This year represents the 98th anniversary of the launching of “Negro History Week” in 1926, later named Black History Month in 1976, after the federal government issued a proclamation in recognition of the contributions of African American people under the administration of President Gerald R. Ford. The commemoration was founded by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a pioneering scholar and public intellectual who founded the Journal of Negro History in 1915 and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History the following year, 1916. Woodson’s origins within the African American working class is a demonstration of the determination to seek formal education in the aftermath of the Civil War and Reconstruction in the South and other regions of the United States.
“It’s not whether you win or lose that counts, but how you play the game that matters.” That’s what my people are often told. But we are not told that this so-called game is rigged, and it’s rigged against us even before we are born. This “game” is life in the divided states of America. This is especially true in the system of criminal justice, a system that has been rigged against Black people since its inception. There Is no better example than this country’s morbid use and fascination with the cold-blooded and premeditated imposition of the death penalty against poor people and its disproportionate use on Black people.
On January 2, 2024, Claudine Gay became the shortest-serving president of Harvard University. What could have been a presidential tenure of transformative actions befitting of the hopeful promises of Harvard’s first Black woman president has instead ended in frustration and controversy. I watched and experienced her tumultuous six-month tenure as a Black woman alumna. As we begin to decide how we want to remember her presidency, one glaringly obvious truth persists: Harvard will always protect white supremacy. In suppressing pro-Palestine students, President Gay was doing the job of a Harvard president and carrying out the University’s commitment to white supremacy.
The modern concept of race and what became known as racism can only be understood within the context of the European colonial project at the center of the larger project called modernity. When the people who eventually became known as Europeans spilled out of “Europe” into what became the “Americas,” their encounter with the Indigenous peoples of this region was already informed by a racialized consciousness, as the great Black revolutionary theorist Cedric Robinson helped us to understand. Informed by this consciousness that combined the tendency toward dehumanization based on race and a crude, strange, violent religious framework called “Christianity,” the European barbarians engaged in a genocidal rampage across this region and many others across the globe.
With its swath of shuttered shops, empty cafes, dwindling crowds and shimmering seaside vistas, San Francisco’s Embarcadero resembles an abandoned amusement park in the post-pandemic era, but a century ago this tourist attraction was known as the “slave market,” where dozens of longshoremen would gather each weekday hoping to land a job loading and unloading the freighters docked in the bay. Seldom were there enough jobs to go around, however, and the hiring boss who was assigned by the shipping companies to choose the daily work crews would often go about the task with the same contemptuous air that an overseer might display while inspecting chattel slaves at auction, sneering as he rejected some longshoremen while doling out preferential treatment to others, many of whom had agreed to kick back a portion of their wages to him.
Prophet and GOAT status holder, James Baldwin, wrote in his opus, No Name in the Street, “Muhammad Ali, formerly Cassius Clay, is a vivid example of what can happen to a Black man who obeys the American injunction, be true to your faith, but his press has been so misleading that he is also an unwieldy and intimidating example.” Brother Jimmy continues, “Muhammad Ali is one of the best of the ‘bad niggers’ and has been publicly hanged like one…” Without knowing it (or maybe he did, he was, afterall, a prophet), Baldwin adroitly portrayed the baleful conditions associated with being a profound, unapologetic (as it was written by the dear and brilliant sister Charlene Caruthers) , and non-tone policed Black person in the United Statesian climate/environmental “movement,” and the nonprofit industrial complex writ large.
The U.S. recently deployed troops to Peru to shore-up the coup in that country, followed by the deployment of troops to Ecuador and the bizarre AFRICOM plan to insert Kenya and Rwanda forces all the way from Africa to Haiti to support the illegitimate Ariel Henry puppet government in that nation. This is madness, but desperate madness! Experiencing their worst nightmare, the French are in the process of being expelled from their African empire. They have desperately drawn the line in Niger, where they had been forced to redeploy their troops after being expelled from Mali.
I greet you in the name of each common ancestor whose bones remain restless at the bottom of the Caribbean and Atlantic Oceans. I hope this brief note finds you in excellent health as it deals with an urgent crisis which requires that we summon superior collective wisdom, intelligence and, above all, courage. As you read this note, in the town of Jeremi (South-West Haiti/ Grandans), corpses are being pulled under collapsed rubble. The region was hit by a 4.9 magnitude quake early this morning. This occurred a few hours after floods had devastated large parts of the North, West and South of Haiti, causing loss of human lives, animals and property.
The debate over America’s symbols and monuments has sharpened with the growing mass movement for racial justice in the past decade. The lionization of slave-owners and genocidaires has been pointed out by many as in contradiction to the ideals of democracy and racial justice so often touted as national core values. In the midst of this debate, the decision by the US Treasury to place Harriet Tubman alongside Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill starting in 2030 has incited controversy. Howard University professor of political science Clarence Lusane joins The Chris Hedges Report to discuss the Harriet Tubman dollar bill, and the stakes of the debate over national symbols in righting the historical wrongs of slavery and white supremacy.
The horrific choking murder of 30-year-old Jordan Neely by a white MTA rider on May 1, 2023, in the New York City subway sparked mass outrage, with demonstrators converging on subway stations while cops brought “force and chaos” to a vigil in his memory. The murder has put a renewed spotlight on carceral logics of the state that assume the disposability of Black, poor and unhoused people — in particular those said to be in “mental health crisis.” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s response to Neely’s killing deflects from the white supremacist violence and ongoing lack of accountability for the killer, and instead medicalizes Neely’s death: “People who are homeless in our subways, many of them in the throes of mental health episodes, and that’s what I believe were some of the factors involved here.
In recent days there have been widely reported stories about individuals in the United States who were shot because they were in the “wrong” location. The most prominent case was that of Ralph Yarl in Kansas City, Missouri. Yarl is a Black 16-year old who went to the wrong address to pick up his younger siblings. He was shot by an 84-year old white man, Andrew Lester, who said he was “scared to death” upon seeing a Black person ringing his doorbell. Yarl is recovering from his wounds but others were not so lucky. A young white woman named Kaylin Gillis suffered a fatal gunshot wound when she and her friends pulled into the “wrong” road in upstate New York.
When Oregon democrats introduced a new state domestic terrorism bill in February, civil rights groups were reminded of a similar piece of legislation — and began sounding the alarm. Georgia expanded its state domestic terrorism statute in 2017 in response to the mass shooting perpetrated by white supremacist Dylann Roof against Black churchgoers in neighboring South Carolina. Atlanta legislators claimed that broadening their own state’s domestic terror laws to include certain attacks on property would somehow keep the public safe from far-right violence. Critics of the legislation in Georgia said at the time that it could be used to target environmentalists and anti-racist activists as well.
In January, we began infiltrating the Southern Sons Active Club (SSAC), a racist group operating in the Carolinas and in Georgia that is part of the broader “Active Club” network. With this two-part report, we identify twelve SSAC members and two former members. We also discuss a Georgia participant in the “Revolutionary White Brotherhood” (formerly “Blood and Soil Crew”), a regional neo-Nazi youth group with close ties to SSAC. We document SSAC’s ties to a white supremacist now facing charges for his part in a bank robbery conspiracy. In another instance of the club attracting violence-prone neo-Nazis, we discuss an underground cell in North Carolina dedicated to “direct action” whose members were previously in SSAC.
July 1, 2023 will fall on a Saturday. In Jackson, Mississippi, it’s likely to be a very hot day, or a rainy day, or both. It’s also the day when House Bill 1020 will take effect, and that the whole of the City of Jackson will be no more — at least with respect to the administration of its criminal legal system. Instead, the city will be partitioned into unequal halves: a Capitol Complex Improvement District (CCID) and an unnamed nowhere land. The bill was introduced and shepherded by Rep. Trey Lamar, a Republican and chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, assisted by the house speaker who, exercising his prerogative, sent the bill there instead of to the Judiciary Committee.