Stephen A. Smith, You’re Wrong — What Black People need is an Independent Political Party

“What I dream is that for one election, just one, every Black person in America vote, Republican.” — Stephen A. Smith 

In wake of Stephen A. Smith’s political call for a Black-voting transition from Democrat to the Grand Old Party, divisive commentary from the African-American community has certainly ensued. Some Black voices argue that Smith’s action is absurd and even question his political and cultural integrity as an African-American man. Others claim that the Smith antagonizers assume that all Blacks have pledged a dutiful allegiance to the Democratic party and point to the stereotypical notion that not every Black person is homogeneous in political behavior.

From a historical perspective, I understand the methodology behind Smith’s flawed yet idealistic political sentiments; as they have been articulated by Black leaders of the past. For instance, in his 1964 speech the “Ballot or the Bullet”, Malcolm X advocated for Blacks not to fall privy to the idealism of the Democrats as a political system for the advancement of African-Americans; mostly due to the party’s lack of concern for the socio-economic and political interests of the Black community after they obtained the Black vote.

However, unlike Smith, Malcolm X did not tell Black people to vote Republican.

Fast-forward into modernity, many African-Americans are still skeptical whether or not Black interests are on the forefront of the Democratic agenda. With racial tensions rising – much due to the extrajudicial killings and attacks against innocent Black people — many question whether Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton will be dedicated to the salient issues raised by activists groups such as the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Although Smith’s ideology to sway the Black vote from Democrat to Republican is quite interesting, I find that Smith himself — as well as Black advocates for both the Democrat and Republican parties — are missing crucial points as they sway along the proverbial pendulum of political philosophies.

And the crucial points are as follows:

Black people don’t need the Democratic party. Black people don’t need the Republican party.

What Black people need is an independent, Black political bloc and coalition to articulate interests, injustices and concerns that thoroughly pertain to the plight of African-Americans in America.

Now, this is what Brother Malcolm told Black people.

The historical basis of Black political thought stems from two perspectives — that of the multiracial, Democratic coalition-based ideology formulated by civil rights activist Bayard Rustin and that of a self-sufficient, independent Black political bloc, advocated by the likes of Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael and Charles V. Hamilton.

Author Frederick C. Harris, in his book, “The Price of the Ticket: Barack Obama and the Decline of Black Politics” describes these perspectives as a “clash of ideas”; as Black leaders have historically argued about which political style to use to advance Black concerns. However, Black people have worn out their welcome with the coalition-based style of politics as the concerns of the African-American community has fallen to deaf ears and blind eyes to both Democrats and Repbulicans.

Now, more than ever, in wake of Sandra Bland, Walter Scott, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Walker Scott, Tamir Rice, Aiyana Jones, Akai Gurley, Trayvon Martin, Ezell Ford, Rekia Boyd, Oscar Grant, and the countless other innocent Black people who have died at the hands of enforcement, it is time for a revolutionary, political change. It is time for Blacks to turn to the idealism of Carmichael and Hamilton and advocate for Black self-determination and aggregate our socio-economic resources to control the political context of systematic and institutionalized injustices.

And The Black Lives Matter Movement could be the very vehicle to bring such a historic, political change.

Because in all actuality, at this point in time, both the Democrat and the Republican need Black people more than Black people need either political party. It is about time we create something of our own.

And this Black, independent political articulation, Mr. Smith, is what you need to dream for.


New dietary guidelines to change the course on national nutrition policy

A nutritional advisory committee commissioned by the Obama administration released its highly anticipated federal food report last week, proposing new dietary initiatives that will ultimately alter the discourse of national nutrition policy.

In an attempt to ‘transform the food system’, the 570-page Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report was presented to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture, as recommendations cited within the document will be utilized by both departments to establish new dietary guidelines. These new nutritional initiatives will also serve as the foundation for federal food funding and school lunch programs, which costs $16 billion dollars annually.

So what exactly are these new dietary guidelines suggesting?

Well, for starters, the dietary recommendations suggest three-to-five cups of coffee a day, as studies have shown that drinking a moderate amount of coffee can reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Additives to coffee such as cream and sugar should be regulated, as these, according to the advisory committee, can cause increased caloric intake and weight gain.

Controlling one’s cholesterol has been a constant dietary theme, as present nutritional instruction suggests limiting cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams a day. However, the advisory committee overturned the recommendation on limiting cholesterol, as it could not find a substantive relationship between dietary cholesterol and cholesterol in the blood.

The panel of nutritional experts also recommended that the government should consider the environment when advising Americans on what to eat. With this nutritional tip, there should be a promotion of more vegetables and fruits and meat within the American diet, as integrating these dietary measures can secure long-term food sustainability and security for present and future generations.

The report also noted that beef was the single food with the greatest impact on the environment, due to its production of greenhouse gases.

However, Republican Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and some meat industry producers have a serious ‘beef’ with the committee’s less meat approach.

“Generations of cattle farmers and ranchers have been and continue to be conscientious about conserving limited natural resources,” said Sen. Grassley to “They rely on the land and the environment for their livelihood. Those facts get lost in Washington and in arguments that eating red meat hurts the environment.”

Perceiving the committee’s rhetoric as non-meat friendly, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association released a statement, noting that “lean beef is one of the most nutrient rich foods, providing high levels of essential nutrients such as zinc, iron and protein, as opposed to empty calories.”

The North American Meat Institute (NAMI), which is the oldest and largest trade organization association representing U.S. packers and processors of beef, pork, lamb, veal, and turkey, also thrashed the report, claiming it to be ‘flawed’ and ‘nonsensical’.

The NAMI President and CEO Barry Carpenter also accused the panel of overstepping its boundaries, stating that the committee’s “foray into the murky waters of sustainability is well beyond its scope and expertise” and added that it was “unfortunate” that the committee was “generalizing about an entire category of foods.”

No Justice, No Money: Eric Garner’s Family Has Not Received Money Raised in His Name on Crowdfunding Sites

Despite the flood of online funds that were raised in memoriam of Eric Garner, family members of the deceased claim that they have yet to receive one dime of the thousands of dollars donated.

About 19 funding campaigns for the Garner family have been created and their outreach can be found on several popular fundraising sites including IndieGoGo, Fundly, and GoFundMe. One funding project claims that it has raised about $75,000, while another has said to have acquired nearly $10,000. Despite these copious figures, Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr and his daughter, Erica Garner, say they have no knowledge to the whereabouts of the money and are unfamiliar with many of the alleged fundraising activities.

“I feel like people are trying to use my father’s name for their own gain,” said Erica Garner, 24. “It’s unfortunately a sad situation.”

According to DNAInfo, an advocacy organization known as the Charlotte Activist Collective, launched a GoFundMe campaign in hopes of raising $1 million for Esaw Snipes, Garner’s widow. Having raised $9,301, the group on their bio page claims that they have been in contact with the Garner family and gained the approval of Snipes for their fundraising efforts.

“We’ve been in touch with Esaw Garner and she supports our fundraising efforts!”

“We’ve been in touch with the Garner family and we will soon personally be going to deliver your donations to them. When we do so, we will post ANY and ALL media & messages here and on our social media pages. Please donate and/or share with your family, friends, and acquaintances online and off.”

Carr and Garner claim that they have never heard of the organization or the fund.

Andrew Doty, a St. Louis book editor, raised $75,000 on a Fundly campaign, but claims that the funds have not been dispersed by the site due to the uncertainty of which of the family members should receive the money.

After receiving calls from relatives of Garner and others claiming to be relatives, who urged him to send them the funds directly – in cash – Doty agreed to send all proceeds to Jonathan Moore, the family lawyer.

“It’s made me very wary of who’s calling me and sending me emails,” said Doty, “I got these sort of mixed messages… I waited for that confirmation [from Jonathan Moore] and now we’re in the process of getting that money to him.”

These fundraising dilemmas have also incited tensions between members of the Garner family, as both Carr and Garner claim that one of Garner’s other daughters raised $40,000 on IndieGoGo, and refuses it share the funds with Erica Garner.

“As soon as the money came in, she pulled back and nobody knows where that money went,” Erica Garner said.

Carr also mentioned in the DNAInfo report that she believed that the money received from the fundraisers would be divided between family members and would be used to keep her son’s memory alive.

“Some of the family has been getting money, but to me they haven’t been sharing it,” Carr said.

“I hate to see other people arguing about money. My son lost his life. This is how all of this came about, you can’t ever bring him back. Justice is a bigger issue.”


Obama calls for humility at National Prayer Breakfast

In wake of the sectarian violence initiated by ISIS, President Obama called for clergy, legislators and officials to put on a cloak of humility in regards to religious freedoms during his annual speech at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday.

Referencing and quoting doctrines from various faith-based texts, including the Torah, the Koran and the Bible, Obama, in a most pastoral fashion, emphasized religious tolerance while discussing the inherent ‘sinful nature’ of humanity to twist and destroy faith.

“We are summoned to push back against those who would distort our religion for their nihilistic ends,” Obama said.

Reiterating a statement which he voiced during the U.N. General Assembly last year in regards to solidarity among world powers against ISIS, President Obama emphasized that “no God condones terror”, extending this sentiment to religious impropriety abroad as well as the historical infliction of intolerance in the United States.

“We see ISIL, a brutal vicious death cult that in the name of religion carries out unspeakable acts of barbarism,” he said reprehending them for “claiming the mantle of religious authority for such actions.”

“[But] unless we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ,” Obama continued. “In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”

Obama even made a brief mention of the Dalai Lama, who was in attendance as the breakfast’s most notable guest. Despite criticisms by the Chinese government about the Tibetan exiled leader, who claim him to be a religious separatist, President Obama cited the character of the religious and cultural icon, referring to him as a “powerful example of what it means to practice compassion.”

Although President Obama and the Dalai Lama have met each other three times prior, the breakfast served as the first public event with one another, causing speculation as to if there will be any more encounters between the world leaders in the near future


Many say that luck could be one possible word to answer how I am in the position that I am today.

There are many times where I look up at the blues or greys of the sky, with a spirit of gratitude and tears in my eyes, wholly thankful to God for granting me such favor. Without question, my gratitude extends from the depths of an unequivocal humility, as the circumstances of my life could have reared me to take the road commonly traveled. Instead, this journey called life riddled me down the righteous path. And with that, I am truly grateful for the latter.

I am an A.C.O.A. – more readily described as an adult child of an alcoholic. I can be described as many things, many nouns and adjectives: I am Black.  I am Woman. Christian. Avid learner, reader, lover of travel. Some say I am funny. Others say I am intelligent. My mother says I am her sunshine and My God says that I am beautifully and wonderfully made. But the realization that I could be identified as an adult child of an alcoholic did not become fully recognized until I confronted the memories that haunted me from my childhood in therapy.

All my life – from the time I was born and even into my adult life – I grew up in a physically, emotionally and verbally abusive alcoholic household. As a child, I was not allotted certain freedoms that come along with the innocence of adolescence – as I was confronted with issues that both children and even adults should not, would not and could not endure. The oldest of three children, it was not unfamiliar to occupy the role as a surrogate aid to my mother who was in physical and emotional pain; or to my father who was in need to be heard in his inebriated and depressed state; or to be a shoulder to cry on for my younger brother and sister. In that role, I played the “brave one”, the “responsible one” and perhaps even the voice of reason. Being daughter, sister, friend, counselor, and also one of the grieved in the abusive cycle, left me little room to confront my personal issues. So with the unaddressed aspects of my life and along with the gnarly nature of my pride, I became oppressed, depressed and insecure.

These issues plagued me from the time I was in elementary school even until I left for college. I refused to confront them and instead of reconciling with my father or my feelings, I used academics, community service and activism as outlets to numb my depression. My willingness to succeed and to make a better life for myself and my family became the catalysts to self-medicating my unresolved pain.  And don’t get me wrong – it worked. I have accomplished things that I thought at one point were unimaginable. The beauty of this was that my accomplishments extended from my own volition and accord and I prided myself on my resilient nature as a means to expand the territory of my merit.

So there I stood with all these accolades, unfulfilled. Resilient, yet downtrodden. Recognized by my professors and peers, yet alone. Smiling, but with the obvious, all a façade. During my sophomore year of undergraduate though, my life spiraled out of control, and yet somehow, in some beautiful and divine way, reared its ugly head on track. That year, my mother was diagnosed with renal kidney failure, my parents separated, and I was unsure if I was able to return for the next academic term due to the lack of financial resources. My family and I even thought we were going to lose our home.  Instead of caving in, instead of losing my wits, I somehow found strength through the proverbial storm. Although it was rough and I truly wanted to give up, I realized in order for me to bloom and bask in my fullest potential, I must confront those skeletons in my closet, the thoughts of doubt and insecurity that plagued my innermost being, the unforgiveness that gnawed at my spirit and the anger within the depths of my soul. In order for me to deal with all the calamity around me, I had to finally address my issues to move forward.

So I did. And with that, I am able to write to you today in confidence, in contentment, in peace and as a whole. I have a lot to learn and not everything is intact but it is most important, firstly, that I know who I am and where I come from and that my past cannot and will not dictate to me what I shall be.

One day, while my mother and I were in the car, she said something that has always stuck with me.

“Jaimee, I had a conversation with your Uncle today.”

“Really, Mom? Well, what did he say?

“He said to me that with all that you have been through, you could have chosen a different route in life. You could have chosen a path of destruction but instead, by the grace of God, you have steered down the right path.”

After she told me that, I was silent and did not know what to say.

Many say that luck could be one possible word to describe how I am in the position that I am today.

But I now know what to say to those who deem luck as the answer – it is not luck, but God.

Only God.

The Power

I write words, the way in which I speak with my tongue. The same hand and mouth in which I use to write and speak unfettered words of love and wisdom, can also be utilized as both sword and bow.
Therefore, I beseech you, dear brethren, to be wise in the way you approach.

The Spirit

We are the new generation, yes.

But we walk in the spirit of Assata; we dream for hope and equality like Martin; we accept the double-consciousness of the American and the Negro like DuBois; we articulate the profound message of Black power and Black unity like Stokely and Shabazz; and even with all that is happening around us today, we shall not be moved like Rosa.

Many of these great people have gone on home – their messages just remnants on books and paper. But it is we, the new generation, that walk in their legacy and continue in the fight for a better future.

We shall overcome, not someday, but TODAY. This is the time. This is OUR time. ‪#‎BLACKLIVESMATTER‬