Saturday, December 26, 2009

News: Community Outraged as Black Man Shot in the Back

Witnesses say the man was surrendering, but officials in Rockford, Ill., near Chicago dispute that version of events, saying that Mark Anthony Barmore grabbed for an officer's gun after they cornered him in the church.


This Aug. 28, 2009 photo shows Pastor Melvin Brown of Kingdom Authority International Ministries Church in Rockford, Ill., second from left, leading a group of about 200 marchers down State Street to City Hall in honor of Mark Anthony Barmore, who was killed in August during an altercation with police. The NAACP is renewing a call for federal standards on police use of force after what it describes as the police killing of an unarmed man inside a church as day-care children watched.  (AP Photo/Rockford Regoister Star, Amy J. Correnti)

This Aug. 25, 2009 photo shows onlookers, including Mark Anthony Barmore's father, Anthony Stevens, second from right, watching as police investigate the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Mark Anthony Barmore, inside the Kingdom Authority International Ministries Church in Rockford, Ill. The NAACP is renewing a call for federal standards on police use of force after what it describes as the police killing of an unarmed man inside a church as day-care children watched. (AP Photo/Rockford Register Star, Amy J. Correnti)

Both sides do agree, however, that Barmore fled when officers approached him in the church parking lot, which highlights the suspicion and fear that can poison relationships between police and minority communities across the country.

"There are no national standards for the use of force (or) training for use of force," Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said Friday.

The issue "is not primarily about racism," Jealous said, citing the recent case of a 72-year-old white woman tasered by a white Texas officer during a traffic stop. "We want to make sure the standards are the most modern and appropriate ones possible."

The NAACP scheduled a rally Saturday in Rockford and a march Oct. 3. Jealous was planning to attend both; it would be his first march since taking the NAACP's helm a year ago.

The NAACP is seeking the reintroduction of the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act, first offered by John Conyers, D-Mich., in 2000. It was co-sponsored by 34 legislators but was never voted on by the full House.

Click to read.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Glover v. Obama: Who is Right? Maybe Both of Them.

Elliot Millner, J.D.

Danny Glover recently directed some criticism at President Obama, regarding his lack of action in dealing with issues disproportionately impacting the Black community. President Obama fired back, saying that he was not neglecting Black issues, and that the issues he was being asked to address could not be fixed in one term, much less one year.

So, who is right? I'm not a fence-rider, however in many instances there is truth on both sides of a dispute or issue, and that is the case here. To be accurate, Danny Glover didn't call out President Obama for simply not paying enough attention to Black people; he called him out for his overall policy approach, and it's similarities (in Glover's opinion) to the policies and approach of the Bush administration. This is a fair criticism, for a couple of reasons. Despite the conservative media's protests to the contrary, Obama ran as a moderate, and that is basically what he is on most issues (if you don't think so, compare Obama's campaign platform to that of Dennis Kucinich or John Edwards). Former President Bush, although a Republican, was also considered a moderate (too moderate for many Republicans) on many issues. So, it is no surprise that President Obama may look similar to President Bush in his views and actions on some issues (most obviously in his war policy). I'm not saying I like it, but that is the reality. This is not an issue new to our current President, or to politics as a whole. Many (especially those who argue for the need of a strong third-party in American politics) have made the argument that there is little difference between Republicans and Democrats (often calling them "Republicrats") in general, especially when dealing with higher offices, such as the House, Senate, and presidency.

Glover went on to critique President Obama for bailing out Wall Street, yet neglecting to offer significant assistance to "Main Street". This is a common criticism made by many across the political spectrum, and is equally valid. Continuing with the "Republicrat" theory, President Obama, whether out of a desire to or not, did cave to the interests of Wall Street, by not only giving them billions in bailout money, but by placing very little regulation on what those companies receiving bailout money ultimately did with it. The rhetoric may be different, however the result for Wall Street (and Main Street) is the same.

Although other aspects of what he said may receive more attention, to me, the most significant point that Glover made was regarding the systemic issues affecting the ability of any politician who wants to make change to do so. People need to understand the political system and the political process, and that includes understanding not only how to register to vote, but more importantly, how campaigns are funded and how the legislative process works. As presently structured, the campaign finance system allows far too much input from large corporations and unions, and any interest with large sums of money. The cost of running for elected office is so high (especially for President) that it requires that a candidate cater to some form of corporate interests. Although the corporate interests may be different depending on party or candidate, they do still both depend a great deal on that financial support, and once elected, they are expected to show thanks for that support with legislation that serves the interests of those who put them in office.

Now, given this landscape, we get to President Obama's reply. He stated that he had not forgotten about the issues affecting Black people; however, as President, he could not "pass laws that say I'm just helping Black folks." As a politician, President Obama understands how things work. We are not talking about how things "should" work; we are talking about how they "do" work presently. President Obama could propose legislation to directly deal with the issues affecting Black people, however to do so would be political suicide. Not only does any legislation have almost no chance of passing through both houses of Congress (especially given the increasingly blatant racially-hostile environment in the U.S.), it would result in an incredible backlash to Obama from the many white voters (and money-givers) who helped put him in office. President Obama knows where his political loyalty lies, and it is not with Black people. President Obama is a politician, and his focus is not only on getting elected and enacted legislation, but getting re-elected. It's a numbers game, and to ask a politician (any politician) to go against the people and interests that got him elected, is as absurd as asking a corporate CEO to not make moves to increase the profitability of his or her company, because it may cause American workers to lose jobs. A politician (including Obama) and a CEO are both about the bottom-line; for one (the CEO) it is about increasing profits for shareholders; for the other (politician) it is about getting elected and re-elected.

So, Danny Glover is not necessarily wrong in his criticisms of President Obama, and ultimately the system as it is presently structured. And President Obama is not necessarily wrong in his reply. The root issue that they both address, either directly or indirectly, is the problem with the system. As long as corporate interests take priority over the needs of the people (even if that means addressing needs specific to Black people), then making changes that are necessary will continue to be a difficult process.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Black News: Tiger’s Wife Wants Half

2009 in review

TIGER Woods' wife Elin Nordegren wants a divorce, sole custody and half his estimated £370 million ($671 million) fortune, according to a newspaper report.

The superstar golfer has also reportedly reneged on a promise he made to his wife to go into rehabilitation to wean himself off the prescription drugs Ambien and Vicodin.

A close friend of Ms Nordegren told the News of the World: "Tiger was supposed to be working on getting better and he hasn't done anything. Instead he just went to stay with a friend and says he's 'trying to get better on his own'.

"Elin is livid he hasn't checked into rehab and gotten himself off his drugs. He's acting like a big baby," the source said.

"Now she wants 100 per cent divorce, 100 per cent custody of the children and half of everything. And she won't be changing her mind."


Click to read.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Jackson Estate Not Paying It’s Attorneys

If it is true, that any press is good press, then are quite a few folks in the music business who should be happy about the media spotlight shown on them this week.

The approach of year's end ushers in sadness as we remember the loss of the Michael Jackson, who died in June. Jackson's fans showed their support of his works, and spent a lot of money doing it. to reports, Jackson's estate is believed to have earned $100 million. While that is a good figure, there's a bit of an issue. The estate's administrators, lawyer John Branca and music business veteran John McClain, have reportedly not been paid

Click to read.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Black News: Government Illegally Spied on Nation of Islam


WASHINGTON — Homeland security officials improperly gathered intelligence on the Nation of Islam, a black Muslim group, but government rules were “unintentionally and inadvertently violated” and only publicly available information was collected, according to documents made public Wednesday.
Internal correspondence shows the 2007 report – titled “Nation of Islam: Uncertain Leadership Succession Poses Risks” – was created by an intelligence group working within the Homeland Security Department.
Hours after the report was issued, officials recalled it, deciding the report violated intelligence rules against collecting or disseminating information on U.S. citizens for an extended period of time. It had been disseminated widely over the Internet to numerous federal agencies, state and local law enforcement, several congressional committees, intelligence agencies and parts of the private sector, a reviewing officer found.

Click to read.

Wrongful Convictions: Another Obstacle in our Path

Elliot Millner, J.D.

While a large portion of the mainstream media focuses its energy on covering stories about Tiger Wood's personal affairs, or Chris Brown's twitter temper tantrum, or other gossip mag nonsense, multiple stories about wrongfully convicted men (all Black) being exonerated and released from prison were being overshadowed (For case details, see here, here, and here).

The fact that these travesties of justice did not receive the media attention that they deserved is not surprising, given the unfortunate frequency of cases such as these, and the general apathy and complacency that has developed to such blatant examples of injustice. It also doesn't help that these wrongful convictions disproportionately impact Black men, who everyone knows are all criminals and and belong in prison anyway (that is sarcasm). According to data from The Innocence Project:

Of the 247 post-conviction DNA exoneration's they reported, 148 were Black men, who served an average prison sentence of 13 years before being released; in addition, 18 of the men exonerated had confessed to crimes that they did not commit.

Keep in mind that these are only the exoneration's reported(the first DNA exoneration did not take place until 1989), and also that these are only DNA exoneration's, not including other exoneration's of innocent individuals not based on DNA. The Innocence Project and other organizations focus on cases involving DNA evidence because of the increased likelihood of successful exoneration; for the unlucky person wrongfully convicted without any DNA evidence involved, the chances of release from prison are very slim.

Any rational person who does not believe in the innate criminality of Black males, will likely acknowledge that for each of these DNA exoneration's, there are many more cases in which the wrongfully convicted person was not exonerated, and either died in prison, was put to death (17 of the 247 exonerated by DNA evidence were on death row), or served out a sentence for a crime they did not commit.

As with virtually all other aspects of the criminal justice system, race is proven to play a role in the disproportionate impact of wrongful convictions on Black men. The seven most common causes of wrongful conviction are considered to be eyewitness misidentification; unvalidated or improper forensic science; false confessions/admissions; government misconduct; use of informants/snitches; and bad lawyering (Source: The Innocence Project). Without writing a thesis on the subject, there is substantial evidence that demonstrates how each of these areas can and does frequently result in wrongful convictions generally, and specifically for Black men, who are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system for a variety of reasons beyond the simplistic argument that Black people commit more crimes.

There are multiple issues that need to be addressed pertaining to the excessive presence of Black men in prison for actually committing crimes, without having to worry about Black people being imprisoned for crimes that they didn't do.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holder Joins Obama in Making Elitist Attack on Absent Black Fathers

Elliot Millner, J.D.

Attorney General Eric Holder recently spoke at a Black church in Queens, NY, and during his speech he gave Black fathers another talking to, stating that:

"It should simply be unacceptable for a man to have a child and then not play an integral part in the raising and nurturing of the child."

Sounds good on face value. Who doesn't think that any man who has a child should play a vital role in that child's growth and development? A.G. Holder is 100% right on that point, and I have no disagreement with him whatsoever.

However lets look beyond the truthfulness of the words. When communicating, there are many other factors to consider other than what is being said. So, let's consider the question: If a person is truly concerned about promoting the increased participation of Black father's in their children's lives, what would that person do? Seemingly, a person sincere about achieving that goal would go speak to the people most in need of that talk, in this case Black fathers who were not being responsible for the children they had helped bring into the world. Although I'm sure it may have been some people in Memorial Presbyterian Church who were being negligent in their parental duties, I doubt that A.G. Holder's message applied to the majority of them.

In fact, the people that Attorney General Holder was talking to in the church were his intended audience, but not for any noble intent of helping to increase Black father's participation in their children's lives. A.G. Holder, like President Obama and Bill Cosby before him, was gaining brownie points with mostly middle-class Black folks by disparaging a group of people that is admittedly easy to talk bad about: absentee Black fathers.

As stated before, I am not arguing the truth that there are large numbers of Black men who are not fulfilling their fatherly responsibilities. However, it is outrageous for A.G. Holder and President Obama, two pretty intelligent Black men, to make the sometimes complicated issue of absent Black fathers into a simplistic attack aimed not at improving the situation, but at increasing their political standing amongst the Black middle-class. It they truly cared about doing something about this important issue, they would first talk to the people in question. This may require some effort, because a lot of absentee fathers are absent for various reasons that neither President Obama or A.G. Holder have chosen to address, and they may not blindly come to a church to hear either Obama or Holder speak.

Beyond the lip service, both President Obama and A.G. Holder are in positions to exert influence in areas that play a significant role in why many Black fathers are absent. It is absolutely disingenuous of both of them to repeatedly pile on absent Black fathers, without addressing:

-The role of poverty and underemployment in many of these situations(specific to the Black community, because the unemployment rate for Blacks is significantly higher, and influenced by a variety of unequal factors).

-The role of mass incarceration of Black men on the cyclical absence of many Black fathers.

-The role that Black women play in this situation.

-The role that sub par public schools plays in limiting employment opportunities for many Black fathers.

-The role that persistent racially discriminatory policies play on all of the items listed above.

This would demonstrate a genuine effort to address this issue that is of great importance to many Black people. Isn't it interesting that President Obama avoids the discussion of race like H1N1, yet when he does discuss race, it is to show support for Henry Louis Gates, a fellow Ivy grad(without knowing all of the facts, and after ignoring far more blatant examples of police brutality and profiling), and to repeatedly talk about absent Black fathers? And I know the Obama followers (different from rational supporters) will say that it's personal, because his father was not around, yet that does not provide a full explanation of this pattern. Having lived in the situation, President Obama knows that the issue is far more complicated than he and A.G. Holder have made it out to be.

If Pres. Obama and A.G. Holder are not willing to explain all of the variables at play regarding absentee Black fathers, and not only the ones that play well to Black middle-class supporters(and of course potential white voters as well), then maybe they need to stick to their usual pattern concerning racial issues, and remain silent.

From Cradle to Prison: The Battle for the Souls of Black Children

Elliot Millner, J.D.

As with the adult criminal justice system, a series of decisions are made during the process of a juvenile being arrested and charged with a crime. From the initial decision to observe/stop/search; to the decision to detain and then arrest; to the decision to prosecute; to the decision to decide to charge as an adult or juvenile; to the decision to detain the juvenile prior to trial; to the decision to offer a plea or take the case to trial; to the decision regarding sentencing and probation requirements.

Despite the fact that white youth report using and selling drugs at a rate significantly higher than Black youth(even once population disparity is calculated in), and are shown to commit delinquent acts at rates very similar to Black youth, it is Black youth who are:

26% of all juvenile arrests

31% of referrals to juvenile court

32% of youth judged delinquent

40% of youth in residential placement

46% of youth sent to criminal court

58% of youth admitted to adult state prison

(*Source: Building Blocks For Youth Initiative Report)

There is much statistical data that shows the impact of racially disparate treatment in the juvenile justice process, just as is the case with the adult criminal justice system. Those that claim that race plays no part in the juvenile and adult criminal justice process make the same argument, which is that Black youth and adults simply commit more crimes, which is why there are so many more Black people in prison. This argument is in many ways misleading, and a blatant distortion of the facts. To support the assertion of Black criminality, these individuals use the same covertly-racist "moral failings" argument; Black people simply lack proper morals and values, and therefore are more prone to commit crimes than white people. This argument would seem too absurd to require a reply, if not for its acceptance not only among many whites, but also amongst many gullible people in the Black community as well.

Like most arguments with deceitful motives, those who argue the moral inferiority of Black people ignore almost all additional information required to get an accurate picture of crime statistics. They ignore the disproportionate police presence in Black communities; they ignore the impact of persistent poverty and shortage of adequate employment and social service resources on crime rates in general; they ignore the impact of racially disparate sentencing, which not only sends Black people to prison for excessive and disproportionate lengths of time, but also erodes the community from which those individuals (who may or may not have been involved in criminal activity, but who may have also been breadwinners and fathers) came from; they ignore the pathetic school systems, with teachers who are shown to be far more likely to label Black children as problems, ADD, ADHD, or placed in special education programs;most obviously, they ignore the documented negative impact of racism and cultural ignorance throughout the juvenile and adult criminal justice process.

This ideology of forgetfulness and distortion is self-serving to many whites. It allows them to portray Black men as villains and deserving of any punishment they receive, and also to not accept any role in the continued destruction of countless lives, while they are able to wallow in unearned white privilege and all the benefits that come from it. It is also self-serving to many Black people who consider themselves to have "made it", because it allows them to deny any responsibility for the plight of other Blacks who are still struggling, and also to feel some foolish arrogance and superiority for being fortunate enough to have either not grown up in a hellish environment, or to have had a person or people to guide them in the right direction.

We cannot allow ourselves to continue to be shamed into silence. We have nothing to be ashamed about. Any group of people subjected to the conditions that many Blacks have lived in for generations will have problems, especially when those problems and the root causes of them are consistently ignored. The false arguments of moral inferiority and "choicism" are ideas projected onto us by whites who are reaping the benefits of generations of mass immoral behavior, which was largely supported(or ignored) by the government. The causes of the problems facing Black communities, which are ongoing, stem from the abnormal behavior of white people toward us; the effects that we continue to see are normal given the circumstances producing them, and have been replicated in numerous countries, by people of various backgrounds.

When a Black child is introduced into the criminal justice system, it places them on a de facto career path that few are able to escape from. It is no exaggeration to say that the fight to change the structure of the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems, in addition to making ground-level change in our communities (including increasing community-based approaches to dealing with juvenile misconduct) , are the biggest issues we will face over the next several years. Virtually all of the other major problems facing the Black community in some way emanate from this central issue. Cowardice, inaction, and silence are not an option. Our continued existence is at stake.

If it is not clear to you already, when we begin to take things for granted, things get taken away from us. We must redevelop activist mentalities, whether we are community organizers, janitors, corporate attorneys, or elementary school teachers. This backlash of ignorance that has become more prevalent since the election of President Obama is not going away on its own. The foolish acts of individuals is disturbing, but it is not even close to our main problem. The problem is systemic and institutionalized, and has been the status quo for years. This status quo will not change by doing the same things we have been doing, or by doing nothing. Become educated about current issues directly affecting our communities( such as The Fair Sentencing Act of 2009); become aware of programs or people doing unique things for community development, (such as Geoffrey Canada and the Harlem Children's Zone); become educated about issues and make your voice heard-blog; contact your representatives to let them know about your concerns about certain issues; become active in organizations doing things for the Black community, or start your own organization. The one thing that is absolutely inexcusable to do, is nothing.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Obama is on Top, but Many Blacks are Still on the Bottom..Why are you suprised?

Elliot Millner, J.D.

For a variety of reasons, many Black people in America are quick to latch on to any glimmer of hope that the racism, white supremacy and other ignorance that has been directed at us during our entire existence here is declining, or has disappeared completely. No matter how obvious it is that this is not the reality, many of us refuse to accept what is right in our faces, and instead take the approach of the figurative ostrich burying their head in the sand.

So, it was not at all surprising to see so many Blacks (and others, for similar or very different reasons depending on the "who") swallowing the "post-racial" kool-aid upon the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States. No matter how much history has shown us that the success of an individual Black person has no correlation to an improvement in the status of Black people as a whole(in many cases it has had the opposite effect), many Black people continue to fall victim to this delusional hope. Many of us have clearly driven ourselves crazy with denial, to the extent that no matter what happens, no matter how blatant the act, we refuse to see the obvious racial causes and motivations. Some of us have allowed ourselves to be guilted into refusing to speak up about racial issues because we don't want to be labeled as using the "race-card", or being a "race-baiter", or even more ridiculously, being called a "reverse-racist".

Now, it appears that the election of President Obama wasn't the magic wand that was waved and erased racism and white supremacy from the United States. Actually, it appears that things are on many fronts getting worse for the masses of Black people. And, although it does play a role, this worsening is not all due to the current economic downturn that we are in. As was stated recently in this article among many others, Black people are suffering in various areas of life in ways disproportionate to what is happening to white people. Our unemployment rate is increasing faster; our foreclosure rate is increasing faster; our child malnourishment rate is higher; and our communities continue to be targeted by police enforcement and we continue to go to prison at rates far beyond our percentage of the general population.

Now, the people who accept the delusional view that race has nothing to do with any of this, will find ways to attempt to argue that Black people are simply doing this all to themselves, despite the staggering amount of evidence to the contrary. To convince these people that racism still exist is about as pointless an activity that a person can take on. These people are quick to argue "personal responsibility" and "personal choice", yet refuse to recognize that these are learned qualities, and that no amount of either will completely overcome systemic obstacles and barriers. These are the people that accept the new liberalist, covertly-racist idea of mass moral inferiority of Black people; since biological inferiority didn't stick, the new argument used by many whites to justify the position of many Black folks is that we simply lack the morals (work ethic, personal responsibility, commitment,etc.) to succeed. It has nothing to do with racism or white supremacy..if Obama can do it, then ALL Black people can. This is a common argument used throughout U.S. history by many whites(and a sadly increasing number of Blacks), and it is the same argument that was given during Jim Crow, when Madame C.J. Walker and other Black people were becoming millionaires, in the midst of lynchings and government-supported discrimination and brutality against Black people. The point is, as stated above, the success of a few Black individuals does not correlate to an improvement in the condition of the masses of Black people. The barriers in place are situated in such a way so as to allow a handful of Blacks(and other minorities of course) to trickle through, as long as those allowed through are willing to "erase" any semblance of Blackness from their being. This breeds hope amongst the masses, which prevents mass insurrection.

And, on top of everything, many white people feel the need to take out their frustrations about their own struggles on us. This is reflected in the increase in hate crimes against Black people and other minorities, in addition to the increase in white people joining white supremacist movements(blatant ones and those disguised as political organizations), and the general increase in blatant acts of racism across the country, and particularly online, where it is easy for ignorant cowards to anonymously post all types of racist and white supremacist nonsense.

None of the above is an excuse for anything. We don't have to make excuses. The majority of Black folk are hard-working and have exhibited a supreme level of moral character in the face of rampant ignorance. The point is also not to attack President Obama. He is a politician; that is his job. He is not the saviour of Black people, or any people for that matter. The problems in our communities need to be addressed on the ground-level first. That does not mean that we should not push for legislation that will benefit Black people specifically, however legislation alone is not going to repair all the damage that has been done.

"The master's tools will never be used to destroy the master's house". President Obama, even if he had the desire, cannot make the changes necessary for us to address all of the problems affecting Black people. He is a politician, and one who is dependent on more white votes(and money) than Black, and many of those white voters will not tolerate him paying special attention to Black issues. We can argue the rightness or wrongness of that, but what is the point? It is the reality.

The systemic and institutionalized problems faced by many Black people are real. To overcome them will require extra effort, and not looking to any leader to save us. We must stop the "brain drain" out of our communities; not saying that you shouldn't work, however at least dedicate some of your time and energy to efforts that directly and specifically benefit a Black community. We must quit being passive and apathetic in the face of issues that are literally destroying the lives of many Black children before they even have a chance to get started.

Many people have decided to go retro with their acts of racism and white supremacy: We may need to go retro in our response, and be willing to fight in any way needed to protect our interests.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

AP: Gov't program only helps 31,000 borrowers so far

Dec 10 02:34 PM US/Eastern

AP Real Estate Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Just over 31,000 homeowners have received permanent loan modifications under the Obama administration's mortgage relief plan, a big setback for the government's embattled effort to stem the foreclosure crisis.

To read more, follow link below:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Why Did I Get Married?

By Syreeta L. McNeal, CPA, JD

As a lawyer who has represented men and women in divorce cases, I can tell you that when it comes to matters of the heart, people reflect and ask “Why did I get married?” I am little disappointed in the recent email posting by my dear friend, Dr. Boyce Watkins when he asks “Should Athletes Get Married?” I know that with the recent episodes of Shaquille O’Neal, Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and the like, this is a nice barbershop question to pose to the urban community.

But, I feel Boyce is missing the true issue as it relates to marriage especially when he stereotypes athletes with this type of question. With the recent public infidelities of Former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, President Bill Clinton, and Former Democratic Presidential Candidate John Edwards, you can pose the question “Should Politicians Get Married?” With pastors and men of the cloth who get caught cheating, you can ask “Should Religious Leaders Get Married?” The stereotypical questions can go on and on for all types of men, but they miss the heart of the issue.

Marriage is the foundation for the family unit. Everyone remembers the story of the three little pigs and the big bad wolf. The first pig who built his house with straw had his house destroyed by the wolf because it could not withstand the wolf’s strong blow. The second pig who built his house with sticks also had his house destroyed because it could not withstand the wolf’s strong blow. The third pig who built his house with bricks was able to withstand the wolf’s strong blow.

Like the three little pigs’ parable, a person’s marriage needs to be as strong as the third pig’s house made of bricks. The big bad wolf represents temptation of all kinds that are meant to destroy your marriage. To withstand this temptation, you must have a strong foundation in your marriage. In my opinion, each individual (male or female) should discover the real reason why their potential spouse is getting married before they tie the knot. After they discover that reason, they need to see if the real reason matches their real reason for getting married. If both parties have similar real reasons for getting married, then they have a foundation that can withstand the temptation that will come to destroy their marriage. If both parties do not share similar real reasons for getting married, then the marriage will not last when temptation comes in to destroy it.

If I were counseling Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren, the first thing I would ask or discover is what are each other’s real expectations in the marriage as it relates to love, fidelity, raising children, etc…. If each person has a different expectation for each other in the marriage for these categories, then the marriage will crumble or implode.

If you take some of the various reports as true, it appears in my humble opinion that Tiger Woods expected his wife to be a “typical trophy wife.” The image Tiger had for his wife was to appear as a good and dutiful wife in public, but allow him to roam around and mess with all types of women because he believes she is only with him for the money and he has plenty of that. I have spoken to a variety of black people who think a woman should just accept the money and accept their husband’s infidelity especially if the husband is filthy rich. I was a little shocked to hear that especially when I posed the same question to their current relationship. The same people gave the direct opposite advice and said they would do the exact same thing that Elin Nordegren did if they caught their husband’s cheating.

However, I think Tiger did not do his homework on what his wife expected from him in this relationship. Elin Nordegren came from money. She was a nanny for rich and wealthy golfers. Her mother is County Governor Barbro Holmberg of Sweden. It appears in my humble opinion, that Elin Nordegren took her vows of fidelity and love very seriously with Tiger and thought that he would cherish her, be faithful to her, and love her unconditionally and she would reciprocate that same adoration to him. So, when she discovers that Tiger has had 10+ affairs with a variety of women over a long period of time, it hurt her to the core because I honestly believe she loved him and expected more from him. She reacted like many jilted lovers do when they feel betrayed. With reports of Tiger trying to give her more money in the prenuptial agreement to stay with him, the extra money really does not matter to her right now. She is hurt, scorned and feels betrayed because the vow of fidelity she held dear to her heart for her husband is now broken. No amount of money can heal that wound at this time.

In my humble opinion, the best thing for both Tiger and Elin to do is to SEPARATE for a while. Reassess the real reasons why they are married and see if they can reconcile those differences and make their union stronger. If they can’t, let this be a lesson to each person from this day forth, you better find out from your potential spouse before you tie the knot the real reason he or she is getting married and see if it mirrors the real reason why you are getting married so that you can create a foundation that will withstand any temptation that may come your way to destroy your marriage.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Breaking News: Heather Ellis Takes the Plea Deal

Heather Ellis, now a schoolteacher, was a student in 2007 when the Wal-Mart incident occurred.

Heather Ellis, now a schoolteacher, was a student in 2007 when the Wal-Mart incident occurred.


  • NEW: Ellis' permanent record will be cleared if she stays out of trouble for a year
  • Heather Ellis agrees to probation, anger-management class
  • Plea deal reached as jury deliberated
  • Ellis testifies on her own behalf in racially charged case

Kennett, Missouri (CNN) -- A woman accused of cutting in line at a Wal-Mart, shoving merchandise and assaulting police officers will plead guilty to disturbing the peace and resisting arrest, both misdemeanors.

Under the agreement -- reached after the jury received the case for deliberations -- Heather Ellis will plead guilty to disturbing the peace and resisting arrest. She will serve a year of unsupervised probation, attend an anger management course and serve four days in jail before the end of the year.

The sentence stipulates that if Ellis stays out of trouble for a year, the charges will be sealed and the arrest won't be on her permanent record.

Ellis said after court was adjourned that she was "taking responsibility for her actions and [hopes] that everyone else involved in the case will take responsibility for theirs."

Click to read.

Dr. Boyce Watkins: Minimizing Funeral Costs

by Dr. Boyce Watkins 

Funerals are never fun. They are emotionally draining and you are forced to endure the shock of knowing that your loved one will never be back in your life. In addition to the emotional devastation, you have to deal with the financial burdens of paying for someone to be buried. We all know that funerals are not free or cheap, and the last place you want to be cheap is when it comes to burying the person you love.
But there are ways you can keep the cost down. They say you can't take the money with you, but someone who doesn't plan for their death may be taking their relatives' money with them to the grave. Here are some ways that you can bury on a budget: giving relatives dignity without creating financial hardship.

There is a funeral cost calculator on that helps you to figure out how much your funeral might cost and whether or not you're going to be able to pay for it. Effectively, the cost estimator first determines your total resources from prepaid expenses, personal savings/investments, and death benefits. Once you know what is available to you, you have to determine how much you want to spend. Some of us want to go out in style and some of us figure that since we're dead, our relatives should be the ones having all the fun.

click to read.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Black News: Video Released in Heather Ellis Case

by Dr. Boyce Watkins 

When I held the rally for Heather Ellis last week, the woman facing up to 15-years in prison after allegedly cutting line at a Wal-Mart, I was hoping that one day the rest of the world could see what I saw nearly two weeks ago. In spite of the prosecutor's contention that the video tape would prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt, the truth is that the video is highly inconclusive. Check the video out and see for yourself.
You can click here to watch the video.

Click to read more on the Heather Ellis case.

Question of Jurisdiction: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder v. U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham

"One of the first items law students entering law school learn is JURISDICTION (i.e. which Court (e.g. state, federal or military tribunal) should the plaintiff/district attorney/attorney general bring a petition). This is an excellent video to see what you will be learning when you enter into law school and also a REMINDER for lawyers already practicing, including those who are U.S. Attorney Generals." Syreeta L. McNeal, CPA, JD

WDSU: Federal Judge Holds Army Corps Responsible for Katrina Damage

Court Awards Plaintiffs Nearly $720,000 In Compensation

New Orleans - A federal judge has held the Army Corps of Engineers liable for some of the damage stemming from Hurricane Katrina.

The lawsuit involves WDSU anchor Norman Robinson, along with four other plaintiffs seeking damages from the federal government.

In a first-of-its-kind ruling, a U.S. District Court judge has awarded nearly $720,000 in total compensation to four of the plaintiffs. Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. ruled against the claim by Norman and Monica Robinson.

Duval ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers' failure to properly maintain a navigation channel led to massive flooding in Hurricane Katrina. He ruled in favor of residents who alleged the Army Corps' shoddy oversight of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet led to the flooding of New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward and neighboring St. Bernard Parish.

The wide-ranging ruling was released Wednesday night. It's more than 150 pages long, and attorneys spent much of the night analyzing it.

Click here to read the lawsuit in PDF format.

Many in the area have argued that Katrina, which struck the region Aug. 29, 2005, was a man-made disaster caused by the Army Corps' failure to maintain the levee system protecting the city.

While still evaluating the 156-page opinion, the MRGO Litigation Group issued the following statement: "We are pleased with Judge Duval's ruling in this historic case. This decision is one step on the long road to recovery for the people of New Orleans. It has been proven in a court of law that the drowning of New Orleans was not a natural disaster, but a preventable man-made travesty. The government has always had a moral obligation to rebuild New Orleans. This decision makes that obligation a matter of legal responsibility."

Tanya Smith, one of the plaintiffs, said the case was not so much about compensation but making the corps accountable. She said Katrina's devastation "could possibly have been avoided if something had been done" by the corps to fix the MRGO, a shipping channel dug in the 1960s as a shortcut from the Gulf of Mexico to New Orleans. The channel has since been closed.


Your Black News: Man Shoots Son in the Head

Jamar Pinkney Sr

Jamar Pinkney, Sr. of Detroit is accused of shooting his 15-year-old son

in the head execution style. The shooting occurred after his son, Jamar Jr., confessed that he'd done something inappropriate to his 3-year-old sister. Jamar Sr. came home, stripped his son naked, took him outside the house and shot him in the head.

Lazette Cherry, Jamar Jr.'s mother, said she wanted to get help for her son when he confessed to what he'd done with his sister. She claims, however, that there was no rape. She says that her son admitted that he knew that lying down on top of the little girl was wrong.

"He got on his knees and begged, 'No, Daddy! No!' and he pulled the trigger," she said. "There wasn't nothing that my son wouldn't do for his father. He loved his father so much."

Click to read more.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Anderson Cooper 360 Weighs in on the Heather Ellis Case

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Heather Ellis is facing 15-years in prison for allegedly cutting line at a Wal-Mart store in Missouri.

Heather Ellis is facing 15-years in prison for allegedly cutting line at a Wal-Mart store in Missouri.

Dr. Boyce Watkins
Special to AC360°

Heather Ellis is in trouble. The 24-year old preacher’s daughter has spent most of her life doing the right things: Going to college, getting ready for medical school and staying out of trouble. What Heather didn’t realize is that even when you do the right things, your margin of error as a person of color in America is virtually non-existent.

When I wrote my book, “What if George Bush were a Black Man?” the key point was that America’s justice system has a difficult time understanding that punishments must match the magnitude of the crime that has allegedly been committed. The actions that a “frat boy” can get away with 20 times during college can send an African American to prison for the next 20-years. America is a country that has, without question, consistently over-charged, over-searched, over-incarcerated and over-sentenced African Americans for the past 400 years of its existence.

Given its ugly past, the criminal justice system has very little credibility, and even police reports are subject to being questioned – especially in a town like Kennett, MO. My father’s a cop, so I know how all this works. Even when black men were lynched 100 years ago, there were always “witnesses” and police reports to say that he was a bad person. Fortunately, lynching does not occur anymore (although a black boy – Walter Currie Jr. – was burned alive by his white classmate in the same area as Heather), but the noose has been replaced with the long prison sentence as the most typical and most devastating form of punishment. As a result, black men and women are filling up America’s penitentiaries at an alarming rate, and it is destroying the core of the black family.

Click to read.

Opinion: The Heather Ellis Case is Not the Only Injustice in Missouri

Heather Ellis case one in a long line of Missouri's racial injustices

  • Supporters of Heather Ellis gather on the Dunklin County Courthouse steps on Monday, Nov. 16, 2009, in Kennett, Mo. (AP Photo/Daily Dunklin Democrat, Deanna Coronado)
  • by Brenda L. Jones – MSNBC’s

When hundreds of people rallied outside a Wal-Mart in Kennett, Missouri Monday, they did so to protest the treatment by police and local prosecutors of Heather Ellis, the now infamous 24-year-old African-American college student who three years ago made a routine trip to that very same Wal-Mart to run some errands and ended up leaving in handcuffs after being accused of cutting a checkout line.

Led by civil rights activist Dr. Boyce Watkins and a coalition of civil rights organizations including the ACLU, the protesters marched to the Dunklin County Courthouse where, beginning today, Ellis, a Kennett native whose father still serves the Church in God in Christ congregation in town, will find herself fighting for her freedom after being charged with multiple felonies that could land her up to 15 years in prison. They were there to decry what Ellis has said was the abhorrent treatment she received from both her fellow shoppers and police. In a complaint she filed with the NAACP, Ellis says she was pushed by a white customer, hassled by store employees and called racial slurs by police who physically mistreated her. The police were called to the scene after Ellis and her cousin got into two separate checkout lines, and after Ellis joined her cousin when one line started moving faster than the other.

Click to read.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Heather Ellis: The Struggle Continues...

by Elliot Millner, J.D.

Heather Ellis is presently facing a possible 15 years in prison based on charges stemming from an incident that took place at a Wal-Mart in her hometown of Kennett, Missouri. Heather's ordeal began when she was falsely accused of cutting in line in front of some white customers (For more details of the case, visit

White supremacy, white privilege, institutional racism, "colorblind" racism, and racial discrimination are very much alive and well in the United States of America. I know this is something that those who choose to walk around deaf, dumb, and blind don't want to hear, however it is the unfortunate truth. Despite the post-racial b.s. preached by many upon his victory, the election of President Obama has sparked an increase in blatant acts of racist and white supremacist behavior.

It has been established repeatedly throughout history that when the superior position of white people in American society is perceived to be threatened, many white people respond to this perceived threat in the most ignorant and hateful ways, including threatening violence, and actually committing acts of violence against Blacks and other non-white groups. The unspoken truth regarding race relations in this country is that there has never been any true peace between white and non-white people here; the only illusion of peace that appears to exist does so because of the general willingness of Black people and other non-white groups to assimilate into white culture, and to appease the desires of the white majority. When Blacks and other non-whites have stood up and actually fought against the status quo, the results are pretty consistent; if the person isn't murdered, they are usually imprisoned or exiled ( MLK, Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, Leonard Peltier, Paul Robeson, various individuals and groups via COINTELPRO, etc.). The conditioning effect of this pattern of actual fighters for freedom, justice, and equality being destroyed has been to produce a significant number of Black people who are scared to fight (for anything), and willing to accept the figurative "crumbs" that fall off of the white majorities table.

Which brings us to Heather. Here is a case involving a Black woman who simply wanted to go to Wal-Mart, grab a few items, and go home. Instead, she is facing prison time for what amounts to not staying in the place that certain ignorant elements in this area of Missouri felt she should stay. Although the activity in Kennett, Missouri seems to be on the extreme end of the spectrum, this is something that could happen to any one of us, at any time. Heather was offered "crumbs" (a plea deal that included misdemeanor charges), however she and her family have chosen to fight against what they see as an unjust system. They have chosen to not accept a plea deal for doing nothing wrong.

I ask that you show support for Heather and her family in some way. I also ask that you refuse to accept the crumbs that fall to the floor, and demand that you have your own plate at the table, and to also demand that for all people. If you can't or won't help Heather in her fight, do so for someone else. Unfortunately, there is still no shortage of fights out there to be fought.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Prosecutor Removes Himself from the Heather Ellis Case

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 ~ Updated 1:25 PM

Heather Ellis is shown alongside her mother, Hester Ellis, outside the Justice Center at Bloomfield last month following her pre-trial hearing in a case that has gained national attention. At right is Ellis' attorney, Timothy Hunsaker from the St. Louis firm of Rosenblum, Schwartz, Rogers and Glass. Also pictured (at left) is an unidentified member of the American Civil Liberties Union.
(Staff photo by Noreen Hyslop)

A motion filed in a Dunklin County courtroom brings a new twist to the case against Heather Ellis, a case that has garnered national media attention.

Ellis, an African-American woman from Kennett, is charged in connection with an incident at the Kennett Walmart in 2007 during which she was arrested and charged with two counts of the Class C felony assault on a law enforcement officer, one count of the Class B misdemeanor peace disturbance and one count of the Class A misdemeanor resisting arrest. Ellis was charged as a result of a scuffle that broke out in a checkout line at the store, following Ellis being accused by associates employed by Walmart of cutting in line.

The motion in question, filed by Ellis' attorney on November 2, involves Ellis' legal representation requesting Dunklin County Prosecuting Attorney Stephen Sokoloff to recuse himself from the case.

Click to read.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Houston Chronicle: Parents sue over Prairie View student's death


Copyright 2009 Houston Chronicle
Nov. 3, 2009, 8:10PM

A 20-year-old Phi Beta Sigma pledge at Prairie View A&M University underwent systematic hazing — including a strict bread-and-water diet, paddling and mandatory rigorous exercises — that intensified until it culminated in his death, a lawsuit filed by his parents states.
Donnie Wade II, a biology major studying to become a doctor, died Oct. 20 following a pre-dawn exercise session with a group of his pledge brothers, investigators said.

While the autopsy is not yet complete, Wade's mother, Katrina, blames hazing for taking her only son from her.

“I will not rest until I am sure no other families will go through what we have,” she said.
Her husband, Wade I, is an associate pastor of the Dallas-area Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship.

$97 million

The wrongful death lawsuit, filed Friday in Dallas County, seeks as much as $97 million in damages from the national fraternity based in Washington, D.C., the pledge trainer, Marvin Jackson, and Prairie View A&M.

Prairie View's spokeswoman Sheleah Hughes said the university is continuing its probe into the incident and could not comment on the lawsuit.

Similarly, Phi Beta Sigma did not return phone calls. But in a recent Web site posting, the organization stated: “Hazing does not represent the tradition and principles of the 95-year history of our fraternity” and expressed its condolences to Wade's parents.

The parents hired a private investigator, who took statements that led to the filing of the lawsuit, said the family‘s attorney, Kevin Kelley of Dallas.

The suit states that the younger Wade paid his $900 initiation fee and was given his acceptance letter from the Dangerous Delta Theta chapter of Beta Sigma Phi, as were nine other pledges.

To continue reading the article follow the link below:

"I have family from Dallas, TX who knew the family of the slain student and went to the funeral this past weekend. When are these fraternities and sororities going to learn that this type of stuff (e.g. Hazing) is not beneficially. You don't have enough insurance to cover for the loss of life and also you could go to jail for murder for a long time just to replicate what happened to you when you pledged. People better start waking up...." Syreeta L. McNeal, CPA, JD

Credit Repair: Things You Need to Know

By Jamal C. Wright, Esq.

In my field of Bankruptcy, I get more inquiries about how to improve credit reports than any other legal issue. More often than not, I get approached when the issue becomes critical. The debtor has come to a point in their life where they wish to purchase a house, a car or an education. But if you know what I know about credit reporting agencies (CRA’s) and their practices, then you wouldn’t approach me at all. In fact, I don’t want you to approach me about cleaning your credit report. No lawyer does. We will get to why in a moment. Here’s my chance to tell you a little bit about what I know. Let’s break it down to 3 basic points:

  • (1) Tiiiiime… aint on my side, no it’s not!
There is no quick fix to your credit report. People ask me all the time if I could do something, immediately, to bring their FICO scores up twenty points. Nope. Your Fico score is concocted from a secret algorithm that only the people at Fair-Isaac Corporation know. Their secret is as protected as the ingredients to Coca Cola. However, it is public knowledge that this score is derived from the credit history told about you, by the “big 3” credit reporting agencies. So to change your score, you must change history, so to speak. This takes time. People should give themselves 3-9 months after they have begun work on their reports to look for a significant change in their FICO score.

  • (2) One web site:

Not This site is credit report improvement central. This site is one that the three CRA’s are forced to maintain by federal law. It’s the only site you should waste time on, despite the lack of a catchy jingle. In the site’s own words, they admit:

“ provides consumers with the secure means to request and obtain a free credit report once every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies in accordance with the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act).”

They also give you a free report whenever you have been turned down for credit or a job, etc… I always say that nobody should EVER have to pay for a credit report.

What CRA’s do not admit so readily, is that the same federal law requires them to be 100% correct in everything they report. This means if they say you owe someone $100 and you really owe $101, they MUST investigate and MUST either correct it or erase it within 30 days of becoming aware of the inaccuracy, or else. It’s very hard to maintain 100% correct trade lines, since what you actually owe a creditor, can change from moment to moment. That’s the rub and it works in your favor, because frequently we find that CRA’s just erase the trade line, hence the saying, “clean one’s credit.” Who will bring the inaccuracies to their attention? You. Your attorney could do it, but the credit lobby in Congress made it so that when attorneys get involved in the process the CRA’s actually have MORE than thirty days to investigate. How do you bring it to their attention? You dispute them.

  • (3) The CRA Dispute

When you go to, you will be getting the most recent version of your report from the “Big 3.” You will also be able to start your dispute process. The reports will contain a confirmation number. This number will allow you back into the system for the next 30 days on the individual CRA websites, to dispute trade lines. The hardest thing about starting this process is finding the actual “dispute” page on each of the three CRA sites. They aren’t exactly in plain view.

After reviewing your reports and identifying the most “questionable” trade lines, go online and dispute them by clicking a few buttons. The process is amazingly simple for you. Not exactly the same for them. The CRA will take your dispute, go back to the original creditor and ask them to prove their claim. If the creditor can’t dig paper proof of the exact claim within thirty days (and unless they are Bank of America, they rarely can), the tradeline MUST be erased, or “cleaned.” As for your other negative tradelines, wash, rinse, repeat. There are twists and turns, but if you are consistent, you can wipe virtually all “inaccuracies” off of your report, thus enhancing your FICO score.

Legal Disclaimer: This site provides information about the law designed to keep readers informed of pertinent legal matters affecting the African-American community. But legal information is not the same as legal advice -- the application of law to an individual's specific circumstances. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a lawyer in your specific location if you want professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Black News: NNPA Covers the Heather Ellis Case

By Pharoh Martin NNPA National Correspondent
Tuesday, November 3, 2009 8:53 AM CST

(NNPA) - Because of a trip to Walmart three years ago, Heather Ellis is now fighting for her life. The 24-year-old former college student is facing felony charges that could get her up to 15 years in prison after being arrested for an incident that stemmed from her cutting a line at a Walmart in Kennet, Missouri.

The case is garnering national attention because of the racial underpinnings and perceived multiple injustices involved. It goes to trial Nov. 18. On November 16, the Your Black World Coalition, NAACP, American Civil Liberties Union, National Action Network, and Southern Christian Leadership Conference plan to converge on the small town of Kennett to protest and heighten the publicity.
Here’s what happened: On Jan. 6, 2007, Ellis and her cousin were sent on a midnight run to Walmart by her parents to pick up some items. With her cousin already standing in line near the register, Ellis tried to join him at the front of the line. That's when the clerk accused Ellis of cutting in front of other customers.

Customers behind objected and verbally accosted the then 21-year-old, according to Ellis' father Rev. Nathanial Ellis in an interview with the NNPA News Service. One White customer physically pushed the former college student. Ellis tried to explain that she was joining her cousin who was already in line and told the lady not to push her again. She was subsequently pushed again. The cashier would later refuse to ring Ellis up even after everybody else in line went through.

“The cashier stalled my daughter long enough for the night manager to come up,” Rev. Ellis explained. “My daughter paid with cash but she asked my daughter for an I.D. [Heather] said that she didn't need an ID because she paid with cash.”

Click to read.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Michael Baisden Signs on to Support the Heather Ellis Case

by Dr. Boyce Watkins 

Just when you thought black celebrities didn't care anymore, the "Bad Boy of Radio,"Michael Baisden announced today that he is going to give $5,000 to the legal defense fund of the family of Heather Ellis, a 24-year old black female college student who faces 15-years in prison after cutting in line at a Walmart.

Click to read.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Heather Ellis Case: One that We Should All Be Concerned About

Dr. Wilmer Leon, Howard University

One of the things that make America unique is its Constitution, specifically the Bill of Rights. In its original form, the Constitution did not include a list of basic civil liberties or guarantees to the individual. Many prominent Americans, including Thomas Jefferson insisted that a list of fundamental protections be included to restrain the national government from tampering with the fundamental rights and civil liberties of its citizens. The intent of the framers of the Constitution was to level the playing field. They felt it necessary to restrain the very powerful government, prosecutors, and police from arbitrary and capricious action against the less powerful individual. Over time these protections have been passed down to the state level.

The case of Heather Ellis is a perfect present day example of why individual American citizens need to be protected from over zealous capricious prosecutors and police. For a young woman to be facing up to fifteen years in prison for trespassing, disturbing the peace, and two felony counts of assaulting a police officer, all for allegedly cutting a check-out line at a Wal-Mart is unconscionable.

Click to read.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Black News: Judge Herman Thomas Acquitted of All Charges

A former Alabama judge was cleared Monday of charges that he spanked and sexually abused male inmates.

Former Mobile County Circuit Judge Herman Thomas was found not guilty on seven counts after more than a week of testimony. Judge Claud Neilson threw out the remaining 14 charges.

Thomas wept and hugged his wife and supporters after the judge threw out the remaining charges. He left court without comment. As he left, one supporter threw her hands in the air and shouted, "Thank you Jesus." Other supporters gathered in a circle to pray.

Defense attorneys had painted the 48-year-old as a prominent civic leader who became a victim of felons who lied about him to manipulate the court system.

Click to read.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Black News: Rally to be held in Kennett, Missouri in Support of Heather Ellis

To join the Your Black World Coalition, please visit

From Dr Boyce Watkins

To the Your Black World family:

When the children of my assistant Shauntay (Justin and Journi) brought the case of Heather Ellis to me, I was in disbelief.  I was shocked that in 2009, a young college student, with no criminal record, could face 15 years in prison for cutting line at Walmart.  I was even more appalled by the threats from the KKK and allegations by local leaders that the town went as far as blacking out the local news coverage during the minutes that the family held a press conference in support of their daughter.  We sent information about the case to CNN and other media outlets, and they covered it (along with BET, Essence, ABC News and others), but I don't feel this is enough.  We've decided that we aren't going to take this sitting down, and we hope you won't either

In honor of Justin and Journi, the two young visionaries who convinced me to take on this issue, we've created the "Journey for Justice," set to take place in Kennett, Missouri on Monday, November 16 at 11 am.  On that day, we are going to meet at the Walmart where the incident took place (1500 1st St., Kennett, MO) and march to the steps of the courthouse(Square 200 Slicer St.).  You can find out more information about the case and rally on the site  Given that the prosecutor in the case (Stephen Sokoloff) has asked for a change of venue (to Bloomfield, MO - a town with less than 20 black people), some of the details of the rally might change (I have no doubt that they are scheming to make this as difficult as possible).  But I can guarantee you this: On November 16, we are heading down there to fight against the madness occurring in this county, no matter what the cost.

Click to read.

Your Black News: Media Matters Discusses the Heather Ellis Case

Racial injustice rears its ugly head again, this time in rural Missouri, where heavy-handed prosecutor Stephen Sokoloff is threatening to impose a lengthy prison sentence on a woman after an altercation at a local Wal-Mart almost three years ago.

In January 2007, 20-year-old Heather Ellis, then a student at Xavier University, and her cousin David went to a Wal-Mart in Kennett, Missouri, near the Tennessee border, in an area commonly known as the Missouri Bootheel.  Kennett, in rural and conservative Dunklin County, which boasts that it seceded from the Union during the Civil War, is overwhelmingly white.

At the check-out line, the pair split up in order to find the shortest line.  When Ellis left her line to join her cousin at a shorter line, customers complained and a store employee accused her of cutting, at which point an argument ensued and a manager notified a security guard, an off-duty Kennett Police officer.  The situation escalated from there:

In the Ellis version, she was shoved by another customer, had her items pushed aside by the clerk and then was short-changed when she finally was checked out. The police affidavit contends, at numerous times, Ellis became belligerent, loud, abusive and cursing when she was told to leave by the store's assistant manager. Summoned by a frantic phone call from her son, as the pair walked out to the parking lot, [Ellis' aunt] Blackmon says she arrived in time to witness her niece being brutalized by police during attempts to place her in a squad car.


Ellis was charged with disturbing the peace, trespassing, resisting arrest and two counts of assaulting a police officer. Yet, curiously after being described in the police affidavit as "completely out of control" during her arrest, she was released to the custody of her parents to receive medical attention only 45 minutes after being jailed. However, her arrest triggered a whole series of problems. Although she returned to school in Louisiana, two months later, an attorney hired by the family tried to talk Heather into taking a plea deal offered by powerful Dunklin County Prosecutor, Stephen Sokoloff.


Click to read.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

15 Years in Prison for Cutting Line – Pretrial Has Begun

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Heather Ellis is a college student facing15 years in prison for cutting line at Walmart - visit for more details on the national protest to be held in Kennett, MO on November 14.

According to the family, the prosecutor in the case, Stephen Sokoloff, has asked for the trial to be moved to Bloomfield, MO, a town with less than 20 African Americans in it.

Heather Ellis Has a Pre-Trial – 10/25/09

Video thumbnail. Click to play
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Heather Ellis is a college student facing15 years in prison for cutting line at Walmart - visit for more details on the national protest to be held in Kennett, MO on November 14.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Black News: Was Megan Williams Lying About Lying?

CHARLESTON, W.Va. —  A woman imprisoned for her role in the 2007 kidnapping and torture of a black woman by seven white men and women said Friday the victim wasn't telling the truth when she denied this week that the attack occurred.

Frankie Brewster told WCHS-TV in Charleston that multiple crimes were committed against Megan Williams during the attack in West Virginia's rural Logan County, about 50 miles south of Charleston.

An attorney representing Williams said Wednesday that she is now recanting statements incriminating Brewster, her son Bobby and five others. All seven pleaded guilty and six are serving lengthy prison terms.

Brian Abraham, the Logan County prosecutor in 2007, also has dismissed Williams' new story, saying the convictions were based on the defendants' own statements and physical evidence rather than what Williams said.

Williams originally said her captors, including boyfriend Bobby Brewster, beat her, raped her, forced her to drink urine and eat feces, poured hot wax on her and taunted her with racial slurs in a trailer in Logan County. Williams was rescued after a passer-by heard cries from the shed where she was kept and an anonymous caller tipped off sheriff's deputies.

Brewster is rejecting Williams' new version of events.

"It did happen," Brewster said during the interview at the Lakin Correctional Center, where she is serving 10 to 25 years. "All of us participated."

Click to read.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Black Lawyer Tells Juan Williams to “Go Back to the Porch”

I have no idea why FOX News political commentator Juan Williams is defendingRush Limbaugh, perhaps the most divisive, hateful person in American media today. I'm not sure why Williams is letting FOX News use him in the same way Armstrong Williams has always trotted out to defend conservative issues. (It's hard out there for a journalist.)
However, I do know that he does not deserve to be told to "go back to the porch," as radio talk show host Warren Ballentine said during a debate about Limbaugh last week.
The comments were made by Ballentine during a discussion with Williams on the 'O'Reilly Factor' about Limbaugh being dropped from a bid to purchase the St. Louis Rams football team. Williams and Ballentine disagreed about whether the 'Barack the Magic Negro' song that Rush Limbaugh played was "racial."
BILL O'REILLY: The reason that Limbaugh is not going to be able to buy in to the NFL is because a bunch of made-up stuff became legend, and he got hammered.
WARREN BALLANTINE: Okay, we won't look at the made-up stuff. Let's look at him playing 'Barack the Magic Negro,' and we're going to say that's just funny, that's just a joke, that's not racial either. It is racial to real black people.


Click to read.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Black News: Man Shoots Boy for Sleeping with His Daughter

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University 

I have daughters and I love them all. They are all at "that age," between 16 and 20, where they tend to love the boys that you want to beat down the most. Every time I hear them express their undying love for Lil Wayne, I can only think about him having 3 women pregnant at the same time. When I see a Chris Brown poster in their room, I remind them that Chris was accused of having boxing practice on Rihanna's face.

But as a father, you can't protect your daughters from themselves. Some things they have to learn on their own. And if sleeping with a pants-saggin, "purple stuff dranking," gold grill wearing, 10,000 tattoo having buffoon is the way they need to learn their lessons, you just kinda have to deal with it.I empathize with Wade Edwards, the man accused of shooting a boy for sleeping with his step daughter. Wade shot the boy four times, aiming for the "relevant zone" with each bullet. But while I can understand Wade's anger, I do not, for one second, condone his actions.

Click to read more.

If the link above doesn’t work, click here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Protestors Planned to Support Black Student’s Arrest

Kennett, MO. – Heather Ellis, a young college student out of Kennett, MO is now facing 15 years in prison if she is sentenced after being accused of cutting line at a local Walmart. Her case has gotten the attention of the nation, and has been the subject of extensive online protests.

Heather was in a Walmart store 3 years ago with her cousin. The two split up to find the shortest line. Since her cousin was in the shorter line, Heather joined him. That’s when the clerk accused Heather of cutting in front of the other customers. An argument ensued, leading to the manager and security guard being called, and finally the police.

The incident left Ellis, an honor student on her way to medical school, charged with disturbing the peace, trespassing and two counts of assaulting a police officer. After Heather refused to sign a plea agreement, Stephen Sokoloff, the town’s prosecutor, filed felony charges against Heather.


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Black News: Boy Gets Burned Alive by His Classmates

Date: Wednesday, July 15, 2009, 5:23 am
By: Denise Stewart,

A black Missouri teen, who last month was doused with gasoline and set afire by two white schoolmates, now faces charges himself as he recovers from burns over most of his body.

Walter Currie Jr., a 15-year-old in Poplar Bluff, Mo., was burned on June 13 after an exchange with two teens with whom he reportedly had a previous altercation.

The youth who allegedly doused him with the gasoline and lit the fuel has been charged with assault as a juvenile, Currie’s parents said. 
On July 6, several weeks after the incident, authorities gave Currie and his parents notice that he is being charged in connection with another incident where a teen related to the youth who set him afire was hit in the face, said Winonia Currie, Walter’s mother.

“All of a sudden, they decided to charge him with something that happened on June 10, but Walter said he didn’t have anything to do with it,” she said.

Because all of the people involved are juveniles, court officials in Butler County, Missouri said they can give only limited details on the incidents and cannot discuss names.

“I can tell you that there are charges against everyone involved,” Lesi Smith, chief juvenile officer for Butler County, told

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Your Black News: Tom Joyner Gets Great Uncles Pardoned for Murder

South Carolina board pardons Tom Joyner's ancestors


Nationally syndicated radio host Tom Joyner holds up the signed pardon given to him from Samuel Glover, right, director of the South Carolina Dept. of Pardon, Probation and Parole, as Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., third from the right, smiles after a hearing Wednesday Oct. 14, 2009, in Columbia, S.C. A posthumous pardon was given to Joyners' great-uncles Thomas and Meeks Griffin, who were wrongly sent to the electric chair for the 1913 murder of a Confederate Army veteran.

(AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Two great-uncles of syndicated radio host Tom Joyner, sent to the electric chair for the 1913 murder of a Confederate Army veteran, were unanimously pardoned Wednesday by South Carolina.

Officials believe the men are the first in the state to be posthumously pardoned in a capital murder case.

Black landowners Thomas and Meeks Griffin were executed 94 years ago after a jury convicted them of killing 73-year-old John Lewis, a wealthy white veteran living in Blackstock, a Chester County town 40 miles north of Columbia. Two other black men were also put to death for the crime.

"This won't bring them back, but this will bring closure. I hope now that they rest in peace," Joyner said. "This is a good day."

Joyner, who lives in Dallas, and his attorney made a presentation to the state parole and probation board on Wednesday, then left the room while the board voted. Family members who flew in for the hearing included his wife and sons, of Dallas, and brother and his family, from Jackson, Miss.

Though he talks to roughly 8 million listeners on the radio daily, Joyner said facing the seven board members "scared me to death." When he was told how they voted, he said he waved his hands and hugged family members in a flood of relief and joy. He also called in to his radio show.

Joyner learned about his uncles' fate two years ago during filming of the PBS documentary "African American Lives 2," which traced his lineage and 11 others' through the research of Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr.

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