Prison

~Spiritual Contentment is found through the spirit only~

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What Is the Secret to Contentment?

Discontentment is trying to penetrate my armor this morning. Trying to steal my worship and thankfulness to God and His wonderful son for delivering me from the spirit of greed and selfishness. When I acquired fame and fortune in this world I never imagined how destructive I became in my inner man. Seventeen cars, 9 houses and 3 companies grossing well over what I could have ever imagined. Time shares and plenty cognac and women. Cocaine and money and of course clothes and 600 pairs of shoes in different homes. Prison and God’s providence showed up to place me in a crucible of restoration and now I am learning what contentment is…

If you belong to Christ, like the apostle Paul you can and should learn the secret of a contented life. When Paul wrote “godliness with contentment is great gain” he wasn’t just speaking philosophically (1 Tim. 6:6). He had learned the secret to contentment in every circumstance of life (Phil 4:11-2). While that secret eludes most people, it need not elude any true believer. For those who are willing to learn, here are six steps to a contented life from the life and teaching of Paul.

First, learn to give thanks in all things. Paul had learned to give thanks in every circumstance and he exhorted all believers to do the same. Thankfulness is first of all a matter of obedience (1 Thess. 5:18; Eph. 5:18), but it is also a characteristic of a Spirit-filled believer (Eph. 5:18-20).

Second, learn to rest in God’s providence. If we truly know God, we know that He is unfolding His agenda and purpose in our lives. He has sovereignly determined each part of His plan for us so that we’ll be benefited and He’ll be glorified (cf. Rom. 8:28). We should not be surprised or ungrateful when we experience trials because we know that God sees perfectly the end result (cf.1 Pet. 4:12-13).

Third, learn to be satisfied with little. Paul had learned to make the choice to be satisfied with little, and he knew it was important for others to learn to make that same choice. In 1 Timothy 6:6Paul exhorted a young pastor with these words: “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” Paul understood that covetousness and contentment are mutually exclusive.

Fourth, learn to live above life’s circumstances. That’s how Paul lived. In 2 Cor. 12:9-10 he wrote, “Most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Paul didn’t take pleasure in the pain itself, but in the power of Christ manifested through him in times of infirmity, reproach, persecution, and distress. We also should learn to take pleasure in the power of Christ in times of distress.

Fifth, learn to rely on God’s power and provision. The apostle Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”; and Jesus said He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5). Like Paul, we can learn to rely on Christ’s promise. He faithfully infuses every believer with His own strength and sustains them in their time of need until they receive provision from His hand (Eph. 3:16).

Finally, become preoccupied with the well-being of others. Paul summarized this mindset inPhilippians 2:3-4, where he wrote: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

A self-centered man is a discontented man. But the soul of the generous man, the man who lives for the interests and benefit of others, will find blessing upon blessing in his life (see Prov. 11:24-5;19:17; Luke 6:38; 2 Cor. 9:6).

The Secret of Contentment

~The Apostle Paul Accepted His Calling, No Matter What It Entailed~

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Whenever prisons or prisoners are portrayed by the media or the entertainment industry or even just discussed by ordinary people often the expression, “doing hard time” is used. I have served many years in just these type of places – like the ADX in Florence, CO – that are sometimes used as examples of “hard time.” And to be honest, I did not and do not think of those years as “hard time” or the rest of them as “easy time.” It was just “doing time…”

When prisoners say, “doing time,” we mean it literally. How we deal with or mitigate the damage of those units of time we are serving, whether it’s  years, decades, or forever. Some of us also consider self-improvement and attempting to gain our freedom part of doing time. There s an opposite to that, of course. We refer to it as, “time doing you.” That is when you allow your conditions to define you and fall into negative or self-destructive behaviors like drugs, gangs, or unnecessary violence.

“The coldest, most inhumane time I have done were the years that I spent at the ADX, or Administrative Maximum in Florence, Colorado. Among other labels it has been described as, “The Alcatraz of the Rockies,” and the most secure prison in the world.”

I was taken there right after it opened. I was there with Tim McVeigh, the Unabomber, and some of the first World Trade Center bombers, and various gang and mob leaders. I m often asked what it was like being there and it is a hard question. This is because your circumstances change there over the years. Also, there is no common ground to start from, nothing to compare it to. My standard answer is, “Imagine being locked behind two steel doors into a very small bathroom, and three times a day, large, angry men bring food to you. Five times a week, three of those large, angry men chain you up and escort you with sticks to a slightly larger room for an hour of court-mandated recreation. That s an incomplete answer, but it usually ends the conversation, which is the point. For the purposes of this conversation, I will try and be more detailed. One primary aspect I remember is that in the ADX, for the first time in my life, I was truly alone. Of course, it was solitary confinement, but this is the modern version with soundproofing and baffles in the vents, etc. We did have intermittent contact with a few people on the range in rec periods, but that was a few hours a week.

And he took him aside from the multitude (Mark 7:33).

Paul not only stood the tests in Christian activity, but in the solitude of captivity. You may stand the strain of the most intense labor, coupled with severe suffering, and yet break down utterly when laid aside from all religious activities; when forced into close confinement in some prison house.

That noble bird, soaring the highest above the clouds and enduring the longest flights, sinks into despair when in a cage where it is forced to beat its helpless wings against its prison bars. You have seen the great eagle languish in its narrow cell with bowed head and drooping wings. What a picture of the sorrow of inactivity.

Paul in prison. That was another side of life. Do you want to see how he takes it? I see him looking out over the top of his prison wall and over the heads of his enemies. I see him write a document and sign his name–not the prisoner of Festus, nor of Caesar; not the victim of the Sanhedrin; but the–“prisoner of the Lord.” He saw only the hand of God in it all. To him the prison becomes a palace. Its corridors ring with shouts of triumphant praise and joy.

Restrained from the missionary work he loved so well, he now built a new pulpit–a new witness stand–and from that place of bondage come some of the sweetest and most helpful ministries of Christian liberty. What precious messages of light come from those dark shadows of captivity.

Think of the long train of imprisoned saints who have followed in Paul’s wake. For twelve long years Bunyan’s lips were silenced in Bedford jail. It was there that he did the greatest and best work of his life. There he wrote the book that has been read next to the Bible. He says, “I was at home in prison and I sat me down and wrote, and wrote, for joy did make me write.” The wonderful dream of that long night has lighted the pathway of millions of weary pilgrims.

That sweet-spirited French lady, Madam Guyon, lay long between prison walls. Like some caged birds that sing the sweeter for their confinement, the music of her soul has gone out far beyond the dungeon walls and scattered the desolation of many drooping hearts.

Oh, the heavenly consolation that has poured forth from places of solitude!

Taken aside by Jesus,
To feel the touch of His hand;
To rest for a while in the shadow
Of the Rock in a weary land.
Taken aside by Jesus,
In the loneliness dark and drear,
Where no other comfort may reach me,
Than His voice to my heart so dear.
Taken aside by Jesus,
To be quite alone with Him,
To hear His wonderful tones of love
‘Mid the silence and shadows dim.
Taken aside by Jesus,
Shall I shrink from the desert place;
When I hear as I never heard before,
And see Him ‘face to face’?

Another African American Experience

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President Obama Joins the “I Am Trayvon Martin” Chorus

President Obama reminded the world that he is a black man in America. Who knew? At a surprise appearance on Friday at the White House, Obama spoke for the first time on the verdict in the Trayvon Martin murder trial. Obama reminded the world that the African-American experience in America, particularly for men, creates a set of circumstances where black men are used to being feared and accustomed to the disparity with which they are treated by the law.

Obama personalized the experience of the black man in America by saying he too knows what it is like to have drivers lock their doors and women clutch their purses in his presence. Obama echoed the experiences of Eric Holder who recently said that he too had experienced what it was like to be a target simply because you are a black man.

Obama brought the bully pulpit to bear in describing the imbalance of justice afforded black men in America. In so many ways, he gave America a taste of the “conversation” that Holder spoke about having with his 15-year-old son and that Geraldo Rivera talked about having with his sons.

It is that conversation that fathers of minority children have when explaining how to deal with a biased criminal justice system in a day-to-day existence. It is a conversation with a goal of providing pragmatic advice to combat a system that targets and arrests black men at higher rates than any other ethnicity in America.

In Obama’s speech he basically recounted what we know already. The rules of the game, based on past and current history, are stacked against black men. We already know the statistics. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that one in 15 African-Americans are incarcerated and one in three can expect to be incarcerated in their lifetime. Black men are profiled at alarmingly higher rates than others in America. They receive longer sentences for similar crimes holding constant for age, criminal history, and location. Dennis Parker, director of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Project, notes that a Department of Justice report on racial profiling found that “black people are three times more likely to be searched during a traffic stop, twice as likely to be arrested, and almost four times as likely to experience the use of force during encounters with the police.” The Sentencing Project found that African-American youth have higher rates of juvenile incarceration and are more likely to be sentenced to adult prisons. The Department of Education found that African-American students are arrested more than white classmates. Black men are arrested at four times the rate of white men for possession of marijuana, even though usage rates among blacks and whites are numerically equivalent.

Scott Rasmussen wrote, “There’s a reason most black Americans believe our justice system is out to get them.”

When, Trayvon Martin was murdered, Obama gave a speech where he said if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon. Today he reminded the world that he looks like Trayvon too.
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A recent article on PolicyMic in the wake of the Trayvon Martin verdict sparked my interest, not because of the contents of the article itself, but because of the comments that followed. The young white woman in the video that the article linked to claimed that middle-class whites who take up the “I am Trayvon Martin” rallying cry are, in fact, deluding themselves if they believe the cultural education that they have received doesn’t teach fear of black people. Most of the white commenters responded angrily, denouncing the video and claiming that they were never taught to be racist. I could not adequately respond in the comments so I decided to write a letter and publish it here.

Dear White People of America,

I know you weren’t taught to be racists. Your parents were/are good people who worked hard and never hated anyone. You went to decent schools and have lived in diverse places. You publicly espouse tolerance for everyone. I know you weren’t taught to be racists. But somehow many of you have absorbed, if not racist attitudes, then certainly prejudiced ones.

Though I know that it will be viewed as such in many quarters, I don’t intend this opening to be inflammatory. What I want is to spark a real conversation around race, privilege, and perception, a conversation that has been sorely lacking in America and which is not happening in any meaningful way even in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict. Whites, blacks, and other minorities keep talking past each other regarding race. If we are to prevent the tragic deaths of more children, then this has to stop.

America’s current issue with race is not the problem of old. The KKK doesn’t roam the streets looking for people to lynch anymore. Nooses no longer adorn trees, dangling “strange fruit” as a warning to black people to stay in their place. Governors don’t stand in school house doors proclaiming the never-ending reign of segregation. Our current problems are deeper and much harder to talk about. They are as deep as our thoughts, and few alive today were taught by any authority figure in our formative years to actively hate. But somehow, we have absorbed the lesson that we should actively fear.

That’s what George Zimmerman did. He actively feared a young black kid walking home from the store in the dark. Why? Zimmerman’s father was a judge, someone dedicated to upholding a colorblind law. I seriously doubt that he taught his soon that black people were a threat. So who did? Why did George Zimmerman, and why do so many of you, so actively distrust and fear black youth that laws that could justify the killing of such youth are allowed?

How did this irrational fear creep into our national culture and indoctrinate us? I have no real answers to that question. I suspect that it has something to do with media portrayals of black people coupled with the realities of minority poverty. Shows that portray white criminals tend to do so in a sort of fantasy of storytelling. Who is likely to meet an Italian mobster in their everyday life? Conversely, shows like The Wire and Oz purport to portray a “slice of life” in black neighborhoods. We are much more likely to meet people like those characters, black men with a violent streak. Hip-hop has, for years, been one-dimensionally viewed as violent and disruptive. And who makes hip-hop? Black males. The murder statistics out of Chicago are appalling and splashed all over the news. Black kids are shown as dropouts and dope dealers, gang-bangers and thugs. With so many violent and negative portrayals, it’s no wonder that many of you unconsciously think of black men as a threat.

Here is a painful admission. I, a black man, harbor much of this fear as well. I too have been indoctrinated to fear black males. My heart rate quickens and I begin to look for possible avenues of escape when I see an unknown black man approaching on the street, especially if he is wearing “thug clothes.” I roll up my windows when a black person pulls up next to me in a jacked-up Cadillac blasting rap.

If I can own up to the fear, white people, I think you should too. Let’s all stop hiding behind the “I’m not a racist” excuse and admit that we do fear the Other, especially if the Other is a black male. Let’s look at what we consume in the media and how our culture shapes us and admit that it just might be affecting how we think about minority males.

White people, I know you weren’t taught to be racist. But if the effects are the same — if innocent kids can be gunned down and the killers can get off and even be defended by whites as “being within their rights,” if you can still pass laws that disenfranchise and impoverish minorities without protest, if you can carry on as if everything is OK when black people are dying in the streets of our cities — then how am I to tell the difference? I’ll take you at your word that you’re not racist and weren’t taught to be so. But until you can admit that many of you harbor an irrational fear of black men, then we can’t really begin the process of making all of us safer.

Sincerely,

A Black Man

FELONY DISENFRANCHISEMENT

Nationally, an estimated 5.85 million Americans are denied the right to vote because of laws that prohibit voting by people with felony convictions. Felony disenfranchisement is an obstacle to participation in democratic life which is exacerbated by racial disparities in the criminal justice system, resulting in 1 of every 13 African Americans unable to vote.

Supreme Court Invalidates Key Part of Voting Rights Act

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday effectively struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by a 5-to-4 vote, freeing nine states, mostly in the South, to change their election laws without advance federal approval.

The court divided along ideological lines, and the two sides drew sharply different lessons from the history of the civil rights movement and the nation’s progress in rooting out racial discrimination in voting. At the core of the disagreement was whether racial minorities continued to face barriers to voting in states with a history of discrimination.

“Our country has changed,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority. “While any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.”

The decision will have immediate practical consequences. Texas announced shortly after the decision that a voter identification law that had been blocked would go into effect immediately, and that redistricting maps there would no longer need federal approval. Changes in voting procedures in the places that had been covered by the law, including ones concerning restrictions on early voting, will now be subject only to after-the-fact litigation.

President Obama, whose election as the nation’s first black president was cited by critics of the law as evidence that it was no longer needed, said he was “deeply disappointed” by the ruling.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg summarized her dissent from the bench, an unusual move and a sign of deep disagreement. She cited the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and said his legacy and the nation’s commitment to justice had been “disserved by today’s decision.”

She said the focus of the Voting Rights Act had properly changed from “first-generation barriers to ballot access” to “second-generation barriers” like racial gerrymandering and laws requiring at-large voting in places with a sizable black minority. She said the law had been effective in thwarting such efforts.

The law had applied to nine states — Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia — and to scores of counties and municipalities in other states, including Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx.

Chief Justice Roberts wrote that Congress remained free to try to impose federal oversight on states where voting rights were at risk, but must do so based on contemporary data. But the chances that the current Congress could reach agreement on where federal oversight is required are small, most analysts say.

http://nyti.ms/148VK31

Is sentencing juveniles to life in prison without parole constitutional?

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We’ve all done something bad. But imagine doing something bad, so bad that you go to jail for the rest of your life, with no chance of parole. Would this be considered a violation of the Eighth Amendment, which protects us from “cruel and unusual punishment”?

That is the heart of the issue of the Supreme Court cases Sullivan v. Florida and Graham v. Florida. In both cases, the juveniles were found guilty of offenses in which no one was killed, and they received life sentences without the chance of release. These two are among the over one hundred cases across the country in which a juvenile was sentenced to life in prison without parole for non-homicide offenses.
In Sullivan, Joe Sullivan was sent away for life for raping an elderly woman when he was 13. The case of Graham focuses on Terrance Graham, who was implicated in armed robberies when he was 16 and 17. In both cases, the judge ruled against the advice of the Department of Corrections and gave the stiffest punishment allowable by law.

In Sullivan, the judge said that he was “beyond help,” and the judge who sentenced Graham to life without parole stated during sentencing: “If I can’t do anything to help you, then I have to . . . protect the community from your actions.”

These cases come after the 2005 Supreme Court case Roper v. Simmons, where the court ruled 5 to 4 that it is unconstitutional to execute anyone convicted of a crime when he or she was a juvenile.

Now the issue is whether letting a juvenile spend the rest of his or her life in prison is constitutional. Furthermore, the issue of whether prisons are meant to rehabilitate criminals or keep them away from society is being raised.

Bryan Stevenson, who represents Joe Sullivan, concedes that there is a difference between the death penalty and life without parole. But he says that a life term is different from other prison sentences because it denies the prisoner any hope for a future. “They’re just two different kinds of death sentences,” he said before the court. “One is death by execution, the other death by incarceration.”

Nineteen states, including Louisiana, have filed a brief supporting life sentences without parole for juveniles in non-homicide cases. “I disagree that the juvenile crimes are any less culpable than the adult crimes,” said Louisiana Attorney General James “Buddy” Caldwell in an NPR interview. “These are young criminals. That’s what they are, and the ones who are getting these sentences are the worst of those.”

The court seemed divided on the issue. Justice Stephen G. Breyer said, “The confusion and uncertainty about the moral responsibility of a 13-year-old is such that it is a cruel thing to do to remove from that individual his entire life. You see, we are at the extreme.”

Justice Samuel Alito disagreed with Breyer, remarking, “You are saying that, no matter what this person does, commits the most horrible series of non-homicide offenses that you can imagine, a whole series of brutal rapes, assaults that render the victim paraplegic but not dead, no matter what, the person is sentenced, shows no remorse whatsoever, the worst case you can possibly imagine, that person must at some point be made eligible for parole?”

In a victory for the rights for juveniles, the Supreme Court ruled, 5-4, that a sentence of life without parole is unconstitutional for anyone under 18. The majority opinion, which follows a 2005 ruling that executing minors is unconstitutional, said the punishment must be interpreted in light of the country’s “evolving standards of decency.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion, went on to say, “By denying the defendant the right to enter the community, the state makes an irrevocable judgment about that person’s value and place in society.” Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote a dissenting opinion, said that interpreting the Eighth Amendment with the changing societal standards is “entirely the court’s creation.” He argued that the “question of what acts are ‘deserving’ of what punishments is bound so tightly with questions of morality and social conditions as to make it, almost by definition, a question for legislative resolution.”

Please let me hear from you on what you think about this issue. I have two young adults sentenced to life one in Maryland and one in California. I lost my daughter at the age of 18 and my son at the age of 19 and it haunts me every day. I can’t Imagine losing a younger child at the age of 13 to 14 years old.

‘Fruitvale Station’: The Angry Life and Death of Young, Black Oscar Grant

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A man stands next to a photo of Oscar Grant during a protest against Grant’s killing in Oakland, California, June 12, 2011.

Ryan Coogler’s film ‘Fruitvale Station’ strips the polemics from the news story of Oscar Grant, a man shot to death by police while handcuffed, and presents the victim’s 22-year struggle warts and all.

In the early morning hours of New Year’s Day, 2009, 22-year-old Oakland resident Oscar Grant was handcuffed and shot in the back at point blank range on a subway platform by Bay Area Transit Police officer Johannes Mehserle.

Shocked onlookers captured the entire incident on video. Oscar Grant, who is African-American, succumbed to his injuries the next day at a local hospital, and the video of his killing went viral. The images of the cuffed young man being shot set off a wake of protests and riots in Oakland—and drew a degree of national attention to the issue of police brutality that hadn’t been as intense since the beating of Rodney King by LAPD officers in 1992.

In the days and weeks that followed, Grant’s story devolved into a shouting match in the national media. To some he became a saint who died standing up against police mistreatment. To others, the victim was a scourge whose previous crimes (Oscar Grant served multiple prison stints) somehow justified his killing.

The reality of Oscar Grant’s life and the tragic shooting that ended it is far more complicated than either polarized view—and is the subject of a new feature film, Fruitvale Station, by rookie director Ryan Coogler. The winner of both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and opening in select theaters July 12, Fruitvale Station strips Grant’s story of its polemics and focuses on the man himself.

“I wanted to take all the politics out of this film,” Coogler recently told an audience gathered to see a screening of Fruitvale Station at the University of Southern California. “He was 22 when he was shot. I was 22. His friends could have been my friends. That could have been me.”

In 2009, Coogler was a USC film-school student spending his winter break back in Oakland. Oscar Grant’s shooting, he says, was a “gut punch” for both him and his community. Coogler immediately knew he wanted to tackle the issue in some capacity. Through a friend, he was able to land a job with the lawyers in Grant’s civil trial. He worked as an archivist for the cell phone footage taken the night police shot Grant.

Coogler’s access to the specific details of Grant’s case allowed him to piece together the moment-to-moment details of Grant’s last day on Earth—and fleshed out his feelings for Grant as a human being, beyond the black-and-white sketches he’d seen in the media.

After penning an initial script for Fruitvale Station, Coogler, through the lawyers he worked for, convinced Oscar Grant’s family to participate in the film. They provided the filmmaker with achingly intimate memories of Grant, including some they might have choosen to forget if they could.

The result, instead of a hagiography, or a trumped up ode to a soldier martyred in the struggle for social justice, is that Coogler’s film plays like a meditation on the consequences of anger.

Despite a well-intentioned attempt to reboot his life in the wake of a prison sentence, Oscar Grant on the screen in Fruitvale Station is an angry man. His short trigger alienates him from his family, compromises his job prospects and, ultimately, paves the way for the incident that left him dead at the hands of police.

No, he did not deserve the fate he was dealt on that subway platform, but when you put as much anger into the world as Grant did, Coogler seems to be saying, it shouldn’t be suprising when something comes back.

The man who most of us have seen bleeding on a subway platform on YouTube is human. He is neither a martyr, nor a scourge, and he was far from being an aberration.

Oscar Grant was not alone in his anger, and his anger did not emanate from a vacuum. The world has no shortage of young people whose furious dissatisfaction is fueled by and based upon the circumstances they have been born into.

The fact that American audiences cannot help but identify with Oscar Grant is the deep reality that gives this movie its award-winning power, a “gut punch” that is felt long after the screening has finished.

“The Reason why the colored American is not in the World’s Columbian Exposition,”

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In spite of the progress that has been made in the United States since the Civil Rights Movement toward achieving racial justice, racism remains the single most destructive force in American society. Social problems such as poverty, unemployment, urban decay, deteriorating educational opportunities, crime and violence are all elevated by the persistence of racism in our society.

To reduce all forms of discrimination including racism, it is important that we keep moving forward with the necessary legal reforms. But past history reveals that we cannot legislate an end to racism. People must address racism in personal relationships and in their daily lives. Racism must be challenged in our workplace, schools, the media, and in every institution of our society.
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Do standardized achievement tests unfairly advantage white and Asian students and disadvantage the rest? According to a group of educational organizations and civil rights groups the answer is yes. The recently filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education pointing out that black and Latino students in New York score below whites and Asians on standardized tests so consistently that although they are almost 70% of the overall student body, they are only 11% of students enrolled at elite public schools. As a result, the complaint argues that New York City is in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act because schools rely on a test that advantages one racial group over another.

This is not the only instance where race has become an important factor for how standardized tests are used in public education. Just last month public schools in both Virginia and Washington D.C. announced targets for how many students in each racial group must pass for schools to remain in good standing. For example, in Virginia only 45% of black students in each school must pass standardized math tests while 68% of whites, and 82% of Asians must do the same. Officials say that these plans are not discriminatory because students who are the farthest behind must progress the most, but critics reason that if one expects less from some students, those lower educational expectations will become a self-fulfilling prophecy for school districts and those students will fall even farther behind.

The Convict Lease System and Lynch Law are twin infamies which flourish hand in hand in many of the United States. They are the two great outgrowths and results of the class legislation under which our people suffer to-day. Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington claim to be too poor to maintain state convicts within prison walls. Hence the convicts are leased out to work for railway contractors, mining companies and those who farm large plantations. These companies assume charge of the convicts, work them as cheap labor and pay the states a handsome revenue for their labor. Ninetenths of these convicts are Negroes. There are two reasons for this.

(1) The religious, moral and philanthropic forces of the country — all the agencies which tend to uplift and reclaim the degraded and ignorant, are in the hands of the Anglo-Saxon. Not only has very little effort been made by these forces to reclaim the Negro from the ignorance, immorality and shiftlessness with which he is charged, but he has always been and is now rigidly excluded from the enjoyment of those elevating influences toward which he felt voluntarily drawn. In communities where Negro population is largest and these counteracting influences most needed, the doors of churches, schools, concert halls, lecture rooms, Young Men’s Christian Associations, and Women’s Christian Temperance Unions, have always been and are now closed to the Negro who enters on his own responsibility. Only as a servant or inferior being placed in one corner is he admitted. The white Christian and moral influences have not only done little to prevent the Negro becoming a criminal, but they have deliberately shut him out of everything which tends to make for good citizenship.

To have Negro blood in the veins makes one unworthy of consideration, a social outcast, a leper, even in the church. Two Negro Baptist Ministers, Rev. John Frank, the pastor of the largest colored church in Louisville, Ky., and Rev. C. H. Parish, President of Extein Norton University at Cane Spring, Ky., were in the city of Nashville, Tennessee, in May when the Southern Baptist Convention was in session. They visited the meeting and took seats in the body of the church. At the request of the Association, a policeman was called and escorted these men out because they would not take the seats set apart for colored persons in the back part of the Tabernacle. Both these men are scholarly, of good moral character, and members of the Baptist denomination. But they were Negroes, and that eclipsed everything else. This spirit is even more rampant in the more remote, densely populated plantation districts. The Negro is shut out and ignored, left to grow up in ignorance and vice. Only in the gambling dens and saloons does he meet any sort of welcome. What wonder that he falls into crime?

(2) The second reason our race furnishes so large a share of the convicts is that the judges, juries and other officials of the courts are white men who share these prejudices. They also make the laws. It is wholly in their power to extend clemency to white criminals and mete severe punishment to black criminals for the same or lesser crimes. The Negro criminals are mostly ignorant, poor and friendless. Possessing neither money to employ lawyers nor influential friends, they are sentenced in large numbers to long terms of imprisonment for petty crimes. The People’s Advocate, a Negro journal, of Atlanta, Georgia, has the following observation on the prison showing of that state for 1892. “It is an astounding fact that 90 per cent of the state’s convicts are colored; 194 white males and 2 white females; 1,710 colored males and 44 colored females. Is it possible that Georgia is so color prejudiced that she won’t convict her white law-breakers. Yes, it is just so, but we hope for a better day.”

George W. Cable, author of The Grandissimes, Dr. Sevier, etc., in a paper on “The Convict Lease System,” read before a Prison Congress in Kentucky says: “In the Georgia penitentiary in 1880, in a total of nearly 1200 convicts, only 22 prisoners were serving as low a term as one year, only 52 others as low as two years, only 76 others as low a term as three years; while those who were under sentences of ten years and over numbered 538, although ten years, as the rolls show, is the utmost length of time that a convict can be expected to remain alive in a Georgia penitentiary. Six men were under sentence for simple assault and battery — mere fisticuffing — one of two years, two of five years, one of six years, one of seven and one of eight. For larceny, three men were serving under sentence of twenty years, five were sentenced each for fifteen years; one for fourteen years, six for twelve years; thirty-five for ten years, and 172 from one year up to nine years. In other words, a large majority of these 1200 convicts had for simple stealing, without breaking in or violence, been virtually condemned to be worked and misused to death. One man was under a twenty years’ sentence for hog-stealing. Twelve men were sentenced to the South Carolina penitentiary on no other finding but a misdemeanor commonly atoned for by a fine of a few dollars, and which thousands of the state’s inhabitants (white) are constantly committing with impunity — the carrying of concealed weapons. Fifteen others were sentenced for mere assault and battery. In Louisiana a man was sentenced to the penitentiary for 12 months for stealing five dollars worth of gunnysacks! Out of 2378 convicts in the Texas prison in 1882, only two were under sentence of less than two years length, and 509 of these were under twenty years of age. Mississippi’s penitentiary roll for the same year showed 70 convicts between the ages of 12 and 18 years of age serving long terms. Tennessee showed 12 boys under 18 years of age, under sentences of more than a year; and the North Carolina penitentiary had 234 convicts under 20 years of age serving long terms.”

Mr. Cable goes on to say in another part of his admirable paper: “In the Georgia convict force only 15 were whites among 215 who were under sentences of more than ten years.” What is true of Georgia is true of the convict lease system everywhere. The details of vice, cruelty and death thus fostered by the states whose treasuries are enriched thereby, equals anything from Siberia. Men, women and children are herded together like cattle in the filthiest quarters and chained together while at work. The Chicago Inter-Ocean recently printed an interview with a young colored woman who was sentenced six months to the convict farm in Mississippi for fighting. The costs, etc., lengthened the time to 18 months. During her imprisonment she gave birth to two children, but lost the first one from premature confinement, caused by being tied up by the thumbs and punished for failure to do a full day’s work. She and other women testified that they were forced to criminal intimacy with the guards and cook to get food to eat.

Correspondence to the Washington D.C. Evening Star dated Sept. 27, 1892, on this same subject has the following:

The fact that the system puts a large number of criminals afloat in the community from the numerous escapes is not its worst feature. The same report shows that the mortality is fearful in the camps. In one camp it is stated that the mortality is 10 per cent per month, and in another even more than that. In these camps men and women are found chained together, and from twenty to twenty-five children have been born in captivity in the convicts’ camps.

Some further facts are cited with reference to the system in use in Tennessee. The testimony of a guard at the Coal Creek prison in Tennessee shows that prisoners, black and dirty from their work in the mines, were put into their rooms in the stockades without an opportunity to change their clothing or sufficient opportunity for cleanliness. Convicts were whipped, a man standing at the head and another at the feet, while a third applied the lash with both hands. Men who failed to perform their task of mining from two to four tons of coal per day were fastened to planks by the feet, then bent over a barrel and fastened by the hands on the other side, stripped and beaten with a strap. Out of the fifty convicts worked in the mines from one to eight were whipped per day in this manner. There was scarcely a day, according to the testimony of the witness, James Frazier, in which one or more were not flogged in this manner for failure to perform their day’s task. The work in the mines was difficult and the air sometimes so bad that the men fell insensible and had to be hauled out. Their beds he described as “dirty, black and nasty looking.” One of the convicts, testifying as to the kind of food given them, said that the pea soup was made from peas containing weevils and added: “I have got a spoonful of weevils off a cup of soup.” In many cases convicts were forced to work in water six inches deep for weeks at a time getting out coal with one-fourth of the air necessary for a healthy man to live in, forced to drink water from stagnant pools when mountain springs were just outside of the stockades, and the reports of the prison officials showing large numbers killed in attempting to escape.

The defense of this prison is based wholly upon its economy to the state. It is argued that it would cost large sums of money to build penitentiaries in which to confine and work the prisoners as is done in the Northern States, while the lease system brings the state a revenue and relieves it of the cost of building and maintaining prisons. The fact that the convicts labor is in this way brought into direct competition with free labor does not seem to be taken into account. The contractors, who get these laborers for 30 or 40 cents per day, can drive out of the market the man who employs free labor at $1 a day.

This condition of affairs briefly alluded to in detail in Tennessee and Georgia exists in other Southern States. In North Carolina the same system exists, except that only able-bodied convicts are farmed out. The death rates among the convicts is reported as greater than the death rate of New Orleans in the greatest yellow fever epidemic ever known. In Alabama a new warden with his natural instincts unblunted by familiarity with the situation wrote of it: “The system is a better training school for criminals than any of the dens of iniquity in our large cities. The system is a disgrace to the state and the reproach of the civilization and Christian sentiment of the age.”

Every Negro so sentenced not only means able-bodied men to swell the state’s number of slaves, but every Negro so convicted is thereby disfranchised.

It has been shown that numbers of Negro youths are sentenced to these penitentiaries every year and there mingle with the hardened criminals of all ages and both sexes. The execution of law does not cease with the incarceration of those of tender years for petty crimes. In the state of South Carolina last year Mildred Brown, a little thirteen year old colored girl was found guilty of murder in the first degree on the charge of poisoning a little white infant that she nursed. She was sentenced to be hanged. The Governor refused to commute her sentence, and on October 7th, 1892, at Columbia, South Carolina, she was hanged on the gallows. This made the second colored female hanged in that state within one month. Although tried, and in rare cases convicted for murder and other crimes, no white girl in this country ever met the same fate. The state of Alabama in the same year hanged a ten year old Negro boy. He was charged with the murder of a peddler.

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“A Black Holocaust in America.”

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“Eugenics is the study of the agencies under social control that may improve or impair the racial qualities of future generations either physically or mentally.”
– Francis Galton, first cousin and associate of Charles Darwin, circa 1883

“Natural selection must be replaced by eugenical artificial selection. This idea constitutes the sound core of eugenics, the applied science of human betterment.”
– Theodosius Dobzhansky. Heredity and the Nature of Man. 1964



If you are still drinking yourself to death, stop! If you are still using the poison made to kill you, like cocaine and all other drugs, stop! If you are committing constant crimes and you have no desistance to eradicate the madness you find yourself participating in, let this post be enough to synergize desistance and change the way you view television, food, habits and activities. Please pass this education on to your family because It’s still happening in America today and it is called “Eugenics”.

Ron Wallace: co-author of Black Wallstreet: A Lost Dream Chronicles a little-known chapter of African-American History in Oklahoma as told to Ronald E. Childs. If anyone truly believes that 9/11 attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma was the most tragic bombing ever to take place on United States soil, as the media has been widely reported, they’re wrong,plain and simple. That’s because an even deadlier bomb occurred in that same state nearly 75 years ago.

Many people in high places would like to forget that it ever happened. Searching under the heading of “riots,” “Oklahoma” and “Tulsa” in current editions of the World Book Encyclopedia, there is conspicuously no mention whatsoever of the Tulsa race riot of 1921, and this omission is by no means a surprise, or a rare case. The fact is, one would also be hard-pressed to find documentation of the incident, let alone an accurate accounting of it, in any other “scholarly” reference or American history book.

That’s precisely the point that noted author, publisher and orator Ron Wallace, a Tulsa native, sought to make nearly five years ago when he began researching this riot, one of the worst incidents of violence ever visited upon people of African descent. Ultimately joined on the project by colleague Jay Jay Wilson of Los Angeles, the duo found and compiled indisputable evidence of what they now describe as “A Black Holocaust in America.”

The date was June 1, 1921, when “Black Wallstreet,” the name fittingly given to one of the most affluent all-black communities in America, was bombed from the air and burned to the ground by mobs of envious whites. In a period spanning fewer than 12 hours, a once thriving 36-black business district in northern Tulsa lay smoldering-A model community destroyed, and a major Africa-American economic movement resoundingly defused.

The night’s carnage left some 3,000 African Americans dead, and over 600 successful businesses lost. Among these were 21 churches, 21 restaurants, 30 grocery stores and two movie theaters, plus a hospital, a bank, a post office, libraries, schools, law offices, a half-dozen private airplanes and even a bus system. As could be expected, the impetus behind it all was the infamous Ku Klux Klan, working in consort with ranking city officials, and many other sympathizers. In their self-published book, Black Wall street: A lost Dream, and its companion video documentary, Black Wall street: A Black Holocaust in America!, the authors have chronicled for the very first time in the words of area historians and elderly survivors what really happened there on that fateful summer day in 1921 and why it happened. Wallace similarly explained to Black Elegance why this bloody event from the turn of the century seems to have had a recurring effect that is being felt in predominately Black neighborhoods even to this day. The best description of Black Wall street, or Little Africa as it was also known, would be to liken it to a mini-Beverly Hills. It was the golden door of the Black community during the early 1900s, and it proved that African Americans had successful infrastructure. That’s what Black Wall street was about.

The dollar circulated 36 to 1000 times, sometimes taking a year for currency to leave the community. Now in 1995, a dollar leaves the Black community in 15 minutes. As far as resources, there were Ph.D’s residing in Little Africa, Black attorneys and doctors. One doctor was Dr. Berry who also owned the bus system. His average income was $500 a day, a hefty pocket of change in 1910. During that era, physicians owned medical schools. There were also pawn shops everywhere, brothels, jewelry stores, 21 churches, 21 restaurants and two movie theaters. It was a time when the entire state of Oklahoma had only two airports, yet six blacks owned their own planes. It was a very fascinating community. The area encompassed over 600 businesses and 36 square blocks with a population of 15,000 African Americans. And when the lower-economic Europeans looked over and saw what the Black community created, many of them were jealous. When the average student went to school on Black Wall street, he wore a suit and tie because of the morals and respect they were taught at a young age.

The mainstay of the community was to educate every child. Nepotism was the one word they believed in. And that’s what we need to get back to in 1995. The main thoroughfare was Greenwood Avenue, and it was intersected by Archer and Pine Streets. From the first letters in each of those names, you get G.A.P., and that’s where the renowned R&B music group The GAP Band got its name. They’re from Tulsa. Black Wall street was a prime example of the typical Black community in America that did business, but it was in an unusual location. You see, at the time, Oklahoma was set aside to be a Black and Indian state. There were over 28 Black townships there. One third of the people who traveled in the terrifying “Trail of Tears” along side the Indians between 1830 to 1842 were Black people. The citizens of this proposed Indian and Black state chose a Black governor, a treasurer from Kansas named McDade. But the Ku Klux Klan said that if he assumed office that they would kill him within 48 hours. A lot of Blacks owned farmland, and many of them had gone into the oil business. The community was so tight and wealthy because they traded dollars hand-to-hand, and because they were dependent upon one another as a result of the Jim Crow laws.

It was not unusual that if a resident’s home accidentally burned down, it could be rebuilt within a few weeks by neighbors. This was the type of scenario that was going on day-to-day on Black Wall street. When Blacks intermarried into the Indian culture, some of them received their promised ’40 acres and a Mule,’ and with that came whatever oil was later found on the properties.

Just to show you how wealthy a lot of Black people were, there was a banker in a neighboring town who had a wife named California Taylor. Her father owned the largest cotton gin west of the Mississippi [River]. When California shopped, she would take a cruise to Paris every three months to have her clothes made. There was also a man named Mason in nearby Wagner County who had the largest potato farm west of the Mississippi. When he harvested, he would fill 100 boxcars a day. Another brother not far away had the same thing with a spinach farm. The typical family then was five children or more, though the typical farm family would have 10 kids or more who made up the nucleus of the labor.

On Black Wall street, a lot of global business was conducted. The community flourished from the early 1900s until June 1, 1921. That’s when the largest massacre of non-military Americans in the history of this country took place, and it was lead by the Ku Klux Klan. Imagine walking out of your front door and seeing 1,500 homes being burned. It must have been amazing.

Survivors we interviewed think that the whole thing was planned because during the time that all of this was going on, white families with their children stood around on the borders of the community and watched the massacre, the looting and everything—much in the same manner they would watch a lynching.

In my lectures I ask people if they understand where the word “picnic” comes from. It was typical to have a picnic on a Friday evening in Oklahoma. The word was short for “pick a nigger” to lynch. They would lynch a Black male and cut off body parts as souvenirs. This went on every weekend in this country. That’s where the term really came from. The riots weren’t caused by anything Black or white. It was caused by jealousy. A lot of white folks had come back from World War I and they were poor. When they looked over into the Black communities and realized that Black men who fought in the war had come home heroes that helped trigger the destruction. It cost the Black community everything, and not a single dime of restitution—no insurance claims-has been awarded to the victims to this day.

Nonetheless, they rebuilt. We estimate that 1,500 to 3,000 people were killed, and we know that a lot of them were buried in mass graves all around the city. Some were thrown in the river. As a matter of fact, at 21st Street and Yale Avenue, where there now stands a Sears parking lot, that corner used to be a coal mine. They threw a lot of the bodies into the shafts. Black Americans don’t know about this story because we don’t apply the word holocaust to our struggle. Jewish people use the word holocaust all the time. White people use the word holocaust. It’s politically correct to use it. But when we Black folks use the word, people think we’re being cry babies or that we’re trying to bring up old issues. No one comes to our support. In 1910, our forefathers and mothers owned 13 million acres of land at the height of racism in this country, so the Black Wall street book and videotape prove to the naysayers and revisionists that we had our act together. Our mandate now is to begin to teach our children about our own, ongoing Black holocaust. They have to know when they look at our communities today that we don’t come from this.

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