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California

Several dozen Oakland residents, including Councilmember Desley Brooks and Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson, have published an open letter to Mayor Libby Schaaf, City Administrator Sabrina Landreth and Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick alleging that the city isn’t doing enough to address “systemic racial inequalities in policing,” reports the East Bay Express. The letter’s authors say that the mayor and police chief appear to lack control over the department, and they also question why several officers who led the department’s internal Celeste Guap sex crimes case were promoted in May, despite findings from an independent court investigator that they mishandled and prematurely closed the probe. They’re requesting that these and other officers face discipline. But the authors of the letter also claim that two recent incidents demonstrate how OPD doesn’t adequately protect the Black community and treats White suspects more leniently. “In both [cases], a White man terrorized African Americans unfettered while OPD responded with great patience and tolerance for the suspect,” the letter read. One of the cases they refer to involved Jesse Enjain, a 32-year-old white man, who shot at multiple Black people on Las Vegas Ave. in the Oakland hills earlier this year. Despite physical evidence of the attacks, OPD did not attempt to arrest Emjain until days later, when he went on yet another shooting spree.


Suge Knight, the founder of Death Row Records, has been indicted by a grand jury in Los Angeles County for making criminal threats, reports Variety. The violation cited on court papers obtained dates to Aug. 8, 2014, while F. Gary Gray shooting the movie “Straight Outta Compton.” In January, 2015, Knight was arrested on murder charges for running over Terry Carter while on the film’s Compton set with his car. According to TMZ, Knight was “extremely unhappy with his portrayal in the movie” and threatened the director by text. The website says Gray was interviewed by Los Angeles police at the Slauson Swap Meet where “Straight Outta Compton” was filming.

It is the latest in a long line of legal problems for Knight, dating back to 1987, when his then-girlfriend filed a restraining order against him and he shot a man in the leg and wrist while attempting to steal his vehicle. The legal troubles continued to pile up since then. In 2014, he was arrested in Las Vegas in connection with an armed robbery, along with comedian Katt Williams. That same year, he was shot at a pre-MTV VMA party hosted by Chris Brown.


The NFL’s Chargers, who have made the move up from San Diego to Los Angeles, have enlisted the team’s Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson to be one of the faces of the franchise in the crowded L.A. market, reports Variety. For more than a decade, Tomlinson and his wife, LaTorsha, have worked with local communities in San Diego through Tomlinson’s Touching Lives Foundation to help high school students realize college dreams, feed the hungry and raise money for other programs and initiatives. For one of his programs, he and his team work to bring different groups of kids to Chargers home games, take them to dinner and spend time with them. For the L.A. area, Tomlinson is meeting with potential partners and organizations to jump-start local programs. “The main thing is to attack fitness in this community. Fitness. Family. Football,” he says, adding that family is No. 1, and if the kids get proper information, they can also influence the parents’ behavior in eating healthy and getting exercise.

Georgia

On Tuesday, Aug. 1 at 8 a.m., as the students of [B.E.S.T. (Business, Engineering, Science and Technology) Academy returned to school on their new campus, some were surprised by a special welcome back to school from the 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Emerging 100 of Atlanta, the Collegiate 100 and leadership from the 100 Black Men of America national chapter, which is based in Georgia. Reflecting the motto, “What They See Is Who They’ll Be,” the men treated each student to a walk through a tunnel of impeccably dressed cheering men. The boys were greeted with handshakes, high fives, positive affirmations and encouraging words as they entered the school. With strong personal mentor involvement from organizations such as 100 Black Men of Atlanta. B.E.S.T. boys have cut suspension rates by 30 percent and in-school suspension by 36 percent. According to a press release from B.E.S.T., 42 percent of African-American students attend schools that are under-resourced and performing poorly, which makes the mentorship that 100 Black Men of Atlanta provides to B.E.S.T. year-round especially valuable.


Haitian immigrant Jeff Chery, whose stage name is Haitian Mufasa, had made the cut and is appearing on VH-1’s new show, “Signed.” The eight-show series also features Atlanta resident and platinum recording artist Rick Ross on the judge’s panel, along with Lenny S from Roc Nation and the Dream. Chery was such a hit with the panel that Ross offered to remix his song, “What You Doin’.” The show airs on VH-1 on Wednesdays. For more on Chery at www.jeffchery.com.

Illinois

A group of Black legislators and community leaders gathered last week on Chicago’s West Side to urge passage of state legislation that would provide more money to struggling schools in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, reports the Chicago Sun Times. State Rep. LaShawn Ford urged Gov. Bruce Rauner to sign a school funding bill that would distribute $350 million annually not just to schools in Chicago but across the state. “It makes sure that the funding for education is not based on a person’s ZIP code or property taxes,” Ford said, speaking at a news conference held at the Academy for Scholastic Achievement, a nonprofit school at 4651 W. Madison that focuses on educating at-risk youth. “If we do that, we will not have a pipeline to prison for Black children, but we will meet their needs and they will have more opportunities to grow and compete in such a highly skilled society,” Ford said. Rauner has threatened to make changes to the school-funding bill and send it back to the Legislature, calling the money it contains for city teacher pensions a “CPS bailout.” A spokeswoman for Rauner re-issued a statement from the governor that he’s unable to act until the bill gets to his desk. “Until then, I am unable to change the legislation so that it’s fair and equitable for all schoolchildren in Illinois and the taxpayers who foot the bill,” Rauner said.


Taking a page from the likes of National Hot Dog Day and World Nutella Day, Black restaurant owners in Chicagp have come up with a gimmick of their own: they’ve declared August “Black Chicago Eats” month, reports the Chicago Sun Times. From white tablecloth restaurants to fast-food joints and from Southern cooking to Caribbean and African delicacies, Black communities are being urged to support a litany of food establishments. “Two readers dared me to produce a list of 100 Black-owned restaurants in the Chicago area. I was not sure it could be done, but we ended up with a list of more than 100, and after more research I discovered more than 200,” said Chatham resident Toure Muhammad. “The amazing thing is the diversity. Of course, you find traditional soul food and Jamaican restaurants, but you can also find vegan, Cajun, Creole, Belizean, Haitian, Mexican, various African- and Italian-themed restaurants; frozen yogurt and homemade ice cream, bakeries, donut shops, burgers and more,” said Muhammad, who publishes the online news site Bean Soup Times. A Taste of Black Chicago is set for Aug. 19 on an outdoor lot at 7351 S. Stony Island. On Aug. 25, Muhammad and friends plan an Everybody Eats award event recognizing some of the city’s top Black bakers, chefs and restaurateurs.

Maryland

A group of Black teenage girls stomp, clap and shout in unison in step dance routines, channeling their anger, frustration and hopes into powerful performances in a new documentary “Step,” out in U.S. theaters this week, reports U.S. News and World Report. The journey of the founding class of the step troupe at the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women shows the girls’ struggles in the aftermath of protests and rioting in the city where 25-year-old Black man Freddie Gray died after suffering a broken neck in a police van in April 2015. Stepping is not actually a dance, said Cori Grainger, one of the film’s lead subjects, because it does not use a beat. Instead, “you are the beat, you are the music, you use your hands, you stomp your feet, you clap, it’s spoken word,” Grainger told Reuters. As the girls juggle their academics with competing in step tournaments, they visit Gray’s memorial where their step coach tells them, “as African American women, we are considered bottom of the barrel.” The visit inspires the girls to perform a Black Lives Matter routine, which they end with their fists in the air, chanting, “It could have been us.” The charter school attended by the girls aim for a 100 percent graduation and college acceptance rate, a goal that challenges some of the film’s protagonists.


When Daisha Berry read the historic marker dedicated (Near Salisbury) to Confederate Gen. John Henry Winder for the first time, the message struck her as “subtle, but frightening,” reports Delmarva Now. “It makes it sound like it’s a huge, great accomplishment that needs to honored and recognized, because he was this huge, great person,” she said. A town hall called to address the controversy surrounding the marker last week drew near-unanimous support for its removal from the lawn outside the historic Wicomico County courthouse. It was hard to tell whether the audience reflected the sentiments of the community at large since the event was heavily promoted by a local civil rights group. But it was clear that for African-Americans like Berry, the sign resonates as a profound slap in the face. Amber Green said it’s telling there’s a marker on the lawn for Winder, who wasn’t born in Salisbury, but rather in the western side of the county. Meanwhile, no public acknowledgement exists, she said, for two events significant in the community’s Black history that actually took place just steps from the spot: the 1931 lynching of Matthew Williams and the 1880 speech Frederick Douglass gave inside the courthouse. “That’s history and that is accurate history to that place and that particular spot,” said Green, a founder of the Fenix Youth Project, a group that promotes leadership through the arts. “My issue is people are picking and choosing what history to look at.” No one disputes that Winder was an important historical figure. The fault line in the debate runs through the sign’s content and placement, the paper reports.

Missouri

The NAACP issued a national advisory warning Black people about traveling in Missouri, marking the first time the organization has specified a single state as a hostile environment due to racism, reports multiple news sources. The Missouri chapter of the NAACP had previously put out a warning for the state in June, after Missouri lawmakers passed Senate Bill 43, which made it more difficult for people to sue businesses for race discrimination. “The advisory means each individual should pay special attention while in the state of Missouri and certainly if contemplating spending time in Missouri,” the group said in its original June statement. “Unlike seasonal weather advisories, where no unnecessary travel on city streets or parking might be directed, the NAACP wants to make Missourians and our visitors aware of looming danger which could include the following by example of what has happened to some residents and visitors.” In addition to SB 43, the Missouri NAACP pointed to other examples of allegedly racist attacks on Black people, including the case of Tory Sanford, a 28-year-old man who died in a Mississippi County jail cell in southeast Missouri hours after his arrest for making a wrong turn. The sheriff at the time, Cory Hutcheson, faced multiple charges of assault and robbery and was accused of foul play in Sanford’s death. The NAACP travel advisory also warns Black drivers that they are 75 percent more likely to be stopped compared to white drivers.

New York

Nathaniel Glover, better known as Kid Creole of the pioneering ’70s and ’80s hip-hop group Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, was arrested Aug. 2 in the fatal stabbing of a homeless man, a New York Police Department spokesperson confirmed to Variety. According to ABC7, Glover, 57, got into a fight with a 55-year-old homeless man on East 44th Street and Third Avenue in New York. During the fight, the homeless man was reportedly stabbed and later found on the sidewalk. He was then taken to Bellevue Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Glover was taken into custody in the Bronx and charged with murder. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five was formed in the South Bronx in 1976. Glover was one of the founding members, along with Melle Mel, Keith Cowboy, Mr. Ness/Scorpio, and Rahiem. The group’s biggest release was “The Message,” which contained the famous hook, “Don’t push me ‘cause I’m close to the edge/I’m trying not to lose my head.” The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007 — becoming the first hip-hop group to receive the honor. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five disbanded in the ’80s, and Glover had reportedly been working as a security guard and handyman in the area.


The Notorious B.I.G. community is keeping the late rapper’s legacy alive, reports Billboard. In a ribbon-cutting ceremony held Aug. 2, New York City Councilman Robert Cornegy officially renamed Crispus Attucks Playground in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, to Christopher “Biggie” Wallace courts. Cornegy lived in the same building as Biggie and made a promise to the rapper’s mother, Voletta Wallace, that he’d honor her son’s legacy. For the historic occasion, Biggie’s mother, daughter Tyanna and son C.J. were all in attendance to celebrate.


Dionne Warwick will be honored during Harlem Week with a plaque on the Apollo Theatre’s Walk of Fame. In addition, the singer will be recognized for her contributions at the Harlem State Building, all taking place on Aug. 15. Harlem Week organizers are also recognizing composer and producer James Mtume on Aug. 23 at Harlem Hospital. Harlem Week celebrates the past, present and future of the area with events throughout the summer.

Washington

The conversation is starting around getting more Black families in Pierce County to foster Black children, reports KING TV 5 in Seattle. “African American kids are overrepresented in our foster care system, so compared to the general population, African American kids come into the foster care system at high rates,” said Trey Rabun, family outreach specialist for Amara, a local foster care organization, and he’s also a foster parent to a Black child. Rabun held an informal meeting with folks from the Tacoma community last week at Amara’s new offices in Tacoma. Represented were people of color who have worked with foster youth as well as a young woman, Brittney Lee, who spent 16 years in the foster care system with foster families who she said loved her but weren’t Black. “I felt like I had to play catch up after I left foster care, when it came to movies, music; people were making fun of me like, ‘Oh you haven’t seen this you haven’t heard that song you don’t know who that artist is,’ so that was hard and the learning to love my hair and skin where growing up in the home they didn’t have my hair or skin or wide nose or you know,” Lee said. State statistics find that while 16 percent of children in Washington state are Black or multiracial, only 7 percent of the foster homes in the state are Black. “I saw that number, and I really wanted to kind of close that gap,” said Raybun, who notes that there are fewer homes interested in adopting Black kids in comparison to other races. He hopes last week’s meeting will lead to a greater conversation in Pierce County and Tacoma on growing the Black foster family population

National

Revelations illustrating the economic struggles of African-Americans are the driving forces behind the founding of a new group that’s leading a movement for Black economic justice across America, reports Louisiana Weekly. Black Wealth 2020, formally established only two years ago, aims to lock arms with some of the most historic national civic and civil rights organizations with a goal to impact economic outcomes in Black America over the next three years. The group’s three-pronged strategy is to increase the number of Black homeowners, strengthen Black-owned businesses and increase deposits in Black banks by the year 2020. “This is, in my recollection, the first time there’s been a systematic effort to draw our community’s attention to these very critical issues related to wealth-building and economic self-sufficiency. That being the importance of supporting Black banks, the importance of homeownership, the importance of growing Black businesses—those really are the three pillars of economic empowerment,” says Marie Johns, former deputy administrator at the Small Business Administration and retired president of Verizon Washington, who is a member of Black Wealth 2020. The seeds of Black Wealth 2020 were initially planted during a fight for economic justice. The group gelled after National Bankers Association President Michael Grant, National Association of Black-owned Broadcasters (NABOB) President Jim Winston and U.S. Black Chamber President (USBC) Ron Busby joined forces with Congresswoman Maxine Waters (A-43) to push for Black business inclusion in a proposed merger between Comcast and NBC Universal. Winston had asked Waters, ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, to take action in the situation. Winston then pulled in Grant who pulled in Busby. The Comcast merger ultimately failed. But, “We decided to put together some kind of organizational team,” recalled Grant, “So that whenever these issues come up, we’ll have a united front and we’ll have a lot of organizations. That’s how Black Wealth 2020 was formed.” The ultimate goal is to “turbo charge” Black wealth, Grant says. While Black Wealth 2020 is uniquely economic, it aims to work alongside traditional civil rights organizations, including the National Urban League, the NAACP and others, Winston says.


Zazzle.com, a web site that allows customers to upload images and design their own personalized T-shirts, is under fire after several Black empowerment T-shirts were spotted being worn by white models, reports BlackNews.com. Some of the messages on the shirts read: “Strong Black Women,” “Black Girl Magic,” and “Melanin Goddess.” YouTube star Jackie Aina is being credited with publicizing the issue, and it has gone viral on social media sparking a national outrage. Many are asking and tweeting, “Why can’t they use Black models to sell Black empowerment apparel?” The company, however, has since apologized, and insisted that they are committed to fairness and diversity. A spokesman from Zazzle released a statement saying, “In the case of the T-shirts in question, each designer is shown a series of pre-posed randomized model shots upon which their design is placed. It’s always possible that gender, race and other attributes of the model do not match up to the specifics of the design, given the ratio of our millions of designs to the 100 or so T-shirt styles we offer.” She continued, “We understand how these designs, when automatically prepopulated on random models, can appear to be a sign of disrespect, and we’re working diligently on an interim fix that doesn’t mismatch out-of-context content to models.”