearing Obama shirt

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Slaves in the White House

From a very interesting article in the International Herald Tribune

“…Slaves who worked inside and outside the White House were known for their labors. Washington planner Pierre L’Enfant rented slaves from nearby slaveowners to dig the foundation for the White House, and White House designer James Hoben used some of his slave carpenters to build the White House.

President George Washington forced slaves from Mount Vernon to work as staff inside “the President’s House” in Philadelphia during his term, starting a tradition of enslaved men and women working for the president in his residence that would continue until the 1850s. Not only did they work in the White House, enslaved men and women lived there as well.

According to the White House Historical Association, the slave and servant quarters were in the basement, now called the ground floor. The rooms now include the library, china room, offices and the formal Diplomatic Reception Room. At least one African-American baby was born there, in 1806 to Fanny and Eddy, two of Jefferson’s slaves. The child, who was considered a slave too, died two years later.

History values these slaves for more than just their labor. Continue reading

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