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Most of the nation is back to work, in some phase of reopening business after the two-month nightmare brought on my COVID-19. Spring 2020 will also be remembered for the police killing of another Black Minneapolis man, George Floyd, which launched a culture of protest throughout the nation. During the nation’s period of mourning, another Black man, Rayshard Brooks, was shot in the back and killed by an Atlanta, Georgia policeman. Black lives matter as do our quest for equality in a far from perfect democracy. Protests have their place in working towards race equality, but it is necessary to work towards reform and policies that are fully executed en route to our larger goals. American protests in the post George Floyd murder era have generated millions of dollars in donations to Black Lives Matter, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, for bail to cover protesters, ActBlue for bail and Color of Change. Corporate America entities like Warner Music Group, Comcast, Sony Music Group, have each committed $100 million for various social-justice causes. That’s good for starters.
How do Blacks want to reconfigure the American body politic? Does it stop or start with police reform? Where does it go from there? What about education and health disparities, and jobs? Black unemployment rate has trebled since the national quarantine began 2½ months ago.
Last week, NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law aggressive police reform measures, including a ban on chokeholds, transparency of police disciplinary records and giving the NYS Attorney General special prosecutorial power to investigate incidents of unarmed people killed by police. Let’s see what other states do, what Congress develops and what US Senator Tim Scott prophecies about delays in police reform. Will his caucus heed his advice?
Last week, was phase 1 of NYC reopening to business after the COVID-19 Pause. One report revealed that Black unemployment trebled during the COVID-19 PAUSE. Trains are running, buses are more popular, neither are places where social distancing is possible. New Yorkers are out and about flouting COVID-19 restrictions, without facemasks and social distancing. Fuggedaboutit!
June 23 is Primary Day in NY and you’d better go out to vote. Primary contests will be held for all Congressional seats and NYS Assembly and Senate seats. One of the uglier congressional races is in Brooklyn, Representative Yvette Charles’ district. One of her opponents, homophobic NYC Councilman Chaim Deutsch, is using race as a campaign tool. Rather than participate in debates, he is circulating footage of the looting in Brooklyn following a George Lloyd protest to appeal to voters. Wonder who supplied the footage! … A congressional contest in the Bronx is getting lots of media coverage. It is for the seat held by Congressman Jose Serrano. Top contenders are City Councilmen Ritchie Torres, Ruben Diaz Sr. and NYS Senator Michael Blake. Torres and Blake are hardcore progressives. Diaz is homophobic and known as a social conservative disposed to vote Republican. Wrong man for that congressional district, which is adjacent to AOC’s district.
What a difference a few weeks make. Just when it was looking like Minnesota US Senator Amy Klobuchar was on Joe Biden’s shortlist for VEEP, George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis. The state was under microscopic scrutiny and Klobachar’s days as a prosecutor came under scrutiny. She never convicted a policeman of any wrongdoing. Since the Floyd murder, a Black VEEP seems more logical. However, I don’t see Stacey Abrams’ name on recent VEEP shortlists. The Biden campaign insider list is still all white.
Ella Jones was elected mayor of Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, on June 2. A member of the City Council, Jones becomes Ferguson’s first Black mayor. Ferguson made national headlines in when African American teenager Michael Brown was fatally shot by a white policeman in 2014. Remember the national protests and outrage.
ON/OFF: The United Nations General Assembly, which celebrates its 75th birthday anniversary, will not convene in New York this year owing to coronavirus concerns and the large groups of foreign heads of state and their delegations……. The US Open Tennis Tournament will be held without fans this summer. To be sure, NYC revenues will plunge dramatically.
Politics inevitably informs African American art and culture. Two recent films are locked in to the Black experience. There is comedian Dave Chappelle’s special, a Netflix film, “8:46” on YouTube channel, which is not funny. It’s about history and resistance… about telling the truth when it is uncomfortable and painful. And everyone is fair game, even Candace Owens and Laura Ingraham. Then there’s Spike Lee’s new Netflix film, “Da 5 Bloods” about four African American Vietnam veterans who return to the Nam, looking for the remains of their fallen commander, which is a tour de force according to media commentary.
Four-star General Charles Q. Brown, 58, was confirmed by the US Senate to be the next Air Force Chief of Staff, making him the first African American head of a military service at the Pentagon as the nation confronts a multiplicity of racial issues. The confirmation makes him the second African American to sit on the Joint Chiefs of Staff since General Colin Powell. He got 98 votes on the day of the George Floyd funeral in Houston, in our highly partisan US Senate. A highly decorated general, Brown is currently commander of the Pacific Air Force and oversees more than 46,000 airmen in Alaska, Guam, Hawaii, Japan, and Korea. Before the vote, General Brown posted a Twitter video on June 5 detailing his life as a Black man in and out of the US military. He will be sworn in on August 6.
Caribbean American Heritage Month salutes to: Grace Blake, Trini filmmaker, Sharon Lopez, Jamerican thought-leader and event planner; Derrick Wallace, Wadleigh Scholars Program and Aruba-born Dr. David R. Williams, PhD, Harvard University sociologist
Cancerian Birthday shout-outs to these natives: Dr. Betty Holmes Anthony, Will Anthony, Joe Bethune; Stuart Bosley, Valerie Bradley, hotelier; Dr. Bill Cosby; Cecilia Davidson; Assembly member Inez Dickens; NYC’s first and only African American Mayor David Dinkins; Missy Elliott; Fantasia; Stanley Gleaton; Danny Glover; Ernie Green; actor Kevin Hart; Patricia Jackson; writer Sandy Livingston; Harriet Michel, nonprofit administrator; Robert Hamilton; Alyah Horsford Sidberry, 50, Cove Lounge; Kendall Sidberry, real estate contractor; Cheryl Hill; Desa Horsford and twins Lillian and Karen Horsford; Aubrie Jacobs; actress Barbara Montgomery; actor Richard Roundtree, “Shaft;” Judge Sonia Sotomeyer; Barbara Sullivan; Mike Tyson, Ramona Wraggs Wall, Colloquium Depot; Goldie Watkins, public health consultant; Akia Webster, GenX thought leader; Sabrina Williams, arts curator; TV host Wendy Williams and family patriarch Ricky Wingate.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Retrograde Mercury begins on June 18, for three weeks.
JUNE is the month of the Summer Solstice! Things will get better!
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!