9 GRAMS at the Inkwell

Steps from the famed Inkwell Beach on Martha’s Vineyard, prize-winning playwright Maisha Yearwood performs a reading of her work 9 GRAMS. Based on a true story, this surprisingly funny play follows Hollywood screenwriter Ayeesha Freeman as she endures solitary confinement in a Turkish prison because of how she looks and who she loves. A Q&A with Maisha will follow the performance. Sponsored by Oak Bluffs Public Library.

9 GRAMS at National Black Theatre Festival

The legendary National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina welcomes 9 GRAMS to its Readers Series. Award-Winning playwright Maisha Yearwood will read her work about a Hollywood screenwriter who endures solitary confinement in a Turkish prison after being racially profiled as a drug trafficker. Based on a true story.

The Color of Crime

Posted on 7 CommentsPosted in Allies, Prisoners, Students, Uncategorized
George Zimmerman. Image Courtesy of The Washington Post
George Zimmerman. Image Courtesy of The Washington Post

One breezy evening last October, I celebrated my one month anniversary of living in New York City with a lovely dinner with friends and by getting mugged on my way home. I didn’t make it very hard for the perpetrator, practically handing my wallet and iPhone to him as I descended the steps into the subway entrance. All in all, it was a relatively painless mugging; I wasn’t hurt, everything he took could be replaced, I immediately canceled my credit and ATM cards and wasn’t held responsible for the $400 charged at Kennedy Pizza and Chicken. As I communicated with family and friends in the days following the attack, the second question they asked, after “Are you okay?!” was inevitably, “Was he Black?”

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After the Verdict: “Where do we go From Here?” Black Studies For Everybody

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Activists, Allies, Parents, Prisoners, Scholars, Students, Teachers
Black Studies protest, May 1968 University of Washington.  Image by Steve Ludwig. Courtesy of Antiwar and Radical History Project.
Black Studies protest, May 1968 University of Washington. Image by Steve Ludwig. Courtesy of Antiwar and Radical History Project.

Some people can’t understand why people concerned about racism—especially African Americans–are so upset about the George Zimmerman verdict.  Some folks think that there is no evidence to suggest that Zimmerman’s even a racist since he is Latino.  These misunderstandings reveal there remains an empathy gap when it comes to White understanding of Black experiences.

George Zimmerman is a White, second-generation Hispanic who felt empowered to racially profile Trayvon Martin.  His light skin, accent-free English and fear of Black men inspired something in the millions of white Americans who reached out to support him during the trial. His acquittal stunned us because it highlights how some people of color embrace anti-black racism.  Zimmerman’s privilege allowed him to disavow the idea that race was involved in the shooting at all.

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After the Verdict: “Where do we go From Here?” End Racial Profiling

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Activists, Allies, Artists, Parents, Prisoners, Scholars, Students, Teachers
Image courtesy policymic.com
Image courtesy policymic.com

On a cold, February night last year what inspired George Zimmerman to ignore a police dispatcher’s warning? Why was he sure that Trayvon Martin, 17, was a “suspicious” character in his gated southern Florida community? We’re still reeling from his acquittal, but this is the 5th part in a series that addresses the crucial question that remains on everyone’s mind: “Where do we go from here?”

Racial Profiling is the culprit here. The ACLU defines it as “ the discriminatory practice of law enforcement and private security practices that disproportionately target people of color for investigation and enforcement.” This happens to People of Color everyday in America.  Racial profiling creates a hostile, unfriendly environment for Blacks and other members of communities of color by keeping racism less a relic of the past and more of an incessant struggle.

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After the Verdict: “Where do we go From Here?” Repeal Stand Your Ground

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Activists, Allies, Artists, Parents, Prisoners, Scholars, Students, Teachers
Dream Defenders occupy Florida state capitol. Courtesy Pensacola News Journal.
Dream Defenders occupy Florida state capitol. Photo courtesy Pensacola News Journal.

“Usually when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.” – Malcolm X

The trial of George Zimmerman and his slap-in-the-face acquittal have us all reeling, but let’s channel our outrage into productivity for social change.  Trayvon Martin and his family still deserve justice. This is the fourth post in a series that addresses the question on everyone’s mind: “Where do we go from here?”

Stand Your Ground is the policy that allowed Zimmerman’s actions to be vindicated that night in February 2011. According to Florida law:

“A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.” (Emphasis is ours.)

How did a policy that was crafted to protect the vulnerable and defenseless become used to justify the killing of a child by a grown man? This is because of the inherent racial injustice of Stand Your Ground. In states with this policy, Whites have a 354% likelihood of being cleared for White-on Black murder.

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