Welcome to THEJNSREPORT’S: Thoughts On The Philando Castille Verdict
At this moment I can say that personally I feel numb anger if that makes any sense. Numb because of the incessant, and unmitigated blows of injustice received daily as a person of color living in America. This judicial system has continued to show us one thing. It’s not designed to mete out true justice equally, or blindly as we were once taught to believe in school. So what should we expect now from people of color when the wheels of justice continually fail us when it comes to our lives being lost at the hands of both “law enforcement and fellow civilians alike. How are we to act?
Blue lives aren’t being lost in the same fashion or rate that is occurring with black people in general. To throw up a hashtag about blue lives matter or all lives matter, is to try & distract from & drown out the fact that we as a people are screaming ENOUGH OF THIS BULLSHIT! The continuous acquittals of the guilty creates a social powder keg that will not be quenched with obligatory calls to “wait for justice,” and/or “protest peacefully” being extoled. Those who are sworn to protect and serve and uphold the law can’t be placed above it.
No citizen is safe if those who are to be held to a higher standard can willfully murder in broad day light with or without video accounts and subsequently have investigations led by the same agencies of the very people who perpetrate the crimes. We can’t talk about healing communities of color or creating a community relationship with those who patrol our neighborhoods when there hasn’t been an addressing of accountability for killer cops and civilians alike. What kind of a world is this we’re living in when a human beings life is extinguished at the hands of other human beings and no one is culpable?
Welcome to THEJNSREPORT’S: Memorial Day Quick Poll
While we the American people on Memorial Day 2017 honor the veterans that have served, fought and died for American ideals, rights, and freedoms as well as those servicemen and women who continue to do so, we ask the question of the year. Should President Trump be impeached and removed from office less than 6 months into his presidency? America cast your vote and let your voices be heard.
Welcome to THEJNSREPORT’S: The Nostalgia of Days Past
Written by Chris Woodsworth
Recently, some friends and I were having a discussion over lunch about the opening of a new Gay bar in Chelsea called Rebar which opened in the footprint of the now defunct G Lounge. If you’re old enough to remember what G Lounge was like in the early 2000’s (in my instance 2002), it was very different from what it evolved into over the last decade plus. G’s demise gave birth to the newly renovated, rebranded and controversial Rebar from G’s ownership.
The controversy comes from the accounts given of what it’s like at Rebar for patrons of color. There appears to be an unwritten quota of how many black patrons are allowed in and if they are that they don’t wear hats.
Personally, I’d just avoid a place like that and spend my money where I was welcome without worrying about some B.S dress code standards. I mean we’re talking about a bar not a club here. It’s ridiculous and indefensible but this type of behavior isn’t anything new. G before its demise also for a brief period of time instituted a dress code of no boots or hats or hanging jeans or something to that effect as they were trying to limit their exposure to black patrons who were coming further uptown from Christopher Street after the only Black Gay bar Chi Chi’s had gone out of business.
Back in the day, which seems like just yesterday, G Lounge was a gay bar/lounge that’s patrons were predominantly gay white Wall Street and business types who came to G as their regular hang out after a day’s work. At that time you had Splash, The Roxy, G Lounge, Barracuda, Sound Factory, Escuelita, The Web, The Hangar, The Cock, Rawhide and on and on.
If you walked into G Lounge back then during happy hour, you would see a nearly all white suit and tie crowd yucking it up amongst each other stiff as boards glued to the walls that went round the circular central bar. As the evening would wear on G featured ripped muscle go-go boys, as well as muscled and twink bartenders and servers (who were also mostly white) catering to the needs of those who came there to have cocktails but didn’t wish to wait at the bar to order.
The circular and unforgettable stainless steel bar would seemingly rotate (even though it didn’t literally move) as one passed by from the front to the back where limited seating and twin male and female bathrooms loomed behind an off to the left coat check. The urinals around the very rear of the bathrooms were a nice touch and definitely came in handy countless times not just for convenience in a packed popular gay bar but for cruising hot guys as well. It appears Rebar would like to return to that time where patrons of color felt less than welcome in a setting seemingly catering more towards a white customer base.
Back then there was no Facebook, or Grindr, or whatever apps are the most popular and prevalent today. Gay men who took pride in their appearance and the younger generation post AIDS crisis who were discovering the power and allure of the NYC Gay night life. For many of my friends and myself that was a golden era. It was a time when coming out as a young LGBT New Yorker made you feel like there was a vast universe to discover in the most popular, most diverse, and at least for me the most fun city in the world. I mean how can you argue with a city that literally never sleeps?
Today’s NYC nightlife scene has drastically changed with most of the big dance clubs/parties having died out or relocated and clustered to Hells Kitchen. It just reminds me that nothing stays the same forever. Eventually all things run their course and I believe that this will be the same for this new Rebar. Being exclusionary has it’s consequences and I’m sure that the ownership of Rebar will find that out sooner or later. There may be less choice as far as gay bars in Chelsea than there used to be but there’s still choice and people will go where they,their money, hats and all are welcome.
Welcome to THEJNSREPORT’S: THE HIGHER EDUCATION GAME
Years ago when my siblings and I were growing up, we were told that the way to get ahead in life and avoid jail was to follow the paradigm of go to school, get good grades and a good education. This would lead to a decent if not well paying job in order to support yourself and your family. College was something I heard mixed reviews about. Some said that it was too expensive and the focus of our generation should be on learning a trade skill where one could earn an average to above average salary working with one’s hands.
Others said studies show that a college degree would allow it’s holder to earn upwards of 4 to 10x the earnings of a non college graduate over the course of a career. It seemed like the logical choice was clear unless you took into account the socio – economic background of the person seeking upward mobility. America is the land of opportunity no doubt, but there are rules and systems in place that don’t necessarily allow for a level playing field where the brightest, or best, or most talented thrive.
The trap or dilemma I thought about most as a young adult preparing to enter the world of the working class was based on what industry I wanted to enter and knowing there was an opportunity cost. The opportunity cost basically said “If you choose this path, this is the amount of debt you will owe which inherently makes you a slave to whichever profession you choose. This is because unlike unsecured debt, a student loan has to be repaid and can’t be gotten rid off simply by declaring bankruptcy.
The way I see higher education today it’s nothing more than a giant racket and the costs continue to sky rocket. What happens when a student assumes too much debt and decides the career path they had chosen previously they no longer want to pursue? There’s a huge decision to be made no doubt. Either enter the profession chosen and spend the first five years (at least ) of your immediate future repaying student loans until you can actually start saving all those payments and interest, or choose another path and potentially owe for the rest of your life a massive student loan debt that follows you everywhere you go affecting everything you have a need to apply for be it housing, a car, or anything requiring a credit check.
Thinking down the line it became clear that once you become engrained in a culture five or even ten years in, the likelihood of you switching careers or the desire to leave would be lost to routine, comfort and being settled. This doesn’t mean that change won’t happen. It can happen whether we’re prepared for it or not. A company can go out of business or an industry can relocate over seas. Either way it will force those of us affected to pick up the pieces and figure out the next phase of life. One thing I’ve come to understand is this, no matter how educated or prepared we think we are at various stages of life, things can and do change. I think we can never stop learning and never stop looking for ways to gain knowledge without paying through the nose for it.
Welcome to THEJNSREPORT’S: Power Dynamics A Hypothetical Exercise
Recently, while having a brief discussion about the roles of the sexes in society and throughout history, a question was posed in which it was asked what would happen if roles were reversed between men and women in a corporate environment with women as the predominant sex and in every key position of authority?
What effect would that have on men? I immediately thought the results would be the same as when men are the predominant sex. All the negatives that come with a corruption of power would be the same as they are with men. This is because I fundamentally believe that all human beings are fallible.
Not a single one of us is above reproach or incapable of corruption. It is what it means to be human, to make mistakes, to become seduced by power. My friend who posed the question, suggested that I’d be wrong and that it’s more likely that women would have the ability to get men to tap into their feminine side more and be more compassionate and thereby would be better leaders in the roles traditionally held by men.
I admit it sounds appealing to wholeheartedly believe that. However, it’s not practical because power in anyone’s hands male or female is capable of corrupting them more often than not. I asserted I knew this from personal experience working in a corporate environment in which I, as a male was the sex in the minority employed there. I saw power exercised when wielded by women was in fact no different than how it is wielded in a male dominant corporate environment.
Would there be sexual harassment in a women dominant office? Yes. Would there be targeting of one of the few males working in the entire office? Yes. In my opinion power is transcendent of sex.
What do you think? Would women do better than men if the roles were reversed?
This past February THEJNSREPORT was blessed with the opportunity to visit our beloved mother in Florida and celebrate her milestone 70th Birthday. What a special blessing it was to see the greatest example in our lives of perseverance, selflessness, sacrifice, discipline, dedication, wisdom, intelligence, love and strength reach her 70th year.
Sitting at her breakfast table eating meals she prepared for us while listening to mom recount moments in life in which God answered prayers and helped her lead our family through some tremendously difficult times left us in awe of the woman we know as our mother. I mean I could have been a total stranger listening to the various stories she had for us from times in our childhood we may or may not have remembered and still would be in awe of her. We were just amazed at how far she came to where she is now and how strong of a person she is to hold our family together.If you are fortunate enough to have your family especially your parents, tell them that you love them and how much they mean to you as often as you can. Save the most precious memories of the times spent together to reminisce on as time goes by. We love you mom and are so grateful to God that he gave us you as our mother. Long live the Queen!
For most people lets face it MLK Jr. Day has become a day in which not a lot of emphasis is really put on celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s life.
It’s a day where the kids get to be home from school relishing a 3 day weekend of binging on junk food, watching TV, playing video games, and/or going to the movies while the mainstream media plays either an excerpt or the entire “I have a Dream” speech (depending on the network) in remembrance of Dr. King.
Most people say a few words about how great the “I have a Dream” speech is and was and what the dream speech means today. As a black man living in NYC modern day I see that the dream still hasn’t been realized and I’m not sure that it ever will be just based on the past few years happenings.
As a black man living in a “post MLK Jr. America” I keep thinking about the lack of leadership we have in the black community today. At the same time I wonder why is it that America so readily celebrates MLK Jr. but acts as if Malcolm X never existed or shouldn’t be in the same breath as MLK Jr. Personally I believe we should be celebrating both of these iconic black leaders not just one.
We can agree that both of these great men were critical to the mindset of waking up the world to the plight of black people living the daily grind and constant uphill battle facing us as a nation and people living in a country that practices the opposite of what it preaches. From slavery, to segregation, to Jim Crow, to Civil Rights Era, to modern day slavery reincarnated as the American Prison Industrial Complex the reality is America still is what it always was.
The reason why MLK Jr. is celebrated is because he was the less threatening of the two leaders within the black community. The belief that passive nonviolence would eventually overcome the atrocities we face continually, while being told to wait for justice that almost never comes, was more appealing than a man waking up to the reality of his plight in a system that is designed around his oppression, suppression, theft of his property, ignorance of his/her rights & labor being supplied without the commensurate compensation if at all.
Malcolm X’s “By any means necessary” meant there would be active resistance when necessary in the defense and protection of one’s life, family and/or property. History has shown that nothing has ever been achieved through just passivity alone. It takes action, it takes being willing to die for the rights and freedoms this country is supposed to afford all it’s citizens even if that fight is against fellow citizens who refuse to acknowledge that not just they, but all of human beings deserve the same respect and rights afforded to some.
Tell us what’s really changed since the days of MLK Jr. and Malcolm X with regards to the plight of black people living in America today.
We watched in horror as a cowardly low life cop wannabe reject got away with the murder of a 17 year old Trayvon Martin using a law that only afforded the killer (Zimmerman) the application of the law of stand your ground. The victim’s last screams for help were stolen as was his young life and claimed by his killer George Zimmerman to bolster claims of self defense. No weight was given to the fact that Zimmerman was in fact the aggressor or that Trayvon Martin also had a right to stand his ground. The only problem was there no video evidence to show us what exactly happened and the knowledge of the law and the media vilification of a 17 year old allowed a murderer to go free recast as the actual victim. This is some America.
We watched in horror as the news media showed the bullet riddled body of a young 18 year old Michael Brown Jr. laying dead in the street of Ferguson, MO for at least several hours. The officer responsible for his killing able to lie and give an account of what he said led to him shooting an unarmed teenager as many times as he did when he was in no threat of danger to himself. Eyewitnesses were dismissed as confused or mistaken as to what actually happened and with no video to show the public of his tragic last moments, both the judicial systems refusal to indict an officer and the power of the blue wall protecting their own once again meant there would be no justice.
We watched as another officer shot a 12 year old Tamir Rice to death literally in 2 seconds based off some asshole calling the police acting as if a child playing with a toy gun was a grown man walking around brandishing a real gun. We watched as Freddie Gray’s spine was severed at the hands of the police in Baltimore before he was loaded into the back of a police van. They claimed he had a weapon when he was arrested and was arrested for simply running when he saw those who would ultimately take his life.
The fact that he ran was used as justification for his arrest and subsequent death. They can claim he broke his neck inside that van all they want but the video showing his arrest clearly shows he was unable to stand up on his own two feet let alone walk as he was dragged in obvious agony to the back of a police van before he was loaded inside.
The accounts of the officers as far as what transpired after he was inside the van we can take with a grain of salt. Cops lie and routinely lie especially when it comes to their accounts of what happens when they interact with the public at large. The prosecutor Mosby never had a chance to get justice for Freddie Gray because there is no independent prosecutor to prosecute police officers when they run afoul of the law themselves.
They are above the law and every time they kill a citizen of the U.S in unjustifiable cold blood and they aren’t prosecuted and found guilty, reinforces the idea that the police are above the law. They not only get paid leave after they kill, they get to go home spend time with their families, and whine about how unfair their treatment is by the media and anyone questioning them. Meanwhile they continue to have jobs afterward and probably get promoted.
We watched as police officers murdered Eric Garner on video and no one was punished for his death even though there was clear video evidence of wrong doing. No indictments. How does that work?
We watched as a police officer Michael Slager murdered Walter Scott on video unbeknownst to the officer who then planted a taser on or next to Scott’s body after he shot him to death to claim Scott went for his taser so he had to shoot him. Without that video from a bystander we would only have heard the officers account and the public as well as the judicial system would have believed the officer. As for the victim Walter Scott, his account wouldn’t be believed even if he had lived to tell it without video corroborating it.
We watched as the killer of Jordan Davis (Michael Dunn) got convicted not for his murder but for the attempted murder of his three surviving friends. How crazy is that? Even the ballistics showed Michael Dunn a liar and was not in any imminent threat of grave bodily harm from the teenagers he met and exchanged words with over loud music. They were all unarmed young black teenagers and tragically one of them lost his life and received no justice. Save for his friends surviving, Michael Dunn would be free today just like George Zimmerman.
We watched in horror as the news reports came out about the historical Black Church Massacre in South Carolina where Dylan Roof murdered nine congregation members including the pastor of the church after sitting among them for over an hour. His motivations were clear and that he was able to not only walk away alive after committing the heinous acts he did but was rewarded with Burger King tells us everything we need to know about America. I’ve yet to hear of a case in which a black suspect is wanted for killing that many people and is taken first of all ALIVE, and secondly to Burger King to eat afterwards courtesy of law enforcement. Roof’s conviction and death penalty sentence is one glimmer of hope for an ocean of black victims still waiting for justice.
We witnessed all these things while America watched it’s first Black President at the end of his second and final term in office. I can’t even recall a memorable speech the outgoing president made with all these killings of unarmed black people by fellow citizens and/or police alike. The only one that comes immediately to mind is the president saying if he had a son he would look like Trayvon Martin. It’s that kind of Duh moment that just leaves one shaking his/her head like What? As January 20th rapidly approaches and America ushers in the Trump Era I think it sufficient to say we have very far to go if we’ll ever see dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. realized. I don’t think I’ll live to see it come to fruition in my life time.